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Single Review: King Riley “Substance”

Much as its title implies, the music video for King Riley’s new single “Substance” has a lot going for it, and it all starts with the song’s superior compositional integrity. While a lot of rappers are more than content to piece something together in the studio with little to no sense of lyrical continuity, let alone melodic linchpins in the style of a pop single, King Riley isn’t about to leave such details to chance in “Substance.” He’s on top of the hook with a slick execution, and more than anything else, he’s telling us a story with his words – not just cultivating a mood.

In terms of musicianship, I think the other song King Riley has out right now, “Clout,” is a terrific demonstration of how well he works with another artist of his caliber. Salt joins the booth for this performance, and despite the two spending a healthy moment competing for their share of the spotlight, the tension this renders in the mix is something I wouldn’t trade for anything – and I doubt they would either. This is connective chemistry unlike what a lot of mainstream players are able to develop inside of the studio, and I could definitely go for a second helping in the future.

This was my first time hearing King Riley go to work, but both “Clout” and “Substance” are more than adept releases for a newcomer to the stage. His sense of melodic wit is something that careers are built around nowadays, and if his hooks continue to have the bounce that these two do, I believe he’s going to see a hit on the charts before a lot of people know what to brand his sound. Melodic, trap-stylized, drill-structured, and hip-hop-inspired, this is quality pop music for a new era in rhythm.

Jordan Raab

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