DJ Khaled has been on a roll lately with the releases and although I’ve never considered him to be the best producer out there, I can’t deny that his songs are successful, at least commercially. And “Wild Thoughts” featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, the lead single off his tenth studio album, Grateful, is no exception. Sampling a late 1990s Santana hit, “Wild Thoughts” is a catchy, if boring single, from the trio. However, with it’s nostalgic guitar riff and sultry Rihanna vocals, the song is sure to be a summer smash, perhaps even THE song of the summer despite its overall forgetableness.
The best part of this track is the Rihanna feature, plain and simple. Her voice is low and rough, effortless in its delivery of fun, sexy debauchery. And I am especially on board for Rihanna in a variety of sheer clothing in the music video, which captures well the essence of what her voice brings to this track. It also matches the theme of the song and its overall message of not so subtle drunken seduction. Bryson Tiller’s feature seems sort of attached on and too mellow and emotionless, which pairs well with his own tracks but sounds more amateur here, especially compared to Rihanna’s style in the first two verses. The instrumentation itself is already too boring for a vocal delivery like he brings, leaving one with the overall feeling detached emotionality. The track is supposed to be all about seductive sideways glances and dark and smoky nights and all I get from Tiller is a sort of disinterested, “hey girl can I buy you a drink? No? K bye.” Like seriously?
One major problem I had with this track was the recording and production of the guitar. Santana’s original “Maria Maria” is almost 20 (YES 20) years old and despite this, its production is far superior to “Wild Thoughts”, which sounds like it was sort of thrown together quickly on a computer with an old drum machine. I sometimes wonder too if the guitar on “Wild Thoughts” isn’t actually a recording but instead MIDI guitar. And if so, why not just pull the actual sample from the original if you can’t achieve a comparable sound in your own track? To have the guitar in “Wild Thoughts” be so empty and thrown to the back of the track cheapens the song as a whole and I always feel myself wanting to return to the far superior “Maria Maria”, which does everything “Wild Thoughts” does but 10 times better. Even lyrically, the original had more depth and complexity.
“Wild Thoughts” is mediocre and people will probably forget it in a month or two but it’s fun to have on in the background at your summer BBQs so I guess good for DJ Khaled.