Adam Wray calls it how he wants to call it.
Having spent nearly two months with “Suit & Tie,” I’d given up on it growing on me. I’d chalked up my initial disappointment to unfair expectations, but the truth is: it’s a junk tune. It’s heartless mall-funk, simultaneously limp and uptight, overstuffed and empty. It’s a very rich person with very poor taste.
Leave it to Four Tet and Julio Bashmore, two producers coming off very productive years, to blow the tune up and fanute its constituent parts into two distinctly special somethings.
Bashmore aka Matther Walker’s take emerged first. He airs the tune out, slowing down Timberlake’s vocals and laying them over warm, sustained organ chords and a steady, 4/4 house beat. As the tune picks up steam, those chords become tight vamps, punctuating a loop of the “show you a few things about love” line that swirls in the background. Walker’s remix does a great job with JT’s vocals, floating the main vocal line over top of his instrumental while burying the loop beneath it, creating a soft, airy vibe.
Four Tet aka Kieran Hebden plays reducer here, as well. His version chops up Timberlake’s vocals, repurposing his coos and aaows as percussive elements. He laces the track with a stomp-and-clatter rhythm that recalls his most recent single, and wisely reduces Hov’s presence to his familiar “uhnh.” While Walker slowed the track down, Hebden opts to speed it up, loosening it up with the swinging, piecemeal percussion that’s becoming his staple.
Though their end results are different, both producers took similar approaches to the track – they added by subtracting, removing the clutter to highlight Timberlake’s vocals. By pairing them with atypical instrumentals, both manage to forefront Timberlake’s vocals rather than his personality. Timberlake, as is patently clear to anyone who has been paying attention for the last decade-plus, is a Division 1 cornball. He’s a tremendous singer but a corny motherfucker, and the too-slick, overstuffed instrumentals he tends to work with only amplify his mawkishness. His best work is enjoyable in spite of his cringe-worthy earnestness, but it drowns lesser cuts like the original “Suit & Tie.” Walker and Hebden remixes save the tune by ditching the chaff. Big shouts to them both for finding that hot line and making it into a hot song.