New Music Reviews

Skrillex ft. Missy Elliott’s RATATA: The Musical Equivalent of Sticking a Fork in an Electrical Outlet

First of all, I love this track. Let’s just get that out of the way. Now, Skrillex has been busy producing for the likes of Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran, putting out singles and helping out on the score for the video game Kingdom Hearts III. However, Quest For Fire is only his second solo record and his first record in 9 years. He quickly followed that up with a partner release Don’t Get too Close and you can think of it as a double record in theory. Quest for Fire is the record with the massive bass drops and dance chaos Skrillex is best known for. Most importantly, it is the record where he teams up with another musical icon Missy Elliott.

In one sense putting Skrillex and Missy Elliott together sounds like the beginning of a Mad Libs, but it makes a lot of sense. Missy has largely been sticking to guest appearances and EP’s since her last studio work in 2019, while Skrillex is looking to break his 9 year hiatus from large studio releases. Moreover, Missy makes any track sound good, so putting her on one of the most anticipated EDM releases of all time is a no brainer.

Musically, the track skips over turning it to 11 and goes straight for 1,346. I have listened to the record a couple times now and I love it; however, Skrillex has a phobia of any tracks over 3:45 and tries to fit every production idea he has had in the last 9 years into each track. This makes RATATA a frantic journey from one idea to the next, which can feel like getting hit by lightening while sitting on a nuclear bomb. At times the energy explodes out of the track like a firehose, but he will quickly take the temperature down with some deep bass. This kind of sonic whiplash may seem disorienting and unpleasant, but it is actually disorienting and fun. I think Skrillex is meant for the dance floor and not a college theory course, so these quick jumps and explosions keep you moving in a tornado of synth and neon. Sounds fun doesn’t it.

Having said all of that, I think his use of bass and largely organic percussion grounds the track enough that you don’t feel like you are in the Quantum Realm or some supernova. Moreover, Missy is on fire and gives the track both vocal energy, but also something for Skrillex to hang all of his electric ornaments on, which gives listeners an anchor. Missy’s vocals ground you in the track and act as a compass to lead you back to the track if you ever feel lost in Skillex’s electronic kaleidoscope. I think Skrillex fronting her vocal in the mix is a great production decision and makes her the central figure people can connect with. Missy is like a lighthouse shining bright and strong within Skrillex’s roiling ocean of bass, insect noises and 8-Bit techno.

In a way RATATA is a track of contrasts, which is what makes it compelling. Missy’s vocal delivery is strong and dependable within Skrillex’s ever shifting EDM landscape. Moreover, Skrillex will contrast textures throughout the track, which elevates it. However, this track performs best when Missy is going for it and Skrillex goes to his old skool bag of tricks and just drops some crazy bass. There is something to be said about the artistic simplicity of fire bars against organ destroying bass. It’s primal and where this track excels. A top 10 contender for 2023.

Listen to RATATA

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