It’s hard to imagine what exactly SE7EN could do to usher in a career resurgence. He enjoyed a massive amount of success during his first decade as a solo artist, but a scandal and two years away for military enlistment have dulled his status as one of k-pop’s leading r&b acts. His pre-release back in July didn’t seem to register on the charts, but with Give It To Me, he’s upped the energy.
Unfortunately, the Pharrell/Neptunes/Thicke sound he tackles here already feels a bit dated. This is often a problem late in an artist’s career, where setting trends isn’t really a factor anymore. There’s nothing bad about Give It To Me‘s supple funk, but it does feel very copy and paste. This is already the third k-pop track this week that has been built around some kind of brass sample, and the one here doesn’t feel unique or fresh in any way. Yes, it’s catchy — but only because of its constant repetition. It lacks depth or layers, giving the instrumentation a regimented feel when it should be striving to sound organic and loose.
Everything surrounding this central riff is standard for the genre. SE7EN comes across as younger than his years, attacking the verses with soul and charisma. The effective use of funk guitar in the pre-chorus instantly sets this segment apart as the song’s strongest, but is quickly brought back into lockstep by the underwhelming hook that follows. It all adds up to a very workmanlike product — sturdy, but not particularly thrilling. It’s clear that SE7EN is ready to reclaim his throne, but he’s going to need something more fresh and memorable than this to do it.