Don Neil’s Single “I’m Weak”: Chill, Lush Vibes 

Hip hop has changed over the last decade, yet that evolution often goes unrecognized. Where once rap and hip hop was filled with strong violent imagery of larger than life figures donned in gold and armed to the (iced out) teeth, that image is all but gone, replaced by a more relatable soul. Though hard, thumping and angry hip hop has its place, sometimes a scene needs to evolve, and it is singles like Don Neil’s “I’m Weak” that show the world of pop and hip hop that not all cats have to come to the table with guns drawn or bravado en masse to win over mass appeal or have a hot track. Some can just show up with strong production and some genuine honesty and it can hit even harder than the hard stuff. Don’t get me wrong, this song won’t make you want to get in a fight or hype you up like so many of a similar ilk try. Instead, “I’m Weak” lulls you in softly and keeps you there with strong production and a great verbal cadence that sets you adrift in Don Neil’s world. I have a personal name for this genre of music that has been blooming lately:

Chill Hop.

It is hip hop but it is hip hop you listen to when you are chilling, not ice grilling (though both have their place). Gone are the days of the hardcore gangsters in your face, pulling up waistbands to reveal pistols. Replaced by more of a hip ‘pop’ sound (think Drake or Kid Cudi) and Don Neil fits in right there, spitting fire but keeping it chill at the same time.

Produced by Lewis Cullen, the first thing you will notice about Don Neil’s track is the lush sound. The ethereal opening beat pulls you in and not long after when Don Neil’s flow comes in, it fits surprisingly well and picks up the tempo of the whole track immediately.

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There is a little arpeggio moment at around the one minute mark where the beat turns into this oddly calming sound of chimes, and where that could have ruined the energy of a song had it been placed wrong, it works to glue this song together even more. There are some simple but bold production moves made by Lewis Cullen but on this track, but they pay off, adding to the overall appeal of “I’m Weak’”.

If there were to be one complaint about the track it would be that two and a half minutes is kind of a tease when a track is this fresh. Three and a half minutes would be more satisfying, but remember, this is Don Neil’s debut shit, so maybe he just wanted to give the masses a taste of the “good stuff” before really dropping his upcoming full length debut album: Dear Me. Hell, that ‘give ‘em a taste and then wait’ business model has worked for years now, so why change something that still works?

At the end of the day, the beat is chill, his flow is slick and works well with the tone of the song, and there is some heat to it all.  

Put this track on after the club, sipping the right drink with the right company and you will find yourself have the evening end better than you could have expected.

Overall, good shit, Coulda been longer but production is tight as an oil drum and Don Neil’s duality between sensitive and self-preservation is a line more artists need to tread. Vulnerability is the new bravado, remember that kids, you heard it here first.

As far as Don Neil himself is concerned, this track is a great way to whet appetites.

Very curious to see where dude goes, musically and otherwise, over the next few years.