Chillin (Wale song)
|Single by Wale featuring Lady Gaga|
|from the album Attention Deficit|
|Released||April 14, 2009|
|Producer(s)||Cool & Dre|
|Wale singles chronology|
"Chillin" is a 2009 song by American rapper Wale, featuring singer Lady Gaga. It was released as the lead single from his debut album, Attention Deficit, on April 14, 2009, by Allido Records. Wale had wanted to collaborate with Gaga, and were introduced to each other through the rapper's mentor, Mark Ronson. "Chillin" was written by a number of songwriters, including Wale and Gaga, while it was produced by Cool & Dre. Recorded in New York City, the song speaks about Wale's life in his hometown. It has musical reference to go-go with influence of 90s style rapping, and a sample from the 1969 song "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" by Steam.
Following its release, the song received mixed reviews from contemporary critics, with one group of reviewers praising the collaboration and composition, and others criticizing Wale and Gaga's contributions. "Chillin" reached the lower regions of the official charts of some of the nations. Its highest peak was number twelve at United Kingdom. In the United States it peaked at number ninety-nine on the Billboard Hot 100. The accompanying music video for the single features both Wale and Gaga in various locations in or near Washington D.C. and Boston, Massachusetts. Wale performed the song live on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" on July 14, 2009, and at a number of shows leading up to the album's release date.
Background and writing
Wale wanted Gaga to collaborate with him on the track since January 2009, because he believed that she embodied the party-record feel of the song. He said of the collaboration: "If music was a high school, I feel like I'll be the dude on the football team, and it would be like, 'OK, Gaga's having a party!' And you know all the bad girls are going to be out there." Upon hearing that some were surprised by the collaboration, Wale went on to say, "If Jay-Z can work with Coldplay, then Wale should be able to work with Gaga." Wale's mentor, Mark Ronson, sent the track to Gaga. She commented that her portion of the song, which includes lyrics such as "Lookin' at, lookin' at, lookin' at me/ Eyes all stickin' like honey on bees", is narcissistic, but in a positive way. The lyrics capture the life and image of Wale's home areas Maryland and District of Columbia. On incorporating this hook in the song, Gaga said:
"I really wanted to sit down with Wale before I wrote the hook, because to me, it's really lame when people send you tracks, and they're like, 'All right, Gaga, throw your vocals on it.' This is Wale's record. It's not my record. It's one of those songs, one of those tracks and one of those videos that you can't stop listening to."
Recording and composition
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Along with Wale and Gaga, songwriters who worked on "Chillin" include Gary De Carlo, Dale Frashuer, Roy C Hammond, Paul Leka, Andre Christopher Lyon, Makeba Riddick, Kirk Robinson and Marcello Valenzano. "Chillin" has reference to go-go with influence of 90s style rapping, and samples from the 1969 song "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" by Steam, and the 1987 song "Top Billin'" by Audio Two. The song is written in the time signature of common time with a tempo of 100 beats per minute, and is composed in the key of G minor. Nathan Rabin from The A.V. Club called it a "throwback slab of electro-funk", with robotic new wave inspired vocals by Gaga. After starting with the Steam sample, the song has a stripped-down beat with a bass drum and synth-claps, and synthesizers on the verses and the sample being looped in the chorus, with Gaga interjecting her verses in-between. Lyrically it has Wale's name repeated throughout and the rapper talking about things he possesses in comparison to other people, opening with the line This how you start off '09, kickin' in the door and I'm everybody's problem". He also refers to fellow rapper M.I.A. with the line "I'm the same way, M.I.A./ Me, Cool and Dre get high like planes".
Produced by Cool & Dre, the song was recorded at Allido Sound Studios in New York, by Derek Pacuk, while the mixing was done by Serban Ghanea. Wale recalled in a 2011 interview with MTV News for Lady Gaga: Inside the Outside special, that the recording session did not go easy. He had traveled to the recording studio from Washington D.C. to New York after a long night of partying. Gaga was already in the studio in her exuberant style with a big ribbon atop her head by which Wale was taken aback, and was a "cultural difference" for him. In an effort to warm up to each other they made small talk about their respective record deals with Interscope. By the end of the session, Gaga had created five different hooks for "Chillin" and added her vocal sample on the track. The rapper added, "It took a while. Once we finally got the ball rolling, it was almost time to go. It was natural though. It's wack when you get in the studio with somebody and it's automatically music time — it feels fake. We were trying to feel each other out." Wale later added that he would like to collaborate with Gaga again on a track but it was unknown to him if Gaga would be interested.
The music video for the song was directed by Chris Robinson. The full video was posted on Interscope's YouTube channel on the June 12, 2009. Young Chris, Tre, Pusha T, Anwan Glover and Bun B. all appear in the music video. It features Wale and Gaga at the District of Columbia's Cardozo Senior High School and Wale in various venues and streets in the District, including South Boston Waterfront. This includes one scene in the famous hidden clothing store Bodega in Boston where Wale tries on various clothes. One of Gaga's characteristic Great Danes also appears in the video wearing Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. Several posters of Barack Obama appear in the video. The music video was added to BET's TV rotation. Chrissy Andrews from MuchMusic complimented Gaga's appearance in the music video, saying that "this is the most 'toned down' I've ever seen Lady Gaga. She’s wearing a short dress with pumps, but she's surprisingly without her facial lightning bolt, crystal staff or orbiting head piece (as seen on her Ellen appearance). One of the two massive dogs from her other videos does make an appearance, however... with headphones on! Even without all of the crazy things we know Gaga for, she's still great in this video."
Critical reception of the song has been mixed. Steve Roberts from MTV praised Gaga's verse as employing a similar singing style to M.I.A.. Jason Lipshutz from Billboard praised the "club-ready single" for its "bouncy hook and slick verses" and called the song "the perfect precursor to Wale's long-awaited debut." Mehan Jayasuriya from PopMatters complimented the song for being a "token party jam" on the track list of the album. She added that "for all the flack that the Lady Gaga-featuring track has caught, it's still an indisputably catchy song, even if the 9th Wonder and Nick Catchdubs reworking from [Wale's] Back to the Feature stands as the definitive version." Andres Tardio from HipHopDX described the song as "Pop-friendly". A reviewer for XXL described the track as "distinctly D.C.-sounding anthem". David Jeffries from AllMusic complimented Wale's "natural delivery and quirky sense of humor" in the song, likening his vocals to that of Jay-Z and Gaga's vocals to that of fellow singer Rihanna. Describing "Chillin" as a "club-friendly hopper", Chris Richards from The Washington Post believed that using Rihanna or M.I.A. on the track would have made it successful, rather than Gaga who was then considered a relative unknown singer. Richards recalled a precedent when Washington D.C. based go-go band Experience Unlimited had collaborated with androgynous singer Grace Jones on a track. Sobhi Youssef from Sputnikmusic noticed the contrast in the composition of "Chillin", making it a completely different track than the rest of the album.
New York Post critic Ryan Brockington felt that, while liking the song, added that M.I.A. was "one thing Lady Gaga is not" and questioned why Gaga chose to emulate her. Mosi Reeves from Spin criticized Gaga's "wanna-be-M.I.A. cadences", calling it "unnecessarily crass". Another review from Spin by Brandon Soderberg panned the song, saying that "[i]t wasn't a Wale song and it wasn't a Gaga song with Wale wedged in there somewhere, either. 'Chillin' became something of an Internet rap watershed moment". Sean Fennessey from Pitchfork Media described the song as "much-maligned", adding that "there won't be much to gain from [the song]... This was the first step in Wale's multiple personality debacle and he seems to know as much—nothing else on Attention Deficit resembles the goofy sneakers-shouting writing here. Ironically, it's the song that directly precedes 'Chillin' that feels most truthful." In another review, Ryan Dombal from the same website criticized Wale's repetition of his name and the usage of the sample calling it "unnecessary". The Greyhound gave the song a negative review and said, "...with a lackluster hook and the repetition of the name 'Wale,' the airplay and sales of this single will depend greatly upon the vocals of Lady Gaga." Wilson McBee from Slant Magazine criticized both "Chillin" and the follow-up single, "World Tour", as "tepid Cool & Dre productions in which Wale seems to be attempting Black Eyed Peas-style halftime-show rap." McBee believed that those things did not represent the true nature of the album. Prefix magazine was also critical of the song saying that "just when you think Wale understands the consequences of mindlessly horny partying... he gives us the dumb, cheaply agreeable Lady Gaga feature 'Chillin'." Brian Howe from Paste described the track as "flashy and hollow".
The song performed moderately on the charts. In the United States, the song debuted for one week on the Billboard Hot 100 at position ninety-nine but fell off the next week. It also reached a peak of number twenty-six on the Rhythmic Top 40 chart. According to Nielsen SoundScan, "Chillin" has sold 354,000 units in the US as of December 2010. In Canada the song reached a peak of seventy-three. "Chillin" charted on the ARIA Charts of Australia where it debuted number twenty-nine, and was present for a total of eight weeks. The song performed moderately in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where it reached peaks of number twelve and nineteen, respectively. It also charted on Billboard 's Euro Digital Songs, peaking at number eighteen.
Track listing and formats
Credits and personnel
- Wale – songwriting, rapping
- Lady Gaga – songwriting, singing
- Gary De Carlo – songwriting
- Dale Frashuer – songwriting
- Roy C Hammond – songwriting
- Paul Leka – songwriting
- Andre Christopher Lyon – songwriting
- Makeba Riddick – songwriting
- Kirk Robinson – songwriting
- Marcello Valenzano – songwriting
- Cool & Dre – producer
- Derek Pacuk – recording engineer
- Serban Ghanea – audio mixing
Credits adapted from Attention Deficit album liner notes.
|Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)||20|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||73|
|Europe (Euro Digital Songs)||18|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||12|
|US Billboard Hot 100||99|
|US Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop (Billboard)||25|
|US Latin Rhythm Airplay (Billboard)||33|
|US Rhythmic (Billboard)||26|
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- Chillin European CD Single (booklet). Wale. Olympia, Washington: Interscope Records. 2009. 2717517.
- Chillin US 12" Vinyl Edition (booklet). Wale. Olympia, Washington: Interscope Records. 2009. INTR 12581-1.
- Chillin US 12" Picture Disc (booklet). Wale. Olympia, Washington: Interscope Records. 2009. PICT43.
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- "Wale Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Latin Rhythm Airplay for Wale. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
- "Chillin" (Behind the Scenes) ft. Lady Gaga on YouTube
- Check out Wale's new video "Chillin" featuring Lady Gaga at the Wayback Machine (archived March 23, 2012) Interscope Records