Recently, a musical trend has emerged in my recommended section on YouTube. In short: the slowed + reverb edit. The concept is as written: A song is slowed down and reverb is put on it. A gif is added, usually of something animated. Maybe someone is enjoying a nice view, or driving away, or fighting; Something that fits the “vibe” of the song, which can range quite a bit.
The slowed + reverb edit, with its lazy and chilled out atmosphere, is similar to more traditional Chopped n’ Screwed edits, even having hints of older Vaporwave and lo-fi edits on YouTube, but with much less skill required, therefore allowing slowed + reverb edits to dominate YouTube, at least numerically. (Note: the lack of skill in these edits removes a lot of the inherent artistry seen in Chopped n’ Screwed edits. You can see this in a reworking of Jidenna’s “Classic Man,” shown beautifully in 2016 Best Picture winner Moonlight.)
Slowed + reverb edits are everywhere, and they are totally awesome. For me, they are very much a guilty pleasure, giving me just another excuse to listen to my favorite song from 2011, or 2019, again and again. Every song sounds amazing with these basic edits. “I Wonder “by Kanye West. “Robbery” by Juice WRLD! “Adorn” by Miguel, for example. The appeal largely fits with artists with huge and sweeping choruses, which sound simply sumptuous slowed down and echoing as if performed in a vast chamber. Many times the cavernous, slow sounds let the voice act truly as an instrument, to different and great effects. Miguel, for one, sounds like butter, the sampled chorus on “I Wonder” gains an affect like a bowl of gravy, and Juice WRLD sounds like a big halfpipe in the best way possible, or at least sounds like he looks like he would know what a halfpipe is and how to successfully navigate one.
The songs are occasionally monotonous with the deeper voices at times droning on for too long. Accordingly, a desire emerges for the user to seek out, through the recommended videos, unique voices which spread the gospel of slowed + reverb edits. The prophet I have found, deep in this world of the new, edited gospel is NAV.
Beyond Lil Uzi Vert, Young Nudy, and the cults of Travis Scott/Kid Cudi, NAV appears. On these edits, he sounds like no one else. With his voice alone, he becomes the center and attractive object to all other surrounding elements. On “Call Me,” his first verse has a line that just says, “My designer look the best on me,” continuing a majority-of-the-verse run by simply ending each line with “on me.” Many consider this ‘laziness’ to be a dealbreaker. Yet, he continues, and we do too. The chorus shines, and when he says “Do you know how it feel to feel alone/bought myself a house still feel like I ain’t home,” his frustration, combined with his cadence as he sinks deeply into “alone” and “home,” is beautiful.
What drew me to NAV though was not “Call Me,” instead, it was a feature. NAV has become sort of a feature/hook specialist, and it’s not hard to see why. Slow + reverb edits highlight his prowess on a chorus, as his flows are bright and bouncy, but his voice is soft and low in an elegantly contrasting way. Simply, his voice fits into a wide range of styles, allowing him to play off others really well. This year alone he’s been featured on albums from DJ Mustard, Young Thug and Lil Keed, along with a collaboration with Meek Mill resulting in one of his best chartings (and simply best) songs ever.
Yet, even with his steady accumulation of impressive features, the feature I stumbled on was none of these. With only 12,000 views, I had found the slowed + reverb edit of “Car Sick,” by Gunna, released in 2018, featuring NAV and Metro Boomin, both of whom also produced the song. It may be the perfect slowed + reverb song. The beat is spacey and astrological, with some heavy synths in the back and some mahogany-sounding drums too.
It’s a song that already attempts to be leisurely, the edit only extending that sound. The flows match the beat perfectly, and Gunna and NAV are ruthless. The song yells out “METRO!” Metro Boomin’s producer tag, and, truth-be-told, it’s scary. Gunna instantly responds with a classic business like flow, and NAV comes in and tunes it back a bit. He slows down to cruise control and, then, something subtle, yet unexpected, happens. He says “Smoking on Backwoods bad for me/But I don’t want smoke on a vape (Yeah),” and the beat slightly shifts.
These lines from him, in this context, feel personal. He plants the flag down right here, at this moment, to allow himself to really let go. NAV’s whole rap career is one of trying too hard and not trying hard enough. As one interview showed, he’s incredibly conscious of his image, and it seems as if every move he makes is so others can see it or comment on it; as evidenced by his two-month “retirement” in early 2019 in support of Lil Uzi Vert’s “retirement.” He wants to be famous for the sake of being noticed. On “Car Sick” though, stuck in the middle of Gunna’s Drip Season 3, he mellows out, most obviously in the slowed + reverb edits, then what you hear the original.
The chorus is amazing, without a doubt. “I was born with all this drip I came out a faucet (Drip)/When they put my bro in a chain gang I almost lost it (almost lost it)/So much jealousy and envy, gotta be cautious (Gotta be cautious).” These lines are delivered with passion. He knew he had it then, and he brought it. NAV’s mention of a friend’s struggles with the law becomes deeply evocative here. The chorus melds into your mind as a flow you may never forget.
For the first time, in 2018, on this slowed + reverb edit, NAV achieved symbiosis with the beat, acting as a compliment, as just another tool. He removes himself, his need to stand out, and lets himself blend inside of the song, and in turn, actually makes himself more prominent. The reception for NAV’s performance on “Car Sick” is overwhelmingly positive, with such YouTube comments as “NAV Snapped (Thumb wagging)” and “Hardest song I ever heard” among the (original) video’s top comments.
If NAV can let go of this desire, and give himself to the beat, as he’s done here, and on a few songs in 2019 as well, he can turn the Slowed + Reverb edits of youtube into a world filled with NAV fans, yearning for more edits of the man who has finally stood out by settling in.
Check out the video here.