Although the song was available to listen to online earlier this year, there is now a video attached to Skrillex’s “Dirty Vibe” which features CL and G-Dragon. And, much as the song was a predictable deluge of beeps, boops and sneers, the video for “Dirty Vibe” is way too neat and perfunctory for a song that portends grit and grime.
It is almost too easy to hate on Skrillex for being the all-too recognizable face of dubstep but he may actually be the best thing about “Dirty Vibe” (a song which I was much harder on when it first leaked). The beat, while tireless and incredibly fast-paced, never feels like it’s overwrought and it never devolves into a mess. If anything, “Dirty Vibe” is pretty tight. The wubs wubs are halted in rapid fire staccatos and the decision to go light on the bass keeps “Dirty Vibe” nimble. The song doesn’t really have a satisfying conclusion as it seems like it just sort of runs out of ideas but as far as structure goes, “Dirty Vibe” could have been a lot worse.
As for the vocals, they seem decorative. Neither GD nor CL bring much to “Dirty Vibe”. Part of that is due to the mixing of the song which definitely puts an emphasis on the beat (does anyone come to a Skrillex song for its lyrics?). However, part of it is due to the layers of processing that is placed over GD and CL’s lines. CL is able to bring some of her trademark sneer but so many of GD’s lines are given a pretty bad filter that makes him sound like a second-rate antagonist in a poltergeist movie. Overall, the beat is solid enough but the inclusion of GD and CL never feels necessary and the lyrics vacillate between harmlessly hard and needlessly confrontational.
GD’s and CL’s inclusion in “Dirty Vibes” makes more sense once the video is included. The sound of Skrillex plus the fashion and music sensibilities of G-Dragon and CL basically screams “loud”, “neon” and “aggressively and purposefully try-hard,” like if Jeremy Scott’s id was given corporeal form. Through that lens, “Dirty Vibe” nails it. There’s G-Dragon rapping in braids while wearing a blue bathrobe and smurfed-out sunglasses. There’s a dude rocking out while wearing animal horns. There’s CL, alternatively trying to make pig tails look badass and rocking the world’s tallest mohawk. There’s the obligatory flashing lights and huge punches of color (the water guns are the best set piece in the video). There’s a little black kid for…reasons?
It’s an aesthetic that matches fairly well with what G-Dragon has been doing in his solo releases. It’s just that, much like Jeremy Scott’s fashion, “Dirty Vibe” ends up being pretty boring and unimpactful because the style and sound are already so honed and specific. Yes, “Dirty Vibe” is odd, loud and aggressive. Yes, it’s confrontational and stylistically unconventional. However, “Dirty Vibe” is only unconventional in the strict sense that it doesn’t look like a regular pop music video. It is completely conventional when it comes to G-Dragon and CL.
“Dirty Vibe” isn’t the awful train wreck that I initially wrote it off as being but it’s also not particularly interesting either. The track showcases Skrillex in a favorable light but the inclusion of G-Dragon and CL doesn’t do much for the song. And while the Big Bang and 2NE1 leaders’ inclusion in the video makes all too much sense, it often looks like the predictable “try-hard” hip-pop styling was included out of mindless obligation rather than as any sort of statement. If “Dirty Vibe” didn’t exist, it would have been necessary for YG to create it.