4 out of 5
Produced by: Blueprint
As a single, Blueprint’s Watch It Burn is a massive, rousing thing, deserving of being dropped on its own and made even better by the 7″ version’s backing B-side, which is a true redux – changing the feel and sound of the track – and not just an instrumental. (Even though the beat is deserving of that.)
Playing up ‘Print’s particular favoring of soul-infused heft, Watch It Burn’s ante is upped by an edgy guitar riff which grounds the flow of the song, also interspersed with choice samples that support its lyrical theme. Blueprint is also one of the few rappers who, to me, can manage to make a scrawl of words wholly musical – that is, he can make a point at length and not even have a chorus, and yet the whole track sticks anyway, words and patter concise and memorable enough to instantly inspire rhyming along on subsequent listens, while also being conceptually clear enough (and logical) to make you think during those listens.
But I do think that’s where I cautiously dock a star, because I’m always a little sketchy on anarchy-inciting songs like Watch It Burn, which, per ‘Print, is in reference to a quote from The Dark Knight, specifically – concerning the Joker – “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” While I have the admitted good fortune to be in good health and security in the world of 2021, I know I cannot truly comprehend how frustrating and frightening the state of things was and continues to be in a post-Trump, pandemic-ed era, so the refutation of current social and political systems, and wishing to throw a Molotov at it – I can conceptually appreciate. But it’s the exact use of this quote as inspiration that feels off, because ‘Print seems to be using it to praise the Joker’s worldview, and that, to me, was a shortsighted trend that happened after the movie first released, as well. It’s like – okay, cause anarchy (which the Joker used for much death and violence…), and then what? Not that a single song has to provide the solution, but ‘Print is literate enough that I suppose I wanted a bit more than the rabble-rousing of the track.
…Which is a lot of point-of-view, subjective interpretation stuff which I’m probably wrong about, and also largely irrelevant to how good the song is in terms of delivery and production, with the B-side totally flipping the tonal script and upping the track’s funk for a completely different vibe, worthy of being a back-up to a strong single.