In an era where trap music, concert shootings, and lame rap beefs define hip-hop, De La Soul rekindle the musical flame that made rap such a popular genre to begin with.
Emmanuel Elone: There are a lot of reasons to dislike this song. The laid-back groove may border on boring and dull for some, and the lyrics are not as memorable and catchy as one may like them to be. That being said, "Pain" is one of the best hip-hop songs that I've heard so far this year by a long shot. The funky synths and female backing vocals ("Pain will make it better") not only work in tandem to create a smooth, clear instrumental that harkens back to last year's To Pimp a Butterfly, but the backing vocals also sing the hook with so much personality and energy. Now, on a lyrical front, De La Soul were never the greatest (yet they are still far from bad), but the flow is there, riding the tracks that the beat laid down with such ease. Snoop Dogg's feature is just as amazing -- if not more so than De La Soul's -- and brings the entire track home with one of the California rapper's best guest verses in years. In an era where trap music, concert shootings (Troy Ave), and lame rap beefs define hip-hop, De La Soul rekindle the musical flame that made rap such a popular genre to begin with, and I can only hope that "Pain" helps turn those tiny flames into blazing wildfires as time goes on. [9/10]
Pryor Stroud: Taken from De La Soul's upcoming ninth album And the Anonymous Nobody, "Pain" is a straightforward -- and straightforwardly effective -- modern G-funk jam that deploys a tightly-wound guitar jitter and boom-bap drum loop to make its point. The hook is a mellifluous meditation on suffering's inevitability, and the production is clean, immaculately arranged, and hued with just enough of a retro hip-hop vibe to inspire a bit of nostalgia. However, as per usual, Snoop Dogg's guest verse not only adds another element of old-school charm to the track, it steals the whole show. [7/10]
Chris Ingalls: De La Soul's appearance on the hip-hop scene in the late '80s signified a sea change in the genre; rappers were beginning to look back to early soul and R&B for the foundation of their sound, and these guys were leading the charge. Decades later, they're still at it. "Pain" is built around a classic R&B sound with a female backing vocal cadre that sounds like it was airlifted in from a 1976 Marvin Gaye chestnut. Snoop Dogg is along for the ride, giving the song even more of a throwback feel. [7/10]
Chad Miller: The background beat is nice. The melody, while decent, doesn't seem to fit on top of it though nor did Snoop Dogg's line. His flow sounds kind of awkward as a result. The first verse did a decent job with it though, but it wasn't enough to save the track from mediocrity. [5/10]