Kali Uchis and SZA bring the heat with “fue mejor”

Courtesy of COUGHS via Wikimedia Commons under CC-BY-SA 4.0

On Sept. 29, the highly anticipated collaboration between artists, Kali Uchis and SZA came into fruition in a new rendition of “fue mejor.” It’s the final single released off of Uchis’ Latin pop and R&B infused, multilingual sophomore album Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios). 

Sonically, the track is dark and sultry, demonstrated by the heavy synth bass and drum patterns carrying the moody production. This is offset by angelic background vocalizations by Uchis as she nears whistle tone in her vocal register. Lyrically, this remix remains identical to the album cut, excluding the brand new verse by SZA. 

Uchis tells of the pain and betrayal of a lost love through brilliant imagery in her songwriting. Her descriptors, both in English and Spanish, directly set the scene: She recalls the backseat of the Jeep when she left her lover after midnight. The chorus ends with “no amor, no me duele perderte, ya no estoy, pero nunca olvidas, hay cosas que se tatúan sin tinta,” which translates to say it won’t cause her pain to leave the relationship. In fact, her romantic partner will never forget her as “there are things which are tattooed without ink.” 

The highlight of this release is SZA on the final verse, previously performed by Canadian singer and rapper, PARTYNEXTDOOR. She hops onto the track with impressive cadence and an even more impressive command of the Spanish language. The depth and range in vocal inflections that SZA displays throughout the song are largely what has regarded her as one of the most sought after artists of our generation. She lends her authentic sound to the track, enhancing the juxtaposition of ethereal vocals over the ambient beat. Reportedly the pair worked together on devising the lyrical content for SZA’s verse, first in English then reworked in Spanish. 

By the final chorus, the two join together and a raindrop effect, essential to gloomy trap beats, serves as a new production element in the outro of the song. 

Accompanying the track release is a music video directed by Daniel Sannwald whose creative license has extended to the likes of Travis Scott and Beyonce. The moody, post-industrial nature of “fue mejor” is consistent with its visuals. A blend of neon lit scenery, brief choreographed ensemble dancing by Uchis, and a moving car sequence during SZA’s featured appearance set the tone for the cinematic experience. 

The video opens with sound effects of a motorcycle engine revving and accompanying motorcyclists on a dimly lit street. Shades of blues and whites serve as the motif for the first half before the aforementioned Jeep is introduced as the chorus plays. Sannwald utilizes a fish eye lens and woozy visual effects as SZA shares the sentiments of the song’s running theme: She relinquishes the power her ex-lover may have had over her and moves on for the better.

Both artists have gained notoriety in their respective musical lanes throughout the last decade, sparking fans to speculate an eventual collaboration between Kali Uchis and SZA. At the tail end of 2020, SZA released “Good Days,” which went on to become her first top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Uchis’ smash hit “telepatía” became a global sensation, landing her the longest-running solo Latin song in the 2020s on the aforementioned charts. With all of this success, it’s clear both of these women have come a long way from their mixtape days.

“Drunken Babble” (2012) was the first project Kali Uchis released on SoundCloud, a streaming platform catered to unsigned, independent artists. Her neo-soul, doo wop influenced, hip-hop sound developed with the release of her critically acclaimed extended play “Por Vida” (2015) and full-length album “Isolation” (2018). SZA found critical success with her debut album “CTRL” (2017) which revitalized the genre of alternative R&B. This was preceded by the mixtapes “S” (2013)  and “Z” (2014). 

Verdict: While the “fue mejor” remix marks the promotional end of Uchis’ first primarily Spanish language album, a nod to her Colombian heritage, it is clear the landscape of Latin pop and R&B have been revolutionized as two female pioneers sustain their trajectory in the industry. The quality of this track’s vocal production is enough to have on circulation at any time of day and the visuals of the music video only enhance the listening experience. 

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