I’ve always been slightly interested in Travie McCoy‘s solo musical career, and his newest single “Keep On Keeping On” featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco, is a good indicator that he’s doing something right. This upbeat dance jam has substance and good intentions.
The song starts with a sampling of a jazz-style track, but breaks quickly into Urie’s vocals and a repeated chorus of, “You gotta keep on keeping on/even with the feeling that you’re going to keep losing/you gotta come back strong.” Then McCoy proceeds to rap with story-like lyrics. The character that he created is a traditional underdog – bullied, underestimated, and ignored. But in the first verse, McCoy hints at a black swan story with a super impressive couplet, “And he starts pirouette for perfection/and Darren Aronofsky black swan refection,” and a pre-chorus that includes the basic plot, “he plucked feather from his back/and watched his bottom limbs bend forward/toward something more he wasn’t sure.” The rest of the song follows McCoy’s character through poverty and adulthood, until finally the underdog is on top.
McCoy’s attention to detail in the lyrics is also apparent in the rhythm, which has a constant identity and makes the message stronger. The tone is upbeat and positive, with a piano-accompanied electric beat that gives the listener something to clap along with. During the pre-chorus, the song fills with echos and sounds like a void, adding something eerie to the “plucking feathers” and “bending limbs.” It also builds to the chorus with a crescendo drum pattern while the ending has a strong, instrumental, guitar solo. The overall effect is cheery, which is inspiring.
McCoy’s take on overcoming obstacles and working past underdog status is a good diversion from songs about heartbreak and women. The inclusion of the black swan is also fascinating and he did a good job of not overpowering one element. “Keep On Keeping On” remains buoyant throughout, making McCoy’s solo talent look easy.