If there’s a message that Skee-Lo is determined to get out in “Untouchable (the Avengers Remix),” his latest single featuring C Moe, David Ruffin Jr. and Natalis, it’s unity and solidarity amidst times of true discord and resistance unlike anything we’ve collectively seen in a generation.
Dedicated to Trayvon Martin and the scores of families to have been touched by a vicious cycle of systemic racism, oppression and government-sanctioned violence against Black America, “Untouchable” is a profoundly balladic piece of melodic hip-hop that sees four of the underground’s most interesting players coming together for one common goal. Its melodies reflect a sense of optimism almost unfathomable to those who have no faith in the power of a community rising together when we need each other the most, while its central vocal harmonies reinforce a feeling of togetherness that couldn’t be more in-demand than it is today, at the end of a brutally difficult summer in 2020. Skee-Lo had already been raising more than a few eyebrows with critics before the release of this remix, but with its arrival, he proves himself to be one of the more potent voices in an era of artists using their talents for good.
The hook in this track is absolutely impossible to get out of your head once you’ve been exposed to it for the first time, and the righteous rhythm that frames it is likely the biggest reason why. We’re drawn into the melodic faceting of “Untouchable (the Avengers Remix)” through its mighty groove, allowing the harmony in the chorus a little bit of space to warm up and take over the narrative by the time we get into its grasp. The lyrics are soothing and encourage audience participation in the swing, but nothing – and I really do mean nothing – ever verges on pop saccharinity for even a second. Plasticity was never invited into the master mix of this version, nor any rendition of “Untouchable” that I’ve heard to date, but instead nothing but the purely organic passion that each of these players could bring into the studio with them.
At five minutes and change, this is definitely one of the more robust R&B/hip-hop crossover singles you’re going to hear this season, and much to my delight, it comes free of the overindulgences frequently standard in remixes in any genre of music nowadays. Skee-Lo, C Moe, David Ruffin Jr. and Natalis shine brighter than a sky blanketed with stars in this collaborative project, and while this probably won’t be the only time this group of artists shares the same workspace, I think it’s done a good job of raising the bar for both themselves on an individual basis and the international scene that has given each of them their start.
We’re living in what is the most divisive age imaginable to most, but as long as there are players like these devoting themselves to music, there are numerous reasons to believe things are going to change for the better, much as they always have when melody-makers are left to lead the revolution.