We have a first on this, the ninth GOOD Friday release, a (technically) non-Kanye song. This past Friday, West dropped a new track from Child Rebel Soldier, a rap supergroup featuring Mr. West, Lupe Fiasco, and Pharell. This marks, from my research, only the third release from the troop. That in itself is pretty shocking when you consider how prolific Pharell and Kanye have been or are, but what is more shocking is how middling all three outings have been. That “Don’t Stop!” may be the trio’s finest hour is a sobering thought to marinade on.
“Don’t Stop!” has a lot going for it. The beat, a European elecro-marching band churning over a tight, salsa-infused, Latin American tap, is awesome; among the best of the GOOD Friday cuts. The switch up, the addition of some cool 70’s TV-theme music horns, on the beat for West’s verse is as inspired, slick and smart as Yeezy’s rhyme. Plus, it’s been a bit since lil’ Lupe has been this good on anything or, for that matter, on anything at all.
Considering all of that, I can’t get on board with “Don’t Stop!.” A big factor for my reluctance may be that the track takes a big cue from it’s title: this song never lets up. A week after, arguably, the best hook from a GOOD Friday release (“Christian Dior Denim Flow”), we get a response to all my bellyaching over elongated songs, and rather than cut some of the creative/experimental excess Ye’s been dabbling in, Child Rebel Soldier cuts the damn chorus.
Everyone, even Pharell, is bubbling along so quickly, it’s almost impossible to keep up or catch your breath. Like a train blowing through the station, it’s sort of hard to jump on this one.
Pharell’s verse is, unsurprisingly, the weakest of the three, but still capable. In fact, the N.E.R.D member may be a bigger liability than the hookless jam. Kicking off the song with Pharell’s pretty basic rhymes and flow is risky, but to sandwich it between Fiasco’s slippery and smart lines and Kanye’s fierce bite makes for a saggy middle and do you want to cap the track with Pharell? It’s a lose-lose situation, especially considering how long he raps–over a minute’s worth of the four-minute track!
It’s nice to see a GOOD Friday track lacking any horrendous ideas, but those miscues are usually balanced out with stunning, eye-opening, and successful  experimentation. “Don’t Stop!” plays it way too safe and relies on the lyrical dexterity and creativity of three MC’s who’ve yet to prove they can actually carry a conventional rap song simply on the strength of their verses. Maybe getting Pusha T in on one more GOOD Friday would have made for a better Monday.

Updated Rankings#:

1. “Good Friday” (featuring: Common, Pusha T, Big Sean, Kid Cudi & Charlie Wilson)
2. “Christian Dior Denim Flow” (featuring: Pusha T, John Legend, Lloyd Banks, Kid Cudi & Ryan Leslie)
3. “See Me Now” (featuring: Beyonce & Charlie Wilson)*
4. “Power”*
5. “Power (Remix)” (featuring: Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz)
6. “Runaway” (featuring: Pusha T)
7. “Monster” (featuring: Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Bon Iver & Nicki Minaj)
8. “Lord, Lord, Lord” (featuring: Mos Def, Raekwon, Swizz Beatz & Charlie Wilson)
9. “So Appalled” (featuring: Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz, Pusha T, RZA & Cyhi the Prynce)
10. “Don’t Stop” – Child Rebel Soldier
11. “Devil in a New Dress”

*Released prior to the GOOD Friday series, included because of the close proximity to the beginning of series

#As I said in a previous post, I won’t include “Runaway Love (Remix)” on the rankings because it’s so bad that it’s not fair to the other even middling tracks Kanye’s released lately.