“Tuxedo” is characteristically Ravi: it maintains some of what he has always done well, but it’s plagued by questionable choices; it’s a groovy dance melody deterred by vocal effects that continues Ravi’s efforts of establishing himself as an artist of his own, and it holds up just okay. As we’ve seen before, Ravi keeps writing his songs, exemplifying his composing abilities but leaving production somewhat stalling behind.

Like “NIRVANA,” it opens with female vocals that elevate the song while being driven by groovy instrumentals. It’s a mixture of pop-infused hip-hop and 80s synths that composes a smooth, soulful melody unlike what is usually seen in hip-hop: it screams dance. There’s also his stylistic use of autotune which I’ve never liked. The contrast it makes with the melody is extraneous and leaves you wondering — beyond being enjoyable — what the song could have been. This dissonance between the autotune and melody mirrors what was the most criticized aspect of VIXX LR’s “Whisper,” another song written by Ravi. While a praisable stylistic effort, it only works to flatten the dynamics of his song in an ugly 2009-way.

The MV turns for the better. There’s no cohesion apart from the reappearing scenarios and few subtle instances of symbolism, but it’s beautiful and enjoyable; from the vibrant colors that morph through the video to the gorgeous outfits, Ravi stands out in every shot. The cinematography is nothing special but the choices play out very well in highlighting the main aspect of the multi-media package: good-vibes.

Ravi is at the center of it, we see him get touched by those same good-vibes. He’s enjoying himself in a joyous way I doubt labels can force. It’s refreshing to genuinely see and idol enjoy his art and its entailments while being undoubtedly proud of it. He dances powerfully, and this is most evident in his live stages; a place where his autotune is also turned down.

If you’re bored with that boring life, throw, throw it away

You can be luxurious today baby

Perhaps, he’s having so much fun because he’s speaking about something meaningful to him. It’s nothing new; he speaks of his preference of art and partying over school, empowering himself and his image, not caring about what others have to say, and the societal pressures that come with all these aspects. The way he writes of his defiance of expectations, though, is somewhat convoluted — very much imposing the sound of words over their meaning. I mean, a tuxedo?

I’m flexin’ tuxedo
Suit and tie
Button up
Let’s pop and rockin’
Everybody say flexin’

Tuxedos and their very little prominence. You would think that a video about tuxedos would be dominated by them. Instead, they are limited to scenes where Ravi stands alone or is dancing sharply with style. When he’s partying or with informally-dressed peers, we only get to see him in streetwear. Maybe he knows, while he can party and live his life as he wishes, there will be moments of formality that does not mean he has to stop being himself — hence the empowerment lines in “Tuxedo”. This is further accentuated as in the start of the video we look into a retina, and by the end, we leave the eye; it’s the portrayal of Ravi in the vision of others.

Under the deceiving piece of hip-hop, we get to see some more depth from Ravi in a turn to the usual message of empowerment. It’s a bit disappointing, however, the track doesn’t shine musically and elevate Ravi’s idol status in the way it intended; it doesn’t surpass 2018’s “NIRVANA” while playing with many of the same elements — the female vocals, harmonies, and a soulful, dance backing track. Despite, we see personal growth and some degree of steadiness which is too often forgotten about. Perhaps, now that VIXX is halting for a while, we can see Ravi stand as his own figure and in the process overturn trap as the essence of hip-hop. Can he suit up to the task?

KLyrics, YouTube [1] [2]. Images via Jellyfish Entertainment