Patrick Paige II Breaks Down His Re-Introductory LP “If I Fail Are We Still Cool?” Track by Track
The second solo album from The Internet’s bassist is out now via Fat Possum.
With the neo-soul collective The Internet a decade deep into their career together, we’re about at the point in the group’s trajectory where their individual members’ various solo projects begin to catch up to the legacy of their four solid LPs. Following in the footsteps of recent solo releases from Syd and Steve Lacy, most notably, comes the second album from Patrick Paige II—featuring guest spots from both Syd and Lacy—which serves as a proper re-introduction to the artist as an entity apart from his world-renowned band.
The meaty 17-track album If I Fail Are We Still Cool? feels a bit familiar both in its sounds refracting those of The Internet and the record’s mission statement—one of reinvention and finding oneself as a musician with their own voice. Building upon 2018’s Letters of Irrelevance and the instrumental work that preceded it, the cool verses on early singles “So They Say” and “Whisper,” and the integration of verses from his Internet peers as well as Saba, Westside McFly, and Kaytranada collaborator Durand Bernarr, present a new confidence in Paige’s work that clearly defines a new chapter in the artist’s discography.
To give us a little more detail on each of the record’s songs, Paige broke the album down track by track for us. Listen along as you read his walkthrough below.
This song sets the tone for the album. It’s an update to listeners as to how I’ve been, where I’m at mentally, and where I stand in the context of my career.
2. “New Habits”
“New Habits” is pretty straightforward—it plays directly off of the title. It describes a new series of affirmations and verbal manifestations. It marks the beginning chapter of the “story,” revealing some new and improved habits, routines, and goals that I aspire to reach.
3. “Big Plays”
I view “Big Plays” as a track where I experienced a personal breakthrough, an “aha” moment, if you will. It was one of the first times in my life where I felt comfortable and confident behind the mic, and in what I was doing with my career. It’s a metamorphosis of sorts and places an emphasis on how I’ve taken charge and grown into the artist that I am today.
“Curfew” was written as a mental note to self. It’s a reminder to stay focused, stay disciplined, and not lose sight of the path and goals that I’ve set for myself. I think of the song as an effort of self-expression to keep myself in check.
“Runway” is another track that plays directly off of the title. The track represents a moment of self-reckoning where I became ready to take off and take flight. When I say “take off,” I speak in terms of my career, health, and everything else in my life that I’ve embraced and have become ready for in abundance.
6. “40,000 Feet”
This track was written on a first class flight to London. I was in a more serious mood/space at the time, and that is directly reflected in the lyrics of the track. A lot was running through my mind at once, so I decided to gather my thoughts and write down my emotions at the time, which sparked the inception of the track.
“Accountable” expands on what I spoke about in the introductory track. I like to think of this track as a further reintroduction of Patrick Paige II. I describe how I’ve finally stepped into my own and feel more confident about who I’m becoming and the newfound purpose that I’ve discovered.
8. “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Much”
“Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Much” details another series of affirmations, this time touching upon the subject with my fellow bandmate Syd from The Internet. Syd and I describe the successes we’ve already experienced on our own and the additional achievements we are chasing that are on their way.
On this track I explore a simple concept with Steve Lacy, Allen Love, and Durand Bernarr—going after the person you want and getting them with ease. The scene and mood of the track are set with the first verse and chorus and the smooth, interwoven back-and-forth between collaborators exemplifies the overall chemistry of the track.
10. “Good Grace”
This track is special to me because it was the first song I made for the album. I would say that this track was the catalyst that inspired me to make another project—it was after completing this song that I decided to go full-steam ahead in writing and recording another album. It’s the only song I produced alone, as well. The lyrics touch upon being grateful for what I have now, while remaining humble to the truth that all isn’t as it seems and there is still much work to be done and more levels of success to be achieved.
11. “So They Say”
I’ve always struggled with the concept that “everything happens for a reason.” This internal dilemma is what gave birth to the title “So They Say”—it’s something that I’ve always been told, but have grappled with personally understanding. Dispelling my existing doubt and fear and trying to have a better understanding of this concept is what is at the core of what’s explored in this song.
12. “Who Am I”
A melancholic interlude, very reminiscent of the vibe on my first album Letters of Irrelevance. “Who Am I” plays as a cathartic venting session that touches upon my thoughts on current affairs, morals, and life in general.
13. “Westside Player S**t”
“Westside Player S**t” touches on a lot of topics that are discussed throughout the album. The track, produced by one of my favorite producers Ashton McCreight, is one of my favorite instrumentals on the project. It’s nostalgic of my home city of Los Angeles, which was a part of the inspiration and gave way to the title.
As most freestyles are, this song acts as a lyrical showcase by both Saba and myself. It displays our abilities as artists to flow freely on a track while still keeping subject matter in mind. Although the track is a freestyle, the common themes of purpose and success run throughout the entirety of this track.
15. “Feeling Myself”
Another song that was written about rediscovering purpose in my career and artistry. In “Feeling Myself” I take this newfound purpose to another level and embrace it with confidence and focus.
16. “Sun Up”
“Sun Up” is a personal, emotional release touching on my frustrations of being so close to achieving the next level of success that I can taste it. I speak on my newfound feeling of how nothing can stop or get in the way of achieving my goals. From sun up to sun down, I’m constantly working on myself and taking strides toward the future I want to build for myself.
17. “Outro (Wake Up)”
With the final track of the album I find myself blending spirituality alongside my new mindset and confidence that has been discovered throughout the course of making this album. I remind myself that if I keep God first and focus on myself there will always be a way to manifest my dreams and bring them to life.