The worst part about being a full time student on the heels of graduating (who let me have a degree?) is that I can’t dedicate my time to the more important things in my life such as WNS. If I didn’t have Shakespeare papers, anthropology tests, a film to finish, and a bowling league to win, I could write more and give you my deep-seeded thoughts on individual pieces such as the surge of great music lately. Soon I’ll be significantly less busy (and coincidentally job hunting) and be able to give the people more; but for now this is what I’ve been able to build with the pieces I’ve been given. A lot of great music has come out in the past few months and a lot of great music has been discovered/re-discovered by your’s truly.
‘Gone’ by Kanye West feat. Cam’ron & Consequence
I’ll get him out of the way first. The closing track on Late Registration (2005), one of the greatest follow-ups to a debut album, samples Otis Redding’s ‘It’s Too Late’ and more. It’s an incredible collaboration of orchestral samples tacked onto Redding and showcases all three artists’ range tonally as the music composition progresses like an organism in and of itself. West opens the song and then closes it out with a fourth verse that is easily top ten Kanye verses of all time for me.
ANTI (2016) by Rihanna
I’m really bummed Rihanna dropped ANTI (2016) when she did because of how busy I was at the time that I couldn’t write a full blown review of this album. Contrary to popular belief, I was more anxious to listen to ANTI than any other album this year (including The Life of Pablo) With an elusive ad campaign with Samsung and her unrelenting social media presence – along with the rumors about RiRi scrapping the entire album and starting from scratch – she made ANTI one of the most anticipated albums since Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (2013). What was even more incredible was the payoff. I was one of the lucky tweeters who caught Rihanna’s link to download the entire record for free while it was still up and after the first listen I put it at number two in my rankings of her discography behind Loud (2010). After more listens I’ve moved it to number one. As the title suggests, ANTI truly is a complete divergence of Rihanna’s previous work and with a range of hits like the enticing pop-centric Work and emotional ballads like Love on the Brain and Higher. This is unlike anything Rihanna has produced before and you hear her passion in each track. Also the music video for Needed Me is incredibly mediocre but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the song is a banger.
Lemonade (2016) by Beyoncé
Music, lately, has Beyoncé to thank for the “surprise album drop” tactic. Queen B blew the world away when she dropped her self-titled album back in 2013 with quite literally no promotion or even a whisper about a new Beyoncé album. Now her follow-up Lemonade (2016) is out and Knowles changed the game again by releasing a visual album through HBO to compliment the new record. Lemonade is dark and tells the age old tale of the fury of a woman scorned. Beyoncé puts her middle fingers up to her conventional pop days of ‘Love on Top’ and ‘Single Ladies’ and delivers a story that is powerful for men and women but also incredibly passionate. You hear it in Beyoncé’s voice with hits like ‘Hold up’ aided by Jack White and ‘Freedom’ with one of the best Kendrick Lamar verses he’s done yet featured on a track. ‘6 Inch’ is incredible and ‘Sandcastles’ and ‘All Night’ bring tears to my eyes. Just when you thought you were treated to the perfect amount of Beyoncé, she gives you ‘Formation’ for the album closer just to remind you that Beyoncé will always be the Queen of pop and no one will top her while she’s around. I’d put links to the tracks that I highlighted but… You know… Tidal.
Professional Rapper (2015) by Lil Dicky
Lil Dicky might be the funniest rapper I’ve heard in recent memory. Dicky got started with a mixtape in 2013 and then turned to Kickstarter to fund his debut album, videos, and tours. I’m sure people see him as a silly and immature kid trying to be the “fun” rapper and I honestly have no problem with it. Maybe it’s because I connect with the fact that LD is a white middle-class Jew that draws me to him or maybe it’s the fact that he has fun rapping about his average looks and height. The titular track of the album is a literal conversation with Lil Dicky and Snoop Dogg and the two ping pong back and forth with one another without skipping a beat at all. It’s actually Lemme Freak that showed up on my Spotify Discover playlist and got me to check out the album as a whole. There are a plethora of songs embracing the hype and fun part about rap music like Bruh… and Personality (feat. T-Pain) as well as a few emotional numbers like Molly (feat. Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco). There’s plenty to listen to here on this twenty track album and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a divergence from the more often grim and reality side rap music.
Bored to Death by Blink-182
Blink is back and a lot seems right in the world because of it. Drew already covered their new track in his most recent post and what he says is 100% true. The band sounds better than ever with new guitarist Matt Skiba. The song sounds like something straight from their self-titled album and if this is a preview of what’s to come for one of my favorite rock bands, I’m more than excited.
Views (2016) by Drake
At. Long. Last. Drake. I didn’t think it would be Drake’s album I’d be waiting on my last year of college but alas, here we are. Drake took his time releasing Views (2016) and the rapper delivered just as he has the past year and a half. I was a big fan of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (2015) and his collaboration with artist Future on What A Time To Be Alive (2015) was a little lost on me. I was ready for a new Drake and what draws me to this album is how he manages to give me the heartbroken and wandering Drake that I love while giving me new sounds and a harder tone similar to that of IYRTITL. ‘Redemption’ might be a top five Drake song of all time and all of the collaborations are gold – especially ‘With You (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR)’ and ‘Too Good (feat. Rihanna)’. My only concern is that Drake is so hot right now that his fire is going to burn out really soon and I’d hate to see that happen because the Drake I’m seeing is a great Drake. Also I gotta give it to the man, he drops ‘Hotline Bling’ in the middle of the summer; then it dies out and he brings it back with a music video in October; then after it seems to have died out again, he takes notes from Beyoncé and tacks it on as the *bonus* song of the album to bring it back one more time.
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