Just when I thought music couldn’t get any better in 2016, Ariana Grande and Chance the Rapper decided to take their respective pop and rap genres to a new level with their recent album releases. Grande with Dangerous Woman (2016) and Chance with Coloring Book (2016). I’ve always had a weird soft spot for pop music thanks to my cousin being a normal 90s girl and being obsessed with Backstreet Boys, N’SYNC, Destiny’s Child, and Britney Spears. My love for rap came from my brother thinking he’s cool for playing it in his room with the door shut and then a majority of my friends when I got to college loved rap music so I felt like I could finally talk to people about it.
Ariana Grande’s new record is putting her on the playing field now with pop legends like Spears and (dare I say it) Taylor Swift. Dangerous Woman trades in Grande’s bubblegum pop style for a darker tone as she comes to terms with sins of her own while embracing who she is as a woman. But that’s not to say her attitude doesn’t go fully 180 degrees. Be Alright and ‘Greedy’ still resemble that innocently risqué attitude that Ariana has brought in her previous two albums. Everyone featured on this album also has a stellar performance like Macy Gray, Future, and Lil Wayne. Into You is definitely going to be the best pop song of 2016 and its on par with some of the best Britney Spears singles that have cemented their way into pop history. There are moments where Dangerous Woman feels safe in terms of structure; but with Grande’s voice and depth, a standup crew of featured artists, and a new tone to embrace the artist’s maturation over the past few years helps usher in the new best pop album of 2016. Overall Rating: 7.5/10 – Very good
Chance the Rapper’s third official mixtape, Coloring Book, starts out with All We Got – one of the best rap album/mixtape/EP/whatever openings I’ve heard in a while. It gets to the point of the mixtape bright and early speaking about how music is all we have so we might as well make it the best it can be. It doesn’t hurt that Chance’s unofficial mentor, Mr. Kanye West himself, is featured on the track. It feels like a sequel to Ultra Light Beams which Chance is featured in on The Life Of Pablo (2016). The fun doesn’t even stop there as Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz take control of the next track, No Problem. The music video is amazing with all of the cameos and it’s a great warning to records to not get in Chance or anyone’s way when it comes to their passion for rap music and culture. Blessings and Mixtape are probably the best written songs on the album. Blessings is an emotional look at Chance’s life between Black Lives Matter movements and his daughter being born. It embraces the gospel / chorus feel that came with TLOP – not just ‘Blessings’ but other songs on the mixtape like the last three songs on the album. My favorite song is All Night.By far the most upbeat song on the album, it’s short and let’s Chance go off on the people who have been taking advantage of him due to his newfound fame and wealth. Chance is just like any person trying to have fun during the best times of his life and ‘All Night’ lets Chance have fun by making fun of the people who won’t let him have fun. Chance the Rapper has been having an incredible year being featured on some of the best singles of 2015 and 2016, being a huge factor in the production of Kanye West’s newest album, and then dropping a brand new mixtape of his own. I only hope these great times last for Chance and his candle doesn’t burn out to early. Overall Rating: 8/10 – Great
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