Writer’s block sucks. I feel like I have nothing to bring to table this week, at least nothing that requires a lot of thought. So I thought I’d keep it simple and just share some albums and EPs that have been making my walks to class and drives a little more bearable. Not all of these are new, nor are they all classics, just great music, that’s the only requisite. Also, this is my opinion, so if you think these suck, let’s argue about it until I realize that music is probably the most subjective artistic medium in existence.
1) Black Panther The Album Music From and Inspired By by Various Artists
Okay so this mainly has to do with the fact that this was put together by Kendrick Lamar and the Top Dawg Entertainment rap collective, but it’s still holds up as a great album and my favorite soundtrack in a really long time. The songs tie into many of the film’s themes, and seeing the film only helped to heighten my appreciation for the album. The production is simple, but song like “Opps” and “X” still find time to experiment with African musical aspects that I do not know the name of, they just sound great. The TDE members do not hold back on the lyrical front either. Ab-Soul’s “It’s warfare/ Is war fair? Nope” line always puts a smile on my face. But the album is flawed, Jorja Smith’s voice does a better job than Benadryl at putting me to sleep, so her song, “I Am”, is by far my least favorite. But, please, if you listen to one song on this album, make sure it’s “Paramedic” by SOB x RBE, also make sure the volume and bass are turned all the way up for the full listening experience, my goodness the energy and personality in these guys is off the charts.
2) Crush – EP by Ravyn Lenae
The absolute smoothest of R&B. So smooth, just so, so smooth. This EP radiates smoothness. I would sleep on this EP if it were somehow materialized into a pillow. It leads with “Sticky” which I’m pretty sure is about a toxic relationship, but the song itself is intoxicating in the best of ways. The chorus is on loop in my head as I type this and Ravyn’s voice sounds just as amazing in my conscious. Listen to “Sticky” and enjoy it, I know you will. You’ll enjoy this entire EP, especially if you enjoy some Steve Lacy production, which is all over this. “The Night Song” is another one of my favorites. The song is just about going on a night where you’re feeling extra confident. If you don’t at least bob your head to this track, you are immediately suspected of not having a soul. This is a fact.
3) Nothing Feels Good by The Promise Ring
An emo album because sadness is okay and makes for some really great music. This album is from 1997, or in other words, the golden age of emo music. The song is swimming in the angst and raw emotion that come with young love. I mean Davey von Bohlen is all over this thing singing about how a relationship will end in darkness, or remembering the outfit an ex-girlfriend would wear. He compares himself to an “old Chevy”. I mean, can’t you just feel the angst? All jokes aside, this is a great album. The instrumentation all fits very well. The guitar, drums and bass all work together perfectly with von Bohlen’s distinct vocals.
4) New Amerykah, Pt. 2 by Erykah Badu
The queen of neo soul can do no wrong. Ms. Badu is a legend at her craft and this is by far my favorite of all of her albums. Love, self-respect and being alone are a few of the topics that she discusses on the album and each one is treated with the class and genuineness that only Badu can provide. The neo-soul is here, but it’s accompanied by some hip-hop, jazz and psychedelic influences. The album is a look into the inner workings of a woman and the conflict of wanting to be alone while also looking for commitment. It presents the fun of being in love in tracks like “Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long” and “Love”, where Badu clamors for and speaks highly of her lover, even calling him “Superman” at one point. But she’s quick to flip the script. “Fall in Love (Your Funeral)” is my favorite of the tracks on here, mainly because of the brutal honesty and fearlessness that Badu exhibits. She just straight up warns a man to not fall in love with her, because she will leave him hurting without a second thought. It’s only fitting that this song is preceded by “You Loving Me” where she brags about using a man. That’s ice cold, Badu, but so damn cool. No joke, this is one of my favorite albums ever, give it a listen and bask in the greatness that is Erykah Badu.
5) 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time by Big K.R.I.T.
Big K.R.I.T. is southern hip-hop’s best MC, and this album proved it. It is a return to form after two disappointing albums. The mixtapes that came before those albums are still some of my favorite mixtapes and established K.R.I.T. as the king of the underground. This album continues that legacy. The project has some K.R.I.T.’s catchiest choruses and most accessible K.R.I.T. songs, while also being the most thought-provoking. On “Mixed Messages”, K.R.I.T. battles internally with some of the messages he sends out in his music and his moral obligations as a man with influence. But he also adds substance to simple topics, like on “Aux Cord” where he just raps about wanting to play some of his favorite R&B and soul music in his car rather than the usual playlists. K.R.I.T. is back, and this album will be in my rotation for a very long time.
Honorable Mention: “Django Jane” and “Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe gave us two new singles. They are amazing. That is all.