Albums of the Month: September
We're well into midterm season so you're most likely drowning in academia. In case you need a break, check out what you may have missed in the month of September.
In the Cards
Glassnote Records; 2015
I don’t know very much about Robert DeLong. Actually, I knew nothing at all about him or his music besides the two singles I heard prior to my sitting down and reviewing his new album, In the Cards (2015). I started the album off worrying, finding the titular song “In the Cards” too tinny for my tastes, but I kept going. Quirky, dark mid-pace pop songs with stadium-arena hooks, the singles I was already acquainted with, “Long Way Down” and “Don’t Wait Up,” showed up early on in the album and eased my worries. However, it was the song “Jealousy” that allowed me to regard the album as a whole instead of individual pass or fail songs—the heavy-handedness of its synth complemented DeLong’s distorted voice fueled my hopes up for the rest of the album.
“Possessed” is a minimalistic dance song while “Sellin’ U Something”, pun intended, sold me on the weird marriage DeLong has made between schizophrenic pop and the world of electronica. It somehow makes a weird, whining electronic melody absolutely compelling. “Acid Rain” is an another shining point on the album, an elusive balance of pop vocals with a unique electronic sound that makes you want to sing and dance along to.
There are a couple of slower and more lyrically and sonically formulaic songs, like “Born to Break,” that transition back into same strange quality found in the first song, “In the Cards.” The songs, “Future’s Right Here,” “Pass Out,” and “That’s What We Call Love” all seem to remind me that DeLong has been developing his own personal music style but the reality of the situation is that he’s he’s creating the type of sound far more clever than I ever could have anticipated.
Terrible Records; 2015
Empress Of is a solo project bt New York based artist Lorely Rodriguez. While she has garnered attention for her comparisons which include everyone from FKA Twigs to Bjork, Empress Of creates a visual narrative of depth and emotion that is wholly unique to her.
One of Rodriguez's biggest strengths is her tendency to layer of sounds within her music. Each time you listen to a song, it's the complexities in the background that add to the lush experience of the album. She demonstrates her skill as a gifted lyricist through using political metaphors to discuss issues such as class division and feminism. Paired with evocative lyrics such as, “water, water is a privilege/ Just like kids who go to college,” creates an experience that invokes both imagery and thought.
There is an overarching theme of finding self-love. She explores this concept through the lens of her using her sexuality but ultimately understands that she needs to love herself to finally break free. This is explored on tracks such as “Kitty Kat” and “Make Up,” which both explore the negative effects of having habitual sex with someone past the point where it’s mutually rewarding. This message is carried through with provocative lyrics such as “Nothing comes between us but a piece of latex,” and “don’t kitty, kitty cat me like I’m just your pussy.”
The song “Need Myself,” is a clear breaking point on the album, the moment where she realizes that she need to do better for herself. Whether she actually does that or just keeps succumbing to her vices is left open on the album allowing for the listener to interpret and find an ending themselves.
- Chantel Ouellet
self- released; 2015
Young Thug is the most interesting voice in hip-hop in 2015. There, I said it. I have never been so continuously baffled, intrigued and amazed by his incredibly original butchering of pop hooks and language, screwing up and tossing every syllable into a vocal delivery that is part chirped (in a birdlike manner), groaned, belted, squealed, sung, and sometimes even rapped. He’s flamboyant, ridiculous and fearless in both his words and his style. Love him or hate him, there is truly nothing that sounds like a good Young Thug verse in 2015, because Young Thug’s flow is not from this planet.
The highly-anticipated Barter 6 (2015), is without a doubt his most mature work to date and Slime Season follows directly in its footsteps. It is a collection of songs, rather than a cohesive work like B6 but both follow a similar style in terms of Thuggr’s delivery and the production choices (ATL producer London On Da Track was responsible for Barter 6’s uniquely wounded & melancholic atmosphere).
However, on Slime Season, we see some new tricks from Young Thug; ‘Quarterback’ features rapidfire verses from rappers Quavo and Takeoff (of Migos fame), as well as a beat by Sonny Digital that is equally full-throttle, and tracks ‘Udiggwhatimsaying’ and ‘That’s All’ are a clear throwback to the playful lewdness of the I Came From Nothing (2011) and 1017 Thug (2013) mixtape trilogies. The London On Tha Track-produced bonus track ‘Wanna Be Me’ easily has some of my favorite vocal & lyrical moments, with Thuggr slurring every syllable and ripping it up with the autotune in that very special Young Thug way. It may not be as focused as Barter 6, but there is definitely more candy to choose from. And with Young Thug, candy is everything in the world, because he’s made of it.
Overall, Slime Season is a great summary of where Thuggr is at right now, and is sure to turn the ears of both new and old fans alike. His voice is weird as hell - yes, get over it - but that’s all part of the charm. Picture a phoenix catching fire at the peak of its ascent, but letting out one final, glorious shrill before perishing in a majestic fashion - this is the voice of Young Thug. He hangs onto the edge of hip-hop, poised to fall completely off the rails and results in consistent aural magic.
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