Bling and Sling 2: Drake, Oddisee, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Gorillaz.

Hello Everyone, it has been quite a while now since the last time I talked about any thing over here. Well life happens and there are somethings that one wishes to avoid but those things still do happen. Moving on, over this period we have had a lot of released during this period and as always some of it pulls me towards it everyday since its release the rest I try to avoid or have been indifferent towards it.

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Starting with Drake. Drake o Drake, this guy comes out with album calls it a playlist a fucking 22 track playlist and still has bigger first week numbers than any other artist who released an album (and called it an album too). Well, him calling “More Life” a playlist was one of the reasons that kept me away from the whole thing, I saw the track-list and felt like well that’s a huge number of tracks, is he not confident enough to call it an album? Or is this just another marketing strategy from him? But then finally I stopped being a sceptic and put this on. He starts is well and beats are enjoyable overall. “Passion fruit” is good, “Free Smoke” is good, “Skepta Interlude”, “4422”, “Ice Melts” are among some of the good tracks over here. The biggest thing that I took away or should I say enjoyed the most are the features. This has a nice array of features woven together throughout the album be it Young Thug, Travi$ Scott, Quavo, Sampha, Giggs or Black Coffee none of them sound wasted. But one must say how much this album needed these features to be actually listenable given how long this was because personally I don’t feel Drake does that good of a job over here. He doesn’t really hold the album together. I have heard that this is called as “Better than Views” by many but what I felt that this is Drake just skimming whatever he can from this particular sound. Not the most interesting piece of music to get your head and ears into. I do believe that had this been released as a proper album the ratings would have fallen down. I initially wanted to write a complete review for this but it being a playlist kept me from doing that.

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Next up is Oddisee. Well, actually I heard this album, The Iceberg, before I heard Drake’s and let this be told that both are very different in their approach towards Hip Hop. This was first album I heard from Oddisee and I am very happy that I gave this album a spin. I heard this for the first time when I was travelling and I think it is good to explore the unknowns when you travel and also that I would preferred the window seat instead of the aisle for listening this. I liked it as an introduction to this guy. I love the instrumentals here, the sounds are recorded by a live band for this album and it gives a very rich feel to it.  The features are very limited but to the point. The album is short, concise and to the point as it is just 12 tracks long and has interesting topics. The important take away is how smoothly this guy raps. This is his 11th studio album and for sure I am gonna hear his earlier work and look out for whatever he comes up with in the future.

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Kendrick Lamar!!! Well guess what now this guy who considered as being underground a few years ago now has a Billboard top 5 hit single. The only reason one must step in the game is to be the greatest and Kendrick is hopping no running towards the crown of being the Greatest of All Time (The GOAT). Will he run out of breathe? No one knows. But he made a point with the release of “The Heart Part IV” that he is not gonna hold back. He is going to reach for it. Kendrick is important because he keeps the things interesting, he tries new things, now that he is famous he can give a platform to others like him, he can be a platform himself and most importantly he never fails to astonish us. Just as he says that there are astonishment and accomplishment. The one I started this post with, Drake, has accomplished a lot, probably more than any active rapper has but how many times has he astonished you, probably never and maybe he isn’t even aiming for that he knows the guns in his arsenal and he knows how to use them to full capacity but he ain’t got no tanks or bombs to drop on us. But this guy Kendrick, he does. With “Humble” he did it again. The first single from his album that drops in a couple of days he seems to be going for a different direction than before, a weird kind of pop rap it sounds like but I am sure that this won’t be the signature sound of the whole album. “Humble” is as pop as Kendrick gets and he has everything in the right place over there. So sit down and be ready for April 14th.

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I still play Blonde regularly, when its night, I am on a ride to some place and a cool breeze is swaying past me, this is my go to album. I didn’t expect Frank Ocean to drop much stuff this year but he has already dropped two tracks. First was “Chanel” which is among my favourite singles from this year. “Chanel” is a track that will hold its own when put up against the best tracks on “Blonde”. On this Frank again showcases his ability to connect emotionally to the listener on a level that the song feels tailor-made for one’s soul. He knows how to peel layers of his soul to reach ours as he sings over the slow piano on this track. It’s always good to hear an artist try something new and still sound very comfortable on it and Frank achieves exactly that on this track that grows a lot on further listens. A similar feat is achieved by him on the track “Biking” which features Jay-Z and Tyler, the Creator. The song features a very unorthodox verse from Jay-Z, in-fact everything about this song is unorthodox. The structure is so different from what makes a everyday song that it surprises the listener. It’s very easy to make a mess out of such a song but they use the chaos over here as a ladder and come out with a very enjoyable product that puts one’s mind to comfort. Simple pianos, guitars and percussion are very reminiscent of Blonde and the verses over here are an extension to his emotions on Blonde. I didn’t enjoy the song that much on first listen but now its a good one to vibe too. “When’s the last time I asked for some help that I couldn’t get from nobody else” this is true for everyone who lives.

Gorillaz!!. Yeah this has been an enjoyable period of music. March and April gave me a lot to enjoy to musically. “Andromeda” was the first track I heard. The song is minimalist but also very colourful. The song feels exactly like a galaxy, a galaxy with vibrant textures. The moment it starts it puts it puts you in the centre of a club, where everyone is dancing but there is strange vibe to the club that you feel the need to explore and D.R.A.M with his vocals adds a lot of emotion and feel to the theme of the song. The second track I heard was “Let me out” featuring Pusha T and Mavis Staples. The strange collab feels like a puzzle piece fixed to perfection on this track with hard drums and minor pianos. The vibe is anxious, dramatic and yet puts you in the club yet again. In the meantime, I am also enjoying the Lorde singles a lot, on “Liability” Lorde has come out with a very definitive and creative piece of songwriting that puts me in my excited shoes when it comes to her next album.

There was a lot of music released in the last few weeks but there’s only so much one can write about. So tell me how you felt about these tracks and what are your favourite tracks from the recent past.

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Grammy 2017 – Predictions and Expectations

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The Grammys are here (Again). We all have favorite songs, albums and artists and them getting or not getting awards doesn’t really affect the extent to which we like but it’s feels good to see some of favorite take home prized trophies back home and get the deserved recognition. So today, I am going to list down my predictions and expectations for this year. Well, this year the award will be awarded in a whooping 84 categories so I’ll be predicting only some of the major ones here. Let’s go.

Album of the Year

Already, I have talked about it in detail in the previous post so I’ll be just listing it down.

  • Should win – Lemonade (Beyonce)
  • Would win – Lemonade (Beyonce)

Record of the Year

What we have here is one great song, one huge song, one good but too cheesy song, one average song and one somehow a song (You all figure out which one is which). On a serious note the deserving candidates are Formation and Hello.

  • Hello – Adele
  • Formation – Beyonce (Would and Should Win)
  • 7 Years – Lukas Graham
  • Work – Rihanna feat. Drake
  • Stressed Out – Twenty One Pilots

Song of the Year

This can be an interesting category but I think it will down to the two heavy weights (Adele and Beyonce it is).

  • Hello – Adele (Would and Should Win)
  • Formation – Beyonce
  • I Took a Pill in Ibiza – Mike Posner
  • Love Yourself – Justin Bieber
  • 7 Years – Lukas Graham

Best New Artist

Interesting category this one mostly because an artist (or two) may be bereft-ed  for a very deserved acknowledgement of their talent and astounding potential their work has had this past year and the years before.

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • The Chainsmokers (Would win)
  • Chance the Rapper (Should win)
  • Maren Morris
  • Anderson .Paak

Pop

Best Pop Solo Performance

This year has the possibility of being a very big one for either Beyonce or Adele. They come head to head on this one again alongside some other good nominees.

  • Hello – Adele (Would and Should win)
  • Hold Up – Beyonce
  • Love Yourself – Justin Bieber
  • Piece by Piece (Idol Version) – Kelly Clarkson
  • Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande

Best Pop Vocal Album

A very underwhelming category full of sort of underwhelming albums. This one seems to be a clear cut victory for the British songstress Adele (until and unless the Academy have a surprise set for the night).

  • 25 – Adele (Would and Should win)
  • Purpose – Justin Bieber
  • Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande
  • Confident – Demi Lovato
  • This is Acting – Sia

Alternative

Best Alternative Music Album

This is the tightest category, a really tight one and I believe the Academy voters will be having a really torrid time voting the winner purely based on quality of the product. My favorite album among the nominees is Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool but all the artists have an awesome album here. But, David Bowie (RIP) might be the one bagging it home not just because of his death but as a tribute for his contribution to the genre and music in general and it’ll be very deserved.

  • 22, A Million – Bon Iver
  • Blackstar – David Bowie (Would and Should win)
  • The Hope Six Demolition Project – PJ Harvey
  • Post Pop Depression – Iggy Pop
  • A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

Rock

Best Rock Performance

  • Joe (Live from Austin City Limits) – Alabama Shakes
  • Don’t Hurt Yourself – Beyonce Feat. Jack White
  • Blackstar – David Bowie (Would and Should win)
  • The Sound of Silence – Disturbed
  • Heathens – Twenty One Pilots

R&B

Best R&B Performance

  • Turnin’ Me Up – BJ The Chicago Kid
  • Permission – Ro James
  • I Do – Musiq Soulchild
  • Needed Me – Rihanna (Would win)
  • Cranes in the Sky – Solange (Should win)

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Personally, I would love if Anderson .Paak gets to walk away with this as Beyonce might very well scoop the bigger ones but yeah she deserves this. Gallant had a good album too was very disappointed with Rihanna’s album.

  • Lemonade – Beyonce (Would and Should win)
  • Ology – Gallant
  • We are King – KING
  • Malibu – Anderson .Paak
  • Anti – Rihanna

Rap

Best Rap Performance

Will like to express my opinion on the songs nominated here. I really love No Problem so I’ll be very happy to see it win this. Panda on the other is the biggest rap song among the nominees so it has a chance of its own and it isn’t a bad track just not good enough to me. I can’t see the merit in Pop Style that academy does. All The Way Up is just meh and That Part is a fine track not too great. Academy can give it to Panda but hoping Chance is rewarded

  • No Problem – Chance The Rapper Feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz (Should Win)
  • Panda – Desiigner (Would Win)
  • Pop Style – Drake feat. The Throne
  • All the way up – Fat Joe &Remyy Ma feat. French Montana & Infrared
  • That Part – Schoolboy Q feat. Kanye West

Best Rap/Sung Performance

Here, in this category we have some really tight competition and great songs. Beyonce comes up with a great song and Kendrick has a very notable feature on it. “Hotline Bling” is a really good song to chill out to and is the most popular song in this category. “Broccoli” even though it isn’t exactly my type of song is still an interesting one and I really loved “Ultralight Beam”, can’t say the same about “Famous” though.

  • Freedom – Beyonce feat. Kendrick Lamar
  • Hotline Bling – Drake (Would win)
  • Broccoli – D.R.A.M feat Lil Yatchy
  • Ultralight Beam – Kanye West feat. Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream (Should Win)
  • Famous – Kanye West feat. Rihanna

Best Rap Album

God, Grammys please don’t give it to Drake, not that Views is a very terrible album it’s just it isn’t that much of a Rap record. I think there’s a chance that they may award it to Drake as it’s also nominated for the Best Album category but please Grammy let it be a more sensible night and give it to Chance the Rapper or Schoolboy Q. I think this category is meant to be Chance’s.

  • Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper (Would and Should win)
  • And The Anonymous Nobody – De La Soul
  • Major Key – DJ Khaled
  • Views – Drake
  • Blank Face LP – Schoolboy Q
  • The Life of Pablo – Knaye West

Well, that’s pretty much it. These are all the categories that I am going to express my views upon and let’s gear up and see what the award envelopes hold for the artists and the fans.

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Grammy 2017- Album of the Year (Analysis, Prediction and Expectation)

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The Grammy’s , music’s biggest night is here to celebrate music and musicians and Album of the year is probably its most coveted award. Last year we saw Taylor Swift bag this one even though I still feel Kendrick was a more deserving candidate for “To Pimp a Butterfly” but past is past and this year we have a new mix of artist nominated for it. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

1.) Beyonce – Lemonade

Well this album was in the list of my favorite albums of 2016 and those who have read that already know that I truly love this album. It is a very solid record and Beyonce is a big favorite to take home the award and moreover the Academy voters seem to like her a lot given she has won 20 grammys in her career already and I believe she is the strongest candidate for this category as well as others. The album  was huge received well universally both by fans and critics so expect her to walk away with this.

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2.) Justin Bieber – Purpose

Purpose wasn’t an album I was going to listen to. Not hating on Justin but it’s just that I don’t really see him as an artist I would like to listen a complete album from. Prior to the announcement of the nods I had heard the singles and wasn’t really disappointed with them. “Sorry” was cool, “What do you mean?” was fine, “Love Yourself” written by Ed Sheeran sounds like a Sheeran song which Justin got his hands on because he even seems emulate Ed on this but is a good song, so is “Where are U now?”. So, I did hear the complete album after seeing this nomination and I did see growth not that much of an artistic growth but more of a personal growth by that I mean in age. He couldn’t have made the music he made 5 years ago and he didn’t. This is a very modern sounding album with nice moods and good production almost all over it but the vocals do leave a lot to be desired, even more from an album which up for this award. Overall this is a mediocre album and I don’t expect the Academy to award mediocrity so not expecting Justin to win this.

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3.) Adele – 25

Queen Adele has been up on that famous Grammy stage to receive this award and many more and this year she is in the race again with an album that went on to break probably all the sales records and sold more copies in the first week than what 99.99% of the albums manage to sell in their lifetime. I liked the album and  given that it is a quality project and has more universal appeal than any of its competitors, it is a very strong candidate to win the award. The vocal performance from Adele is astounding on the whole record, lyrics are good but the production does feels a bit lacking at places throughout the album. Personally, I would prefer “Lemonade” over “25” but if Adele wins it I’ll be very okay with it.

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4.) Drake – Views

Drake is one of biggest active male music artist and Views further helped him cement his position. It’s his biggest album commercially and also has some of the biggest songs of his career in “Hotline Bling” and “One Dance”.I liked the album a lot upon first listen but with passage of time the album started to feel a bit too long most probably due to the monotonous tones, vocals that continue throughout the album. There are a lot of catchy beats in the record and songs like “Hotline Bling” are a really good example of a chill song. I also like what Rihanna does on “Too Good”. “Fire and Desire”, “Views” and “Weston road flows” are some really good tracks. But I feel the album would have been much better if it was about 75% of its length. I don’t expect or back Drake to win the award Views.

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5.) Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth

This is another album I might not have heard if it wasn’t nominated for The Grammys. It might be among the compulsory Country/Folk nomination that we have every year but just like every album we have had from this genre or category in recent year this is very solid album. It’s not your regular major label country record, it comes with its own individuality, we even see the cover of a Nirvana song (In Bloom) on this which is handled really well. The album doesn’t stretch at all and is very compact with just 9 songs in it. Each and every song here contributes to the flow of the album. It is a good record but if it wins it’ll only be a surprise victory. I don’t expect it to win the accolade though a victory won’t be completely undeserving.

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So, these are the nominees. Well I wouldn’t say that these 5 are the best album from the eligibility period for this year’s award certainly there were better albums released during that period but the academy has chosen them and I hope the best among them i.e. Lemonade wins it.