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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Bling and Sling : The Chainsmokers, Calvin Harris, La La Land, Future Lana Del Ray

Oscars 2017 have come to an end and they ended with a fiasco. Anyhow, I haven’t seen a lot of movies nominated this year so my excitement was a tad low. Anyhow, even though I haven’t seen the movie I gave the soundtrack of La la land a couple of spins and my god what a record it is. This is the kind of music I would love to paint my walls with. The record gives me a good idea of what the movie holds and Justin Hurwitz has done a brilliant job with it. I totally get all the love it’s been getting now.
Next up is Future. The Atlanta rapper came out with two albums FUTURE and HNDRXX. I haven’t given the latter a listen yet but the first one, the first one sounds almost like everything else Future has done till now. I felt like he isn’t moving anywhere artistically. Although there are songs here that good beats and some nice flows and some songs that I might listen for a while but nothing here stands out as amazing and timeless. Moreover after listening this I felt like I have had enough of FUTURE for a month and that’s what kept me from listening HNDRXX.

Now it’s time to address the elephant in the room, the track that got the internet buzzing and one of my friends worried about one of his favorite artists choosing a path not meant for them. It’s time to address the new Chainsmokers song “Something Just Like This” for which they do a collaboration with Coldplay. People who know Coldplay would suggest that it was more a collaboration with Chris Martin than Coldplay because I absolutely didn’t see any musical influence of Coldplay barring the end and then again just when Martin says “I want something just like this” comes the abomination of the song which makes me feel I would never something like this. I was skeptical of this collab but I wasn’t against it. Now after hearing this all I wanna say is if both the groups wanted to collab they should have done it much better. They can. I mean anyone can make music less bland than Chainsmokers but they can at least try to make something different than what they already have over and over and over again. Because what they are doing right now makes them feel more like a product of great market research than a product of inspired music. Not everyone makes great technical music but at least those artist try to do something different Everytime but groups like these run a formula to the ground. Just stop it. I expected lyrics to be good this time but even they felt a bit dumbed down compared to what Coldplay generally come up with. This song is the perfect example of the least essential kind of music. 

Well right after that track came a Calvin Harris track and it featured Frank fucking Ocean and Migos. Well if the above track was an example of taking a step back this one is an example of taking a step ahead. The beat here is good it’s the kind of beat that popular dance music should have. It instantly makes you feel the groove and dance to it. Frank does what one expects him to do and delivers his vocals very efficiently. The Migos are good here too. They seem to have found a place for themselves a groove to fit in and are doing well in what they are good at. They are “bad and boujee” (pun intended). See the thing is I am not always in the mood for the lyrical content of this song but the beat drives me in. The “Slide” is a ride that I enjoy.

Next is Lana Del Ray, who is back with “Love”. I would say that the song is surely enough to “make her fans go crazy”. Subject wise we see the same topics being covered as we have seen her address in her previous work. Her delivery is moody, and her slightly sexualy charged voice helps sets the mood. The track isn’t something out of ordinary but has enough quality to get one excited for new material. She knows her forte and is ready to use it on us. 

Well this was my week when it comes to listening new music. If you have heard the above tracks tell me how you feel about them.

 

Best Music Albums of 2016

Every year we have a variety of artists coming up with their music albums. Music albums is an artist way of letting us peek into their own world, see the world through their eyes, share experiences, or just a straight forward collection of tunes to jam too. This year was no different. We had a lot of memorable and smash hits that defined the year. From the record breaking album by Drake, or the run of smash hits that Justin Bieber had on his “second coming” as an artist. The Chainsmokers reminded us to not let them down and also to bring our loved ones “closer”. Beyonce was no slouch either as it’s evident from her eagerness to get us into a “Formation”.

Here, let’s us have a look at what I feel were the best albums of 2016.

I planned a top 5 list to be dropped right after the Grammy’s dropped their nominations for the best album award. But due to some unexpected releases and me getting into some albums later than planned I’ll giving a top 7 of the year.

7.) The Weeknd- Starboy

The Weeknd started as a Drake protege but ended up getting a Billboard Hot 100 before him. “House of balloons” was great and so was “The Beauty behind the madness”. So coming into this album I had really high expectations and they crashed into the roof and went through it upon seeing the involvement of Daft punk on the album. The groove they create on the first and the last track of this album can be almost felt throughout the project. It’s starts with Starboy which was also the lead single but then crashes into false alarm real soon. I won’t say the song is really bad I do get what The Weeknd tried on it but it breaks the flow of the album real hard. Thankfully that doesn’t happen again. We get a lot of gems like Secrets, Sidewalks which is assisted by a hell of a verse from Kendrick Lamar, I feel it coming etc. Maybe the album could have been shortened. For example: he could have tried axing Rockin’ and  False alarm. But the vocal work was as good as you may expect from Able although it could have been without autotune because The Weeknd doesn’t need it and the autotune doesn’t add much to the album either. We get punch lines, good verses and a music to jam too.

6.) Childish Gambino- Awaken, My love!

I didn’t expect what I got when I first decided to enter this album. Mr. Donald Grover aka Childish Gambino was already a rapper, producer, TV show actor and writer also a stand up comedian now turns out to be a R&B/Soul singer too. Well, anyone can try any genre but not everyone succeeds but Childish Gambino here has been able to put out an extremely efficient and effective product of art to be remembered. He leaves me in two minds after this. Believe me, it’s really difficult for me to decide whether I enjoyed him more as a rapper or a R&B artist. He has literally put his soul into the album and has constructed an immaculate 11 track album that captivates you. Yeah “California” had some weird vocal performance but it’s great almost everywhere else. The production on this record is amazing and some of the base drops are worth everyone’s time. A very solid project overall, a trip to the 1970’s.

5.) Anderson .Paak- Malibu

One always expects a veteran to deliver a solid project but as someone who loves music nothing makes me happier to get someone new and exciting. Anderson .Paak was that artist recently. I was introduced to him on Dr. Dre’s Compton and then various other features so being already aware of his vocal capabilities I excitedly went into this one wanting to see his abilities to conjure up a complete project. The sixteen track album comes with features from Schoolboy Q, Taliban Kweli, BJ the Chicago Kid and the Game among others. I tell you this guy is not your average R&B crooner. He does way more than that and expresses emotions perfectly. The album has introspective moments, sexual innuendos and a lot things that’ll keep you glued to it. He is very deservedly nominated for the best new Artist award at the Grammy’s and I hope he goes away with it.

4.) Beyonce- Lemonade

Probably the most house hold name that you’ll see on this list and also one of the most universally accessible artist. Her accessibility doesn’t hinder her productivity though. Through out the album she looks emotional but strong, ruffled but not blown. She takes a lot of chances and they pay off. I don’t think anyone expected this record to be this way and moreover I never expected a “Don’t hurt yourself” from her. The album features artists like Jack White, Kendrick Lamar and also The Weeknd and I believe all of them paid off. The album even though personal doesn’t stray away from socio-political issues. It’s also a contender for the Album of the Year award and I would find it’s victory a deserved one although I won’t be surprised or offended if Adele takes the award home.

3.) Chance the Rapper- The Coloring Book

The premium Rap album of the year. The album is the meeting point for the athiest and the spirit. The human harmony meets the instrumentation in this strong release which gives you a memorable journey. An album to be kept in the car and to be jammed during your rides. Features from a lot of artists in this help this 14 track piece escalate to higher levels. I want him to bag all the rap awards he is up for and also the best new artist award will be a deserved one. Although for those who know Chance, they know him well and also that he has been here for sometime and what he is capable of.

2.) Radiohead- A moon shaped pool

Radiohead are one of my favorite artists and also are the force behind one of my favorite albums of all time i.e. Kid A. Their last album received a backlash and now they came back this year with this after a long time. The way Thom Yorke uses his voices all over this album gives a range of emotions. His voice is really heart wrenching at times and soothing at others. The groups instrumentation has improved a lot in this album and even though it’s spacey an album for all times it is something that you’ll love to have with you when introspect. It does more to you than a regular spacey album would and it’s easy to go through. Radiohead’s 9th album gives you a lot and they seem to know what they need to do.

1. Frank Ocean- Blonde

Ever since Channel Orange came out it was evident that next Frank Ocean work will be a hugely anticipated one. The release was damn popular and the album gives you gems to enamour Frank Ocean to construct a song and love him even more. Although there are some low-key moments here but the strong points are in a good number and really high to outweigh them. This is a match of my expectations and gave me a lot of memorable moments. This takes the spot as my favorite album of the year.

Honorable Mentions 

  1. David Bowie- Blackstar 
  2. Kaytranada- 99.9%
  3. Danny Brown- Atrocity Exhibition