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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The Past few Days: Linkin Park, Ed Sheeran, Sampha, Maroon 5, Katy Perry and more.

The Grammys are done and there were some really bright moments the brightest of them all probably (apart from Cee Lo Green’s clothing) was Adele’s walk of triumph after triumph. Many would argue a better scenario would have been Bey taking home the coveted Album of the year but I wouldn’t go that far and say Adele didn’t deserve it, after all she had a good album and the biggest album of the last few years. But now the world of music moves forward and we have had new releases in the meanwhile.

So, let’s get started with Sampha. I happened to stumble upon his album actually. I was tuning into Beats 1 Radio stream expecting to hear Big Sean’s “I Decided” but was too late and by the time I tuned in they were finished with Sean and had Sampha on, the song “Under” was playing and I loved it straight away. I gave the album “Process” a listen and man oh man it was brilliant. In fact it is right now my favorite album released in 2017. The British singer’s efforts on this Alternative R&B, electronic record are very commendable and this being his debut album gives me a lot of hope for the what the future holds. And now as I used the word future it reminds me of another song I heard today, Maroon 5 feat. Future “Cold“. I must say that I wasn’t as disappointed by the as I was by the music video. It was a pain in the ass. The song however was again nothing special heck even Adam didn’t look excited for it in the beginning.

Then there’s also the Linkin Park track “Heavy” that got released today. The song is something very different than what one may expect from the band specially after how their last album sounded like. The song features vocals from Chester Bennington and guest vocals from Kiiara. Chester might seem unrecognizable at first when the song starts “I don’t like my mind right now” and goes on to talk about how he is handling the problems andhow the weight of the stuff he has to handle might be getting too much to handle for him and so does Kiiara. The vocals here are done well and the production on “Heavy” is light but enjoyable and fits the theme well the problem here is that this song sounds just like many other songs one may hear on the radio and even though it’s a comparatively new territory for the seasoned band I personally think it’s playing safe as I expected bands like LP to push the barriers a little more and go past the defined boundaries but maybe that’s just me. Anyhow, it is a good track to bump from time to time and I am excited to listen what they do with “One More Light” which comes out in May.

There’s also Ed Sheeran who released a new song (not a single he says) “How would you feel (Paean)”. I enjoyed his previous songs both “Castle on the hill” and “Shape of you“. This one here is song that is very reminiscent of “Thinking out loud” as he sings soulfully while playing his guitar in the background. He sings mostly in the mid and higher vocal range. It’s a very enjoyable song for those who have enjoyed his previous stuff. It’s very well written and increases my expectations with the upcoming album of his (Divide).

I’ll also like to shout out Jens Lekman for his album “Life will see you now“. The project is multi-colored in structure and has references to disco, funk, and soul among other genres. It has the potential to be one of the highlights among the Indie Pop genre music released this year. Oh and now the word highlight reminds of another album that’s Lupe Fiasco‘s “DROGAS light“. Well to be fair to Lupe I didn’t like this record. It was just too safe and almost none of the tracks here stand out to me and promise to be the one’s that I’ll keep on bumping in the future. I was very disappointed in the album. Disappointment reminds of another artist, Katy Perry. Well the new song “Chained to the rhythm” which features Skip Marley is just kind of trashy to me. I don’t really like calling people’s music trashy but that gave me a headache on the first listen itself (I have heard it more than once though). I hope it grows on me but right now I could have better done without it. 

There was a lot of stuff released recently and difficult to talk about it all but yeah NAV has released a song featuring The Weeknd it’s called “Some way” wasn’t exactly head over heels for it but yeah it’s a cool track to listen to and it grows on you. Probably The Weeknd takes shots at Justin Bieber in this one and believe me those lines are burn inducing. Which reminds me of Selena Gomez. She also released new music with Kygo. The song is titled “It Aint me” and has all the ingredients to be a hit but it’s largely a track that will be forgotten as soon as a new hit hits the market. 

So yeah, that’s pretty much it from me. Keep listening and do tell me what and who you are looking out for and what you feel about the above tracks and albums.
 

Big Sean – I Decided Review

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Detroit rapper Big Sean aka Sean Don or whatever you may like to him is back again with his 4th studio album and he calls it “I Decided”. To be fair to Big Sean I think he receives too much backlash (more than he deserves). At least to me he has been improving with each and every album and to sum it up the trend very much continues with this one. Until now all of his albums have had hit or miss tracks for my taste (more miss than hit). I used to like a few tracks here and there on them but this one had me all optimistic largely because of the singles that dropped before its release. So I decided (No pun intended) to give this album a listen the day it dropped.

The album starts off just fine with the “Intro” then it reaches a three track run that I liked here and made me feel even more hopeful for what’s in store. I like the Jeremih featuring tracks “Light” and “Bounce Back” might be one of my favorite Big Sean tracks to date, Metro Boomin does a great job on this one with the production. “No Favors” was fine although the verses by both Eminem and Sean are good on their own they just don’t fit together that well on this particular song and I believe Eminem could have done much better with his verse and contributed more to the song and album substance wise. There are tracks on this album that I would have cropped out and will probably skip on further listens like “Jump out of Window” (probably made Lady Gaga jump during her performance too (just joking) ) but there are other tracks that I really love, like the song “Sacrifices” featuring Migos. Other tracks like “Sunday Morning Jetpack, “Voices in my head” and “Moves” are some notable tracks over here.

The album receives executive production from Kanye West and production wise is a well put together album though at times the production may sound a bit tiring. It has trap elements throughout the album and a very modern sound. It’s true the album gains in production and content but still lacks long term replay-ability and Big Sean still needs to improve his delivery. One of his major problem is his voice which might sound very boring to a lot of listens and takes away the overall a affect a song might have had if it had been delivered by a more potent vocalist. Other problem is the lack of originality and inventiveness that Sean’s project have always had to actually portray him as the biggest superstar that he aims to be.

Overall, I will say this is my favorite Big Sean album to date but still it leaves a lot to be desired from a top tier artist who hails from a top tier music label with Kanye in it. It will be interesting to see where Big Sean goes after this in his career.

I give this album a 6.5/10. If you already heard do tell me what do you feel about it and if not then tell me what keeps you from listening to Big Sean or artists like him.

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.