Saturday, May 21, 2016

Day 21 | Dangerous Woman x Ariana Grande

Artist: Ariana Grande
Album: Dangerous Woman (2016)

Ms. Grande has been consistently winning our hearts for quite a few years now. Before she gained mainstream attention, she was posting covers via YouTube. It wasn't until 2012, when I heard her cover of 'Emotions' by Mariah Carey, who just so happens to be one of my all time favorite musicians, that I became an immediate fan. Her good girl image accompanied with a powerful, angelic voice and incredible vocal range make it hard to deny or ignore her talent. 

Dangerous Woman was released a few days ago and I was pleasantly surprised. Even with a title as alluring as "Dangerous Woman", the content on this record still manages to have an innocent touch overall, but she's has earned her right to loosen up, be sexy from time to time, yet still keep it tasteful. I find it rather endearing that this album still plays on the safe side, but I don't think it's her style to dive too deep into sexuality, which I respect. She's nothing like what society expects a former Disney star to be and that's another thing that I've always really liked about her.

On all her projects, she tends to collaborate very well with other artist, even the ones with a completely different sound. For instance, never in a million years would I expect a Lil' Wayne verse to work on 'Let Me Love You', but that song is actually one of my favorite tracks from this album. Leave Me Lonely, as well as 'Side to Side' , were also tracks where the artist's spot on the song was cohesive. My opinion on the song 'Everyday' is a bit bias, because I don't too much like Future, but it's still a decent song. All in all, the collaborations made the album.

  • Favorite tracks: 'Sometimes', 'Let Me Love You' ft. Lil Wayne, 'Dangerous Woman'

Dangerous Woman is an album I can tolerate to listen to on repeat. Although I can appreciate her direction as an artist, I still feel like she may be holding back, like there's a few soulful layers we haven't seen yet. If that's the case, she definitely has a bright future ahead of her. One thing I've learned in regards to longevity in the music industry is that it's never good to give too much too soon, and being that she so young, I'm convinced there's more in store for her audience.  

Friday, May 20, 2016

Day 20 | Sound & Color x Alabama Shakes

Artist: Alabama Shakes
Albums: Sound & Color (2015)

Alabama Shakes, whose first name was simply The Shakes, started back in 2009 as a jam session between friends, with Heath Fogg and lead singer, Brittany Howard both playing the guitars, Zac Cockrell on the bass, and Steve Johnson on the drums. Gaining more mainstream media attention in 2011, the group formulated this immaculate sounding band that I have only fallen in love with recently. For the longest time, my best friend has been recommending them and I kept putting it off. Not sure why it took me so long to get into this incredible band, but I'm so happy I finally did.

Anytime a musician is new to me, I go as far back as possible to start from the beginning, because I think it helps the listener better understand direction. As impressed as I was with Alabama Shakes EP, their sophomore album, Sound & Color, really stood out to me. Three years separated from their debut album, Boys & Girls, by this time, their sound had definitely matured. There was a lot more depth, more soul, more of Howard's roaring vocals in the forefront, and heavier use of their individual instrumental gifts.

  • Favorite songs: 'Gimme All Your Love', 'Guess Who', and 'Future People'

Despite the apparent influences from the likes of Prince, Led Zeppelin, and Macy Gray, they're still able to maintain a very unique sound and produce music way ahead of its time. Sound & Color is one of those albums that's easy get completely lost in; shut off all the lights, turn up the volume, and allow the music to cover me. Strange yet beautiful, this band brings a completely new dynamic to the turntable that makes me super excited to hear what's next.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day 19 | The Electric Lady x Janelle Monae

Artist: Janelle Monae
Album: The Electric Lady: Suites IV & V (2013)

Janelle Monae's The Electric Lady: Suites IV & V, to my great anticipation, dropped  on 9.10.13 and it was an instant classic. From start to finish, this project has a continuous retro funk/soul/pop energy, accompanied by genius collaborations and an incredible live band sound throughout.  In so many ways, it's so reminiscent of 90's summer in Atlanta.  Anyone who is  true fan of the hip-hop music duo, Outkast, can hear Big Boi's influence in most of her work, along with other notable artist, however it's all her original style with no comparisons needed. The vocals, lyrics, and instrumentation all come together in such a lovely way, that a masterpiece production was inevitable. Even listening to it almost 3 years later, my sentiments remain the same. 

Although it was hard choosing even a 6/19 (with 3 interludes and 2 short introduction tracks, therefore it's really 5/14), my favorite tracks are: Electric Lady (tt. Solange), Primetime (ft. Miguel), Look Into My EyesDorothy Dandridge Eyes (ft. Esperanza Spalding), What an Experience, and Victory, which samples Lauren Hill's Zion to a subtle perfection.  This still does not exclude the fact that I am literally in love with every song on this album. 

I like the way she has yet to lose sight of her original technological/android theme that she started with on her debut album; the title is so fitting. The coolest thing about this entire project is Janelle's vivid imagination and how she uses it to convey her truth. As the ArchAndroid saga continues, her individuality rains pure gold on everything she touches. What is even more apparent is that it's not a rushed compilation, full of filler tracks and awful songwriting, which is something many of us can appreciate. 

Back in 2007, I remember attending one of her shows here in Atlanta.  From Sugar Hill and Apache Cafe to where she is now, watching this young gift to music grow has been incredible. She shows that a woman in the music industry is not subjected  to stripping herself of all her clothes, all her dignity, in order to be to be sexy. She doesn't have to compromise her art to appeal to the masses. Last but not least, she is using her gift to spread positive messages of love, unity, and rising above. This is the thing that I've always loved about her and it's what made people recognized that Janelle Monae is absolutely an artist way ahead of her time.

{original review posted on 09/14/13}

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Day 18 | Konnichiwa x Skepta

Artist: Skepta
Album: Konnichiwa (2016)
"I'm not making music to try to break America; I'm just making my own music." 
Nigerian-British rapper and producer, Joseph Adenuga, better known as Skepta, has been hard-hitting in the UK music scene for over a decade and his mainstream popularity in the has grown exponential over the past few years, since he's been working alongside notable recording artists here in the U.S. for some time now. His long awaited fourth studio album, Konnichiwa, was pretty consistent with previous work, especially with Microphone Champion, and sort of a reclaim to his identity. Consistency isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it possible for a seasoned fan to expect more, because a lot of people want to see change and growth reflected in the music. For newer fans, however, this was an incredible "introduction" to who he is as an artist. Either way, he doesn't too much care about what people want to hear; his biggest concern is to create organically and in his first interview at Hot 97, a popular radio station based in New York, he made that very clear.

I love this record more for the beats than the lyrical content; I would've been completely satisfied if this was purely instrumental. There are subtle old school southern trap influences, but mostly a dub-step, electronic, hip-house drum and bass grime compilation, splashed with Caribbean dancehall that could very well bare to stand alone. In many areas on this record, it felt like the instruments drowned everything else. The verses aggressively bounced back and forth between braggadocios bars to conscious rap bars, going from gritty toughness to vulnerable intimacy in his delivery, yet the topics were focused and consistent. 

Although I have selected favorites yet, there are a few tracks that stand out to me. Firstly, I absolutely loved the inhale/exhale effect on the track Numbers ft. the brilliant, musical genius Pharrell Williams. On a good sound system, this song is a huge banger. The track Lyrics was an example of musical consistency, as it samples a line coined in a 2001 rap battle between Pay As U Go Cartel and Heartless Crew. Songs like Ladies Hit Squad and Text Me Back didn't come off as seductive as they tried to be. Shutdown, that was released over a year ago in the U.S., is somewhat of an ego anthem that reinforces the idea that he doesn't need name stamps and big labels for recognition, while Man paints himself as being the self-aware lonewolf type who keeps his circle small. In the balance, one is able to comprehend that he's a man who understands himself at both extremes.

Overall, I consider this to be a pretty solid and enjoyable album, that deserves multiple spins from the listener, and perhaps, maybe even for clarity. There's this dynamic to his music that no matter how familiar it sounds, will never get old, and I think that's what separates Skepta from a lot of artist out now. I just hope that he continues to make music that feels right and reflects his own truth at whatever stage of the pursuit of success he finds himself in.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Day 17 | The Heart Speaks in Whispers x Corinne Bailey Rae

Artist: Corinne Bailey Rae
Album: The Heart Speaks in Whispers (2016)

Working with the ladies of King on production as well as her husband, Steve Brown, Corinne Bailey Rae softly commands the attention of the listener on her most recent album, The Heart Speaks in Whispers. While she's definitely more assertive here than she was on The Sea, but not for a moment did the music itself lose it's delicacy. Without trying too hard, her vocals are like water and just as riveting as they were in 2006 when her debut, self-titled album was released. She's aware of her range and doesn't go beyond that. Then adding this very sensual mixture of jazz, and neo-soul with a sprinkle of bossa nova creates a rather intriguing texture that's hard to pull away from. While it's not a record drowned in roaring instrumentation, it's well-balanced and works for the image Rae is attempting to convey. 

The entire album is like walking in a dream like state, but not nearly as lullaby-esque as I anticipated. It travels through that emotional stage women tend to experience often, the endless tug-of-war between mind and heart, so beautifully. Each song on this album start off with lazy vocals, feather-like jazz ballads, and sleepy instrumentation that eventually pick up tempo. On songs like 'Tell me' and 'Walk On', we're presented with this sort of silver lining of hope that the feelings pass away and eventually, we learn how to bridge the gap between hesitation and clarity.

  • Favorite tracks: 'Tell Me', 'Green Aphrodisiac', and 'High'

In some areas, it's very pop-driven, but the vulnerability strung throughout this entire compilation is breathtaking. The hymnal of 'High' is the kind of wooing tune that makes someone not only want to experience the sacred treasures of love, but also reveals the healing powers of love is attainable, even after personal destruction. Anyone who know's Mrs. Corinne's tragic story of loss, makes this record all the more lovely. It makes me happy to be able to witness an artist I love rise from the ashes and soar. 


Monday, May 16, 2016

Day 16 | Because of the Times x Kings of Leon

Band: Kings of Leon
Album: Because of the Times (2007)

Can we dig through the attic and pull out another throwback? Indeed. It's been a part of this 31-day challenge to not only review recent releases, but to fall back in love with old favorites.  This was back during a time where depended heavily on my Rolling Stone subscriptions for new music choices and when I was first beginning to develop any real interest in attending a big music festival, such as Bonnaroo. 

Kings of Leon, the Southern rebels of the Pentecostal church, was-for whatever reason-another band I felt I could relate to. Along with GCH, the Followills boys created music that pulled me out of my adolescent depression. In retrospect, their content was probably irrelevant to me, but it doesn't change how much I loved the music they put out. Thumbing through their magazine interviews, it tickled me that the Kings' third studio album, Because of the Times, was named after a preacher's conference they used to attend with their minister father, which still goes on today, and the band name is a play on words of his name. Clever. 

I've always had somewhat of a thing for that garage-band sound, because it feels like they're playing for themselves. I like that kind of personal approach to music in general. It wasn't so much the lyrics that pulled me inward; it was the wild fusion of drums, bass, and guitar that caught my attention. I'd listen, wishing I had the talent to play like that or the spirit to sing like Caleb. Listening to it now, it may have been the deconstruction type of build up that made it appealing. There is just an unsettled pace to this record that somewhat sounds like musicians who have no intentions to crowd-please more than they want to tell a story, or perhaps write a story that can be left up for interpretation...and isn't that what art is about?? That's why this is one of those albums I can never truly forget. 

Fun story: Once I was of age to get tattoos without parental consent, it crossed my mind a few times to get a tattoo that read "Charmer", as an eternal homage for how much I loved this song in particular. Although I settled for musical symbols in the shape of a heart instead, it's still in the back of my mind to do so.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Day 15 | Anything in Return x Toro y Moi

Artist: Toro y moi
Album: Anything in Return (2013)

Chaz Bundick, musically known as Toro y Moi, strikes me as a creative who approaches his vision the same way he would a design project, and given his academic background in graphic design, it makes perfect sense. Although it's an admirable characteristic to think that way, it wasn't until the producer/song-writer released his third full-length LP, Anything in Return in 2013 that I really began to understand the progression of his art. Perhaps, the follow up to this album was meant to regress-and time travel to his mix tape days in a sense-but, I didn't fall in love with his more recent project, What for? the same way I fell for this one. 

The mellow tone throughout Anything in Return makes me think of a lazy Saturday afternoon or a road trip down a scenic highway. It's easy to understand why his music is commonly referred to "chillwave", or beach music. Although Chaz has mentioned in previous interviews that it wasn't his intention to create that kind of sound, it's fitting. However, this album is still able to bring a lot of different genres to the table, creating a cohesive mixture of house, funky, electronic and pop elements. And the lack of ambition that he seems to possess as an artist doesn't materialize itself in his music; it's a malfunctioning structure that actually works for him.

In terms of context, it's the perfect album for a free spirit finding love and discovering who they are all at once. It's a compilation reflective of the idea of always striving to be a better person and never forgetting to enjoy the ride and live in the moment. I remember reading somewhere that this album was written and recorded while Bundick's was moving across the country from South Carolina to California with his girlfriend, a gesture that is reflected effortless on this record. That seemingly insignificant detail adds a bit of romanticism and character to the story line. Uncertain of what direction he's going in next, I really do hope for the best in that Toro y moi continues to grow with his music. 


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Day 14 | SEPT 5th x dvsn

Artist: dvsn
Album: Sept 5th (2016)

Canadian R&B duo, dvsn, released their debut album, SEPT 5TH rather mysteriously a couple of months ago. Composed of singer, Daniel Daley and producer, Paul Jefferies (professionally known as Nineteen85) this group is making a silent, yet remarkable impression on the hearts of music lovers. Still a relatively new act, they definitely have what it takes to gain world wide recognition. Despite having close ties to prominent names in the music industry, specifically rapper/producer, Drake, there's not really much information out there about them-no photos, interviews, or press releases-and it isn't an apparent eagerness for the fame either, at least from what I can see. PitchFork editor, Ryan Dombal, pointed out a statement made by music critic, Ben Ratliff, made in his book, Every Song Ever that helps me make sense of the group's state of elusiveness:
"In art, the confident gesture, loud or quiet, is of highest importance. By extension, the acknowledgement of the human behind it… is secondary, if relevant at all." 
With that being said, the mystery of their approach may be the best thing they have going for themselves. That kind of indifference forces the audience to focus more on the art than the celebrity, which is something I can respect.

There's a consistency in the movement of this album; the transitions between each track are flawless and the sound is alluring and seductive throughout. The combination of synthetic and live instrumentation plays really well with Daniel's light falsetto vocals and the samples/references are barely noticeable. It was interesting to notice things the average listener wouldn't necessarily expect to hear on an R&B song, such as the subtle, very short snippet of Elliot Smith's 1997 classic Angeles on the latter part of Angela or sampling of The Way U Do by electronic musician, Shlohmo, on the opening track With You.

Sonically and lyrically, I would describe it as the perfect record to create ambiance, whether it's intended for something sexual, romantic, or a well-balanced mix of both. The story line itself sounds like a reflective narrative of someone going from infatuation to falling in love and the stages of emotion that person experiences in between the two. I love how it's able to highlight the positive and significance elements of love, sex, and affairs of the heart without drifting into the realm of what contemporary R&B has become. Honest, vulnerable, sweet, this is by far one of the best albums to drop so far this year.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Day 13 | Chance III: Coloring Book x Chance the Rapper

Artist: Chance the Rapper
Album: Coloring Book (2016)

The timing of this particular review is a little ambitious. Typically, I'll give myself a few days to really listen and really get a feel for a new album; in this case, I only gave myself a few hours. After exploding via the internet, building anticipation with street marketing, and taking what was, essentially, a 3-year hiatus since Acid Rap, we the people finally have a chance to hear new music from the one and only, Chancelor Bennett, musically known as Chance the Rapper. Fortunately, a few hours was enough time to push out a think piece on Chance the Rapper's midnight release of his latest album, Coloring Book

From the moment the horns roared on 'All We Got' ft. Kanye West and the Chicago Boys Choir until the concluding "prayer" on the second 'Blessings' track, I was in complete awe. To boldly incorporate God, not only in one song, but throughout an entire hip-hop compilation, without offending anyone else's faith seems impossible...until it's actually done. He took us to church! Expressing spirituality in mainstream rap can be risky, as it can be rejected and unpopular, but there's no doubt in my mind that it's simply a reflection of the journey he's been on. It's obvious that he's in such a positive place in his life right now and at the end of the day, that's all we can ever really ask for in this human experience. That kind of vulnerability and authenticity truly outshines everything else there is to love about this record. 

Everything about this album made a 3-year wait so worth it, excluding Donnie Trumpet's and The Social Experiment's debut album, Surf). The messages in every lyric, the strum of every chord, the collaborations (oh my, the collaborations!!!), the production behind each verse just an intense place of happiness that I can't quite explain. I couldn't even sleep this a.m. I just wanted to press play and stay up all night to listen on repeat; first few times in order from start to finish, next on shuffle, then randomly choosing. I haven't chosen favorites yet, but add this to the already lengthy play list of music I love in 2016 (to be featured on the annual Musical Year in Review; wait for it).

Watching the growth from the 2011 #10Day mix tape and his come-up as an underground artist, has been inspiring and nothing short of amazing. Never venturing far from his unique sound and never too exposed, artists like him confirm the idea that it isn't necessary to compromise your vision or the dreams in your heart in order to be successful. He's so young and so very talented, but still has so much potential; one can only hope that it's somewhere in God's plan for him to tap into it in this lifetime, because he certainly hasn't reached his peak. However, if he remains consistent as a musician and loyal to the art he believes in, he still has a very positive and prosperous path ahead of him.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Day 11 | Life on Earth x Musiq Soulchild

Artist: Musiq Soulchild
Album: Life on Earth (2016)

Listening to the radio, it's very rare that R&B in true form is represented. The popular motion is to re-create sounds and turn them into popular club bangers and vocalized rap. It's not to say that I don't like new age R&B sensations like Bryson Tiller and August Alisina, but sometimes I just crave a classic, R&B ballad about love and thriving relationships, which doesn't seem like the kind of topics people want to hear nowadays. That's when Musiq Soulchild came in and saved the day. 

Life on Earth is the most recent album release from Musiq Soulchild. I've always really loved his voice, but just like any other semi-retired artist who has been out of the game for a while, I didn't really know what to expect after a 5 year hiatus, especially since I wasn't a huge fan of the last album he put out. However, I decided to have an open mind and give Life on Earth a listen. Holding my breath, a couple of tracks in, I could feel the anxiety escape by body and inhaled the ease of listening to this record quite naturally.

Sounding a little like an open letter to "the one that got away", the topical culture represented isn't one that's popular or even relevant in the modern ways of dating. For some people, this album is out of touch with reality,  however, it's still refreshing to hear. It's a record which reminds this generation that serenading-your-woman-while-you-are-courting-her is still very much a possibility, that sexless R&B love songs still exists. 


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Day 10 | The Odd Tape x Oddisee

Artist: Oddisee
Album: The Odd Tape (2016)

Hailing from Prince George's county, Maryland, producer/rapper/underground music extraordinaire, Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, known as Oddisee on stage has been out here grinding for over a decade, never deviating from the art and the true definition of the old saying, "practice makes perfect". It wasn't until some time in 2012 that I'd learn who he was and I was regretfully super late even at that point. Just like any other artist or musician I become newly obsessed with, it's always been a necessary habit to dig through their archives to hear more. Finding peace behind the scenes, this man and the band that stands loyal with him is still such a gem global gem; my apologies for not acknowledging him more than beyond a brief mention

If you ever want something to set the mood for a 'wake up and make art' kind of day, The Odd Tape by Oddisse is exactly what you need. Purely instrumental, this beautiful album is a perfect blend of hip-hop, jazz, and soul, purely instrumental. In his own genius way, he captures the blissful spirit of the weekend without the use of lyrics.  The musicality of this album is stunning and if the press play value doesn't awaken creativity, I don't know what else can. Although the album itself hasn't been officially released yet, I strongly encourage you to support The Odd Tape when it does become available. If you live for good music with a positive message/vibration, I promise you won't be disappointed. 

The first time I listened to The Odd Tape, I turned the volume up on my headphones and simply closed my eyes and zoned out, which felt similar to an outer body experience. The second time was reserved for a Sunday drive to nowhere, riding freely west right before sunset. Magical. The third and fourth spins both happened in one, uninterrupted sitting and the fifth time happened quite accidentally as I was cleaning my apartment. I just love the way this album moves me, the images it provokes, and the undeniable inspiration that is manifested within. 
-Chymere A.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Day 9 | Food & Liquor x Lupe Fiasco

Artist: Lupe Fiasco
Album: Food & Liquor (2006)

When I attempt to list some of the greatest hip-hop records of the past decade, Lupe Fiasco's debut album, Food and Liquor comes to mind. This album is indefinitely my favorite Lupe album, absolutely an essential, and was a great way to begin a career. It's hard to believe we're now 10 years removed from its 2006 release, yet here I am, still able to find the words to speak very highly of it, as if yesterday were my very first time spinning it.

When Wasalu Muhammad Jaco stepped on the scene, it was the beginning of the blog era and my senior year of high school. Lupe Fiasco, protege of rap icon, Kanye West, made an extraordinary entrance in the music industry with this album and since then, has always had a unique edge musically. Here, we have this Muslim kid from Chicago rapping about a range of topics; from social issues and poverty to skateboarding and being an outcast. His whole persona felt so personal, because the same way Lupe conveyed his story on the album, I was also from an unfortunate part of town, but had unique interest in comparison to my peers. Although I've always loved hip-hop, this was one of those albums that truly helped me to not be afraid to stand out and taught me how to embrace my authentic self more, which can be a difficult thing to do for young people.

I vividly remember Food & Liquor catching fire instantly, because it was an authentic piece of work that was so innovative. Listening, one could only assume the sound was heavily inspired by Pharrell Williams and The Neptunes, who also had their hand in the production of this album. The album starts off with spoken word poetry by Lupe's sister Ayesha Jaco, which seemed to be accompanied by noises of urban Chicago in the background. Then there's a switch to his own introduction that starts with the Arabic opening to the holy Qua'ran and goes into explaining the good vs. evil concept of the title, Food & Liquor. From there, the listener flies right into this cohesive explosion of instrumentation and profound lyrical content throughout. 

I think fans of Lupe-including myself-have had a difficult time with keeping up with him since then, because other projects didn't quite compare; there was this super high expectation of consistency that came with the first release. I can say that there were a couple I didn't like as much, however it was hard not to fall in love back then. Taking albums for what they are and being open enough to try to understand them is how able to appreciate them, but this record really set the standard that he honestly has yet to tap into again. However, Food & Liquor left such a positive first impression that makes it even harder to detach myself from the love I have for him as an artist now.
-Chymere A.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Day 7 | 99.9% x KAYTRANADA

“I’ve been sad my whole life, but fuck that. I know I have good things ahead. I don’t know honestly if I’m fully, 100 percent happy, but I’m starting to get there.” 
Album: 99.9% (2016)

In an exclusive interview with Alex Frank of Fader Magazine last month, Kay pretty much explains the inspiration and reason for KAYTRANADA's May 2016 release, 99.9%: 
“I’ve been sad my whole life, but fuck that. I know I have good things ahead. I don’t know honestly if I’m fully, 100 percent happy, but I’m starting to get there.”
I felt those words deep in my soul, because the statement, as well as his personal story, is something I could closely relate to. After reading his interview regarding the new album, I could see how this album plays as an outstanding expression of one's journey to finding and keeping true happiness.  It made me wish I knew him on an individual basis, which could possibly happen one day and his music brings me that much closer.

Haitian-Canadian musician, Louis Kevin Celestin, better know as Kaytranada, is the epitome of what it means to be a revolutionary artist. At such a young age, he's developed this very special and unique niche in the music industry that really sets him apart from most-if not, all-contemporary producers and DJ's. Although his signature sound could be tossed right into a box with house and EDM, there are also a lot of apparent hip-hop, R&B, funk, and island influences in his music, therefore, he really creates a rather compelling realm of creativity that can't be easily categorized. In better description, I envision the sound as this euphoric garden of intricately crafted beats, planted somewhere in a faraway musical paradise.  It almost reminds me of Pharrell Williams', yet still thriving in a league of its own.

Collaboratively and unfortunately, this album may not gain the recognition it deserves, due to the omission of "bigger named", mainstream artist making a wave currently, but this man pulled none other than Craig David from out the wood-works!!! If you are a music-head born and raised in the 90's, it may have crossed your mind about where he's been in x amount of years...and obviously, he's been in the studio with Kay. On the record, we also have Syd from The Internet, Vic Mensa, Little Dragon, and Anderson Paak, There's more, but I don't want to give away more spoilers than I already have. Just know that this album is packed with "underground famous" gems, every artist exhibiting a fresh layer of undeniable talent.

Favorite tracks: "You're the One" ft. Syd, "Bullets" ft. Little Dragon, and "Despite the Weather"  

...and pretty soon, "Glowed Up" ft. Anderson Paak will be included on a list of my personal anthems, a play list that could very well be the resurrection of Soundtrack Saturdays Series. 

Overall, 99.9% has been deemed my favorite album released so far this year. It belongs on the shelf with all my essential albums, which is something I could tell on the first listen. It's a fun, vibrant, and oddly introspective compilation, and considering he hasn't quite reached the prime of his career yet, this album is executed in such a way that could really easily make this a breakthrough album for Kaytranada. If anything else, this album sets a promising tone for projects to follow. A universe of untapped potential lies in his gift and as a huge fan and supporter, I'm so excited to hear what's in store for the future of his music.

If Mr. Celestin himself ever decides to stumble across this blog, I'll just say: job well done and best of luck to you. Sending my love with a million waves of positive vibrations, cheers to art in music!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Day 6 | Midnight Marauders x A Tribe Called Quest

Band: A Tribe Called Quest
Album: Midnight Marauders (1993)

In lieu of dedicating 31 days to nothing but music, it is only right to commemorate the life of MC and musical legend, Malik Taylor, a member of hip-hop trio/quartet, A Tribe Called Quest.

Rest in Power, Phife Dawg.
November 20, 1970-March 22, 2016 

When I think of Midnight Marauders, my thoughts travel back in time to vague memories of my dad popping this one in the cassette player while lecturing about topics such as music before my time and the role hip-hop plays in the black community. My age at the time didn't matter and I just pretended to understand what he was talking about, as I bobbed my head until the drums on 'God Lives Through' faded out. Even now, as soon as the horns come in on 'Steve Biko', I think of us, and the sweet bonding time between father and daughter. The seeds were definitely planted, but it wasn't until I was much older that I understood the lessons, the lyrics, and the message. This album changed my life; I wasn't aware then, but I'm definitely aware now.

Sentiments aside, if we're discussing albums that still have a very positive and timeless impact, this is absolutely one I refer to without hesitation, absolutely a timeless essential in my own collection. Of all their projects, this record has to be my favorite and it's so underrated. It's where I first fell in love with hip-hop. Infused with jazz and those sultry bass lines and charging drums that commanded my young attention, love was only inevitable. Adding epic bars and unmatched flows to the mix only increased my admiration for this album.

I remember when I learned who the actual person, Steve Biko, was in school and gaining a deeper understanding of what the song was about. I drifted back to conversations with my father and finally realized the kind of power he'd been instilling in me with Midnight Marauders playing in the background. Whether that was a conscious choice or not, I was still MIND. BLOWN, yet thankful. Even when I listen to the 23 year old album now, I sense the nostalgia of hearing it as a young girl and each time I hear it feels like a brand new listening experience, despite holding the maturity of an older mind.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Day 5 | Twenty88 x Big Sean + Jhene Aiko (Collaboration)

Artist: Big Sean, Jhene Aiko
Album: Twenty88 EP (2016)

This entire EP sounds like a pretty cohesive sequel to the song, I Know from Big Sean's third studio album, 'Dark Sky Paradise'. The two make a rather convincing couple, as they embark on the journey through the stages of a pseudo relationship, and their chemistry was able to create a stellar collaboration for Twenty88. I could press play and allow the songs to take me to their fantasy land. 

Although the songs are extremely sexual in content, they're oddly romantic in nature. It's the duality aspect that makes the listening experience fascinating and enjoyable, as we travel through the ups and downs, the back and forth, the on and off relationship that Jhene and Big Sean portray. The biggest issue I found with the story-line was my personal disbelief that sex has the power to solve problems within relationships, so in that regard, it was a bit unrealistic. Other than that, wasn't too much I could say that could potentially downplay much I love this project. With easy-going vibes, sexy lyrics, and compelling beats, it's hard not to love this EP.

It's a coincidence that my 3 favorite tracks actually fall in order: Selfish, On the Way, and Push It

The duo's ability to bring out certain elements of one another is what I appreciated the most about this compilation. Big Sean's raspy, baritone voice mixed with Jhene's flawlessly angelic vocals caused the songs to flow together like water.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day 3 | Ego Death x The Internet

Band: The Internet
Album: Ego Death (2015)

The moment the beat dropped on the opening track of Ego Death, I had a good feeling that I was going in for a treat with this album. So I pressed play to let the album ride and the baseline danced through my car stereo, the feeling of anticipation was revoked, because it definitely surpassed all my already high expectations and I was so impressed with the execution of this project. Without realizing it, I drove around for a little over 56 minutes, just to be able to capture the entire experience and it was in constant rotation-in my vehicle, while I cooked, while I prepared for my day in the morning, and before I went to bed at night- for at least a week after that. It was love at first listen and one of the best albums released in 2015

The story board of the of the album felt like listening to someone give a lyrical rendition of the thoughts scripted in a personal diary. It was a journey through a young adult's mind that recapped some of life's unexpected changes-in things such as dream chasing, relationships, and economy shifts-which are things someone of any age can easily relate to. For instance, Under Control, one of my personal favorites from this record, is the soundtrack of my life right now. Then there's Penthouse Cloud, another favorite that felt like a song for the culture. From my perspective, it really came off as an homage the black lives matter movement.  Probably in the most subtle and eloquent way I've ever heard in a song, this track vaguely highlighted the tragedies we face as a society. It sounded like a cry for help on behalf of those who felt powerless, almost like a prayer to a higher power.

Perhaps, my opinion is bias when it comes to musicians I love as much as or more than The Internet. Extremely underrated, Odd Future Records is compiled of some of the most underrated talent in the industry. The hipster swag and the eccentric sounds are slowly starting to make their way mainstream listeners' hearts without ever deviating from the underground artwork of who they are. The Internet, a band that emerged from the label, has certainly come a long way since their humble beginnings in 2011, yet they still naturally embody that funky indie/neo-soul vibe that doesn't require auto-tune or remastering. With these musically-inclined kids from California who initially met on MySpace, it's all just pure talent.  It's very old-fashioned, 'in-your-mother's-basement' type music and that's what I have always admired about them. As long as they stay true to that, I'll always be a loyal fan and supporter.
♥ @ChymereA  


Monday, May 2, 2016

Day 2 | As Cruel as School Children x Gym Class Heroes

Artist: Gym Class Heroes
Album: As Cruel As School Children (2006)
Music has always been my saving grace (next to my understanding of God, of course) and Gym Class Heroes is one of the bands that pulled me through the tortures and perils of adolescence. Although I loved the first two albums, their third studio album, As Cruel as School Children, really stood out to me. Pulling this gem from all the dust that has piled over it, I realize how long it's been since I last listened to it and how easily I am still able to press play from beginning to end. Now when I listen to it all the way through, it gives me the nostalgia of my small worries back then, such as such as my crush not placing me in his Top 8 on Myspace or the pressures of being picked on as a standout among my peers. 
This album couldn't have come out at a better time, as it was a huge transitional period for me. I was not only about to soon leave my hometown to head off to college and spreading my wings of independence for the very first time, but I was also moving to a totally different state from where I grew up. It was literally my very first taste of  stepping out of a very familiar comfort zone. I just remember this album being perfect for that portion of my journey. 
Stand-out tracks: Shoot Down the Stars, Cupid's Chokehold, and The Queen and I

Phenomenal, yet underrated on so many different levels, As Cruel as School Children it seems to be surprisingly relevant a decade later; I still remember the lyrics to every song. This is one of those albums that will forever be a part of my life story. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Day 1 | Too High to Riot x Bas

Artist: Bas
Album: Too High to Riot (2016)

Although I may have been a tad late on this one, the 2015 release of Revenge of the Dreamers II introduced me to a gem. Abbas Hammad, also known as Bas had this distinct flow, crazy lyrical content, and I just knew he had something special. It didn't take long for me to puruse the web for mix tapes that I missed while sleeping, I fell in love immediately. Shortly after the discovery, I was pleased to hear about his second solo project, Too High to Riot, which was strategically foreshadowed on Revenge of the Dreamers II. 

Read full review here, exclusively on 
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