Winter has come (and no, this is not a GoT reference). But alas, it is that time of the year for: holidays, hilarious work parties, cuddling, and eating food that will break even the most easy going of diets. For some it is a time of joy, for others it is a time for melancholy. No matter the emotion that possess me, music is my go to safe place. Being that the holidays can be an emotional time for some, I wanted to share a few albums worth trying for a little music therapy. At least until it get warms out.
The criteria for this list: a project I hadn’t heard before, an album I can appreciate in its entirety (little skips), as well as something that can be easily accessible (not getting too underground with this list.)
So, here we go.
About Time x Sabrina Claudio
Can I just say I am in L O V E with this person. Her music is a mix of angelic and simplistic. Her brand: simple yet powerful. Her debut mixtape highlights her range in both her voice and production. The singles “Unravel Me” and “Belong to You” do not do Claudio justice. Tracks such as the passionate “Everlasting Love” or the upbeat “Wait” really highlight her raw talent, which is hard to come by these days in R&B. This angel can SING people. I discovered her on The A-List: R&B playlist from Apple Music. She was also honored by Apple Music as their Up Next artist for October – November. Pop this beautiful piece of art from this Cuban-Boricua anytime if you want your soul touched.
The Space Between – Majid Jordan
How artists follow up to their first major label project is always a good indication of their future success. R&B duo Majid Jordan definitely came through with an innovative and bouncy follow-up to their self titled mainstream debut. The OVO signees first made their big wave with the production and feature on Drake’s mega-hit “Hold On, We’re Going Home”, and they have been riding that wave since. Their sophomore effort showed us continued range within the Alternative R&B spectrum with a mix of soulful ballads and house infused R&B. The album shines when Jordan’s production meshes perfectly with Majid’s vocals i.e. “Phases” and “What You Do to Me.” My favorite parts of the album though, are the upbeat BOPS. This album has me dancing in the car, at work, walking to the gym, it makes me want to MOVE. Re: “Body Talk”, “Imagination (ft. dvsn)”, and “One I Want (ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR).” When you need a pick me up pop this tape in.
4eva is a Mighty Long Time – Big K.R.I.T.
I’m not even a huge K.R.I.T. fan, but his projects always ride. Being a New Yorker, I am really picky about what southern rappers I dedicate phone/hard drive space to. K.R.I.T. makes the cut. His sophisticated lyricism can go hand in hand with any beat. After a two year hiatus, K.R.I.T. came back with an independently released double album for the masses. Disc 1 starts off with a bang with hard speaker knockers like “Big Bank” ft T.I. and “Subenstein (My Sub IV).” The rest of Disc 1 makes for a great car ride with the windows down – speakers blasting. Disc 2 is going to deliver a more smooth and sensitive side of his lyrical arsenal, i.e. “Everlasting” and “Higher Calling ft. Jill Scott.” Disc 2 is also great for a car ride, but maybe when you are in your feels. We always hear that it’s rare to find true nitty gritty hip hop these days – well look no further because K.R.I.T. got us.
Beach House 3 x Ty Dolla $ign
Pastor Ty is back and preaching. The album is going to mix the signature Trap & B with some experimenting that catapulted his success in 2015. Although he has dabbled with pop before, (re: Free T.C.) he was able to really own it this time around by including more singing and heavier subs in the production as well i.e. “In Your Phone.” The album takes us on an array of topics ranging from dealing with fame, admiring a crush, relationship problems, and settling down with someone who is willing to stay more than overniight. My top tracks include “Droptop in The Rain” despite the Tory Lanez feature (if you know me you know I am NOT a fan), “So Am I” ft Skrillex & Damian Marley, and “Lil Favorite” ft. MadeinTYO. So if you are an old time Ty fan or just getting hip, his range and the star studded feature list will keep you jammin’.
SYRE x Jaden Smith
The debut studio album from the prince of the Fresh Prince is nothing short of interesting. This project is an out of this world blend of rap, R&B, and alternative rock/grunge. We all know my man Jaden is weird, but his work on this album is borderline genius. It does need a little work in terms of clarity of lyrics, and some of the tracks clock in at seven minutes plus which is sort of unnecessary as well. HOWEVER – It is still a fun and enlightening musical journey. If I were to pinpoint direct influences for this album I would say; Kanye, Kid Cudi, Dragonforce, maybe a little Tame Impala/Toro y Moi? My favorite track hands down is “Ninety”, a journey into his feelings about losing a soulmate. He also gives us some heavy rap over sharp samples in tracks such as the single “Icon” (that video tho), “Breakfast” (ft. A$AP Rocky), and the entire B L U E track series. It is a fun ride to experience. Young Jaden has flirted with making music for awhile but this project feels like he’s found his footing; and, as always, I’m excited for his next project already.
No Dope on Sundays x CyHi the Prynce
Arguably G.O.O.D Music’s best lyricist and song writer, CyHi the Prynce finally gave us his debut studio album. He is definitely no stranger to the mixtape scene, amassing seven solo projects since 2010. I personally did not associate much with his music; I more so knew him as that random G.O.O.D Music member who had fire guest verses. CyHi has his own personal brand of southern rap. This album in particular blends his Baptist faith with his dope boy past. It sounds crazy, but CyHi delivers meticulously placed references how each aspect of his life has changed him as a person. He also gives insight on his thoughts on how certain issues are affecting his fans. On “Murder” ft. Estelle, he focuses on how there is much more murder going on then what the media shows. My favorite song of the album is probably “Nu Africa” ft. Ernestine Johnson. On the track he pitches the idea of Black America migrating to Africa to start their own world. He enlists help from Diddy and Jay to start businesses and start a new world. In his NPR interview CyHi calls it a “Black Disneyland.” The album also offers bangers highlighted with features from Kanye, ScHoolboy Q, and 2-Chainz. If you are a fan of personal and creative lyrics, over excellent production, let’s say executively produced by… Kanye West.. give this body of work a try. We do not get albums like this everyday. I promise.
There ya have it. I tried to incorporate a little bit of every emotion. Catch me soon for another post by the end of the year. Any projects you think I should be listening to? Hit me on twitter @manny_NES or insta @neverendingsitcom.
Under-promising and over-delivering,
DJ Talent Stackks a.k.a SBJ Manny a.k.a Long Hair Don’t Care