Lots of things to hype about this week. New album releases from Björk, Lupe Fiasco, and Joey Bada$$, new mixtape from Lil Wayne (although I’m not so pumped up with this one), and plenty of new tracks and mixes from newly discovered producers and old favorites alike. Here’s my weekly roundup of favorite releases and discoveries this week.
‘No Cities To Love’ – Sleater Kinney
The candidness of this music video (well, you can’t get anymore candid by singing along shamelessly to a rock song) is so appealing, but more so, because some of my favorite people on earth are in it: Sarah Silverman, Norman Reedus, and Miranda July. The power of a good rock song, man. It’s like sonic adrenaline that’s just all over the air, stripping off all inhibitions and just allowing you to go with your instinct. This is something I wouldn’t mind singing in shameless decibels in the middle of the night as I wander along the city.
Bonus: Watch Broad City (aka my favorite TV show on the planet right now) stars, Abbi Johnson and Ilana Glazer interview Sleater-Kinney via NPR.
The term ‘rockstar’ has earned a negative connotation, but regardless of its bad (to deplorable)-behavior implications, I’m gonna use it anyway because these women, all five of them, are rockstars in my opinion. Sleater-Kinney’s humility (not a conventional ‘rockstar’ trait, I think) is incredibly admirable, given that they just made one heck of an album, shaking up the industry with their return after a decade.
‘You are Luhh’ – Frank Ocean
Listen to the track via Frank Ocean’s Tumblr.
I miss Frank Ocean. I was pretty much new to ‘getting acquainted’ with different types of music back in 2011, when I began listening to non-mainstream music (thanks to Ian) and around the time, Coachella was in full swing and updates were flooding my social media accounts. It was the first time I listened to Frank Ocean, particularly his song from Nostalgia/ultra, “Novacane,” which struck me with these lyrics: Love me now, when I’m gone, love me none, numb, numb, numb. More so, when he opened up about his sexuality on Tumblr, which moved me so much I wrote (some sort of a reply) something about it years ago.
His current alienation from the rest of the world, which can now be measured by your visibility or activity online, is something that gives an air of mysticism as to what’s he’s currently up to. When he quietly released his tribute to the late Aaliyah (also a nod to The Isley Brothers, which I thankfully discovered thanks to Notorious B.I.G., Gwen Stefani, and Kendrick Lamar) via the same microblogging platform, it was like a transcendent moment to celebrate the life and music of a beautiful soul. It was not about him (as he ever displayed in the past), but about something bigger than him. And for that, I am thankful he exists.
‘When You Know It’ – Azad Right
Los Angeles-based rapper Azad Right spit his rhymes about a failed romance over rising producer IAMNOBODI’s beats, which remind me so much of Flying Lotus’s ‘Coronus, The Terminator’: ridden with complicated emotions and earnestly soulful.
Dumbfoundead and Ritto
Here are my favorite recently discovered rappers:
Although of Korean ethnicity, Dumbfoundead, or currenly known as Parker, grew up in Koreatown in Los Angeles, so it’s apparent that his style was largely influenced and shaped by the West Coast. It has the grit, the punch, the ego, and the culture written all over it.
Ritto was recently featured on The FADER, citing that his hometown, Okinawa, Japan, isn’t exactly a thriving paradise for rap music. His songs are mainly in Japanese, but as I’ve watched a couple of his videos on YouTube, the production and the ‘vibe’ is there. Maybe it needs a little more of something in it – whatever it is – but his music cannot be easily dismissed.
‘Detroit vs. Everybody’ – Eminem, Royce Da 5’9″, Big Sean, Danny Brown, Dej Loaf, Trick Trick
I can’t help but notice that Big Sean is one tone register similar to Eminem. Danny Brown’s voice is unmistakable as usual. These Detroit natives gave me goosebumps. Just imagine if everyone did the same for their cities: Atlanta, Brooklyn, Chicago, and Los Angeles, among others. That would be swell.
‘Passionate’ – Jaden Smith
This song’s reportedly about Kylie Jenner, and while that fact does not interest me at all, I’m all over this kid and his sister. Speaking of which…
‘Interdimensional Tesseract’ – Willow Smith
You know, I still can’t believe how this young lady went from that kid who sang ‘Whip My Hair’ to a philosophy-touting teenager, along with his older brother. But I’m not complaining.
‘Telegraph Ave/Sober (cover)’ – Daniela Andrade
I first heard her on SoundCloud, when she teamed up with TEEMID (no pun) to cover Disclosure’s ‘Latch’, a slightly less house, more slow dance/washed out version of the original – and the result of which, I was thoroughly pleased. Her most recent cover was of Childish Gambino’s ‘Telegraph Ave (Oakland)’ and ‘Sober’, where she interpolated the latter’s chorus in between verses of the former.
‘Autumn Leaves’ – Chris Brown
Chris Brown is clearly experimenting with a wider range of sound, incorporating oriental elements to his music, which is now swathed with ambient details, not just sonically, but also with the visual accompaniments to it. Chris Brown is someone I cannot let go of completely, despite of his behavior of the late, which ranges from violent to outlandish (and plenty of more negatives in between) because he still has an ear for production, and well, his voice supersedes his faults and law-breaking at least for a moment. Don’t hate me.
‘Christ Conscious’ – Joey Bada$$
He celebrated his 20th birthday with the release of his debut studio album, B4.Da.$$, which, in my opinion, is one of the best I’ve heard and easily makes it to my top albums of 2015. Yes, the year is young and so is he, but that doesn’t take away the fact that his Brooklyn native and co-founder of the hiphop collective ‘Pro Era’ knows and is completely in control of what he’s doing (maybe the White House-tapping report aside). It’s lyrically rich, jazz-infused (which is directly attributed to The Roots’ production), smoky, idealistic, and even nostalgic.
‘Mural’ – Lupe Fiasco
This is one of my favorite songs from Lupe Fiasco’s new album, Tetsuo & Youth, his best in years. He’s back.
‘Girl’ – The Internet
Syd the Kid’s voice remains to be an eternal favorite. A mellow sound that lilts with each beat and soars beyond bars. A favorite companion on laidback nights and the cold season.
Kaytranada’s HYPETRAK mix: Instrumental Hip Hop Is Dead
Filled with raw hiphop beats. I have a lot of faith in this guy.
Also, here’s his debut mix for his stint in BBC Radio 1 Residency.
‘Golden’ – Doja Cat
‘Earned It’ – The Weeknd
I am not mad at all that they made a movie adaptation to Fifty Shades of Gray. Why? Because its soundtrack is shaping up to be a really scintillating addition to my ‘Good OSTs, bad movies’ list (i.e. Twilight) – I’ve already set low expectations for this movie. And well, I love Abel Tesfaye, so there’s also that.
I’m so used to being used.
‘Tsk!’ – OJ River (Prod. similarobjects)
Yet another cut from the 43-track BuwanBuwan Collective compilation surfaced this week, this time, from OJ River, with Similarobjects in charge of the production. Vandals On The Wall reviewed this track, which you can read here.
‘Practice’ – Curtismith f/ CRWN
F U C K.
(Vandals On The Wall reviewed this track, which you can read here – a much more eloquent reaction than mine.)
‘Vulnicura (Album)’ – Björk
I’m not worthy enough to translate my feelings into words. I can’t. I’m still at loss. I’ve always thought being a Reykjavik native has a lot to do with her music, how this Nordic region has clearly something in its air or water that musicians from this side of the world produce such life-altering, soul-crushing music that penetrates even the thickest of walls and touches on even the smallest trace of basic human emotion.
Preview and download the album now.
‘How Could You Babe’ – Tobias Jesso, Jr.
There’s something about the way he repeats that line, not with an accusatory tone, but with an apparent weariness after each time that punctures me with sharp shots of forgotten pain. Whereas, I can only yell, “Fuck man, what happened (to you, to us)?”, Tobias Tesso, Jr. wrote a song about it.
‘Lovestruck’ – Malia
I just have a weak spot for this kind of theme. All the butterflies in the stomach, foot-popping kisses, everything.
‘Radio’ – Mansions On The Moon
Because you heard it on the radio / doesn’t make it beautiful
It was 2011. I was at home, listening to a bunch of new songs from the artists included in the Coachella lineup, just randomly picking interestingly sounding names of bands and artists and looking them up online. Somehow, I ended up on M83 and news of a new album, so I went ahead and downloaded it. I picked a song which title sounded remotely ordinary: ‘Intro’, which features Zola Jesus, whom I remembered from an article on SPIN and whose haunting song, ‘Skin’, ended up on a pivotal Grey’s Anatomy episode much after. Until now, I can’t fully describe the feeling of listening to it, at least one that gives it justice. It moved mountains for me. It opened up a space in the sky, allowing light to fully bathe me. I might as well be reborn, unloaded with all the baggage that comes with being human. It affirms everything that is good and sacred. This song is what I feel heaven sounds like.
And then there’s Mansions on The Moon’s ‘Radio’.
It bears resemblance to much of how I feel about ‘Intro’. Only this time, I’ve been to a better place that this one placates me, no matter how much I’ve been through. But more so, it resonates on something that matters a lot to me: music and all its ironies and idiosyncrasies; its painful truths and lovely odes; its gifts and its fallacies; and most of all, its ever-present life sustenance.