Category: Featured

Queen and Slim Soundtrack by Various Artists

Album: Queen and Slim: The Soundtrack
Artist: Multiple Artist (Megan Thee Stallion, Lauryn Hill, Tony K, Burna Boy, The Dream, Reem, Simino, Moses Sumney, Tara George, Roy Ayers, Lil Baby, Mike Jones, Slim thug, Paul Wall, Blood Orange, and many more)
Genre: Multiple Genres
Recommend Tracks: Track 8- Collide, Track 1- Ride or Die, Track 3- Yo love

Queen and Slim is a love story between Slim(Daniel Kaluuya) and Queen(Jodie Turner Smith). Their story begins when Slim kills an officer out of self defense. They are unable to turn themselves in because the state would not view it as self defense, so they are forced to go on the run. Through their story you see black power, black love, and black revenge something that is not usually shown in movies starring black people. Throughout the movie songs from Black artists are heard, whether it be new age rappers like Megan Thee Stallion or old school artists like Lauryn Hill. I rate this album a 5/5 because it was diverse but still followed a central theme of Black Excellence.

Track 8, ​Collide​ is a R&B song that is one of my favorites from the album . From the smooth and slow beat to the effortless singing the song makes you relaxed. I have yet to see the movie, but this song sounds like it’s played the moment the protagonist fall in love because of lines like, “When we collide, it’s a beautiful disaster”.

The album starts off with a bang. Opening song ​Ride or Die i​ s by Megan Thee Stallion who is a popular female rapper. This song is like most of her other songs; Catchy twerk song. This song, like the title suggests, is about being a ride or die shown in the lines, “I ain’t scared, I’ma

pop that shit”. Track 3 ​Yo Love,​ is another song about being a ride or die, but it is more about being madly in love then proving oneself.

I recommend everyone at the very least listen to this album. The soundtrack is so good that it paints a vivid image of what the movie is about, and makes you want to watch it. This album has something for everybody by including different artist like Burna Boy, 6lack, Lil Baby and many more. This album is more meaningful if you can relate to the racial struggles faced in the movie, but even if you can’t it still reaches you.

Pony by Rex Orange County

Artist: Rex Orange County

Album: Pony

Record Label: Sony Music Entertainment 

Recommended Tracks: Track 7 “Pluto Projector”, Track 10, “It’s Not The Same Anymore”

Indie-pop musician Rex Orange County has been a huge name in the indie-music scene after gaining a huge fan-base following his release of his song Loving Is Easy” in 2017. He continues to grow in popularity and has established his name in the music industry. Part of his appeal is how effortlessly he infuses elements of jazz, hip-hop, and bedroom pop into his sound. 

He released his new album Pony on October 25, 2019. The album consists of ten songs. Pony encapsulates Rex’s emotional vulnerability as he allows listeners to get a glimpse into his personal life and feelings from the past two years that he has been working on this new music. One of the most impressive aspects of the album is the utilization of more advanced and clean production. He branches out and uses more strings and orchestral pieces that create an intensifying sound. The songs that incorporate orchestral pieces feel very cinematic and are really impressive to listen to. Overall, this album is really strong and shows how much Rex Orange County has grown from the previous work he has put out. I rate the album a four-out-of-five. 

The first recommended track, “Pluto Projector” puts Rex’s voice at the forefront before a catchy electronic drum beat fades in. My favorite part of the song begins at the 3:10 mark, making a beautiful outro to the song as violins build-up to a crescendo. His voice in this song has a very relaxed tone and is paired nicely with the simple drum beat. The piano fades in and creates a dreamy haze, especially when it’s layered with his soft, echoing vocals. 

Track ten, “It’s Not The Same Anymore” is an introspective song where Rex sings about self-doubt, his declining mental state, and adjusting to his new-found fame. Sonically, it’s a pleasant song to listen to and at the 3:12 mark, it builds tension before softening up as Rex shifts to a more realizing tone of coming to terms with the changes in his life. The outro is a nice addition to the song as it includes horns before shifting back to vocals. “It got better…it’s not the same anymore…” are the lyrics that end the song and the entire album with an uplifting tone matched with violins that soar. It’s a very nice ending to Pony that leaves you with a sense of hope and triumph. 

Rex Orange County’s Pony is an extremely solid album that everyone should give a chance. Anyone who appreciates creative sound production and cohesive yet unique songs will enjoy this new album. 

Jesus is King

Album: Jesus is King

Genre: Rap/Hip-Hop/Gospel

Record Labels: GOOD Music, Def Jam Recordings

Recommended Tracks: Use This Gospel, Selah

Kanye West is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and fashion designer. His music has included a vast array of styles, being influenced by hip hop, soul, baroque pop, electro, indie rock, synth-pop, industrial, and gospel. Ever since his debut album, The College Dropout debuted in 2004, he has been a monolithic presence in modern rap, hip-hop, and culture and industry. His newest album, Jesus is King, was released on September 27th, 2019. The album reflects Kanye’s own spirituality and his return to Christianity. The tracks on this album are all deeply invigorating and soul-grabbing, stirring a feeling of a higher power in any person listening. You do not have to be a Christian or spiritual person to enjoy and benefit from this album. Kanye uses a variety of music styles amongst his tracks that invoke spirituality and power in different ways that showcase his musical talents. Any person who goes into this album listening with an open mind and heart will benefit from it immensely. 

Selah is a track that starts slow and reminds one of gospel music the moment it is heard. We then hear Kanye’s iconic voice come over the track and the beat start to pick up. We are then greeted by a large and rising chorus that overtakes the song and erupts into a spiritual chant. Kanye’s verse takes turns with the chorus back and forth until the track is over. The track finishes somewhat abruptly, leaving the listener with a slightly jarring and uneasy feeling. The song is seemingly mysterious and mystical and can leave the listener somewhat confused after finishing it. The picture gets even broader, however, when we take into consideration the meaning of the title- Selah. Selah is a word used 74 times in the Hebrew Bible—seventy-one times in the Psalms and three times in the Book of Habakkuk. The meaning of the word is unknown, though various interpretations of the word exist. As the psalms have also been sung as well as read, the word selah has historically been used to signify a beat or pause at the end of the song to signify the place of an “amen.” This is likely to be what Kanye is referring to on this track, yet the song feels as mystical and sensational as the unknown origins of this ancient and holy word. The track is an interesting one for anyone to listen to.

As Use This Gospel begins, we are greeted with a repeated blaring sound. Kanye’s voice comes into the picture, supported by a new beat and chorus to back him up. The blaring sound continues in the background as the rapper Clipse comes onto the song. He trades verses with Kanye until we get a break in the beat for a beautiful and powerful saxophone solo. The song ends shortly thereafter. The song has an added meaning and purpose when the blaring sound is identified as the sound a car makes when a door is left open. This is to signify Kanye’s return to Christianity after his car crash in 2004.  This song does everything right- it is both catchy and beautiful, light and emotionally charged. It is a testament to spirit and new beginnings, and one of the album’s strongest tracks.

Jesus is King is a testament to Kanye West’s musical genius and ability to incorporate multiple genres of music for one concerted purpose. The album is about Chrisitan spirituality, and one does not need to be a spiritual Christian to feel the power and emotion behind the tracks. I give this album a resounding 5 out of 5 rating.

Dior Deposits by Guapdad 4000

Album: Dior Deposits

Artist: Guapdad 4000

Genre: Hip Hop

Record Label(s): TWNSHP, LLC

Recommended Tracks: Track 4-Gucci Pajamas and Track 7-Izayah

Akeem Hayes aka Guapdad 4000 is an Oakland rapper who rides bouncy beats with somehow bouncier flows, creating undeniably fun hip hip with very no nonsense production. Guapdad associates with many other acts trying to craft hip hop in a similar vein: nocturnal, energetic, unconventional yet simple, grimy, commercial yet authentic rap. For example he has collaborated extensively with Smino, EarthGang, and Buddy, among others. Guapdad was also invited to participate in the Dreamville sessions for their collaboration album Revenge of the Dreamers III, which he described as a “life-changing” experience¹. I remember hearing one of Guapdad’s first commercial singles “Money” and being absolutely enraptured by the super fun and explosive energy of the track. The beat, which samples Jay Z’s “Money Ain’t a Thang” treads towards sounding goofy, but the risk pays off as in combination with the unabashedly nerdy and corny wordplay it creates this bombastic comic book-like energy to the track, which otherwise might not stand out at all. Going into the album in question, Dior Deposits, I hoped to find Guap exhibiting some of the same pizzaz and zany energy that made his first singles so infectious. Some of the album definitely realizes that potential, although it does in a sleeker, more polished and mainstream friendly packaging, which is both a strength and an impediment. Overall, I’d give this album a 3/5, as it delivers some of the most fun pop-rap tracks of the year, and even has some interesting albeit trite commentary on materialism as it relates to rap, acclaim, poverty, etc. However, some of the streamlining of Guap’s sound makes him less of a standout from his contemporaries.

My first standout track, “Gucci Pajamas”, is definitely my favorite on the album. The track features vocals from veteran voice Charlie Wilson as well as Chance the Rapper, and was produced by The Stereotypes, who are likely most well known for being a secondary production input on Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic, specifically leading production efforts on “Finesse”. The track isn’t a straight throwback, but it definitely has a gloss and warmth reminiscent of some of the 80’s and 90s throwback tracks for which they’re known. Charlie Wilson delivers great vocals that add to the energy of the track without being an overbearing or distracting presence, and Chance’s verse is largely uninspired but he stays on the topic of the track, and his voice is distinct enough that he does command a lot of attention on the track. The end of his verse also contains some funny bars, such as “Now all my pajama-wear is whiter than Santa beard,

whiter than Bon Iver, whiter than Sonny, Cher”, or “Kleptomaniac bitch, Ocean’s Eleven shit”, which definitely got a little chuckle out of me. Now you’ll notice I haven’t really talked about Guap’s performance on the track, and that’s because he gets largely outshined by the production and his guest vocalists. The chorus he delivers is not bad at all. I definitely wouldn’t say it capitalizes on the potential for a sticky hook that the bouncy beat promises, but it’s passable. However Guap’s verse is entirely forgettable, and he let’s Charlie Wilson and Chance captain the bridge, which sort of makes him seem like a feature in his own song. Overall this tracklist is very feature heavy, and it does sometimes mean that Guap himself is outshone, and that until the second half of the album it doesn’t even really seem like his album as much as an assortment of posse cuts. 

My second standout track is Izayah, which features production from James Delgado who has worked with Guap multiple times in the past, as well as producer phenom Kenny Beats. The featured artists are KEY!, Maxo Cream, and Denzel Curry. This track is one of the harder cuts on the album, and the incisive hi-hats and rolling bass employed on both halves of the track frame all 3 emcees with verses (KEY! has an a capella intro) very well. Guap lays down one of his best verses on the album, flashing some of the clever wordplay that he showcased on his first few singles. The track transitions to Kenny Beats main portion in the second half, and Maxo Cream and Denzel Curry deliver some really high quality verses as well. This track isn’t excessively complicated, but it’s just a really well done rap heavy track with a crisp and bouncy bass. On Dior Deposits, Guapdad 4000 delivers a promising debut album. While I miss some of the more off-the-wall choices he made when he had more freedom, I can’t deny that the production has gotten leagues better. Also, while Guap sometimes gets lost in the sauce when it comes to features, the availability of A-list voices and emcees definitely enriches the overall appeal of his music. If you like Guapdad 4000, I would check out KEY!, EarthGang, or Smino. I definitely wouldn’t miss out on this album if you like energetic hip hop, or are looking for some new tracks for your workout playlist.