Another week, another overload of new sounds into my music library.
Nothing took me over the moon in regards to new single releases, but there were a few that peaked my interest well enough.
But what did blow my mind was a dropped album from Chance the Rapper (Chancelor Bennett). While the Chicago native has been making successful strides in the music industry for a number of years, with more features, singles, and EP’s than I can count, this is the artist’s first ever studio album.
He uses each track to tell the story of his life and how far he has come, and he does so soundfully. With features from Randy Newman, Shawn Mendes, Nicki Minaj, the lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie, hitmaker producer Timbaland, and a number of other artists we all adore, Chance the Rapper has blessed my musically inclined ears.
This week also took what was once old, and made it new again.
Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, and Maren Morris joined forces for a country song, and it’s the first time Nicks and Crow have reunited since their “If You Ever Did Believe” track for the 1998 film Practical Magic. Then, blink-182 released an edgier song from their upcoming album, which brought me right back to the 1990s, and rapper E-40 reminded us that he is, indeed, a legend.
This week brought me slight disappointment, basic pop hits, and a whole lot of hip-hop.
Let’s dive in. Shall we?
“The Big Day” an album by Chance the Rapper
- Mixtape master Chance the Rapper has blessed us with a full album. The 26-year-old produced 22 songs that touch on his gospel background. Now a young man, with a wife, a daughter, and an established career, his life has come full circle and he visualizes it throughout the album. Track one, “All Day Long,” sets the tone with an upbeat hip-hop feel, backtracked by vocals from none other than John Legend. “Do You Remember” is nostalgia written in rhyme with vocals borrowed from Death Cab for Cutie’s very own Benjamin Gibbard. My favorite on the album is “Ballin Flossin,” because it brings together one of my favorite rappers (Chance), Shawn Mendes, my favorite male vocalist, with an eccentric, fun tone (I am uncontrollably dancing as I’m writing this while listening). Throughout the album, Chance breaks it down and gets vulnerable, even on the fast-paced hits. He’s got Randy Newman on “5 Year Plan,” hitmaker Timbaland on “Big Fish,” and Nicki Minaj on “Slide Around” and “Zanies and Fools.” The track “We Go High” talks in depth about the rapper’s new life as a married man and father, and addresses the struggles that life comes with. He has this unique quality of painting a picture with his words, and that quality is not missing anywhere on this album. It’s nostalgic, sentimental, fun, funky, and I can’t stop listening.
“Prove You Wrong” by Sheryl Crow featuring Stevie Nicks & Maren Morris
- Two iconic female artists that I grew up listening to brought us a full on country song, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. While they did put a smile on my face by bringing on Morris, one of my current favorite country vocalists, they filled me with disappointment with the basic country backbeat. The lyrics talk about how easy it is to prove a man wrong (duh), and the array of vocals, which at times were hard to differentiate among the three of them, were decent. While the trio sound fully in sync, the song was good. Not great.
“Tattooed On My Heart” by Bishop Briggs
- The British musician/singer-songwriter (Sarah Grace McLaughlin) has unbelievably strong and unique vocals. A hip-hop/pop beat with an old soul vibe, “Tattooed On My Heart” is simple, beautiful, and a step back from her usual hard EDM beat antics. This track showcases her vocals on another level. I’ve been a huge fan of this artist since her song “River” came out in 2016, and now I have even more reason to fangirl her. She explains in the lyrics that she is “so done” with her partner’s “fake promises” and girl, SAME.
“Snitch” by Netsky & Aloe Blacc
- A hip-hop and EDM track for the modern day, “Snitch” hits all the marks. The combination of the different genres in this track can only be described as a job well done. It’s funky, it’s dope, it’s catchy, and it really gets you amped up. Your next workout song? I think so. And, in case you’re wondering, a snitch is someone who informs others of business that doesn’t relate to them. Let’s just say snitches are a “no go” for the Belgian musician/producer Netsky and Blacc (Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III), the California derived musician/rapper/songwriter/producer.
“1 Question” by E-40 featuring Jeremih, Rick Ross, & Chris Brown
- The iconic E-40 (Earl T. Stevens), who founded Sick Wid It Records, is back with a new track. And he brought some friends. “1 Question” is the perfect mix of hip-hop and R&B in one song. E-40’s unique flow is just as unique. While he may have aged in years, his skills have not. Rick Ross delivered his usual low pitch, heavy breath rap flow and Jeremih and Brown delivered the soulful vocals to back up the track.
“Crowded Table” by The Highwomen
- In the second release of their highly anticipated album, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires did not disappoint. I can’t recall the last time I’ve heard four women more in sync than these country-leading ladies. While their first released track, “Redesigning Women,” punched back at the societal norms held against women, “Crowded Table” gave us a little more vulnerability. The ladies let their listeners know their door is open for everyone in times of trouble. With lyrics like “If we want a garden, we’re gonna have to show the seed. Plant a little happiness, let the roots run deep,” it’s basically world peace in a beautifully produced song.
“Self Sacrifice” by James Droll
- This may be my first time hearing anything from Droll, the Nashville native indie pop artist, but I am pleasantly surprised. He gives off a soft vibe and absolutely crushes it with his strong vocals. “Self Sacrifice” is a relatable track, for me anyways. Droll uses his lyrics to create visuals, such as crying over a dog dying in a film compared to crying over a broken relationship. Man, I heard it and felt like I wrote the lyrics myself. It’s much easier to be empathetic to the things that don’t affect your everyday life.
“Sofia” by Clairo
- This song starts off edgier than normal for the Massachusetts native (Claire Cottrill) and then dives right back into her sweet, sultry vocals. The track examines the singer-songwriter’s sexuality and interest in women. In an interview with The Fader, Clairo said the song is slightly based on her celebrity crushes Sofia Coppola and Sofia Vergera. While I didn’t love the song at first listen, it’s growing on me with the combination of a guitar riff and Clairo’s skilled vocals.
“Darkside” by blink-182
- Blink-182 is giving me total 90s alternative rock vibes with this new release. I felt the nostalgia oozing out of my mind during my repeated listens of “Darkside.” Catchy, edgy, and subtly dark, the track is the latest to drop from the longtime band’s upcoming album “Nine,” which is out on September 20. The song tells the story of a “girl from another world” who does not come across as someone you’d want to introduce to your grandmother. But, according to the lyrics, the band doesn’t care what she says or what she does, they’re sticking with her anyways.
“Takeaway” by The Chainsmokers & Illenium featuring Lennon Stella
- What a trio! Lennon Stella’s voice is mesmerizing and if you don’t know who she is, go binge-watch the television show “Nashville” and you’ll see her portraying the character of the lead’s oldest daughter. EDM stars The Chainsmokers and Illenium teamed up with Stella to give us an electro-pop smash. While the lyrics aren’t the most sophisticated lines in the world, they’re catchy and that’s all you need to make a hit these days.