Frank Ocean fans are used to long waits in between projects but it seems with the success of 2016’s Endless and Blonde, Frank has grasped the impact that his music has on various audiences. So much so, that linking up with artists such as Calvin Harris and the Migos via feature over the past few months has kept fans on their toes for more. The track “Provider” was released as the VMA’s were being aired, succeeding in fans abandoning their TV sets in between commercials just to take head to this.
“Provider” begins with Frank’s vocals moving in and out with different lines seeming wordless. Throughout you can hear Frank’s ability to deliver vocals as if he is rapping with lines such as “Stiff smile just like I’m Aphex twin/Pat the Patagonia pockets, tryna find my zip”. The subject of talk seems to circle around tolerance and restraint. He touches on putting friends as well as significant others on hold, while compelling them to bide their time until he’s ready to build an act based on his intentions. Take four minutes and four seconds out of your day to receive this provision. As usual with Frank, disappointment isn’t a thing. I highly recommend that this song be apart of anyone’s library.
According to Joey Bada$$, April 7th is “Global Hip Hop Appreciation day” and what better day to release your album than on the day of said holiday. Not only that, it was believed to be the day of Kendrick Lamar’s new album release (or whatever it may have been) alongside projects by Tech9 and Allan Kingdom. Also, April 7th marked the late Tupac Shukur’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by his lablemate and longtime friend Snoop Dogg.
As we know K. Dot ultimately made a decision to push back his album until April the 14th (hopefully), leaving Joey Bada$$ to take pleasure in a moment all his own. Through the past four years there has been a lot of turmoil within Joey’s life one particular example being the loss of Pro Era member and longtime friend Capital Steez. Throughout the hardships Joey has maintained a positive outlook as he has designed his career as New York’s conductor for 90’s nostalgia and lyrical content. On January 20th 2015, Joey released his debut project B4.Da.$$ (pronounced Before da Money) which would go on to score a top 5 Billboard debut. With the release of All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$, Joey has appeared to have matured and gotten wiser. Coming behind a list of Hip Hop artists who have called out Americas’s hypocrisy and dishonesty (I.e. Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted), Joey uses his platform and voice to express his anti-Trump views, as well as educate people about the unfair treatment of Blacks in this country.
All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ has the feel of an album that is detrimental at this time. As of late there are plenty of artists in the Hip Hop community that have decided to use their influence on the culture and speak out on injustices and create uplifting music for the community. On the song “Land of the Free” Joey delivers lines that’ll broaden your vision Trumps presidency as well as systematic racism. “Obama just wasn’t enough, I just need some more closure, and Donald Trump is not equip to take this country over.” In the hook he sings, “In the land of the free, it’s full of freeloaders, leave us dead in the street to be their organ donors” The track “Y U Don’t Lov Me? (Miss AmeriKKKa) comes off as a letter towards a lost love. Joey is inquisitive as to why this woman (Miss AmeriKKKa) doesn’t love him nor what comes with him (I.e. his skin color). “Why you can’t recognize my stride? Always gotta minimize my pride.” Over a smooth euphoric like beat you can hear the passion in Joey’s voice as he sings the chorus “Tell me why you don’t love me, why you always misjudge me? Why you always put so many things above me?”
Joey has a familiar lineup for his sophomore project as you’ll hear smooth, ecstatic production from Pro Era’s Chuck Strangers, Kirk Knight and Powers Pleasant. Status Selektah, DJ Khalil and 1-900 (Adam Pallin) also played big rolls in production. Bada$$ unsurprisingly comes at us with a badass lineup of features whether it be displaying elements of his Jamaican heritage in his working with Reggae artist Chronixx or his ability to wordplay with Hip Hop vets Styles P, ScHoolboy Q, and J. Cole. “Super Predator” featuring Styles P definitely comes out on top as the winner in the collaborative category as Status Selektah delivers the perfect instrumental to bring out Joey’s and Styles’ views on the term “super-predator” originated by John Dilulio. “Super-Predator” is a term used to demonize black youth as having “no respect for human life or future.” Not only does the element of conscious Hip Hop lie in this track but Joey’s Jamaican roots as well; as he sings “Badmon we a run tings, never let the tings run we.” in the chorus. Styles P delivers powerful lyrics in his verse “no I’m not a chicken, I never listen to FOX news. Niggas built the country but never givin’ they props due. Playin’ for my people, I’m still payin’ for my pops dues!”
Had Kendrick released his album on the same day as Bada$$, we’d be having a completely different discussion about two pivotal lyricists that are in their prime, comparing the impacts that they would’ve both made on people’s everyday living. All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ has definitely shown growth in Joey’s already outstanding ability, lets see if this is enough for him to snatch the crown.
Syd has brought forth a very smooth and unique sound as well as writing style. She’s been the center of alternative R&B and Neo-Soul band the Internet for years. All the while not subjecting herself to just using her voice but her writing, record producing, DJ and audio engineering talents as well. After much work on multiple joint projects, the time has finally come to be able to appreciate her talent with undivided attention as she gives us her debut solo album entitled Fin.
The artist Syd, was born Sydney Barrett April 23rd 1992 in Los Angeles California. As mentioned, Syd has been apart of multiple joint projects therefore she is in a social circle of diverse musicians. She’s among the likes of Frank Ocean or even her own brother Taco; artists who have emerged into the public eye under super group Odd Future, created by Tyler the Creator (much of OF’s early work has being worked on in Syd’s parent’s house). The Internet has released three studio albums to date with 2015’s Ego Death being the project that was needed to solidify the group’s place in people’s conversations of musicians on the come up. The single “Girl” produced by Haitian DJ and record producer Kaytranada, was a certified banger and in turn was nominated for a Grammy.
Fin is, exactly what fans of this smooth and charismatic artist expected it to be. Syd continues to carry on with the confidence that she came into the public eye with. You can tell listening to this project that stepping outside of the Internet, was not stepping out of her comfort zone. When having a conversation with the FADER about the Internet and their careers as a whole, the topic of solo projects was brought up. “This is my decent into the depth I want the band to get to.” She continues; “for me this is like an in-between thing. Maybe get a song on the radio, maybe make some money, have some new shit to perform.” With that being said, Syd definitely used all of her strengths to her advantage on this project, combining Hip-Hop, Neo-Soul and R&B with a combination of very talented producers, like Fontana California born Hit-Boy and New York multimedia artist MeLo-X. Through both lyrics and sound, Syd allows for her personality to flow almost euphoric like through the listeners ears.
The opening track “Shake em Off” is a mid tempo track with a bold feel as you hear her talk about ignoring critics, and being self-assured when it comes to the things you pursue in life. “Young star in the making/Swear they sleeping on me” she sings in a braggadocios manner. Now enters the track “Know”. Over a sputtered beat that anyone could easily hear the late Aaliyah over, Syd speaks of an affair that she wants to keep hidden. This song easily gives the feel of a classic time-sensitive incident that the Internet spoke of on their track “Special Affair” from the classic Ego Death project. “Got her Own” is a track that puts her sexuality at the forefront, with her expressing her love for a woman that is independent and full of ambition. Track eight “Drown in it” is a personal let down for myself as it is too short for how good it is making it an interlude rather than a full song. In this track Syd conveys her nasty intentions in an audacious tone; “Swim in it/Dive in it/Drown in it/Hide in it/Inside of it babe”. Then there’s the following track; “Body”. In a recent interview with New Zealand born DJ and producer Zane Lowe, Syd admitted to wanting this specific song to be the “baby-making anthem of 2017”. Arguably, she’s accomplished that very goal. This album comes to a close in an almost awakening tone. She shows that there is more to just her calm and collected exterior in the track “Insecurities”. There’s a vulnerable person trapped loving someone that cannot offer back what’s being dished out.
This project overall felt very fresh coming from a familiar voice and sound. Syd’s open mindedness and willingness to put her persona into her music is what will keep the listener drawn close as well as with the enchanted production that matches up perfectly in every aspect. It’s a smooth project, but it gets rough in places where it needs to be. The next album should definitely dive even more into Syd’s personal apprehensions and infatuations. With this first solo attempt, I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more solo as well as joint pieces from Syd.