We all go through those periods of creative inactivity in our lives, where days and weeks drag and you struggle to understand your function for existence. This has been happening to me recently. However, I find when this happens the best thing to do is to try to keep a strong regimented schedule of things and make sure you are completing at least one small achievement every single day. Things may be changing drastically in my near future, but I’m hoping that some good karma will come my way at some point and light the way. I’m in a constant struggle with my mental health and having to condense the music I’ve listened to in the past 3-4 weeks into this post is the perfect example of that. I liken it to being in a slumber where the only thing that can wake you is guilt, and boy do I have plenty of that right now for many reasons.
SINGLES & LOOSIES
The Weeknd – After Hours
If we’re sticking by the mantra of pure first impressions, I have to be honest and say this track really didn’t click with me at first. Something about the teasing build-up and layered darkness deserved more than a basic EDM drum drop. On top of this, Abel’s vocals are weak and even more watery than usual, giving a childlike effect. It’s for sure better than the even poppier Starboy but I really hope he chooses the dark over the light as the album cover suggests.
My First Introduction to: The Weeknd
Hearing the incredible House of Balloons mixtape back in 2011 like an introduction to an angel.
Jessie Reyez – Ankles
This is to me, unfortunately, Jessie Reyez at her free-formed artistic worst. I genuinely really appreciate her personality and pizzazz when it comes to making music in genres that generally lack these qualities, but this track as a combination of music and lyrics is a mess. Sure, Jessie can sing in her unique Latina-accented style, and can write her ass off (even if this one is a bit wordy) but combining that and the minimalist, airy beat doesn’t mesh. If this were a rap song, I’d compare it, at points, to being Blueface levels of off-beat.
Aminé – Shimmy
Aminé has a really likeable quality of humour without corniness. He has a dry style which can often limit the impact of the bars but not here. Helped immensely by the Boi-1da production and Ol’ Dirty Bastard references, Aminé slides across this track making me want more than the slightly over 2 minutes of run-time. Interested to see if this kind of bounce and energy is among his next work and whether this is a single to an album or just a fun loosie.
My First Introduction to: Aminé
Being impressed by his feature on his Injury Reserve’s self-titled album last year and going backwards through his discography.
YGTUT – Bootleggers
While there is nothing truly groundbreaking or mind-blowing about this track, I’m excited to see YGTUT on this kind of modernised production. The track is full of energy with bouncy drums, an E.T.-style synth pattern and YGTUT’s smooth flow hitting the apexes. Much like the Aminé track, I’m interested to see where he takes this considering the majority of his music previous was more mellow and jazzy.
My First Introduction to: YGTUT
The low-key and jazzy cuts “Corner Stories” and “Prophecy” from his 2015 album Preacher’s Son.
Kehlani – Toxic
I’ve fully realised that I am a sucker for those kind of tracks that display the addiction of the feeling of love. Kehlani really has quite the personality on this track, and getting the background vocals of Ty Dolla $ign is a genius move. Presumably it’s the story of her relationship with rapper YG and how the positive aspects turned problematic. Hopefully we’ll see a new album come out of this mounting pile of salt from either of these artists as we all know unhappiness produces the best music.
My First Introduction to: Kehlani
Seriously enjoying her short project While We Wait from early last year. Highly recommended.
Jay Electronica – A Written Testimony
Considering that I first heard Jay Electronica when I was really not even in puberty, you can imagine how intrigued I was to listen to new music. I can say that at least it didn’t disappoint on the level of having many things to think about and the skill levels shown through just a couple of songs years ago, still being there to this day. With a great amount of help from Jay-Z (to the point where some people have been calling it Watch the Throne 2), Jay Electronica talks widely about his relationship with his faith. Beneath this is luxurious sounding production, whether that be on the sparse “Universal Soldier” or the serious stank-face-inducing opening leg to “The Blinding.” The level of bars on this album deserve more than a first impression look and I’m still catching things on the 6th and 7th listens. However, just because something has deep meaning doesn’t mean it is necessarily enjoyable or beneficial to the culture so only time will tell.
Top tracks (so far): Ghost of Soulja Slim, The Blinding (feat. Travis Scott), Fruits of the Spirit
My First Introduction to: Jay Electronica
2009’s enigmatic duo of Exhibit A and Exhibit C.
Jhené Aiko – Chilombo
I understand that Jhené Aiko has been all about the vibes for about a decade now, but there’s a point I reach in listening to this project where my mind becomes a steaming pile of mush and I turn off. As soon as Ab-Soul finishes his verse on “One Way St.”, I just lose the will to live a bit. Sure, it’s nice, flowery music with Aiko’s fairly angelic voice but for the love of God could we make it a bit more interesting. On the upside, I do really love “BS” with H.E.R. getting sassier than we’ve seen in a while; please continue this.
Top tracks (so far): BS (feat. H.E.R.), LOVE
My First Introduction to: Jhené Aiko
The relaxing “Bed Peace” with Childish Gambino from 2013.
Ant Clemons – Happy 2 Be Here
I’ve got a feeling that Ant Clemons is going to be around for a long time in a PARTYNEXTDOOR kind of role. What I mean by this is that his artistic styling is meh at best, but the songwriting ability is clearly there. Many of the songs on this short EP are quite sappy and melodramatic and his vocals do not help in this sense as they come off as him reaching for falsetto too much, almost in a gasping for air sound. He is much better suited to sit in his natural lower vocal range such as on the standout “4 Letter Word” having a sort of rough smoothness a-la someone like Ty Dolla $ign. It’s for sure an interesting place to start your artistic endeavours off though, especially with the backing and placements of someone like Kanye West.
Top tracks (so far): 4 Letter Word (feat. Timbaland), Pinky Promise
My First Introduction to: Ant Clemons
His first single, “4 Letter Word,” was one of my favourite songs from last year.
Royce Da 5’9 – The Allegory
Speaking of not being beneficial to the culture, the benefits of being an almost inhumanely skilled musician should not include allowing lines about vaccines giving your child autism into an album. These bars are irresponsible and dangerous in their message, specifically to a largely untrusting minority group such as African-Americans. On top of this, The Allegory just doesn’t flow as well or have as many interesting aspects to it as his two previous projects. I understand that Royce is aiming to build a production style and skillset and also that he is one of the most skilled lyricists of a generation but unfortunately it doesn’t come together for me here.
Top tracks (so far): Pendulum (feat. Ashley Sorrell), Upside Down (feat. Benny the Butcher)
My First Introduction to: Royce Da 5’9
Loving the aggression and (now somewhat dated) production on 2011’s Success is Certain.
Don Toliver – Heaven or Hell
If you had no idea who this guy was before listening to this project, by the end of it it will be of absolutely no surprise to you to learn that he’s mentored and very much looks up to (and bites quite a bit) Travis Scott. There is almost not a single track here that you couldn’t place somewhere on one of Travis’ albums/EPs throughout the years. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as Don Toliver at least has better pure vocals than Travis but the creativity is really lacking. He doesn’t have the sticky hooks of a close contemporary such as Roddy Ricch, nor the intriguing inflections of Young Thug, leaving this debut album very lacking in being anything more than an industry standard trap/auto-crooner bonanza.
Top tracks (so far): Cardigan, Wasted
My First Introduction to: Don Toliver
Enjoying his lead off on the track “Can’t Say” from Travis Scott’s Astroworld.
- FIRST IMPRESSION FRIDAYS #7 – MARCH 20, 2020
- FIRST IMPRESSION FRIDAYS #6 – FEBRUARY 21, 2020 – MARCH 13, 2020
- 5 ALBUMS THAT INFLUENCED MY MUSIC TASTE
- 10 SONGS THAT MOTIVATE ME
- FIRST IMPRESSION FRIDAYS #5 – FEBRUARY 7, 2020
- FIRST IMPRESSION FRIDAYS #4 – JANUARY 31, 2020
- FIRST IMPRESSION FRIDAYS #3 – JANUARY 24, 2020
- FIRST IMPRESSION FRIDAYS #2 – JANUARY 17, 2020