Mine Tracks of the month: January
January 31, 2016
The month of January came with mostly highs and only a few woes in the music industry. Throughout the 31 days, we heard new albums, mixtapes and previews for albums. Overall, we were blessed with some great projects to kick-start 2016. Here are some of the highlights of this month:
Cozz – Nothing Personal
Cozz opened 2016 hot with his freshman mixtape, “Nothing Personal.” After storming through 2015 with his first studio album, “Cozz and Effect,” there was much hype for the Dreamville signee’s next project. He did not disappoint with this mixtape. He raps about drug abuse, gang violence and family hardships. The aggressive compellation features many gems, one of the brightest being “Grow.” On the track, Cozz reflects on how much he has grown as a man, and how his decision on being a rapper has affected him very positively. His vivid story telling about the past, such as, “My pops used to leave ten dollars in cash before I went to class, everyday. I used to spend five dollars on the weed and 40 ounce with the other half, everyday. Starving myself for the hunger of a buzz.” He has simply endured a rigorous journey to get where he is now.
David Bowie – Blackstar
We lost a legend in David Bowie on Jan. 10, when the singer passed away from liver cancer. This album was his sending forth hymn. Comprised of seven tracks, this record captivated beauty and darkness. The album rotates from explicit-thrashing tunes, to slower, meaningful tracks. A notable hit, “Lazarus”, serves as an allusion to Bowie’s sudden death – “Look up here, I’m in heaven. Look up here, man, I’m in danger. I’ve got nothing left to lose.” Even though Bowie is gone, his legacy will live on forever.
Daughter – Not to Disappear
Daughter answered everyone’s question to the band’s whereabouts instantly with their album title, “Not to Disappear.” It seems like forever since Daughter’s last project, and this album was definitely long awaited. The English indie-folk group revolutionized their sound on this record, using tropical guitars, heavy bass and kick drums throughout the 10-songs. While some tracks are almost a snore, this album finds elegance in such a murky tone. The collection seems like an outcry to internal pains that vocalist Elena Tonra faces. They end the album with “Made of Stone”, a song in which Tonra uses stone as a metaphor to show how emotionally-drained she now is.
Future – Purple Reign
Collaborating with Metro Boomin and DJ Esco, Future comes back with his fifth project in only ten months. The thunder theme fused with the promethazine-filled mixtape ends up being a unique style that Future went about this album. “Drippin” and “Wicked” are raw tracks that talks about drugs and are very upbeat. However, the idea that Future only glorifies promethazine and cough syrup is a common misconception. Instead, his lyrics vividly describe all the problems he deals with his addiction, such as in “Perkys Calling.” In the track, Future raps in the perspective of his sober mind and how mindless he is without drugs.
Migos – YRN 2
All the hype that Migos had prior to this mixtape can be summed up into one word: illustrious. Offset rejoined the crew after being imprisoned, and the trio made some literal fire. Why are we all hitting the dab? Because of Migos. Now the group came with a sequel to “YRN”, the infamous mixtape that helped Migos gain national attention. While this album does not have any hits, like “Versace” or “Hannah Montana”, the 14-track record is as pure as a trap album can be. “Hate It Or Love It” is a soon-to-be trap anthem, where the trio spits about spreading a movement that will live on.
Lecrae – Church Clothes 3
Dropping this album out of nowhere, the self-proclaimed, grammy-winning, Christian rapper delivered yet another piece of art with “Church Clothes 3.” Lecrae explores new areas of race and politics with his first track, “Freedom.” Throughout the album, he makes references to police brutality, black equality and spreading peace. In all, this album is worth a listen, and makes the listener even more excited to see what is ahead for him.
Panic! At the Disco – Death of a Bachelor
The band is obviously at an all time low, and “Death of a Bachelor” sounded like a compellation of bad influences from a 2010 punk rock band and the old school Panic! At the Disco. The band took a 180 turn from “This is Gospel,” and compiled the album with a bunch of filler material.
B.o. B – FIRE
Since 2009, B.o.B has come out with significant projects in the mixtape scene, and “FIRE” lives up to the album title name – burning trap music, mixed with vicious rap flows. “Psychedelic Thoughts”, B.o.B’s last album, featured an alternative rock addition to hip-hop. This mixtape explores new horizons into trap music. This album is a definite listen.
Kevin Gates – Islah
Kevin Gates sticks with his raw, hip-hop, and evolves as an artist with “Islah.” Gates combines catchy hooks with experimental lyrics, making this album a bold listen. The drug-induced mixtape highlights some soon-to-be Kevin Gates classics, such as “2 Phones” and “The Truth.” After all these years, Gates is still able to hit high vocal notes while managing to have distinct bars.
J Cole – Forest Hills Drive: Homecoming
After a year since its release, J Cole’s “2014 Forest Hills Drive” is still taking the world by storm. HBO teamed up with Cole and produced a documentary about the approach J Cole went about releasing the album, showcasing the ins-and-outs of putting on a concert, and takes the viewer on tour, which makes you feel you are at the concert watching Cole. From the first episode where students from high schools are getting visits from the rapper, Cole hooks the viewer almost immediately. Then, if his own documentary series was not enough for the Fayetteville-born rapper, Cole released a live album, “Forest Hills Drive: Live from Fayetteville, NC.” The album takes a trip throughout his entire album, adds special classic songs and concludes with “Love Yourz”, a track in which Cole promotes self-love.
Kanye West – SWISH/ WAVES
The question is not what has Kanye done this month, but rather what hasn’t he done. Kanye opened the year with “Facts”, an effortless freestyle over Drake’s “Jumpman” beat. Kanye alluded to his album with two singles “Real Friends” and “No Parties in L.A.” West goes back to his roots on “Real Friends”, using a College Dropout-esque beat. On “No Parties in L.A.”, Ye teams up with Kendrick Lamar, and they both rant on all the problems with ignorant wealthy people. Yeezy calls out his ex, Amber Rose, by labeling her as a major example of a gold-digger, “I remember Amber told my boy no matter what happens she ain’t going back to Philly.” With the news of Kanye switching the album title from “SWISH” to “WAVES”, the Wiz Khalifa twitter-war, and Amber Rose calling out Kanye for “liking butt-stuff”, listeners are craving new Kanye. It’s Yeezy season, and “WAVES” will prove to live up to expectations.
Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]