Thursday, January 09, 2020

Best 50 Albums of 2019

A little bit later than usual, but earlier than last time at least. I'm still compiling my singles list and you can expect 2010s albums and singles lists as well. Stay tuned! Music is still a very exciting place despite my lack of posts.
  1. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising 
  2. Angel Olsen – All Mirrors 
  3. Brittany Howard  Jaime 
  4. Big Thief – Two Hands 
  5. Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY! 
  6. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Bandana 
  7. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR 
  8. Clairo - Immunity 
  9. Spellling – Mazy Fly 
  10. Shay Lia – Dangerous 
  11. Little Simz – Grey Area 
  12. Mereba- The Jungle Is The Only Way Out 
  13. Snoh Aalegra – Ugh, those feels again 
  14. Jessica Pratt – Quiet Signs 
  15. Danny Brown  uknowehatinsayin¿ 
  16. Crumb  Jinx 
  17. Faye Webster – Atlanta Millionaires Club 
  18. Julia Jacklin – Crushing 
  19. Dave  PSYCHODRAMA 
  20. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars 
  21. YBN Cordae – The Lost Boy 
  22. Hatchie – Keepsake    
  23. Jenny Lewis – On The Line 
  24. The Regrettes – How Do You Love? 
  25. Bon Iver – i, i 
  26. Cate Le Bon – Reward 
  27. Ari Lennox – Shea Butter Baby 
  28. Chai – Punk  
  29. Ariana Grande – thank u, next 
  30. Beck – Hyperspace  
  31. Solange – When I Get Home 
  32. James Blake – Assume Form 
  33. Nilüfer Yanya – Miss Universe 
  34. Marika Hackman – Any Human Friend 
  35. Rapsody – Eve 
  36. 21 Savage – I am > I was  
  37. The Chemical Brothers – No Geography 
  38. Leven Kali – Low Tide 
  39. Kota The Friend – FOTO
  40. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!
  41. Sir Babygirl – Crush On Me 
  42. Maxo – Lil Big Man 
  43. Raphael Saadiq – Jimmy Lee 
  44. FKA twigs – Magdalene 
  45. Girlpool – What Chaos Is Imaginary 
  46. TEEN – Good Fruit  
  47. Denitia – Touch of the Sky 
  48. Birdman & Juvenile – Just Another Gangsta 
  49. Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride 
  50. Eryn Allen Kane – A Tree Planted By Water 

Honorable Mention: 

2 Chainz – Rap Or Go To The League 
Anderson .Paak – Ventura 
Angel Bat Dawid – The Oracle 
Benny Sings – City Pop 
Beyoncé – The Lion King: The Gift 
Bibio – Ribbons 
Big Thief – U.F.O.F. 
Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? 
Bleached – Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough 
Boogie – Everything's For Sale 
Chance The Rapper – The Big Day 
Charli XCX – Charli 
Charly Bliss – Young Enough 
Chris Crack – Crackheads Live Longer Than Vegans 
Coldplay – Everyday Life 
Common – Let Love 
Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? 
Default Genders – main pop girl 2019 
Denzel Curry – ZUU 
Devin Morrison – Bussin'  
Diamond D – The Diam Piece 2 
Diät – Positive Disintegration  
Doja Cat – Hot Pink 
Domo Genesis – Façade Records 
Dreamville- Revenge of the Dreamers III 
Earl Sweatshirt – Feet of Clay  
EARTHGANG – Mirrorland 
Emily King – Scenery  
Ex Hex – It's Real 
FIDLAR – Almost Free 
Flying Lotus – Flamagra  
Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel  
Gang Starr – One Of The Best Yet 
GoldLink – Diaspora 
Helado Negro – This Is How You Smile  
Honeyblood – In Plain Sight 
Jade Bird – Jade Bird 
Jasmine Thompson – Colour 
Jay Som – Anak Ko 
Jim Jones – El Capo  
JPEGMAFIA – All My Heroes Are Cornballs 
Kari Faux – Cry 4 Help 
Kehlani – While We Wait 
Kelsey Lu – Blood 
Kevin Abstract – ARIZONA BABY 
Koffee – Rapture  
Little Brother – May The Lord Watch  
Maggie Rogers – Heard It In A Past Life  
Mariah The Scientist – Master 
Marlon Craft – Funhouse Mirror  
Megan Thee Stallion – Fever 
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen 
Ol’ Burger Beats – Daybreak  
Pink Sweat$ – Vol. 2   
Pivot Gang – You Can’t Sit With Us 
Priests – The Seduction of Kansas 
Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains 
Raveena – Lucid  
Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats – Anger Management
(Sandy) Alex G – House of Sugar 
ScHoolboy Q – CrasH Talk  
Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow 
Sheer Mag – A Distant Call 
SiR – Chasing Summer 
Steve Lacy – Apollo XXI 
Summer Walker – Over It 
Tacocat – This Mess Is A Place 
Taylor Swift – Lover 
The Game – Born 2 Rap 
The Highwomen – The Highwomen  
The National – I Am Easy To Find 
The New Pornographers – In The Morse Code of Brake Lights 
Tool – Fear Inoculum 
Toro y Moi – Outer Space 
Tove Lo – Sunshine Kitty 
TOY – Happy In The Hollow 
Twist – Dancing 
Yola – Walk Through Fire 
Young Nudy & Pi’erre Bourne – Sli’merre 
Young Thug – So Much Fun 
Zaska – It Takes A Village 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

My Favorite Albums and Singles of 2018

It's been a while since my last post, but I've never stopped following or listening to music. If anything, I probably listen to more new artists than before, who are especially easier to find due to the advances of the 21st century.

So why no posts? The typical answer that any blogger who started last decade will tell you: life.

Life has blessed me in many ways since I last posted, but it has changed in such a way that it's forced me to adapt in a way that I have yet to accomplish.

I don't see myself posting regularly in the future, although the thought is nice. It's too hard to predict when I'll bring an idea to fruition. The good news is that I still have ideas and I hope to share them more often than I have in the past few years.

I still host my radio show, Noteworthy at UIC Radio on Mondays from 6PM-8PM CT, so if you would like a reliable, steady source for what I'm listening to or some of my ideas, that's your best bet. The radio show also has its own Facebook and Twitter.

I never stopped coming up with ideas about music and I still started on year-end lists for 2016 and 2017. I would like to finish them at some point because it's going to bug me until I do, but I can't guarantee anything. I have no idea when the next time I'll pop up on here will be. I'll definitely do my 2019 lists, and if I've learned any lessons, it should be released in a more timely manner.

All I know is that I was frustrated that I hadn't posted a list in two years and it nagged me. I was simply determined to rectify that for 2018.

The actual list itself was done around late December/early January, but I'm just now getting around to posting it. Yes, it's going on April and I'm not going to let that be an excuse.

Perhaps fewer excuses and more ideas would do me some good.

Top 50 Albums of 2018

  1. Saba – Care For Me
  2. Beach House - 7
  3. Noname – Room 25
  4. Tirzah – Devotion
  5. The Beths – Future Me Hates Me
  6. Tune-yards – I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life
  7. Robyn – Honey
  8. Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar
  9. Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel
  10. Meshell Ndegeocello – Ventriloquism
  11. Reason – There You Have It
  12. Nao - Saturn
  13. Tom Misch - Geography
  14. Mac Miller – Swimming
  15. Kali Uchis – Isolation
  16. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
  17. Cornelia Murr - Man On My Mind
  18. Pusha T – Daytona
  19. Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap
  20. DJ Koze – Knock Knock
  21. Royce da 5’9” - The Book of Ryan
  22. Anna Calvi - Hunter
  23. Black Panther: The Album
  24. Arin Ray – Platinum Fire
  25. Snail Mail - Lush
  26. J.I.D. -DiCaprio 2
  27. Mitski – Be The Cowboy
  28. The Internet – Hive Mind
  29. Jon Hopkins - Singularity
  30. Ariana Grande – Sweetener
  31. Lucy Dacus - Historian
  32. Tash Sultana – Flow State
  33. Jean Grae & Quelle Chris – Everything's Fine
  34. J. Cole – KOD
  35. St. Beauty – Running To The Sun
  36. Travis Scott – Astroworld
  37. Jeff Rosenstock - Post-
  38. Kadhja Bonet - Childqueen
  39. Eleanor Friedberger – Rebound
  40. Vince Staples – FM!
  41. Fatima - And Yet It's All Love
  42. NoMBe – They Might’ve Even Loved Me
  43. Tracey Thorn – Record
  44. Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog
  45. Earl Sweatshirt - Some Rap Songs
  46. Soccer Mommy - Clean
  47. Esperanza Spalding – 12 Little Spells
  48. Smerz – Have Fun
  49. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
  50. U.S. Girls – In A Poem Unlimited

Top 250 Singles of 2018

  1. Kanye West feat. Kid Cudi, PARTYNEXTDOOR and 070 Shake – Ghost Town
  2. Janelle Monae feat. Grimes – Pynk
  3. Jessie Reyez - Sola
  4. Radiant Children – Go Left
  5. Pusha T - If You Know You Know
  6. Ariana Grande – get well soon
  7. Cassie – Don't Play It Safe
  8. A$AP Rocky feat. Moby – A$AP Forever
  9. Jonny Greenwood – House of Woodcock
  10. J. Cole – ATM
  11. Xander feat. Malik Elijah - askmeificare
  12. Janelle Monae – Make Me Feel
  13. Pusha T – The Story of Adidon
  14. Madison McFerrin - Insane
  15. Kacey Musgraves – High Horse
  16. Drake – Nice For What
  17. Janelle Monae – Django Jane
  18. Jessie Reyez – Apple Juice
  19. Ari Lennox – Whipped Cream
  20. Coco O. Bled For You
  21. Mac Miller – Small Worlds
  22. Anderson .Paak - ‘Til It’s Over
  23. Halsey feat. Big Sean & Stefflon Don – Alone
  24. Low - Disarray
  25. Anderson .Paak - Bubblin’
  26. Hatchie – Sure
  27. D.R.A.M. - Best Hugs
  28. Khalid feat. Swae Lee – The Ways
  29. Cornelia Murr – Man On My Mind
  30. Anderson .Paak feat. Kendrick Lamar – Tints
  31. The 1975 – Sincerity Is Scary
  32. Snail Mail – Heat Wave
  33. Gucci Mane feat. Kodak Black & Bruno Mars – Wake Up In The Sky
  34. Vanessa Zamora – Al Fondo de Mi
  35. Drake – God's Plan
  36. DJ Esco & Future feat. Nas – Walk Thru
  37. Brandi Carlile – The Joke
  38. N*E*R*D feat. Kendrick Lamar – Don't Don't Do It
  39. Doja Cat – Mooo!
  40. Courtney Barnett – City Looks Pretty
  41. Dean – instagram
  42. Jessie Reyez feat. JRM – Imported
  43. Rosehardt & Space People – Electric Slide (In Ya DMs)
  44. Nipsey Hussle feat. YG – Last Time I Checc’d
  45. Hatchie - Sleep
  46. Moonchild - The List
  47. serpentwithfeet – bless ur heart
  48. Hoodboi feat. Tkay Maizda – Glide
  49. Bruno Mars feat. Cardi B – Finesse (Remix)
  50. St. Beauty – Caught
  51. Charlie Puth feat. Boyz II Men – If You Leave Me Now
  52. Sunflower Bean – Twentytwo
  53. The Internet – Roll (Burbank Funk)
  54. Rich The Kid – Plug Walk
  55. Ella Mai – Boo'd Up
  56. Childish Gambino – This Is America
  57. Swizz Beatz feat. Lil Wayne – Pistol On My Side (P.O.M.S.)
  58. Laura Jean – Girls on the TV
  59. Japanese Breakfast – Boyish
  60. Phony Ppl – Way Too Far
  61. The Weeknd feat. Kendrick Lamar – Pray For Me
  62. John Mayer – New Light
  63. Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry
  64. Vic Mensa & Valee – Dim Sum
  65. Years & Years - Sanctify
  66. Kanye West feat. Lil Pump – I Love It
  67. Car Seat Headrest – Beach Life-in-Death
  68. Jean Grae & Quelle Chris – My Contribution To This Scam
  69. audiobooks – Dance Your Life Away
  70. Noname feat. Saba & Smino - Ace
  71. MorMor – Whatever Comes To Mind
  72. Gender Roles – Plastic
  73. Drake – Duppy Freestyle
  74. Radiant Children – Life's A Bitch
  75. Leikeli47 – Roll Call
  76. Westside Gunn feat. Anderson .Paak - Wrestlemania 20
  77. Jay Rock feat. Kendrick Lamar - Win
  78. Riton feat. Kah-Lo & Mr. Eazi – Catching Feelings
  79. Me’shell Ndegeocello – Sometimes It Snows In April
  80. Blocboy JB feat. Drake – Look Alive
  81. Rina Sawayama – Valentine (What's It Gonna Be?)
  82. Channel Tres – Topdown
  83. Mitski – Nobody
  84. Courtney Barnett – Need A Little Time
  85. Valee feat. Pusha T – Miami
  86. Samana – Beneath The Ice
  87. Post Malone feat. Ty Dolla $ign – Psycho
  88. Black Eyed Peas – Street Livin'
  89. D.R.A.M. - WWYD?
  90. Arin Ray – Skeemin'
  91. The Carters – APESHIT
  92. Tracey Thorn - Queen
  93. Hop Along – Prior Things
  94. Leon Bridges – Bad Bad News
  95. Saweetie feat. Kehlani – ICY GRL (Bae Mix)
  96. Jade Bird – Lottery
  97. The Beths - Future Me Hates Me
  98. JGrrey – Don't Fade
  99. Saba – Life
  100. Young Fathers – Border Girl
  101. Jessie Reyez – Body Count
  102. Cam O’bi feat. Smino – Tenderheaded
  103. Lady Gaga – I'll Never Love Again
  104. Sun June – Discotheque
  105. Ashley Monroe – Hands On You
  106. Kadhja Bonet – Delphine
  107. Denzel Curry feat. Twelve’len and Goldlink – Black Balloons
  108. Cardi B feat. 21 Savage – Bartier Cardi
  109. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Hunnybee
  110. Ash – Confessions In The Pool
  111. Tom Misch feat. Loyle Carner – Water Baby
  112. MorMor –Heaven's Only Wishful
  113. 1010 Benja SL – Wind Up Space
  114. Troye Sivan – My My My!
  115. Riton feat. Kah-Lo – Fake ID
  116. Let's Eat Grandma – Hot Pink
  117. Lucy Dacus – Night Shift
  118. Twist - Venus
  119. Wafia – I’m Good
  120. Gender Roles – About Her
  121. Free Nationals feat. Daniel Caesar & Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Beauty & Essex
  122. HONNE feat. Tom Misch – Me & You
  123. Soccer Mommy - Cool
  124. Nicki Minaj – Barbie Dreams
  125. Saba – Busy
  126. Zilo – Keep Up Wimmi
  127. Boosie – Webbie I Remember
  128. Young M.A. - Praktice
  129. Valee feat. Jeremih – Womp Womp
  130. Phoebe Ryan feat. Tove Lo – Heart Attack
  131. SG Lewis feat. AlunaGeorge - Hurting
  132. Cardi B feat. Bad Bunny & J. Balvin – I Like It
  133. Jade Novah – Next To You
  134. Beulahbelle – You Only Live Twice (Living Room Version)
  135. Ebony Bones – No Black In The Union Jack
  136. Gabrielle Aplin – My Mistake
  137. Tomberlin – I'm Not Scared
  138. J. Cole – Album of the Year - Freestyle
  139. PREP feat. DEAN – Cold Fire
  140. 88Rising feat. Blocboy JB – Peach Jam
  141. Confidence Man – Out The Window
  143. Okay Kaya – IUD
  144. The 1975 – Love It If We Made It
  145. Radiant Children – Tryin'
  146. The Regrettes – Back In Your Head
  147. Richard Reed Parry – Song of Wood
  148. Cardi B – Money
  149. Moaning Lisa – Comfortable
  150. Daphne & Celeste – Alarms
  151. Gorillaz feat. George Benson – Humility
  152. L8LOOMER - < 3
  153. Bas feat. J. Cole – Tribe
  154. H.E.R. - Focus
  155. Janelle Monae – I Like That
  156. CHVRCHES – Never Say Die
  157. Speedy Ortiz – Lean In When I Suffer
  158. Reason – The Soul
  159. Gallant – Gentleman
  160. Eleanor Friedberger – Make Me A Song
  161. Royce da 5’9” feat. Eminem & King Green - Caterpillar
  162. Beach House - Alien
  163. Raveena – Honey
  164. Amber Mark – High On Your Love
  165. Carrie Underwood – Cry Pretty
  166. Kyle Craft – The Rager
  167. H.E.R. feat. Bryson Tiller – Could've Been
  168. Jenny Hval - Spells
  169. Mariah Carey – With You
  170. Simmy - Umahalela
  171. Ebhoni – Opps
  172. Kylie Minogue - Dancing
  173. Kadhja Bonet – Mother Maybe
  174. Joyner Lucas & Chris Brown – Stranger Things
  175. Chance The Rapper – I Might Need Security
  176. Machine Gun Kelly – Rap Devil
  177. Benin City – Double or Nothing
  178. Deerhunter – Death in Midsummer
  179. 6ix9ine feat. Nicki Minaj – FEFE (Remix)
  180. Barrie – Tal Uno
  181. Jean Grae & Quelle Chris – Gold Purple Orange
  182. Tash Sultana – Free Mind
  183. Lil Baby feat. Drake – Yes, Indeed
  184. NAO – Another Lifetime
  185. Bazzi feat. Camilla Cabello – Beautiful
  186. Leon Thomas feat. Buddy – Favorite
  187. Lil Wayne – Dedicate
  188. Mahalia – Surprise Me
  189. Carly Jepsen – Party For One
  190. Lykke Li – Hard Rain
  191. Lizzo – Boys
  192. YG feat. 2 Chainz, Big Sean and Nicki Minaj – Big Bank
  193. Wiley feat. Scratchy and D Double E – Bar
  194. Trouble & Mike WiLL Made-It feat. Drake – Bring It Back
  195. Charly Bliss – Heaven
  196. Leon Bridges – Beyond
  197. Kendrick Lamar feat. SZA – All The Stars
  198. Rhye – Count To Five
  199. Sylvan Esso – There Are Many Ways To Say I Love You
  200. Jay Rock feat. Kendrick Lamar, Future, and James Blake – King’s Dead
  201. Azealia Banks – Movin' On Up (Coco’s Song, Love Beats Rhymes)
  202. Nilufer Yanya – Baby Luv
  203. Travis Scott feat. Drake – Sicko Mode
  204. Your Smith – The Spot
  205. Tyler the Creator feat. A$AP Rocky – Potato Salad
  206. Chloe x Halle feat. Joey Bada$$ - Happy Without Me
  207. Shawn Mendes feat. Zedd – Lost In Japan (Remix)
  208. Ilham feat. Arin Ray - Cycle of Games
  209. Mothers – Pink and Blue
  210. Julia Holter – I Shall Love 2
  211. Eminem feat. Joyner Lucas – Lucky You
  212. Kandace Springs – 6 8
  213. Brian Fallon – If Your Prayers Don’t Get To Heaven
  214. Janet Jackson feat. Daddy Yankee – Made For Now
  215. Jay Som –Pirouette
  216. Dilly Dally - Doom
  217. CASISDEAD – Pat Earrings
  218. Gavin Turek – WHITNEY
  219. Dilly Dally - Marijuana
  220. Sheck Wes – Mo Bamba
  221. Lou Phelps feat. Jazz Cartier – Come Inside (Kaytranada Edit)
  222. Joseph Chilliams feat. Saba – Unfriendly Black Hotties
  223. Trippie Redd feat. Travis Scott – Dark Knight Dummo
  224. Riton feat. Kah-Lo – Ginger
  225. Cazzu - Chapiadora
  226. Royce da 5’9” feat. J. Cole – Boblo Boat
  227. DJ Koze – Pick Up
  228. Aloe Blacc – Brooklyn In The Summer
  229. Tres Oui - Séance
  230. Cardi B – Be Careful
  231. SOB X RBE – Anti Social
  232. Robyn – Honey
  233. Chloe x Halle – Grown
  234. JID feat. BJ The Chicago Kid - Skrawberries
  235. Tangents – Swells Under Tito
  236. Diana Gordon – Wolverine
  237. Hatchie – Bad Guy
  238. Miya Folick – Stock Image
  239. Kimbra – Version Of Me
  240. Natalie Prass – Short Court Style
  241. Towkio feat. Teddy Jackson – Symphony
  242. NEIKED feat. Miriam Bryant – How Did I Find You
  243. The Go! Team – The Only Thing New Is U Finding Out About It
  244. Craig David feat. Goldlink – Live In The Moment
  245. JD. Reid feat. Katy B – Call Your Bluff
  246. Buddy – Trouble On Central
  247. T.I. feat. Meek Mill – Jefe
  248. Victoria Monet – The Glow
  249. Field Music – Time In Joy
  250. Soleima – Low Life

Monday, December 05, 2016

2017 Grammy Nomination Predictions

The nominations for the Grammys will be announced on Dec. 6, but as is tradition, I'm taking a crack at some predictions.

Record of the Year

Adele - "Hello"
Beyonce - "Formation"
Justin Bieber - "Love Yourself "
The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey - "Closer"
Rihanna feat. Drake - "Work"

Analysis: The narrative of Beyonce vs. Adele will drive ratings, but the NARAS likes Adele and would probably prefer her to win, which is I'm including Rihanna and Drake to split votes with Bey over songs like Lukas Graham's "7 Years" and Sia's "Cheap Thrills."
Possible spoilers: Drake - "One Dance," Lukas Graham - "7 Years," Radiohead - "Burn The Witch," Rae Sremmurd feat. Gucci Mane - "Black Beatles," Sia feat. Sean Paul - "Cheap Thrills,"  Justin Timberlake feat. Anna Kendrick & James Corden - "Can't Stop The Feeling," Twenty One Pilots - "Stressed Out," The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk - "Starboy"

Song of the Year

Adele - "Hello"
Justin Bieber - "Love Yourself"
Lukas Graham - "7 Years"
Maxwell - "Lake By The Ocean"
Justin Timberlake - "Can't Stop The Feeling"

Analysis: Timberlake's team submitted the version with his Trolls co-stars for Record of the Year, so it stands a better shot here, especially with an songwriting help from Max Martin. The traditional R&B voting contingent come through for their own and Maxwell is as respected as they come.
Possible spoilers: Beyonce - "Formation," David Bowie - "Blackstar," Kelly Clarkson - "Piece By Piece," Maren Morris - "My Church"

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Recent interviews on Noteworthy: Jessy Lanza, Cate Le Bon, B Boys & more

We're past the midway point of the year, so I thought I'd take a look back at all the interviews I've done so far in 2016 for my radio show Noteworthy. You can always listen live every Monday at from 6PM-8PM CT and check out my past interviews on Soundcloud.

Cate Le Bon
Apologies for any swinging door background noises you come across. It's the easiest way to tell that I'm doing an interview in the basement of Schuba's. I also revealed during this interview that I had never listened to any Faust before. Please don't take away my cool kid card.

Jessy Lanza
I was actually supposed to interview Jessy a few years back, but a train delay prevented me from meeting up with her. As luck would have it, when I finally got her on the phone in April, we had to do the interview a second time as our first go-around didn't record. The universe was determined to see this one through despite the obstacles. Cherish this.

Friday, June 17, 2016

An early preview of the 2017 Grammys

With a few new rule changes in place, I can now give you my early predictions as to who will be nominated in the big four categories at the 59th Grammy Awards which will take place on Feb. 12, 2017. Nominees won't be announced until December, so make sure to come back for my final guesses.

Album of the Year

1. Adele - 25
What's in it's favor: She's one of the most loved and respected pop stars in the world and is likely the last artist in our lifetime to sell two million pure copies in their first week.
What might work against it: Adele is all but assured of a nomination, but if she doesn't, it'll be because everyone has forgotten about the album since it has largely faded from public conscience since its release.

2. Beyoncé - Lemonade
What's in it's favor: Another widely respected artist once again changed the concept of how we view an album release in an age where singles dominate the conversation. Lemonade is also her most personal and daring work to date and she can longer be dismissed as someone who plays it safe.
What might work against it: There may still be some backlash from those who viewed "Formation" and her Super Bowl performance as anti-police. Or basically the people in this SNL skit.

3. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
What's in it's favor: If recent Album of the Year wins for Beck and Daft Punk are any indication, the Grammys have no qualms about giving artists who were embraced by alternative rock stations in the 1990s their just due. It's basically the equivalent of rewarding Bob Dylan, Santana and Ray Charles, but only fast-forwarded a few generations for what I now call the cool dad slot. Their non-campaign campaign also helped garner them some news and the album has been received warmly so far by critics. And you really can't go wrong if Bob Ludwig is your engineer (past AOTY winners Mumford & Sons' Babel, Daft Punk Random Access Memories and Beck's Morning Phase).
What might work against it: As worthy as an artist Beck is, his win still came with some backlash since it was viewed as a reward for an artist who had released superior work in the past. Letting Radiohead in and possibly winning would make the Grammys more predictable, especially in a year where Beyoncé is once again a heavy favorite.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The Side Eyes - "I Don't Want To Go To School"

Some of us have the misfortune of painfully waiting out the clock during the day in one form or another. We've been doing it for most our lives dating back around the time when school became less fun and no longer about finger painting. There's no legitimate reason in this song that would pass muster as to why not going to school is a smart choice. It's all about that unbridled burst of exasperation, however brief, of not wanting to be somewhere you're told you have to be. It's a pretty glorious burst on record here actually, with verses that frantically build up at a SoCal pop punk pace to the borderline tantrum of the chorus, slowed down to a near-sludge so that the bemoaning "I don't wanna go to school/I don't wanna use my brain" becomes a call-to-arms to for the disenfranchised to stay in bed all morning and roam the streets during the night.

You can pre-order The Side Eyes' debut cassette EP here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Kendrick Lamar's Control Challenge: Updated 2016 Rankings

In August of 2013, the hip hop world was shaken to its core by a track that didn't even have an official release. Big Sean's "Control" was originally supposed to be on his 2nd album, Hall Of Fame, but sample clearance issues prevented it from landing on the final track list. By the grace of all that is great, Sean decided to share the track regardless, which set off a frenzy for the following weeks.

On a song that featured Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica, one would expect Big Sean to drop one of the best verses of his career or for the hermit-like Jay to chime in with a contribution of superb quality, but it was Kendrick that got the whole world talking:

I'm usually homeboys with the same n----s I'm rhymin' with
But this is hip-hop and them n----s should know what time it is
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale, Pusha T, Meek Millz,
A$AP Rocky, Drake, Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller
I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you n----s
Trying to make sure your core fans never heard of you n----s
They don't wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you n----s
What is competition? I'm trying to raise the bar high
Who tryna jump and get it? You're better off trying to skydive

Plenty of people answered the challenge, which was great since the culture always thrives when there is healthy competition involved, but the highest potential laid with those who were called out. Would we see any noticeable change in quality after they were given a warning shot in front of the entire world?

It's been more than two years since "Control," which I think is an appropriate amount of time to examine the impact Lamar's verse made on those that were mentioned. In order to be fair, I only took a look at an artist's career after they had enough time to respond properly, so I didn't factor in albums like Nothing Was The Same and My Name Is My Name since they were only released a few months after the fallout and it was likely too late for Drake and Pusha T to change course. While Kendrick didn't count sales as part of the criteria, I did take into account an artist's visibility throughout this period since it is a reflection of hard work. For the most part, I graded on how much an artist improved from their previous material and if their output was worthy of them being mentioned as the best since the track was made public.

Here are the current standings, as I see it, for Kendrick's Control Challenge in 2016.

1. Kendrick Lamar  

We've been through two calendars and no one has come close to knocking Lamar off the perch. He made another great album with To Pimp A Butterfly, which was as culturally relevant as anything released last year and earned Lamar a second straight Album of the Year nomination at the Grammys (not to mention having one of the best performances at the ceremony). Ideally, twelve of the best hip hop albums from the past five years should come from this group. Only one artist can undisputedly claim to having two spots on that list. The recent success of untitled unmastered with no promotion only further cemented the hold Lamar has on listeners hungry for quality. Outside of the recording booth, Lamar could be found conversing with Quincy Jones or performing with the National Symphony Orchestra, which is miles ahead of what anyone who has released a debut album in the past five years has done to expand the scope of hip hop. Whether it be on wax, on stage or freestyling on the spot in front of a bunch of kids, Lamar not only accepted his own challenge, but showed the rest of the field how it's done.

2. Drake 

He's certainly had stronger albums, with works like If You're Reading This It's Too Late and the Future collaboration, What A Time To Be Alive, falling short of the quality of Nothing Was The Same. The idea of the Control Challenge was to show improvement and take risks, but Drake pretty much stood pat for the most part and didn't do anything to alienate his core fan base. While Drake has been consistent, he rarely excites with a song the same way that other greats have been able to do. So why is he ranked at #2 for such a so-so outing so far? Look no further than "Back To Back." At a time where most beefs are handled on social media, Drake took it back to the core essence of hip hop and aired his grievances with Meek Mill using a pen and pad. The purpose of the Control Challenge was to flesh out who was going to grab that brass ring and at what cost. He hasn't measured up creatively, but when the opportunity came, he didn't back down.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Grammy Winner Predictions for 2016

It's time once again for the Grammys to be handed out (the 58th occasion of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences doing so). The hardware will be given on Monday, Feb. 15 this year on CBS, instead of the usual Sunday. The Grammys have slowly made some progress with their nominations in the general field, but could stand to see some changes in other genres and how they vote for winners overall. I think we'll always find something to complain about until we get people in the industry without hidden agendas who are actually aware of new trends to select nominations and for those who have been recent contributors to their genres to have their votes count more than other members when it comes to determining winners within that specified field. Still, it's the most important game in town for musicians and we'll be watching anyway. These are my predictions for who will take home some gold.

Record of the Year

D'Angelo and the Vanguard - "Really Love"
Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars - "Uptown Funk"
Ed Sheeran - "Thinking Out Loud"
Taylor Swift - "Blank Space"
The Weeknd - "Can't Feel My Face"

Should win: As much as I'm a fan of "Really Love," it's rare that we get songs that unite an entire nation like "Uptown Funk." It will be kicking weddings into high gear for the next decade.
Will win: "Uptown Funk," because it did unite a nation after all.
Overlooked: Jason Derulo's "Want To Want Me" was the premier MJ-inspired song of 2015.

Album of the Year

Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color
Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
Chris Stapleton - Traveller
Taylor Swift - 1989
The Weeknd - Beauty Behind The Madness

Should win: Kendrick's album was miles ahead of everyone.
Will win: Alabama Shakes. It's only been two years since the Grammys awarded Best New Artist and Best Rap Album to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis over Kendrick Lamar. I doubt their taste in straightforward hip hop has improved that much during that time span. Sound & Color comes from a hip band, allowing the Grammys to maintain credibility with a safer choice. It's also telling that the album's producer, Blake Mills, whose sole credit was Sound & Color got a Producer of the Year nomination. Throw in a nomination for Best Engineered Album, which has previously been won by recent AOTY winners Beck and Daft Punk, and it's looking likelier that the older, rock-leaning members, which make up a good deal of the NARAS, will tip the scales in favor of Alabama Shakes.
Overlooked: Who wasn't rooting for D'Angelo's Black Messiah? Even better, only a minuscule amount found it lackluster.<!--more>

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Top 250 Singles of 2015

This was the first year I seriously flirted with going past the usual 250 slots for my favorite singles of the year, simply because there is seemingly something worth sharing that comes out everyday. Going up to 300 or 400 could very well be a possibility in the future, but for now, I really like the sound and legitimacy of 250. As always, there's a Spotify playlist included at the bottom of the list and all entries marked with a (*) have direct links to the song since they're not on Spotify. Make sure to check out my best albums list as well.

1. The Internet feat. Kaytranada - Girl

The overwhelming desire to touch and be touched becomes a reflex over the course of this song. There are multiple tracks in the catalog of The Internet that cover this sort of ground, but none quite as potent as "Girl." Syd tha Kid's delivery barely goes above the hushed volume that's expected from speaking in the dark, which is complementary for a song that has more than a few textures of the interstellar in it. Her voice is a calming presence in the void, like it would be if one were to float in space. As airy as "Girl" is, the entire thing drips more than anything. The deep bass tone, which could've come from none other than Kaytranada, is as patient as it gets and moves with the speed of honey, making sure that every drop of sensuality lands perfectly. Light a candle, let your hands flow and send a thank you card to The Internet for breaking your cold streak.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Best 50 Albums of 2015

Enjoy the list. Enjoy and share anything new you discover. Enjoy the time that we're living in that we have an unending amount of quality music out there Enjoy the Spotify playlist and enjoy my singles list which will be up pretty soon. 

1. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly 

The consensus on how great this album is so overwhelming that I'm not even sure how to approach it in a way that no one has yet, so I'll just name my top ten favorite moments instead:

10) The first time you hear Thundercat's harmonies in the background during "Complexion (2 Zulu Love)."

9) The placement of "You Ain't Gotta Lie (Momma Said)" so late in the album sequencing as a brief palate cleanser between some of the heavier material.

8) "This dick ain't freeeee..."

7) The conversation between Kendrick and 2Pac on album closer "Mortal Man," which puts the whole experience into context. It's as if To Pimp A Butterfly was an essay about what it's like to be African-American in 2015 submitted to be graded by Professor Shakur.

6) The first time the chords move up a half-step in "King Kunta" as Lamar lambastes rappers employing ghostwriters.

5) Every single vocal inflection Anna Wise does on "These Walls" and when Bilal bursts through during the chorus. 

4) The moment the beat drops on "Alright" and you feel like you can take on anything the world has to throw at you.

3) The last verse of "The Blacker The Berry."

2) The audacity of rapping over the jazzy time signature of"For Sale (Interlude)". 

1) The gravity when you finally reach the end of "How Much A Dollar Cost?"

The jig is up, I seen you from a mile away losin' focus
And I'm insensitive, and I lack empathy
He looked at me and said, "Your potential is bittersweet"
I looked at him and said, "Every nickel is mines to keep"
He looked at me and said, "Know the truth, it'll set you free
You're lookin' at the Messiah, the son of Jehovah, the higher power
The choir that spoke the word, the Holy Spirit
The nerve of Nazareth, and I'll tell you just how much a dollar cost
The price of having a spot in Heaven, embrace your loss, I am God"