Joji - In Tongues EP:
As I scroll around Apple Music, aimlessly looking for what to review I notice a name: Joji. I’d never heard of him and decided, "why not give him a try?" Within the first 30 seconds of “Will He” I knew I'd stumbled on something interesting.
Joji is the alias of YouTuber George Miller, a.k.a Filthy Frank.
I don’t like YouTube singers. In fact, I don't like them almost as much as I don’t like YouTube authors. You have a big fan base, you end up on the New York Times bestseller list. Put out an overly produced pop EP and what do you get? More internet fame overnight. Half the "artists" on YouTube don’t even have the credentials to make music. Troye Sivan, on the other hand, gets my vote, but it just doesn’t equate otherwise. Just because one has a platform doesn’t mean one has a talent. Let’s be honest. So when I found out Joji (THE MAN THAT CREATED THE HARLEM SHAKE) came from the internet, I was surprised. The music was actually GOOD.
It's a lo-fi, trip-hop experience that gives us something in the realm of where Majid Jordan should have continued to explore. This EP is calming, so if you're looking for heavy bass and trap beats, you won't find them. Instead, you'll find a musical trip that comes in at barely 16 minutes, with production mimicking James Blake's. The vocals are not my favorite, but since they're so saturated and covered in reverb, they drone in the background, making them a bit more reasonable to listen to.
Is he a real artist? Is he good and even worth listening to? I think Joji has work to do. Vocally and lyrically his material could be much stronger, but this body of work is a great introduction into an artist who I think, with the right team, could really do wonders in this genre. LANI
RIYL: Dan Croll, King Krule
Recommended Tracks: 1, 5
FCC: 1, 2, 4
Young Dolph - Thinking Out Loud:
Young Dolph is an immortal man. A Memphis bad boy and a modern-day saint, Adolph Thornton Jr. has had more assassination attempts on his life than any U.S. president combined. Despite an almost fatal car accident in 2008 and multiple gunfire attacks due to an alleged rivalry with Yo Gotti earlier this year, Dolph doesn’t let all the noise take away from his work.
Immediately after being treated in the hospital for several severe gunshot wounds, Young Dolph announced the title and release date of his fourth studio album, Thinking Out Loud. In this album, it’s clear that Young Dolph is truly selfless—his lyrics express concern over his family and friends and lack pity for himself in spite of what he’s gone through. The song “Drippy” is undoubtedly the iciest song on the 10-track, 33-minute long album, produced by none other than Mike Will Made It. Although this is mostly a solo effort from Dolph, he has a few features from the melodious DRAM on “All of Mine” as well as Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, and Ty Dolls $ign on the main course of the album “Go Get Sum Mo.”
Just as the title would suggest, the tone of the album is a little pensive and a little heavy, so listen with a head full of questions and a heart full of rage. Take good notes, because Young Dolph is teaching us a lesson in sorting the real bitches from the fake snitches on Thinking Out Loud. NATASHA
RIYL: Gucci Mane, Rich Homie Quan, Bobby Shmurda
Recommended Tracks: 4,5,7,9,10
Skepta - Vicious EP:
Skepta has taken over Halloween once again by surprising us all with an exceptionally fresh new EP. When the clock struck midnight on October 31st, Vicious dropped on all music platforms, as did my booty. Let me tell you folks this EP is 21 minutes of the purest grime, not to mention some eye candy features to soothe your sweet tooth.
Nothing makes me happier than seeing a good continental breakfast, a vegas-style buffet of clout. Get your passport people, because Berkeley babe Based God has teamed up with our London town gentleman on the track “Sit Down.” Lil B and Skepta stand up to their bullies and serve up sass by firmly (and lovingly) telling haters to sit down. Look, I’m no expert, but I would certainly do as they say.
And the treats don’t stop there. Ever heard of a little rap crew called A$AP Mob? Homies Rocky and Nast drop more than a few bars on “Ghost Ride,” a tune that will make Nicholas Cage’s Ghost Rider look like a children’s show. I don’t want to give any more away, so please take the time right now to appreciate this sneaky little project and live vicariously through Skepta’s world. NATASHA
RIYL: Gucci Mane, Rich Homie Quan, Bobby Shmurda
Recommended Tracks: 4,5,7,9,10
Nate Smith - Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere:
So in 2017 we’ve been lucky enough to see solo releases from two legendary and underrated jazz drummers. This summer British jazz scene megalith Richard Spaven released The Self, and in February his American counterpart Nate Smith dropped Kinfolk, a project that I somehow only heard for the first time last week. Having played with everyone from Nir Felder to Jose James, Smith has the ability to create a fat, driving pocket while incorporating abstract rhythms and building on the melodic motifs of his bandmates. Kinfolk also contains stellar performances from keyboardist Kris Bowers and saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, as well as solid features from Chris Potter, Gretchen Parlato, and Amma Whatt, not to mention a style of sonic conceptuality that comes across as far more innovative and natural than the work of say, Christian Scott or Kamasi Washington has in recent years.
As transportation and communication across distances becomes easier and more commonplace, it is worth asking what “home” means. It is easy for me to say that I am “from” Denver, or that I “live” on Adams Blvd, but considering that I’ve spent about 10 days in Denver so far this year, and that I only plan to live on Adams for approximately 9 months, I don’t think it would especially honest to count either of these places as my home. Another common conception is that “home” is defined by your family or friends. However, as my communications with family and friends constantly shift and fluctuate with time, I find that notion equally hard to accept.
An idea I’ve recently been introduced to is that “home” is more of a state of being in which one feels safe, and is comfortable with who they are. Such a conception of “home” therefore encompasses, but does not require any of the previous conceptions. For example, if being in a certain place, or with a certain group of people allows you to achieve that feeling of “home” then that’s great, but if not, there are infinite other ways to arrive at that feeling. So when you find something that makes you feel at home, definitely enjoy it, but be prepared for it to change, too. Just like music, meditation, or life itself, the only way to truly appreciate home is to realize its inexorably dynamic nature. JATIN
RIYL: Kris Bowers, Jose James, GROOVEs
Recommended Tracks: 3, 6, 8, 10, 14
Nai Palm - Needle Paw:
We all knew Naomi Saalfied, a.k.a. Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote, could sing. Her first solo album, which dropped October 20, establishes her as a versatile artist capable of holding her own over the course of a nearly hour-long record. This album is really all about Saalfied’s voice, which, as we’ve established, is an absolute force. Her range is astounding, and coupled with her control and agility, makes listening to her sing feel like taking a warm bath in butter. The tracks are fairly bare, usually just her voice, a few backup singers vocalizing and complementing her god-given gift, and an acoustic guitar. In this way, the album is also exceedingly intimate. It feels like you are just hanging out late at night on the floor of someone’s living room with a couple of your wildly talented Thornton friends that are just going OFF.
This record is also a refreshing departure from Hiatus Kaiyote’s sound, but still pays homage. The production is just soo different, I mean, part of the beauty of Hiatus Kaiyote is their totally bizarre, futuristic, grooviness. This album has far more of an indie folk, bluesy sensibility to it, and sort of languid pacing. Every song is like a lullaby. That being said, it can feel stagnant at times, many of the songs tend to blend into one another, which can be pleasant, but can also feel boring on occasion. However, as soon as you feel yourself losing focus on the album, when the tracks all become a blur, Saalfield with slap you gently in the face with something like “Homebody.” It is not markedly different from any of the other songs on the surface, but the visceral reaction it provokes is pretty special. Maybe it’s because it starts with the same acoustic guitar vibes she’s been rocking all the way through, but for some reason this time it feels more important. It reminds me of the beginning of the Rain Song by Led Zeppelin. Also, the way she holds these sustained notes with very few runs or even vibrato. It’s just the raw sound of her voice alone. There isn’t even any back up vocals until halfway through.
The first and last songs also feature Jason Guwanabal Gurruwiwi sort of forcefully mumbling and vocalizing, which is wonderful because it ties together the beginning of the album, so that you can listen to it on an infinite loop forever and ever. VIRGINA
RIYL: Hiatus Kaiyote, Little Dragon, Amy Winehouse
Recommended Tracks: The whole darn thing, but if you’re making me choose… 2, 7, 12