Black Panther The Album Music From And Inspired By - Kendrick Lamar, et al.:
For those of you anxiously waiting for the Marvel production of the new Black Panther movie, this freshly released soundtrack will surely wet your appetite and leave you thirsty for more. TDE and Kendrick Lamar truly raised the bar for movie scores, the production quality alone sounds like they’ve been working on this movie for a decade. There is something really special about each and every track—basically every black artist in the hip hop and R&B world is involved with the album in some way.
King Kendrick starts the fourteen track album with “Black Panther” a two minute prelude into “All the Stars” with Top Dawg heroine SZA. SZA’s silky vocals contrast with Schoolboy Q’s menacing bars on the subsequent track, “X”, a tune that slaps so hard it puts the ‘x’ in ‘black excellence.’ I could go on and on about each song on this soundtrack, with features from your favorites Swae Lee, Jorja Smith, Vince Staples, Anderson. Paak, James Blake, Future, Zacari, Ab-Soul, Mozzy, and Travis Scott. Honestly the only song I don’t like is the last track, the previously released single “Pray For Me” by the Weeknd, partly because I just don’t like The Weeknd’s voice. I am truly excited to hear these tunes set to the visuals of the movie, which takes place in the fictional African country Wakanda.
Black Panther director Ryan Coogler recently told NPR that K Dot was only supposed to write a few songs for the movie, but soon took over the whole project as his excitement grew for the first all black superhero movie. As the productive young gemini that he is, Kendrick started the writing process last summer during his DAMN. tour. God bless this man for curating a badass movie soundtrack and making more history this month! NATASHA
RIYL: Kendrick Lamar
Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12
Justin Timberlake - Man of the Woods:
This album is just embarrassing.
Embarrassing with a capital E.
Let me tell you, I love Justin Timberlake. As problematic as those feel he is, I have stood by him, defended him, I even had faith in his halftime show attempt. My love for Justin grew so strongly from age 3-18, watching as he jumped around my TV screen - which only played 90s Disney Channel. His ramen curled hair, frosty tips, thinking about it now, is too much for my pubescent heart to deal with. One of the most prolific moments of my life was in 5th grade. My mom faked a doctor's appointment just so I could take myself to Staples Center and watch as he gyrated to songs like “Until the End of Time” and “SexyBack” during the FutureSex/Loveshow… Yet Mr. Timberlake, married and a father, has the audacity to give us this album. This album which the Billboard 200 claimed was #1.
This is bullshit.
Personally, I knew things were going south when the 20/20 Experience came out. “Suit & Tie” to date - was the worst single I’ve ever heard. Jay-Z wasn’t going to save that song with his half-assed verse if he tried and call me a cynic! I don’t care. I’m holding Justin to a standard. You cannot leave one of the hottest boy bands of all time, give us two (NOT ONE) incredible debut and sophomore albums and then give us this shit. You can grow a beard and wear a flannel, but that won’t help either.
And Timbaland…don’t even get me started. How can Timbo and The Neptunes even get credit for producing this? I wouldn’t have taken it. “Filthy” is painful and loud. “Supplies” is a sad attempt to fit in with Migos and Lil Pump. Didn’t even listen to the Chris Stapleton track because apparently Justin wants to claim his southern roots…honestly, who cares. Hey - I get it. The man is pushing 40. It was time to have an album that encompassed his growth and maturity, but even Justin Bieber, at 23, did it much better than this guy. Basically, if you want to listen to this, go ahead. There’s nothing good about it. It’s just pretty bad.
Justin, we’re done. Not actually, but for the time being. LANI
RIYL: a midlife crisis
Recommended Tracks: none
FCC: None, but we're saying all so you don't play/listen to it
Prurient - Rainbow Mirror:
How do you listen to records? I’ve been personally struggling with reconciling this for a long time now. I do not have time to listen to all the music I find and am given. To counter this, I tried to implement a system where I would dedicate my entire attention to listening and making observations of records, only writing down notes and intensely focusing while they played. I was able to really focus on the minutae of production in digestible tracks, but I hadn’t thought about its application to longer bodies of work. Needless to say, this approach disintegrated entirely when I sat down to listen to Dominic Fenrow’s newest release as Prurient – Rainbow Mirror.
In a way, the length of this record (3 hours and change) is both its greatest achievement and barrier to entry. It daunted me at first. At this point in the semester, I don’t really have too much time to spare, and having a triple album on my backburner to review was stressing me out. In an interview with Resident Advisor, Fenrow initially informed my act of listening to this record: “It's a piece about the long and droning process [of recording] itself, rather than an album you're meant to listen to all the way through.” Having read this, I then approached the record the way that it was intended. I listened to this piece whenever I could get the chance: falling asleep, waiting between classes, running errands, and doing classwork.
It’s worth almost every second. Indebted to Fenrow’s first live performance as Prurient, this work draws largely upon processual art and Eastern ideas about death and transition. This is not only fairly evidenced within the track titles (“Okinawan Burial Vaults”, “Buddha Strangled In Vines (Parts 1 & 2)”, “Blue Kimono Over Corpse”), but also within its production. “Cruel Worlds” opens up with an airy shamisen line, which in time is consumed by walls of noise and feedback, and “Barefoot God” uses spring reverb dotted by synth warbling to better bring the devoutness of an ascetic to the mind’s eye.
This is also one of the most quiet and contemplative Prurient records. Owing to its recorded and experimental nature, Fenrow seldom goes loud and abrasive, and when he does it’s almost always blanketed by arpeggiating synths and tones, framing noise as another element of an existing composition rather than its primary focus. His vocals are noticeably absent from this record, giving all importance to its soundscapes as well as further advancing Rainbow Mirror’s feeling of anxious loneliness.
After giving it some thought, Rainbow Mirror’s length, intricacy and processual focus bring to mind a sand mandala. The sand mandala, in short, is a Tibetan Buddhist art tradition that involves the painstaking creation of an intricate mandala (Buddhist symbol of the universe) from colored grains of sand. After completion, it is then ritualistically wiped away to symbolize the ephemeral and transitory elements of life. However, Rainbow Mirror is the rare mandala that is showcased in perpetuity for the world to see. It’s far too complex to simply glance at and understand entirely, but if the visitor gazes upon the object intermittently and lets their eyes defocus, they will see the true beauty of that “stain upon the world” which is intended to be wiped away. SEAN
RIYL: Shifted, Varg, Midgar Records, Northern Electronics, post-post-black metal, shamisen
Recommended Tracks: 8, 12