Introducing our new weekly feature, First Listen Fridays.
As many of you know, Friday is the new Tuesday in the music business. For years, Tuesday was the day albums were released. Now, Friday is the day when most, if not all, major releases come out. In order to assist you with your weekend listening we will be reviewing the new music calendar and providing our top picks. Going forward, you should expect concise previews and ratings of the week’s most important album releases. Please hit us up if there are releases you think we should be including and we will do our best to include it.
In short, we find the gems and you shine!
FRIDAY, JULY 1, 2016
UPDATED ON JULY 2, 2016 with Snoop Dogg’s Coolaid
Like the first song on this potentially slept on LP claims, Snoop Dogg is a bonafide pop culture, not hip-hop, legend. From his first full length player, Doggystyle, to his movies, TV shows and full merchandise arsenal, this brother is definitely more than a businessman. Like Jay-Z said, he is a business, man.
Over the years, Snoop has quietly released a serious catalog that include various styles from hardcore gangsta rap to more pop feeling tracks like “Sensual Seduction.” Always creatively on point, Snoop’s output may surprise those that believe he has peaked and is on the down stroke of his career. Anyone who watches (and are devoted viewers like us) his super popular GGN series knows that he is as well connected to the OGs as he is to millennials.
Although we initially missed the release of his latest LP, Coolaid, we eventually found it and we have to say, Snoop does is again. Despite a few tracks that lean a bit too much on the hard core gangster (read: Crip) ethos, this LP has some SERIOUS bangers. In particular, his tracks with fellow Westside idols like E-40, Too $hort and Suga Free (note: one of our all time favorite rappers) are some of the best tracks he has done in years. Floating over classic early 80’s boogie era based G-Funk grooves, this joint has that classic Impala knock that will make your neck hurt.
We really enjoyed the cuts that emphasize his favorite subject matter like herbals, honeys and just mackin’ and relaxin’, but could definitely do without those that speak of violence and gang activity. The truth is he just doesn’t need that kind of work to keep the hood happy. And despite a few experiments we could have done without (read: My Carz, Feel About Snoop), this album is super enjoyable to new fans and definitely lifelong fans like us. Honestly, had Snoop cut the album by 5-6 songs, he could have had a long player that would have nearly been perfect. That said, this is must listen and must buy in our humble opinion.
First Listen* Rating: A-
Favorite Tracks: Ten Toes Down, Don’t Stop (featuring Too $hort), Point Seen Money Gone (featuring Jeremih), Two or More, Affiliated, Side Piece, Kush Ups (featuring Wiz Khalifa) Double Tap (featuring E-40 and Jazze Pha), What If (featuring Suga Free)
After a seven year hiatus, soulful stalwart Maxwell returns to the scene wit the second installment of his trilogy. This time around, the emotive singer tries on a number of styles for size but still delivers a very comfortable groove. Honestly, there isn’t a bad song on the album but there doesn’t truly feel like there is a standout track, with the possible exception of “Lake By The Ocean,” which is why it was likely chosen as the lead single. New and old fans will enjoy this record from beginning to end but may long for classic tracks like “Noone,” “This Woman’s Work,” or other catalog favorites. That said, this is quality and deserves your time.
First Listen* Rating: A-
Favorite Tracks: The Fall, Lake By The Ocean, Fingers Crossed, 1990x, Gods, Listen Hear
3) Logic – Bobby Tarantino
This DMV area cat has been on the scene for a while and has been making waves. This new joint includes a number of impressive tracks that deserve your attention. If you actually want to hear and understand lyrics, this is for you. Although there are a few autotune feeling songs, overall, this is solid rap.
First Listen* Rating: B+
Favorite Tracks: The Jam, Wrist (featuring Pusha T), Deeper Than Money
We really dig this new sound that British singer and producer, Dev Hynes AKA Blood Orange, has been creating since assuming the monicker. For those who are not hip, the sound is a blend of R&B and electronica with nods to 80’s era New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode with some sprinkles of Prince/MJ, The Weeknd, Kashif and maybe even some of the better PM Dawn. This record is undeniably black and creative and will make you scratch your head and then smile with a wide painful grin.
Although Hynes’ singing voice is not over the top, he creates lasting textures that make sense. On this record, some of the best moments don’t actually feature his voice at all and instead rely on spoken word or sexy complementary female vocals. This is really a new thing and you will love it when you bring this up at dinner parties to make all of your friends envious at your clearly obvious music curation skills.
First Listen* Rating: B+
Favorite Tracks: With Him, E.V.P., Desirée, Hadrone Collider, Squash Squash, Better Than Me, Thank You
Prior to this week, we were not up on brother KAMAU but after peeping his new EP, we are totally down with him. With very unique delivery and lyrical content, this music just makes you feel good. It felt like I was listening to a mix of Arrested Development and Anderson .Paak but with a touch of something totally different. Given all of the negative music proliferating the airways these days, we are pleasantly surprised to come across something so dynamic as this.
First Listen Rating: A-
Favorite Tracks: Jusfayu, Gaims, Pohlease
*This rating is based on an initial preview only. We suggest a much more in-depth listen in order to form your own opinion.