First Listen Fridays – July 8, 2016 Edition Featuring Omar, Schoolboy Q and Bernz

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Last week, we introduced our new weekly feature, First Listen Fridays, and despite all of the madness that is happening in our World this week, we want to bring you a list of the best new music and what you should be listening to this weekend.  Perhaps spending some time with some of these grooves will help you take your mind of the craziness.

FRIDAY, JULY 8, 2016

1) OmarI Want It To Be EP

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Since the early 90’s, Omar Lye-Fook AKA Omar has been creating timeless grooves that those in the know look forward to with zeal.  The undisputed king of British soul, Omar’s sound is unmistakable.  His bass and synth lines are punctuated by his unmistakable baritone and just work.  This new offering, although brief, provides a unique island tinged sound that complement his recent offerings well.  Kudos to this brother who does it again.

First Listen* Rating: A-
Favorite Tracks:  I Want It To Be, Destiny (feat. Jean-Michele Rotin)

2) Schoolboy QBlank Face LP

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Like most non-West Coast listeners, we were introduced to Q through his association with fellow TDE member, Kendrick Lamar.  Although he was well known in underground Left Coast circles, many folks outside of the area weren’t up on him until his major hit, Studio, which received significant airplay even in New York.

Whereas Kendrick offers anthemic tracks like “Alright,” Schoolboy Q’s themes are much more focussed on street themes like selling drugs, women, the hood, etc.  This isn’t always negative as there are some positive messages (e.g. Black THougHts) but you really have to dig deep to find them.  Upon first listen, this record has an original, albeit confusing at times, feel and deserves your time but beware that you may get turned off if you take it too seriously.

First Listen* Rating: B
Favorite Tracks: That Part, WHateva U Want, Neva Change (feat. SZA)

3) BernzSee You On The Other Side

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Until now, we hadn’t heard of Bernz but had heard of his Miami group, ¡Mayday!.  However, we actually enjoyed the new sound and vibe of this solo joint.  The themes are pretty predictable (women, weed, and partying), but it rolls out over a pretty original, poppy and eclectic sound bed.  Sounding eerily like B.O.B. with a hint of Macklemore, Bernz relies on a fast rhyming style accentuated by many sing-song hooks.  Look, this isn’t Rakim type hip-hop.  This is the kind of album you throw on for a backyard BBQ or on a boat with a mixed group of folks who just want to have a good time.  There are some fun, VERY florida, beach sounding tunes on here which is to be expected and with an open mind, you will enjoy this one.

First Listen* Rating: B+
Favorite Tracks: Came to Say Goodbye, Smoke N’ F*ck, 2 Left Feet, When It’s Gone, Bed of Nails, It Don’t Go, Call Me In the Morning, Square One

*This rating is based on an initial preview only. We suggest a much more in-depth listen in order to form your own opinion.

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