After a phenomenal 2017, Childish Gambino only seems to be turning it up another notch. Returning with the half tribal-folk half trap inspired “This Is America” Donald Glover continues to push the envelope, loose lyrics -and some startling similar Young Thug style adlibs (perhaps Thug lent some background vocals)- over a harsh bass heavy beat follow chants and a lighthearted guitar melody, switching so abruptly he warns the listener ‘don’t catch you slippin'”. A unique combination of his previous sonic endeavors on “Because The Internet” and the Grammy nominated “Awaken, My Love!”. Watch the just as startling visuals below.
Our weekly music podcast/vlog @EarWitnessNews hosted by @Dhairya_Bhatia & @Knostalgia_ has an extra special ALL Kanye West episode out now!
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Hip Hop heavy weight J. Cole returns with a surprise album, announced only days before it’s release the Roc Nation star details a serious analysis of addiction and society. “KOD” as Cole states stands for Kids On Drugs, King Overdosed, and Kill Our Demons, all topics covered in great detail on this latest LP. Avoiding condemnation of the younger generation Cole ops to analyze his own short comings and flaws as a way to compare to a generation heavily linked to addiction of physical substances. Infidelity, stardom, and money are Cole’s non-tangible substances all distracting us from the strongest drug of them all “Love” as the intro states. Cole’s stance on money is less indulgent and more introspective and philosophical the video for “ATM” is a satire on greed and “BRACKETS” is a detailed discovery of our unwanted, or unknown, participation in a corrupt system that is purposely stacked up against people who look like Cole, and ironically the more money our rare stars receive the more they pay back to this corrupt system by default.
“Kevin’s Heart” is a heartfelt confessional on infidelity, a staple in current music it seems following “Lemonade” and “4:44”, the more we have insight into star’s lives the more we are intrigued and unfortunately entertained when personal situations go off track. “Once An Addict” hosts a thought provoking intro “sometimes I think pain is just a lack of understanding, if we could only understand it all would we feel no pain? God must feel no pain. Only joy.. does this mean even our suffering pleases him?” an answer to the heavy philosophical life question to why God allows suffering. “Kids On Drugs” is much more than speaking on today’s Xanax addiction Cole detail’s his mothers addiction, his addiction, and more importantly the root causes of addiction as opposed to solely condemning actions.
Production on KOD is his most concise and solid to date, previously “4 Your Eyez Only” was on point but too somber for most fans. Lyrically Cole proves why he is this era’s Nas, flawlessly switching to modern flows but injecting content and punchlines in a style that regularly lacks what was once considered standard, no filler and no over-used or reused subject matter even as most fall under the same umbrella Cole attacks his concept from ever appropriate angle. “1985 intro to ‘The Fall Off'” concludes the project, somewhat of a diss track Cole gives advice to young artists that have no respect for history and shun the knowledge of the older acts in their genre. “KOD” is a clear example of an artist’s growth and how with each effort one can still mange to sharpen their craft.
In an increasingly rapid consumption time the release schedule and absorption of music and content seems to have constricted and yet conversely expanded. Once upon a time a follow up to a debut album would seem sudden if it appeared a full year later, now with the onslaught of content and media a sophomore release a little over a half a year later does not feel rushed. Whether a natural repercussion of this era or a desire to produce due to his looming court case polarizing rapper Xxxtentacion returns with another daring album “?”. Flexing his pop sensibilities and branching further from the alternative rock sound of his debut “17”, which was a sharp turn from his earlier screamo-un-mixed angst filled trap rap, X delivers a confusingly concise album.
An awkward introduction of him explaining the meaning, style, and purpose of the project strangely before the listener gets to even hear it kicks off the album, immediately after we have a barrage of emo tracks, emotion that is embedded in this generation but seemingly new to the genre. “SAD!” is a catchy tune and the lead single which has radio potential sonically but remains true to X’s characteristically self-reflective and introspective lyrics. “Floor 555” is a return to the lo-fi un-mixed screamo days, “Infinity (888)” featuring boom-bap Pro-Era heavy hitter Joey Badass is a pleasant surprise and has X flexing his traditional Hip-Hop chops on his second collaboration with Joey.
The second half of the album has X trying out more commercial sounds and even attempting to get some club bangers in his catalog. “going down!” & “i don’t even speak spanish lol” feat Rio Santana, Judah, and Carlos Andrez are new territory for X and both though tongue-in-cheek surprisingly come off well. “?” plays somewhat as X’s “Thriller” a blatant attempt at trying to make as many hits in as many different genres as possible in an effort to increase the potential of the commercial success of the project, a well played risk as “?” has reached the number 1 mark on the Billboard top 100 albums. In an era where “selling out” has diffused and the underground and mainstream’s dividing line has been blurred X pulls off a surprisingly unique album very obviously in-tune with the current zeitgeist, a testament to his self awareness and detailed observation of society and self.