Monday, November 11, 2019
Tobe Nwigwe: The Ivory Tour
+ PJ Morton: Paul Tour
When your homegirl has the hookup and offers you free tickets to two hot shows coming to LA back to back, you say yes. This was the scenario that I found myself in last week. Tobe Nwigwe's tour hit Los Angeles on Thursday, with PJ Morton's tour following on Friday. I'm a huuuuuuge PJ fan, so that was no question, and I've been curious about Tobe for a while, having heard a bit of his music and absolutely LOVED his aesthetic. I accepted tickets to both shows.
Tobe Nwigwe's show at The Mayan was astonishing. Beginning with openers from his hometown of Houston, we saw new Morton Records signees, The Amours, give a solid opening performance, rousing the crowd with both originals and covers of popular 90s and 2000s R&B hits. Next up, Tobe's background singers gave an opening set of their own songs, which I found unexpected and beautiful. The opportunity that Tobe gave these acts, especially his background vocalists is almost unheard of. Normally, the most shine background singers get is adlibs during one song in the lead artist's set.
For Tobe's own set, we see the band and background dancers first, before he emerges. His music is heavily percussion-driven, and the first half of his set definitely put his drummer to work. The show is definitely a family affair, with his wife (known as Fat) making several appearances throughout the set, and with Nwigwe bringing out his baby at the end (and announcing that his wife is already expecting their second child). Musically, his production is consistent and hard-hitting and his flows have obvious influences from southern rap icons such as OutKast and one who features on his latest record, Paul Wall. His lyrics are divergent from mainstream hip-hop in that I, as a woman, never felt disrespected by any of his words. While exalted artists like Kendrick Lamar are praised for their "consciousness," misogyny is still neatly packaged in their work, making them more half sleep than woke, in my opinion. And I have love for Kendrick, but where have the truly revolutionary artists who walk the walk in their work and life been? Tobe seems as though he could be that one. The production value of his show was also spectacular, considering the fact that he is doing this all independently. The light show that occurred behind him was in step with the mood of the songs as they transpired, the dancers were present on the appropriate songs, the entire crew was appropriately dressed in white, including the opener (it's The Ivory Tour, right?). At the end of the show, I felt inspired as an artist to step up my live show. No matter what stage you're at in your career, it's important to put thought into the production value of the performance you give to the crowd.
The next night, I went just next door to the Belasco Theater to see PJ Morton, and was also surprised. His openers, Pell and Asiahn, were such a departure from the previous I've seen in his shows that I wondered if PJ had even selected them. While Pell does feature on Morton's song "Claustrophobic" from the Gumbo album (and is apparently also from New Orleans), that doesn't seem like enough reason to give him a full opening set, especially after having listened to his music. Let me give some context. PJ Morton's music is soulful, but goes a step further into churchy territory. It makes sense, since his father is Bishop Paul Morton, Sr., and is a well known artist in the gospel community. That being said, there has always been a large presence of the church community at PJ's shows. This night, you had preachers and church mothers mingling with black girls who looked like they were out clubbing, white guys who looked like hipsters, and people from all different backgrounds in the audience. It was definitely one of the most diverse crowds I've seen. His core audience was still clear, though: black people, specifically churchy black people dominated the crowd. Pell's opening set included mostly either braggadocious or raunchy lyrics. At one point, he literally said, "This next song is from my album BitchAss." WHAT?! As I looked around, the disdain of the crowd was obvious, and it was clear that I wasn't the only one confounded by this choice for an opener. Asiahn wasn't much better, as her songs continued the raunchy theme, had the same tempo, and she was sharp (slightly above the intended note) for almost her entire set. By the time PJ was set to come on stage, I was honestly upset.
By the time we hit "Sticking to my Guns," also from the Gumbo album, I wasn't mad anymore. PJ's music has a way of putting me back in the pews of my childhood church, swinging my legs off the edge. I can hear that distinctly in his music because its an experience unique to those of us who grew up in the black church. He's also been able to write music that appeals to audiences outside of that experience, and started his set with a song from his new album, Paul, that features Tobe Nwigwe. Starting the set this way was a nice (though expected) surprise. He also brought out Jojo, who features on his song "Say So." She was brought out to great applause, and I guess my only question with his most lauded collaborations with women (including the Grammy-winning collaboration with YEBBA) is if he'd get that same level of applause if he brought out Jazmine Sullivan or Brandy or even H.E.R? Are these collaborations intentional because he's having the same thought? I digress. Anyway, ending his set, as he normally does with "Everything's Gonna Be Alright," his arrangement took everybody up and was the perfect way to end. His encore included a dedication to slain Los Angeles rapper, Nipsey Hussle, and a performance of "Buy Back the Block."
Two very different shows, both seemingly trying to center the headliner's hometown.
DID DOM DIG? - For the most part, yes.
Monday, November 4, 2019
Tank has consistently been one of the most frustrating artists throughout his entire career for me. He's an incredible songwriter (all of the jams on that debut Jamie Foxx album were penned by Tank), and obviously, has a fantastic voice. His harsh vacillation between between purely ratchet and classless R&B and beautiful love songs is confounding. His best album, Stronger, is one where he pretty much leaves the former behind for the latter. Because Stronger didn't do as well as he wanted (and the label really didn't show a ton of support for it - which was also frustrating), Tank made a declaration on social media that it was the last "real R&B album" we'd get from him. What followed were the albums Sex, Love, & Pain II and SAVAGE, which absolutely kept that promise, descending into the most basic, simpleton, smash and dash soundtracks that R&B has seen from someone of Tank's caliber. Honestly, when I saw that Tank had released a new album (and I only heard about it because of some comments he made that went viral), I kind of shrugged and moved on. My curiosity got the best of me, though, and I decided to see if the Tank that I love could be found on this album. He's there... barely.
Let's just get this out of the way: if you're going to put spoken word on your album, make sure it actually sounds like poetry and not a throwaway battle rap from a D-list rapper. The intro from Omari Hardwick is nothing if not insanely annoying and unecessary. I'm still trying to figure out the point of it. I know Omari is a poet, and I mean... do you, Ghost, but his performance on this project isn't additive, and is something that puts a sour in my taste before I've even heard one note sung from Tank. When we finally hear Tank's voice, it's more of the same booty-call midnight jams that we can basically get from any young whipper-snapper in R&B right now. What we're missing in R&B to a great extent is grown music about grown love. I won't go into the tracklisting that much, because I mean... it's mostly variations of the same musings on sexual escapades with different titles. Big ups to thesaurus.com, I guess?
There are two standout songs on this album, and they are, of course, the love songs. While "You Mean More" could have had more going for it lyrically, the features from MAJOR and Luke James were welcome, if brief (like, GO OFF, Luke James!). I wish that the two features had been given more room than adlibs, but I could listen to Tank sing over acoustic piano and nothing else for the rest of my life. The song "This" is another love song on the project, but feels lazily written, has another annoying spoken word feature from Ghost, and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men feels barely there. Anyway, the other great love song on the album is called "Our Song," and is so heartwarming that I wish the album had ended there. It could be a great wedding song, beautifully written, and I'd love a full album of this kind of music again someday from Tank. As if to crush my hopes, though, the album actually ends with a remix of "Dirty," one of the sexcapade songs that plagues the album. Calling this album Elevation feels ironic, since for me, it does the opposite for Tank's legacy.
DID DOM DIG? - Uhhh, no, not really, no.
Monday, October 20, 2019
BJ The Chicago Kid: 1123
I'm late putting up thoughts on this album because it's been in rotation since it dropped at the end of July. BJ's sophomore album finds him pushing his sound, bridging classic soul with contemporary R&B, to new heights. The album's first track, "Feel The Vibe" gives the listener an invitation to the black cookout, the writing and production illustrating these neighborhood, familial gatherings with ease, nostalgia, and beauty. It's a perfect fit for BJ's sound as a vocalist and artist, and so I settled in for the rest of an album with this kind of feel. Already on track two, "Champagne," he's keeping me on my toes with a party track that nods to a former era without sounding dated. I would dance to this out at the club with my girls, but I could also see my dad embarrassing me by dancing to this if some young person got put on the music at the church cookout. This is the magic of The Chicago Kid: he can reach young audiences, but also remains extraordinarily accessible to black elders in the community. I love him for that.
The third track on the album "Get Away" is the only song that I'm not really fond of, and it's mostly due to its features, which will become a theme for me throughout the album. Their mysoginistic lyrics feel off-brand for BJ, even as his lyrics are sensual and traverse one night stands, they never make me feel disrespected. The features on this song did, and I tend to skip it when I'm listening to the album. Beyond that, I just find that he doesn't need features because, for the most part, they are rarely up to par with him (at least on this album). The converse is never true: BJ's features elevate everyone's music, from Kendrick to PJ Morton to Kevin Ross. Anytime he features on someone else's song, it adds exponentially to the quality of the song. The features didn't really do that for me, although I understood a couple of them strategically (Rick Ross, Offset). "Can't Wait" is my favorite song on the album, and not surprisingly, it's one where he sings alone. It's a late-night drive jam about a man lusting after his woman. I love the production, from the way the bass creeps in deep and aggressive mid-verse to the whining guitar, pushed back in the mix, really creating ambiance. "Back It Up" could have been my favorite track, if we could've lost the Eric Bellinger feature (I'm telling you - I just DID NOT like the features on this album). The writing on Eric Bellinger's verse was not great, and though he can sing, he definitely doesn't have BJ's chops. The racheteers will love his song, though.
Besides "Get Away," there really aren't any skippable tracks on the album, though. The sound is cohesive, yet diverse, letting BJ spread his wings and show his growth. He's absolutely stepped up his adlib game as well. I love "Rather Be With You" because I feel like it's a great crossover track from a production standpoint (and I kind of wish it had been a single - also would have loved to see an unexpected artist feature on this song (perhaps from the alternative landscape), this is my music business brain going). "Worryin' Bout Me" is one of my turn up songs, and as a single, I'm thoroughly shocked that it wasn't much bigger. I hated the Offset feature, though I understood it, but I love the production, the writing, the vocal arrangement, the mix, it's just a super fun song.
Ultimately, 1123 is a great step forward for BJ The Chicago Kid, as an artist. His consistency is pretty unmatched, insofar as sound, relatability, production, and though I wasn't able to catch this tour (please do another LA show!) his performances are always solid as well. Tell your friends about him. He should be a megastar, in my opinion.
DID DOM DIG? - Yep, coulda lost (most of) the features, but dope album.
Monday, October 13, 2019
Terrell Hines: St. Mark Rd.
Full Disclosure: Capitol Records signee, Terrell Hines, was a senior at Berklee when I was a freshman. He played drums for me in my first performance at Berklee, and was generally a calming, albeit quirky, presence during the time that we both traversed Berklee's halls. It didn't surprise me when Terrell was signed to Capitol. He's always marched to the beat of his own proverbial and literal drum, and even when he was in a group prior to (I guess) going solo, he was the star. He kept his cards close to his chest and moved quietly through his last year, anxious and eager to manifest his own vision for his artistry. What you hear on his debut EP isn't new, if you've been following him. They are certainly a continuation of songs "3.99 (model 1)" and "On Fire" released prior to his signing (it seems that those songs have been scrubbed from the internet post-signing).
St. Mark Rd. is an amalgamation of genres, which manages not to feel like a bunch of cluttered, overlapping attempts at fusion, but actually the bourgeoning of a new genre altogether. Terrell sings and raps, but it's not the vapid singing and rapping that we've come to expect from artists who navigate both talents. Elements of gospel (no doubt an extension of his Georgian upbringing), soul, R&B, hip-hop, country, blues, bluegrass, and more can be extracted from his sound. This is not just black music... this is EVERY black music pushed into the future, and that's why I think Terrell is poised for stardom. How, in three songs, has he managed to communicate a church service, a party, a message, and a trip to the countryside? The connundrum of Terrell Hines is acutely present in his music, and it resonates with the global connundrum of the human condition. The first track on the project, "Get Up," is the song which takes us on the greatest sonic journey, even though it's the shortest song. The production of "Feel Good" does to the listener what its title promises, even if its messenger doesn't give the listener a break from his examination and critique of the world. "Living For Today" wraps up our time on St. Mark Rd. almost passively. Where the preceding songs feel like calls to action, the final song makes one wonder if the world's addiction to apathy, slacktivism, and the consequences of said apathy is adversely affecting the artist into a passive stance.
Sonically, St. Mark Rd. actually does have something for everybody (or anybody with taste), in just three songs and under 10 minutes. And here's where my concern for the future lies. Perhaps this works because it's three songs and about 10 minutes. What will happen when it's twelve songs and an hour? Can Terrell maintain the cohesion of all of the different sounds that make his sound uniquely his across the span of an album without it becoming disjointed? This is the question that he must answer going forward, but for now, he's made an incredible debut into the industry.
DID DOM DIG? - Yes, with an ear perked for a longer project.
Monday, October 7, 2019
Xenia Manasseh: Fallin' Apart
Up until this point, those of you reading these weekly musings on music (hello, is anyone out there?) have known the artist I was speaking about. This week, I bring Xenia to your attention because I believe that she's an artist you should know about. I attended Berklee with Xenia, and while she was what we call "Berklee famous," she was one of the few students on campus who I felt actually deserved the acclaim that she received from the student body (because of real talent, not purely popularity). She didn't release much music during her time at Berklee, and her EP is still a tapas sized serving of music at just around 15 minutes, but it is enough to wet the listener's palette.
While people preach about how accessible technology has made a music career without a label, they forget that artists who choose independence often have to foot the bill traditionally fronted by labels. The feat of doing so often gives us underdeveloped projects that never reach their full potential. Xenia sidesteps this pitfall, telling a cohesive story of a failing relationship, with an explosive music video as accoutrement to cushion the brevity of the project. Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Xenia's strong entrance into the R&B scene has fantastic timing, as artists from Africa are poppin' more and more in the states.
The production on the first song "See Me" is strong, on trend, and alluring. Xenia's vocals soar over deep, penetrating bass and trap drums. "Found Me" can almost feel like an extension of "See Me," and this is how I will come to see the EP. It's really almost a 15 minute song, and the titles just serve as movements, as in a symphony. The final song on the EP, "When It's Over" is my favorite, pairing Xenia's delicate voice with careful piano and tasteful pad work. It's a perfect ending, giving finality to a broken relationship in the hook's repetitive "I'm done." When I think about who it's possible for Xenia to stand among as an artist, H.E.R. comes to mind, but also the cannons of R&B like Brandy, Faith Evans, and Toni Braxton. With more time (literally, Xenia, make a longer project, lol) and more resources, she could build a musical legacy that stands the test of time. So, while the relationship on this EP may have fallen apart, hopefully those of you reading this will listen, and Xenia's ascendance will fall into place.
DID DOM DIG? - Yes, with the obvious caveat that I would have liked more music.
Monday, September 30, 2019
Jidenna: 85 to Africa
Is Jidenna bae? A reounding "YAS" echoed from people around the world. His debut album, The Chief, was a beautiful introduction to the duality of his world as Nigerian and American. A tale of two countries told sonically, Jidenna rapped and sung masterfully, and I wondered how he would follow up his debut. He answered this question with 85 to Africa. First, his aesthetic has changed. Instead of the three-piece suits and neatly coiffed hair that he offered up for his debut, he is giving us cornrows or wild and loose hair with more casual and African-patterned attire. He also seems to be making a concerted effort to support African designers as well.
The first four tracks on 85 to Africa are easing us in, with trap beats under content meant for the Diaspora, and the fourth track "Tribe," finds Jidenna turning the corner to land us squarely centered in the heart of the motherland, with one of my favorite tracks on the album "Sou Sou." On first listen (or a couple listens), one might hear this as a sensual song. Sou Sou, however; is a concept and practice in which friends contribute to a fund on a regular basis, and each contributing friend has an opportunity to withdraw funds when their turn comes around, if needed. It is a form of cooperative economics, more familiar to me as the Kwanzaa concept, "Ujaama." Read more about Sou Sou in this article on Essence. Jidenna, I find, is a master at finding ways to communicate the tribal concepts that Africa is known for in a way that is welcoming for African-Americans who have deeply felt a disconnect from their origin, and have sometimes felt like the odd children out in the Diaspora. Is Jidenna our musical minister of reclamation of culture and history? That's a heavy title to put on him, but it's one that feels possible on this album.
The features are few and can sometimes go unnoticed, but they add texture and vibe to an environment that is being created here. "Sufi Woman," "Zodi," and "Vaporiza" all have production that are less American, and they all hit back to back, yet the preceding songs have been preparing the listener all along. The features from St. Beauty & Mereba on the album's closing song "The Other Half," are beautiful and welcome. 85 to Africa has traversed partying, struggle, toxic masculinity, economic equality, ownership, all over production that makes the listener feel everything from empowerment to the need to twerk something. This is the album where Jidenna really lets his hair down, and I think I really like him without the suit.
DID DOM DIG? - Enough to chair twerk. Lol.
Monday, September 23, 2019
Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee
Raphael Saadiq has always been a north star, insofar as musicianship for me. He's from Oakland (so am I), he's a Taurus (so am I), and much of his solo career has felt proximal, when you think about the groups he's been in, the other artists he's written and produced for, and even his scoring and music supervision work. There are always the inevitable conversations on social media about whether he has received his just due as a solo artist. If there were ever a time to shower Saadiq with flowers, it is now, as he has released a masterpiece in his latest album, Jimmy Lee.
I had the great privilege to hear some of the songs that would eventually appear on the album, live last summer after an interview with Raphael Saadiq, when his tour hit Boston. Because I heard them first in a live setting, I wasn't sure what to expect from the recorded version, and I think artists with less mastery of their craft (especially if they don't write, produce, or play an instrument) often struggle to reconcile their studio work with their live show. This isn't the case here: the studio records make me feel like I'm back in the room with him and his band in Boston, jamming. The single "So Ready" is on brand, sonically, keeping with Saadiq's feel good aural aesthetic, even as we know that this album is inspired by his older brother, Jimmy Lee, who struggled with addiction and the content runs the gamut of how addiction affects the addicted and those they love.
The first song on the album, preceding "So Ready" is "Sinner's Prayer," a haunting, pleading, and ominous song that gives us a clear picture of the protagonist and their struggle to grapple with the grip of addiction and its consequences. Raphael's vocal performance here is my favorite, and the vocal arrangement is amazing, using a choir to punctuate the desperate appeal to a higher power. "This World Is Drunk" zooms out from a singular protagonist to illuminate a collective illness, even as we judge the addicted, we are them as well. I have to say that this song, for me, really shows how crucial mixing is. This song could have sounded sparse, yet every instrument is placed in a manner that hugs the vocals and the piano gives an ethereal feeling. "Kings Fall" is one of my favorite tracks, as the background adlibs are hard panned left to right and bounce back and forth (don't worry if you don't understand what I just said). The effect is that we are put in the mind of the afflicted hearing multiple voices at once and how that might be a catalyst to their mental descent. It's also one of the more aggressive songs on the album and shows the inner chaos that addiction can have.
The fact that Raphael Saadiq put a straight up gospel quartet song mid-album without it feeling like a random departure from the rest of the body of work will have me tipping my hat to him forever. But it's when we get to "Glory to the Veins" that the premise and mission statement of the album crystallizes. It's as though the high is speaking, just as it tips over to crash. The chromaticism in the melody writing of the verse pushes that feeling to its limit, and just as you don't want the song to end, it does, heading into the straightforward, pentecostal, millennial civil rights anthem "Rikers Island." This was a song that I heard at the Boston show last summer, and I knew it was special then. It pulls no punches, it cuts no corners, it spares no feelings, when stating:
"Too many n***as in Riker's Island
Why must it be?
Too many n***as in Riker's Island
Set 'em free..."
I'm grateful for this song, as the conversation around social justice is expansive, includes many oppressed groups, and this issue can sometimes feel lost in the shuffle. This song, along with huge works in film such as Ava Duvernay's "When They See Us," center the issue of our broken criminal justice system in a way that speaks with candor, passion, and humanity for everyone adversely affected by it.
This is Raphael Saadiq's most personal solo album, and I think it will go down as his best one to date.
DID DOM DIG? - Without question! Town biz.
Monday, September 16, 2019
Eve will be remembered by me as the album that made me a fan of Rapsody. Some may feel that I should have been a fan before this, and that as a fellow woman in hip-hop, she should have always had my support. Let's be clear: I will always advocate for women in hip-hop, and to that end, Rapsody has always had my support. My being a fan of her work is a different story. This album, for me, hit on all cylinders: rhymes, production selection, concept and execution of concept. And while I think the wrong song was released as the single for the album, that's more of a label gripe, as I have the same feedback for multiple artists whose work I have enjoyed.
The production on the first track, "Nina," feels like a proper intro to the sonic journey: slow, brooding, and building. The rap performance is more aggressive from the start, as though Rapsody feels she has something to prove, a theme that will come up multiple times throughout the album. This is where conceptually, the album is immediately aligned. Every track is named after an iconic black woman (real and fictional), and the attitude of the first track explores the brilliance and resilience of the black woman, even in the face of constantly being overlooked and underrated. I find the title of the album, Eve, to be ironic - since Rapsody seems to be saying to her male counterparts, "You came from ME, I didn't come from YOU."
The next three tracks have the least enjoyable production from me (which has always been my main gripe with Rapsody's work). The Leikeili47 feature on "Oprah" helps, but it's not until we reach "Whoopi" that I look up from the other tasks I'm working on while listening. My pause and look up is akin to the "Wooooooo!" in a cypher. The production is referential, but not dated, and the way Rapsody is riding the beat is fun, effortless, and enjoyable. This is track five, so I'd say that it took a bit longer than I'd have liked to reach this reaction, but perhaps the long incline was intentional. At this point, the artist doesn't let up though: "Serena" is a banger, so are "Tyra" and "Maya" in their own ways (the Badu sample on "Maya" is phenomenal).
There are also tons of standout features on this album, including JID, the magnificent Queen Latifah, the elusive D'Angelo, and last week's feature, SiR. These collaborations are crucial to the success of the album, as they are all immense additions that add richness, texture, and necessary sonic variance. Ultimately, epic love poem to the black woman should be studied and archived, as I believe it will be looked back upon as one of the most important works from a female emcee of its time, even if it doesn't receive the mainstream acclaim that some of Rapsody's less talented peers receive.
DID DOM DIG? - Yes, and I hope to stay on the fan train for albums to come.
Monday, September 9, 2019
SiR: Chasing Summer
FULL DISCLOSURE: The first time I heard/saw SiR was this summer, when he sung a duet with Alex Isley at her concert in Los Angeles at The Mint. That being said, I was blown away, and as many of my friends know, I became obsessive about listening to more of his music. I'm a struggling musician and a recent graduate from Berklee, which means most of the time I'm broke as hell, but after streaming SiR's latest album Chasing Summer on Spotify, I decided that as soon as I had 9.49 to spare, I was buying his album on Google Play (yes, I have an Android, don't come for me). Beyond loving this album (which I'll say more about in a sec), I spent this weekend going back to listen to the two albums that preceded this one: November and Seven Sundays. Listening backwards like this really gave me an interesting experience in hearing how his sound has evolved. Today, I just want to talk about this latest album, though.
The tracklisting already endears me to the album by putting the single FIRST. This gives the listener the option to skip, if they feel that they've played it out pre-album release. I hadn't played the single out, so I didn't skip it. SiR's voice is sexy in an unexpected way. He's that dude that you're talking to for ten minutes before you realize that he's not your type, and you don't really know what it is about him, but you can't stop telling him information that you normally wouldn't share so easily. Yes, SiR has the voice that makes women want to tell him their secrets in nothing but a t-shirt and panties on his velvet couch... leather couch? Either way, "Hair Down," SiR's single could be considered a panty-dropper... or at least an "I'll show you my panties" song.
And IF I WEREN'T a songwriter (and therefore someone who listens with a discerning ear to lyrics), I could have listened to this whole album, and sonically felt that it was a panty-dropper. The production is smooth, alluring, cohesive. It's a sunset drive down Pacific Coast Highway with some bougie wine and a picnic basket full of treats, wind blowing in your hair and his beard. I am a songwriter, though, and so I did go back and listen to the lyrics to every song, and here's where we take a SHARP LEFT. Chasing Summer is an F-Boy Manifesto masquerading as an "I'm a conflicted good guy at heart" album, guys. It's light-handed on songs like "You Can't Save Me," but gets heavy-handed by the time we hit "That's Why I Love You," a duet with Sabrina Claudio. I give you the lyrics to the chorus below:
"I never wondered what this could be
I just f**k you and leave
You never wanted nothing from me
I just f**k you and leave
We don't ever come to agree
I just f**k you and leave, yeah
There ain't really nothing to see
That's why I love you"
By making this a duet, where the woman in the story is complicit in the behavior (her chorus says the same thing except "I sit on it and leave"), the protagonist tries to exonerate himself from a perfect fit into an F-Boy archetype (I put a bit of blame on you "hot girl summer" heffas, lol). I'm extremely conflicted about this because the PRODUCTION IS SO GOOD, but uhhhh... is this where we're at with relationships as a generation? If so, boy was I born in the wrong time period. If you've ever wondered about the kind of guy who could inspire the songs on the H.E.R. debut album, it's the guy we hear on SiR's Chasing Summer. The question isn't whether or not the artist writes the personality of this F-Boy into song with a deft hand or not (the writing is done with near perfection); the question is whether or not this guy should be written into song at all! It's a documentation of history, sure... these guys exist... but I miss love songs. This is a situationship album, and while sex songs will always exist and be appreciated, I just want some balance. We get a little bit of that on "Touch Down," but it's not enough. I WANT MORE! Now, I don't want to take away from the fact that he does get vulnerable on songs like "Wires In The Way," and we hear bits and pieces of his inner conflict throughout the album, but there's too much defaulting to a smash and dash attitude.
Jill Scott is easily the best feature on the album, showing us why she's one of the GOATS of neo-soul, and I appreciated this duet more than the others. As far as features go, the only blemish on the album for me was the Lil Wayne feature, which I could have DEFINITELY done without. My favorite song on the album, titled "The Recipe," is also the saddest song, but embodies the conflict that I think SiR is trying to portray the best. It's the "I told you what was up from jump, don't try to make it more than what it is" song. And because I've had this conversation with an object of my affection before, I have a love-hate relationship with this song. I love how perfectly it captures this situation, from the masculine perspective. I hate it because if my ex could sing... he'd sing this shit on my voicemail. Ugh. But isn't that the beauty of music? The best kind PUTS YOU ALL THE WAY IN YOUR FEELINGS, which is what Chasing Summer did. I love autumn, though, so after this next listen, I'll be taking a drive around LA... chasing SiR.
DID DOM DIG? - Yes... but lowkey begrudgingly. Lol.