It’s taken three months, but finally it seems the music year has kicked into action. The releases seem to be coming thick and fast, there have been some super music Friday’s, and the anticipation is building for some big-name releases coming up. March has arguably been the busiest month so far for music in 2017, and the quality of releases has matched the frequency of the music dropping.
Here are my favorites from the last month.
Drake – More Life
I am not the biggest Drake fan and I hated “Views”, but I actually quite like “More Life”. Yes it is longer than “Views”, something I thought impossible to achieve, yes there is horrible copycat Jamaican Patois which is cringy as hell, yes there is a lot of filler and the album could have done with a trim, but what is good on the album, more than makes up for it. “Passionfruit” and “Get It Together” are catchy as hell with great beats, while the Skepta, Sampha and Young Thug appearances are fantastic. Drake is a smart guy who is playing the game better than most at the moment. He knows what he needs to do to be successful, and he sticks to a formula that rubs people up the wrong way, but that works within the confines of the industry as it is set up currently. All you can do is raise your hand and say well played 6 God.
Fave Tracks: Passionfruit, Get It Together, 4422, Skepta Interlude
GoldLink – At What Cost
Much like Oddisee’s album last month, GoldLink has gone down the hip hop dance banger route on his debut album “At What Cost”. And, much like Oddisee, his effort has also been a success. So far in his career, the DC rapper has released two mixtapes, a handful of singles, and has featured on several tracks by other artists, including our very own Leisure. On “At What Cost”, GoldLink proves he can go it alone for a full-length album and produce material that is both interesting and danceable. It is not revolutionary production-wise, or lyrically, but it is a fun, engaging record with the added bonus of guest spots from the likes of Kaytranada and the Internet’s Steve lacy. “At What Cost” is great for boogieing to, and this early on in the music year is in direct competition with Oddisee for the party hip hop record of the year.
Fave Tracks: Herside Story, Meditation, Some Girl, Pray Everyday (Survivor’s Guilt)
The Grow Room – Exhibition IV – Side A
This wonderful Auckland collective has started 2017 where they left off in 2016, releasing more quality music. Their latest mixtape was a preview for another one of their exhibitions, with this one dominated by hip hop. Featuring the likes of the talented Brandn Shiraz, Rizvan, Melowdownz and Mr. Amish, the standard of this tape is top drawer with stunning production and smooth flows right across the board. The Grow Room is prodigious when it comes to releasing music and so far in 2017 they have already released four projects. Each release is an event in itself, and you know based on their history that what they release is made with love and absolute conviction to the product. It might only be March, but already we have a leading candidate in the mixtape stakes.
Fave Tracks: City Skreetz, Saturn, Butter Chiccen & Naan Bread, U Got It Babe
Khalid – American Teen
“American Teen” is the debut album by 18 year old American R&B singer Khalid. Produced by Joel Little, “American Teen” is not a giant step forward for R&B musically, but that is not its main aim. The album succeeds because of Khalid’s soothing vocal, a vocal that is very mature for such a young artist, and the lyrics which explore common teenage themes such as love and coming of age. It is early days for this talented singer, but he already has the endorsement from the likes of Elton John and some commercial momentum to kick on further.
Fave Tracks: Young Dumb & Broke, Location, Hopeless, Winter
Spoon – Hot Thoughts
Spoon have been around over twenty years and this is their ninth album, but you would not know that given the quality of this album. “Hot Thoughts” is as good a rock album you are likely to hear this year, as it moves outside the narrow confines of what some consider to be a stale genre currently, introducing electronic, alternative and pop influences. The band take risks on this album and experiment throughout, keeping the listener’s attention with the variety on display from song to song. I feel with “Hot Thoughts” Spoon have laid down a blue print for where rock should be heading, and one which other bands could be advised to follow.
Fave Tracks: Hot Thoughts, Do I Have To Talk You Into It, First Caress, Tear It Down
Tyreece Santana – After School Special
I love finding out about new and talented artists, especially those who are making their way or just starting out. Tyreece Santana is a New York-born/LA-based rapper whose debut mixtape “After School Special” oozes so much quality that on first listen you would think he had been releasing music for years. The way he mixes samples of hip hop classics such Nas “N.Y. State of Mind” and Jay-Z’s “Dead Presidents II” with his own beats and vocals is very impressive, while his flow is certainly a standout as he raps about his hometown and life growing up in the Bronx. His clever skits also bring a bit of variety to proceedings in what is overall, a thoroughly enjoyable listen for a first up release. I cannot wait to see what he does next, and I will be watching with interest as this guy has some serious talent.
Fave Tracks: Welcome to the Bronx, A New Yorker’s State of Mind, Dead Presidents, DMCB