By: Tommy “T-Rod” Rodriguez
This past week was a doozy, wasn’t it?
As we fully step into the summer season, the music scene has seen plenty of shakeups all at once. This week saw some of music’s biggest names make moves to bring dance music to a floundering economy, local artists throw it back to their influences with slick raps, and long-awaited returns to form from some heavy hitters. Let’s dive into some of the biggest drops from this past week, starting with the one and only:
Drake – Honestly, Nevermind
No one can honestly do it quite like Drake. Zero promo for a random dance album that is meant to bring back oontz oontz to the charts instead of moody pop rap, going on to outsell every other record of the week by a wide margin? Drake really can do no wrong when it comes to creating buzz and online hype…but I honestly didn’t feel this album too much. For a dance album, I feel like Drake didn’t properly bring the rhythm and energy needed for an album that’s meant to blast at the club. Not to say there aren’t highlights: “Massive” is irresistible with its piano lines and driving groove, “Overdrive” feels like a perfect mix of Drake’s toxic songwriting and intimate production, “Jimmy Cooks” is a solid rap song with an equally solid 21 Savage verse…but that’s really about it for me. I personally think the crowd of people praising this album for being different might be caught onto the hype; it doesn’t really make me want to dance, more so bob my head slightly. I’m not mad at it, but the overall project just feels kind of half-baked and overly long for me. I don’t think it’s the worst thing Drizzy has dropped, but there’s lots of other albums I’d suggest for a party.
Westside Boogie – More Black Superheroes
On the opposite end of the mood spectrum, Cali MC Westside Boogie is equal parts rap crooner and stone-cold wordsmith. I was completely caught off guard by this album, given his previous LP had come out in 2019, but this album was a pleasant surprise. Boogie’s skillset is perfectly balanced between his introspective pen and ear for soulful sounds, combining wonderfully on songs like the lust-driven “Prideful II” or the heartbroken “Can’t Get Over You,” the latter featuring a stellar Smino verse. The album itself is very light on the ears for the most part, soft guitars and hazy drums painting Boogie’s mind as a stark landscape…but he can turn up the volume as well. “Killa Mode” and “Stuck” are cinematic bangers that tie into the main theme I gleaned from this record: Boogie very much feels like he needs to be a hero to his loved ones, but he might need one himself. The darkness of a track like the Soulja Boy-assisted “Can’t Even Lie” is met with equal bliss on the R&B/pop jam “Nonchalant” and sadness on “Windows Down,” wherein he raps about getting therapy from gun sounds…this is a great record that needs more attention from fans of emotional performances, clever writing and clean production. Couple all of these with genuine honesty and you’ll be more than satisfied with Westside Boogie’s latest release.
Coldgamesixx – Motion Sickness
It’s always nice to come across a project that just feels right, and Motion Sickness is exactly that project. Coldgamesixx’s first streamable project full-length is a great blend of jazzy instrumentals, hungry rapping and infectious charisma. From the get go on the cold and cocky “Simulation,” the album grabs your ears and makes you focus on the details: the sour bass, Sixx’s shoutouts to his inspirations…and this is just the beginning. This level of detail is one of the project’s strongest features: the reference-heavy “Bubba Chuck” makes every namedrop hit hard, while melodic cuts like the hyper-catchy “Whip (Yeah!)” feature songwriting that is geared to take over your brain. Sixx’s influences are very much a key feature of this record (as seen on the cover), but he never drowns in them, instead using them to propel his own artistry to new heights: “Doobies and Dilla” is a beautiful ode to the late producer J. Dilla, “TM18” tastefully samples a section of the Mac track “Rain” to convey the introspective mood of the track. Most of all, however, this record just feels good to listen to. Sixx’s flow is immaculate, showing great fundamentals and witty writing on “Chillin’ Freestyle” and a great ear for loops on “Game is the Game.” This is a project you definitely gotta check out and show to your hip-hop head friends!
Logic – Vinyl Days
Any artist dropping a 30-track album is a tough sell. When you have an artist as controversial (in the hip-hop head universe at least) as Logic, that’s an even harder sell. Despite the staggering amount of tracks on Vinyl Days, this is probably one of Logic’s best projects yet, with many of these tracks actually being nice little skits and interludes to service some genuine heat. The album is no BS in its main cuts: lots of samples, lots of rhymes, and lots of quality tracks. From the outset, this album feels different: “Tetris” feels like a triumphant resurrection of 90s drumwork alongside Logic’s revitalized energy. The album does feel very nostalgic, but it never strives to become a Wu-Tang ripoff: Logic makes sure he covers his own struggles with personal happiness on the shimmering “Decades,” his love for Madlib on “Quasi,” and his use of music as therapy on “Therapy Music.” The album feels like a logical extension of the themes Bobby has tackled before, but instead in a much more scattershot and isolated method…which I think works better, as he gives himself room to stay on topic for each individual song while trying out some new sounds. “Bleed It” sounds almost like a Beastie Boys production, while “Breath Control” sounds like a classic stoner rap anthem. Sure, some tracks may not pan out due to a few bad bars or an iffy topic here and there, but this album is unapologetically LOGIC…and it’s all the better for it. With great technical skill, topical focus, and some sick production, Vinyl Days is definitely worth sampling.
That’s just to me though. What did you guys think about these albums, any duds or bangers you think I should’ve mentioned? Sound off in the comments below to give me your thoughts and feedback. I’ll see you guys soon!
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