Three Albums You Need To Listen To

So when I woke up Friday morning I was admittedly a bit overwhelmed by the amount of great music that had been released over night. I started listening and going through songs and albums and for each one I was thinking, wow I definitely need to write about this one. But since the listening alone will take you quite some time I don’t want to bore you with three elaborate album reviews and instead I’ll present to you the ones that I currently LOVE, short and sweet (in addition to “The Jungle Is The Only Way Out” by Mereba that I have written about in my last post which you can read here).

Solange When I Get Home

I’ll start with the obvious… “When I Get Home” by Solange. If there was a Guggenheim Museum for sound then Solange’s music would have its own exhibition there with her grand music filling the halls. I love that she takes risks, she’s rising her delicate middle finger up towards the mainstream and is dancing on her own little cloud of musical genre. She’s not letting anyone put her in a box and especially not letting anyone limit her to the label of being Beyonce’s sister. “I can’t be a singular expression of myself, there’s too many parts, too many spaces, too many manifestations, too many lines, too many curves, too many troubles, too many journeys, too many mountains, too many rivers”, she says in the second interlude of the album and I’m personally very inspired by that. Just one more side note, do not listen to her album on low volume! Either turn it all the way up or leave it. Anything else will be like turning your back to a sunset to watch it in the reflection of a window.

2Chainz Rap Or Go To The League

Next up is “Rap Or Go To The League” by my dear 2Chainz. This album starts out with a bang featuring the amazing Marsha Ambrosius which I’ve loved since 2010. As always, 2Chainz is coming through with the epic samples like “So Good To Be Alive” by the Truthettes on “Threat 2 Society” and the signature piano keys as on “Statute of Limitations”. In general, I have to say that even though he got quite a few interesting features on this one like Kendrick, Lil Wayne and Chance The Rapper and others, I like the songs without features the best. And I think that just speaks for him and his talent and presence. However, the use of Amerie’s “Why Don’t We Fall In Love” beat on “Rule The World” with Ariana Grande is pretty epic. So yeah an album for the whole family. Alright not quite but I’m extremely pleasantly surprised by 2Chainz shining at his best.

American Love Call

And last but not least is “American Love Call” by a group that I hadn’t heard of before but I am glad I discovered them and am therefore twice as happy to be able to introduce you to them now. They’re called Durand Jones & The Indications and I mean it in the best way possible when I say that they’re music sounds super old!! I was confused when I saw the release date of the album because they sound like they fit right into my “Classy Classics” playlist which features songs by The Temptations, Al Green, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Behind the music are a group of old souls in their twenties (counting in Earth years). Durand Jones, who is the singer, and his 4 friends who make up the group met at Indiana University and released their first project in 2012. Their new album “American Love Call” was recorded at Studio G in Brooklyn, New York and within it is a call to acknowledge the cruel reality of America’s history and at the same time step forward truly united to help create a future that our children will enjoy experiencing. So to describe it in short – this is relevant classic soul.

Watch the video to the first song on the album below, it made me really emotional.
(Oh and shoutout to Solange for making the visual to her album exclusively available on Apple Music…if you happen to know why she didn’t put it on Tidal please enlighten me)

NAO – Artist to Watch

For this week’s *Artist to Watch* I want to talk to you about NAO, 31 year old singer-songwriter Neo Jessica Joshua from East London. Her voice is so extraordinary that I doubted it was real when I first heard one of her songs. But after having watched some of her interviews I can confirm, she actually sounds like a cute little angel all the time. Her debut album “For All We Know” was released in 2016 which included “Fool To Love”, “Get to Know Ya” and “Bad Blood” and I can imagine you’ve probably heard one of them before.

Her lyrics are full of emotions and power, but it is her voice that really transfers the feelings onto the listener. I’d describe her music as soulful, sometimes funky, electronically influenced, galactic RnB. That she is not only a great singer but also a talented songwriter is proven by the fact that she’s co-written Stormzy’s “Velvet/Jenny Francis (Interlude)” which I personally loved for its depth and honesty.

Now last year, NAO released her latest project called “Saturn” and it absolutely amazed me. Listening to this album, it feels like she is taking you on a very personal spaceship ride right through her inner galaxy. Starting out right away with the first song “Another Lifetime” which is heartbreakingly beautiful (I absolutely love her reference to the concept of having multiple lifetimes and meeting certain people again in another). The next equally beautifully tragic song “Make It Out Alive” features the incredible SiR which I’ll most likely feature in one of my next Artist To Watch posts as well. Yeah… I could probably talk about every single song on this album but instead I will give you my personal highlights and then leave you to listen to it and make up your own mind.

First favorite I have to mention is “Saturn” with British singer Kwabs. It’s a beautiful, romantic duet which uses planet and zodiac sign metaphors in order to describe a relationship. “I love the way you open my heart, I feel you around me like Venus and Mars”, she sings, very #universey if you know, you know. The other song I want to emphasise is “Orbit”, equally universey and sooo, sooo magical.

Now while writing this, I am getting extra excited because I will finally be able to see NAO live in concert on my birthday next month. So if you find yourself loving her songs as much as I do check out her upcoming tour dates here and maybe you’ll be able to go to one of her concerts this or next month as well.

 

Pink Sweat$ – Artist to Watch

So for today’s *Artist to Watch* I want to introduce you to Pink Sweat$. Originally a songwriter from Philadelphia, this guy has now decided to start his own singing career. And I am glad he did! His songwriting story is interesting because he even wrote for Country artists “Florida Georgia Line” which honestly I hadn’t even heard of before. But I think that says a lot about his open-mindedness and his general love for music and meaningful lyrics. Why stick to just one genre when there is great stories to be told in all different types of music?

When reading Pink Sweat$’s interview with Billboard there were a few things he said that made me smile. Talking about the origin of his artist name “Pink Sweat$”, he explained that the name originated from him wearing his pink sweatpants to the studio all the time. The fact that the inspiration behind his love for pink was sparked by Cam’ron just shows that he’s not just a talented singer and songwriter but also a really cool guy.

Another thing I like about Pink Sweat$ is his critical view on the disrespect for women in the music industry especially in rap music and his emphasis on meaningful lyrics that move people and inspire them in a way that makes them want to share the music with others. Essentially he’s taking his talent for writing songs in order to spread more love in this world and I think that is a really beautiful thing.

Having lived in Philadelphia, New York and L.A. and having been strong enough to fight a rare disease that could’ve costed him his life, it seems that he’s found an inner balance that he is now able to channel through his own music. His first EP “Volume 1” consists of six songs that each are special in their own way. I personally am glad that he has decided to sing his own songs because his voice is way too powerful to remain hidden from our ears.

Now if you only ever just listen to one of his songs I want you to listen to “Honesty”. This 3:11 track has touched my soul right when I first listened to it. What makes it so special is that I think everyone can find something in it that they can relate to. The song is about making yourself vulnerable with someone else and revealing parts of yourself that you might prefer to keep to yourself. It is about the type of surrender that is required in order to open up to real profound love. I love it so much because it is encouraging depth and emotions in a time where most people hide behind their masks and protect themselves to the point where they deny their own soul.

Pink Sweat$’s mission is to touch people with his music and he really does have a gift in doing that. I’ve been listening to this EP over and over and I’m excited to know that Volume 2 is in fact already finished and on the way.