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Blog Playlists

Artists To Watch In 2022

Lots of artists make incredible music while still flying under the radar. Some artists are well known in the underground/indie scene but haven’t found their way to commercial or mainstream success, at least not yet. Here are some of my favorite artists that I think exhibit enough potential to blow up this year.

Remi Wolf

A graduate of Thorton School of Music and a former contestant of American Idol, Wolf has nothing to prove with regards to her talent. I’ve been listening to her since the Fall of 2019, mere months after she started releasing music, and I immediately fell in love with her unique voice and her catchy songwriting. She manages to have such a carefree, youthful sound while making music that is very detailed and carefully thought out. I’ve been watching Remi Wolf grow more and more popular over the past few years, and would not be surprised if she becomes a mainstream act this year. 

Recommended tracks: “Sexy Villain,” “Liquor Store,” “Shawty,” “Quiet On Set,” “Photo ID”

Mike Dimes

When I first found the Texas rapper on a Spotify playlist, he had around 400,000 monthly listeners. At the time of writing this, he has 2,454,279 monthly listeners, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he breaks 5,000,000 by the end of this year. He’s released various singles over the past year following his 2021 debut album, “DLOG,” and each single has been fantastic.

Dimes’ music mostly consists of bangers begging to be played at a party, but he’s also a gifted songwriter, showing lots of versatility with his clever lyrics. At only 21 years old, Mike Dimes shows lots of talent, and I’m anxiously waiting to see what he does in 2022.

Recommended tracks: “NO TRENDS,” “WISS,” “BACKROOM,” “MY STORY (DLOG)”

seeyousoon

This eight-member Florida hip-hop collective is the definition of an underrated gem. If I had to describe their sound, it’s a mix of Brockhampton, Tyler, The Creator, KAYTRANADA, and JPEGMAFIA. seeyousoon is a band with a dynamic and exciting sound that doesn’t let themselves be confined to the rules and expectations of hip-hop. And even though they take opportunities to experiment with their music, they still stay true to their sound, and they don’t let their experimentation take away from the quality of their music.

Seeing a rule-breaking yet accessible act always excites me, and I’m confident that seeyousoon has more incredible music up their sleeves. Hopefully, we get another album in 2022, but either way, I’m excited to see them grow and progress as a band.

Recommended tracks: “BEN AFFLECK,” “FIX YOUR FACE,” “STEAMY,” “MAGIC,”

Below is a Spotify Playlist where you can check out all of these artists.

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New Album Review

Album Review: “An Evening With Silk Sonic” by Silk Sonic

ALBUM: “An Evening With Silk Sonic” by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic

RELEASE YEAR: 2021

LABEL: Aftermath Entertainment and Atlantic Recording Corporation

RATING: 8.4/10

BEST TRACKS: “Leave The Door Open,” “After Last Night (with Thundercat & Bootsy Collins),” “Smokin Out The Window,” “Skate”

FCC: Track 7 – “777”

Paying homage to the classics, this short and sweet record by Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak is a must-listen. Thanks to their stellar execution, this exciting new release manages to live up to the hype. For those who wish that R&B was more mainstream, or miss the classic soul from the 1970s that we all know and love, Silk Sonic’s debut project is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. 

As cohesive as “An Evening With Silk Sonic” is, this album still covers a wide range of topics and sounds. Mars and .Paak offer upbeat bangers such as “Fly As Me” and “Skate,” (although I must admit the former sounds like it was made for an Old Navy commercial), while still producing gorgeous ballads such as “Put On A Smile.” They explore feelings of love and lust towards someone on “After Last Night (with Thundercat & Bootsy Collins),” my personal favorite from the album. They immediately pivot to feeling heartbroken and betrayed on the singalong-able track, “Smokin Out The Window.” Whether they’re excited, emotional, or ecstatic, they know exactly how to express what they’re feeling. 

Vocally, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak deliver solid performances, managing to blend their unique identities into a smooth, cohesive sound. Their chemistry is stellar, and it’s difficult to imagine two artists working together as well as they do. While both of their vocals showcase their individual talents and identities, they still just work together — they sound as if they’ve been singing together for years. Whether it’s due to their experience or their natural chemistry, their vocal performances leave little room for improvement.

With the majority of production done by Bruno Mars and D’Mile, the instrumentation on “An Evening With Silk Sonic” sounds exactly how you’d expect – but in a good way. The sultry, flirtatious, and emotional themes discussed in the songwriting are very appropriately mirrored by the production choices. Sonically, every song is filled to the brim with soul and passion, yet contains an impressive amount of detail. The production choices may not be ambitious or boundary-pushing, but there’s so much intent behind every decision that you don’t even notice. Additionally, it’s unfair to expect progressive production choices on an album that was made to revive and celebrate the classics of R&B.

And if we’re being honest, Silk Sonic’s take on classic soul doesn’t hold a candle to legends such as Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield. This is mainly because Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak aren’t taking themselves too seriously on this project – which makes their execution that much more impressive. They can get away with lyrics like “I’m sipping wine (sip, sip)” because their vocals and production are so well done. They can get away with production that isn’t very ambitious or experimental because every song is orchestrated in such a thoughtful and meticulous way.

While “An Evening With Silk Sonic” may not be as much of a classic as its inspirations, the amount of passion and detail on this record is too great for any comparison to be made. Mars and .Paak have further proved their capabilities as musicians and producers by creating a project that not only celebrates the music of the past, but is capable of standing on its own. Silk Sonic clearly knows how to deliver; let’s just hope they keep delivering.

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Blog New Album Review

“Shut the f⁠— up talking to me” Zack Fox Album Review

Editor’s Note: If you can’t tell by the title, this article contains mature themes and language. Reader discretion is advised

ALBUM: “shut the f⁠— up talking to me” by Zack Fox

RELEASE YEAR: 2021

LABEL: Parasang

RATING: 6.2/10

BEST TRACKS: “mind your business” and “get off my d⁠—⁠”

FCC: Explicit language

Twitter personality, comedian, album art designer, and rapper Zack Fox blends humor with pure chaos on his new album, “shut the f— up talking to me.” Fox, well-known for his collaboration with Kenny Beats on their single “Jesus is the One (I Got Depression),” hasn’t exactly won over music critics with his controversial lyrics and outlandish humor. However, his reputation of making “joke rap” doesn’t mean that he isn’t capable of putting out an enjoyable product.

At just under twenty minutes, this album isn’t meant to be revolutionary or inspiring. It’s clear that the goal of this project was to create a short and enjoyable collection of songs that would get some laughs out of the listener. And in my opinion, goal achieved.

Fox’s humor, which is crude and ruthless, is present throughout the entire project. Here are some of my favorite lines:

Raise my hand up in the class and told the teacher, “Suck my d—“

“fafo” – Zack Fox

Kick a b—- n—- off a cliff without no parachute

F— n—- prolly callin’ 12 just like a Karen do

“uhh” – Zack Fox

My n—– barbaric, s— could get ugly as f— like Ed Sheeran

“shut the f⁠—⁠ up talking to me” – Zack Fox

And that’s only a few of them.

While every song has quotable bars, “mind your business” and “get off my d⁠—” are favorites of mine, and not necessarily because of the lyrics. They’re both incredibly fun and catchy, and they give Zack Fox a great opportunity to deliver solid punchlines over some of the smoothest beats I’ve heard this year. Sonically, the other tracks seem to suffer in comparison. For some of the other songs, the vocals reach a level of intensity that isn’t quite matched by the beats, which makes for a slightly awkward experience for the listener.

One example of this is Fox’s collaboration with The Alchemist on the title track, “shut the f⁠— up talking to me.” Here, Zack Fox raps about throwing someone’s baby out of their carriage over a somewhat repetitive instrumental that doesn’t seem to reach a climax.

While these stylistic decisions are interesting, I’m not convinced that they belong together. And although it is nice to see Zack Fox delve into other styles of hip-hop, I would have preferred for the energy in “mind your business” and “get off my d⁠—” to be present throughout the entire project, and I hope his future releases contain more of that energy.

Despite my criticisms of this project, it’s still worth a listen. Fox may not be the most skilled songwriter in the world, but “shut the f⁠— up talking to me” manages to stand out in an ocean of new hip-hop releases. This album is a lot of things, but it’s certainly not forgettable.

Is this an AOTY? No, at least, not for me. But it has some catchy, well-produced songs that you can play at a party. And sometimes, that’s all you really need.

-Marshall Morgan

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New Album Review

Jenevieve: Album Review

The debut record from rising R&B artist Jenevieve establishes her as an artist with lots of promise, talent and the potential to create even better works in the future.

Sonically, I was pretty impressed with “Division.” The production and mixing on this album were very solid, and producer Benziboy did a fantastic job curating sounds that fit well with Jenevieve’s voice, allowing both the production and the vocals to shine. Although this album was produced entirely by Benjiboy, he still manages to show range and diversity in his production choices. The album has upbeat, pop-inspired tracks such as “Mellow Eyes” and “No Sympathy,” but also includes a few warmer, down-tempo tracks such as “Baby Powder” and “Nxwhere.” Benziboy and Jenevieve seem to make a great pair, and I respect their ability to create a collection of tracks that fit together in a cohesive group without sounding too repetitive.

Lyrically, this project was solid, but nothing remarkable. Jenevieve delivers with a beautiful vocal performance, and her lyrics are enjoyable to listen to, but very little of the lyrical content is especially captivating. However, I’ll admit that I typically don’t pay the closest attention to lyrics, so I could be biased.

I have few criticisms with “Division,” one being that the album didn’t have a very strong ending. I don’t dislike any of the tracks on the album, but I definitely prefer the first few tracks of the album to the rest of it. All the tracks after “Mellow Eyes” are solid, but they’re the weakest tracks on the record, in my opinion. However, I won’t be surprised if my opinion on this changes as I give this album a few more listens.

My only other criticism is that Jenevieve still needs to work on creating her own distinct sound. While I enjoy this album, there are only a few songs on it that separate Jenevieve from other up-and-coming R&B artists. That’s not to say that Jenevieve has no individuality — tracks like “Baby Powder” and “Résumé” show that she is perfectly capable of sounding unique — I just think she should continue to make more songs like these, and I’m confident that with time, she’ll develop her own unique sound.

All that being said, “Division” proves to be a solid body of work and a very impressive debut project. Overall, I give this album a 7.5/10. Jenevieve has established herself as a driving force in alternative R&B, and I’m excited to see what she releases in the future.

— Marshall Morgan