Hello all! Happy almost-Thanksgiving. I hope this roundup remedies all the family squabbles that are about to happen. It’s another eclectic roundup with songs from Anderson Paak’s long-awaited album Oxnard, as well as new music from SABA, Ian Isiah, and others.
Don’t forget to check out my first episode of The Overdue Review podcast, the book club for your music! T.O.R is an in-depth, retrospective discussion of albums that I do with my co-host and content editor (and friend, I guess), Declan Jenkins.
With that said: stay warm, hug your loved ones (aka the family pup), and I’ll see you next week! Kind of.
Remember when said I was disappointed with Anderson Paak’s track “Who R U?” Well, he’s been forgiven since releasing Oxnard, an album I didn’t expect. Oxnard dropped on Nov. 16th via Aftermath Entertainment and Doug Morris’s new label 12 Tone Music. It has all the delicious and catchy melodies you’d expect from our beloved Anderson Paak, and there are several solid bangers on the project. Aside from that, I was surprised to hear how Dr. Dre influenced the album. As a listener who is familiar with Paak’s arrangements, I can guess which one of the two had the most on influence on each track. “Headlow” feels like a median: a track that best represents the album overall. Featured on the track is Norelle, a well-established backup singer who embellishes the track with her silky-smooth vocals.
I have a lot of opinions on this album—it’s not as good as Malibu—but despite it being simply good, Anderson Paak remains great. I commend him for this collaborative album; sharing creative space cannot be easy for an artist as meticulous and self-sufficient as Paak. Stay tuned for a full Overdue Review of the album, where I’ll break down the highs and lows in more detail.
It’s clear that SABA is grieving. The last time he was included in the roundup he had just released his album CARE FOR ME. At that point, his listeners were aware that he’d lost his dear friend and collaborator, Walter “John Walt” Long Jr. On “Beautiful Smile,” he revisits that sadness and the guilt he bears for simply living: “I have a beautiful smile, but honestly I forgot how,” SABA admits.
This is my personal favorite on the roundup this week; IDK’s verse is as equally engaging as SABA’s and compliments the track’s low-key production. I appreciate SABA’s reminiscent arrangement and I admire his honesty and his grief. Is that terrible for me to admit? I appreciate that his grief creates music like this—someone out there will connect with his pain and draw strength from it, all because he had the courage to make it into art.
What a peculiar track, wouldn’t you say? I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, if anything, Ian Isiah is breaking down walls in the genre of Soundcloud rap (or mumble rap). On “Bedroom,” Sinjin Hawke, a Canadian-born producer, creates a digitized video-game space for Ian to explore this microgenre. The outcome is, admittedly, an experimental piece. Released in early November on UNO NYC, this track has been getting quite a positive reception. It was on two of my go-to playlists: New Music Friday and Warp Selections. The young, Brooklyn-born singer also landed himself a stellar profile with Pitchfork.
This Austin-born, 16 year-old rapper is breathing new life into the East Coast hip-hop scene. While most rappers are concerned with fast-paced rhymes, Wiardon gives us a moment to appreciate the cosines of a mellow beat. It’s clear that Wiardon is drawing from a New York mafioso aesthetic; he raps about cold winters over jazz-lounge keys as a lonely hi-hat guides the song. This is is the last track on Wiardon’s album Numba1viktim, and it features Stunnamansam, another Austin-based rapper. The album dropped in early November.
Keeping up with cosy aesthetics, this 4-day-old beat is enough to warm your bedroom in the winter (if y’all know what I mean, add it to your sexy playlist—trust). Typically, I try to stay away from mashups or remixes, simply because it can get messy for me to discuss them.
This beat, however, was both an especially classy use of Drake’s “Controlla” vocals and an excellent example of pristine production. In particular, I love the lazy guitar riff guiding the track.
An undeniably summery song, “Controlla” was THE summer hit in 2016. Nusnce maintains the sex appeal but changes the season; this is definitely a track for winter nights cosied up by the fire. Nusnce is based out of Connecticut, which is the only information I could find about this talented producer. He was also featured on Soulection radio, a big deal for any emerging producer, so go follow him! Congrats, Nusnce!
Afro-Canadian Pierre Kwenders is the whole package: singer, songwriter, producer, and DJ. Kwenders’ unique style merges Congolese rhumba with western genres like R&B, gospel and pop (among others). “Douk Saga” is the most recent release since his album MAKANDA at the End of Space the Beginning of Time, and features Moonshine, a Montreal-based collective made of up of dancers, DJs, and visual artists. The title “Douk Saga” references an Ivorian vocalist nicknamed "President" because of his considerable influence on African musical culture.
Unlike the winter vibes I’ve included so far, this song is for the sunniest day of the week! What I enjoy about this track is its multicultural musical references; for the laymen listeners this may simply sound like Afrobeats (which it is to a degree) but Kwenders is drawing from eclectic sources of inspiration. I admire the balance of creativity, general ‘littiness,’ and cultural fusion.
Honestly, I’m surprised at how much I love this song—maybe the winter is pushing me to listen to happier music as a means to fight my seasonal depression. Anyway, like every roundup, I end on a song outside of the genres I typically cover.
Vulfpeck is a Michigan-based funk band who have not only made me smile with their music, but with their history as well. In 2014, they released Sleepify, an entirely silent album that made $20k and funded an admission-free tour. Spotify had to remove it because it kept making profit, which is hilarious to me! In regard to this particular song, I enjoy the innocence, and the simple yet captivating structure of “Lonely Town”.