#7SONGSAWEEK REVIEW / by Noor Kalouti

Hello all! Winter is almost here and it’s depressing, but the music is still good and we’ve got to hold on to all the sunshine we can find!

With that said, I’ve got some good music, mediocre music, and worldly music curated for you! Including artists like Little Dragon, Smino, and Anderson .Paak.

I’ve included some tracks not on Spotify in an effort to highlight other platforms and more underground artists.

Alright, let’s get to it.

1. In My House: Little Dragon

We all know that I’m a fan of Little Dragon, and if you are as well you’d know that they’ve just released a new EP. The Lover Chanting EP is their first release for London-based indie label Ninja Tune and it’s out now! Little Dragon has always been dubbed an electronic band, which they are, but they’re not usually associated with dance music. This EP leans more towards the prog-house aesthetic associated with Ninja Tunes, with this track probably being the danciest. That being said, it’s a great EP, not the quirkiest, but this song is the ray of sunshine we need for these cold-a*** days.

2. SPINZ: Smino

Smino just dropped his second full-length album NOIRE via Downtown Record, and it’s much lighter than his debut album blckswn. This Chicago-based MC is known for his vocal versatility which he explores in NOIRE through this particular blend of R&B and neo-funk. In this laid-back track, Smino and Monte Booker merge the comforts of jazz,  trap, and R&B. Monte is a well-known member of the Soulection collective and his production style is very distinctive. If you’re curious, listen here!

3. Grampa: Ari Lennox

For about 30 seconds, I honestly thought Erykah Badu was the vocalist on this song. Quickly noticing the difference in timbre, I had to know who this angel is! Ari Lennox is a new artist for me, I just discovered her talent and I’m sold. I love her phrasing in this song and the sincere delivery of her lyrics—she sounds like she’s freestyling the whole time. This is a quality that she shares with Erykah, those formless verses and lax phrasing. Ari has released 3 consecutive singles in the last month, “Grampa” was the first, and the most recent is “Pedigree.” This was my personal favorite, and this is my blog so, tough. Produced by Elite, this song was released via J-Cole’s label Dreamville—it’s really no surprise J-Cole signed her.

4. Nowhere2go: Earl Sweatshirt

Yes! It’s been so long since Earl released new music and he re-enters the scene with this track—what a G. Earl began teasing this new track earlier this week with a set of mysterious videos.

Co-produced by Adé Hakim Sayyad (fka Sixpress) and Darryl Anthony (aka Booliemane) this track is definitely progressive. With the heavily syncopated/interrupted rhythms, layers of vocal samples, and Earl’s peculiar flow this song stands out in his discography. That being said, it’s mostly the production that stands out. “Nowhere2go” was released through his own label Tan Cressida and Columbia Records.

5. Who R U? Anderson Paak

Again, if you’re a fan you know that Anderson Paak is about to drop his new album Oxnard! This follows his latest release “Tints” featuring Kendrick Lamar.  Anderson’s upcoming album is executively  produced by Dr. Dre, and we can already hear a change in style and production since his last album Yes Lawd! In this song, we’re introduced to an Anderson Paak we’re not used to; a rapper that overlooks the jazz and r&b foundation that he’s truly mastered.

Paak is a rapper, vocalist, and drummer who’s so musically talented, I don’t understand why he’d switch to this more popular sound. I always encourage musicians to try new styles and collaborations but “Who R U?” sounds forced and unnatural. Even a musician as multi-dimensional as Paak has his limits.

6. Live & Mndsng: WTYG Freestyle.

Another Badu influenced vocalist, Liv.e is a Dallas- based musician whose raw talent is just being discovered. I came across this song on Pitchfork’s Levels section—a blog dedicated exclusively to reviewing new hip hip. It’s clear that Mndsgn and Liv.e work well together, her feathery vocals merging seamlessly with Mndsgn’s melancholy keys. Ringgo Ancheta (aka Mndsng) is an L.A-based producer who has built a reputation comparable to producers like Knxwledge and Samiyam among others. The track is clearly unmastered—though I appreciate the unmixed aesthetic, it suits Liv.e ’s bluesy vocal style. This freestyle is getting a lot of attention and I hope Liv.e’s Soundcloud page is getting the attention it deserves!

Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band: Siraba Kele

You may be asking yourself, what is Noor doing covering this Burkina Faso-based band? Well, I knew about these guys when I was a teacher’s assistant for an ethnomusicology seminar at The New School. I love their music and I like to end my roundups on a note you wouldn’t expect.

This music is wholesome and good for your soul! You’d be lying if you said it doesn't make you want to boogie. Released on November 2nd through Sublime Frequencies, this album follows their 2015 Afrobeat album Juguya. As a label, Sublime Frequencies prides itself on exploring “obscure sights and sounds from modern and traditional urban and rural frontier”.

I’ve personally always been drawn to West African music; remember last week when I said I love fugal compositions? Well, that’s because I’m a minimalist at heart and the forefathers of cyclical, syncopated, and layered rhythms are in Africa. Read this article to get an idea of how the westernized movement of minimalism draws from a very African musical tradition.