Thursday, July 28, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, July 22-28

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. Hip-Hop's confounding tongue-twister drops his best seance yet, while an Experimental Hip-Hop trio returns to their Noise-centric origins. 

Desiigner - Tiimmy Turner

The often-criticized, yet undeniably catchy 'verse' on Desiigner's XXL freestyle has left many in the Hip-Hop community divided. On one hand, it wasn't a verse. On the other hand, it was memorizing, a definite effect of Desiigner's magnificent voice and flow. With a soundstage that'll tear down at any minute, 'Tiimmy Turner' has finally released in its full, explosive version, and guess what? It may very well be as good as 'Panda.' Nothing on the messy New English came close to Desiigner's global-dominating single, and 'Timmy Turner' easily trumps the collection found there too.

As I predicted early on, Desiigner is going to live and die by his hooks, as essentially, there's nothing else to find in his music. There's even the chance down the road Desiigner may turn into Hip-Hop's go-to hook man, delegated to this role by any and all who want to provide volatile melody to their piece. Now the chances are slim that 'Panda's' incredibly addicting chorus gets one-upped but seriously, while there was fun to be had in 'Panda's' verses, 'Tiimmy Turner' survives solely based on its ritualistic hook, following a cartoon boy and his wish to shoot up people. Repeated over and over, the song is almost totally encompassed by this melody, as massive production soars around him, finishing with a scorched piano that sounds like something Kanye West would do. Credit to Mike Dean's production for molding the two.

Jenny Hval - Conceptual Romance

In anticipation of Blood Bitch, we get the album's second single 'Conceptual Romance.' If it wasn't obvious from the album's title or the title of its lead single ('Female Vampire'), Blood Bitch may very well be Jenny Hval's most unequivocally feminine work to date. And coming from one of Alternative's most defiant woman, that's saying something. On 'Conceptual Romance,' Hval comes face to face with the thoughts pounding her head, returning to the crossover between soft melodies and Spoken Word that governed her earlier releases.

What's most alluring on first listen is the ceaseless production that propels the song like a train comfortably heading down the tracks. Sure, there's depth to be found in her poignant lyrics on failures when two bodies intertwine, but for casual listeners this might be her most straightforward stylistic approach yet. The percussion acts like a life pulse, beating rhythmically, as extraneous factors, such as flutes, noise, or backing vocals, aim to stall, retract, or pivot the constant breath from pushing onwards. It'll depend on what the next track on Blood Bitch gives us, because by the end of 'Conceptual Romance' it seems as if the guttural feelings have won over as a swirling mess of electronic malfunctions block the continuation and ceases the track; effective immediately.

clipping. - Baby Don't Sleep

Coming hot on the heels of the rather straightforward and Pop-ish Wriggle EP, 'Baby Don't Sleep,' the first single from Splendor & Misery, aims to quell worries that clipping. was headed in a more traditionalist direction. With Daveed Diggs' rise in fame that seemed to make sense, but 'Baby Don't Sleep,' an uneasy, beat-less, noise-ridden single, draws more parallels to their debut LP Midcity than anything else. Could be wrong, but I don't think there's a single 'instrument' to be found here. All of the sounds derive from Industrial noise thrust through a grinder.

This departs from the welcoming mix of both sides, as found on their best work CLPPNG, and for that reason I feel the single is a little stale. Not bad, and with the promise of an absolutely insane concept album of which 'Baby Don't Sleep' will certainly fit amongst, the song could rise in appeal when the entire record drops in September. For now, rightfully so, it's lacking a bit in context. And while Diggs' rapping is on point as always, able to stay on pace when there's nothing to guide him along, the hook is lacking, to say the least. Scatterbrained production isn't anything Diggs can't handle, which is why the verses flow well, but when a catchy hook is needed, the lack of grounded means limits the options available.

How To Dress Well - Lost Youth / Lost You

How to Dress Well has traveled quite a ways to try his best in being a prominent figure in Pop and R&B. Almost like clockwork, each release has been less weird over time. Even if you don't have the time, a quick glance at his earlier EP album covers will show you the kind of distilled, and downright strange, Ambient Pop he used to make. It's also why his debut LP Love Remains is still his best to date, with each occurring LP being worst than the last. And if 'Lost Youth / Lost You' is any indication, that pattern may continue.

To me, it's a somewhat sad tale of someone who was incapable of striking it big without giving up the artistic identity he once lorded over. His aesthetic at the turn of the decade was palpable, unique, and original. Now, with clear production not filtered through muddy means dominating his latest single, How To Dress Well is sounding less and less like himself. To fans of his earlier material he's hardly recognizable, to fans of common Pop he could be a nice face that molds Pop and R&B with relative ease. There is something really, really generic about 'Lost Youth / Lost You,' and for the first time in his career it's not the lyrics. While those aren't groundbreaking, as expected, the production just echoes trends that perpetually make everything louder to account for the festival scene. There's times the latest single sounds like CHVRCHES had the lead singer been male and the romanticism been between the sheets and not out in public.

Nas & Erykah Badu - This Bitter Land

The Land, an Indie film set to be released this Friday that follows the trails of four inner-city teens and their run-in with an infamous crime boss, comes complete with a star-studded soundtrack executive produced by Nas. The soundtrack features many from Nas' Mass Appeal record label, along with Nosaj Thing, Machine Gun Kelly, and Erykah Badu. Talk about an eccentric list. It's the latter who appears alongside Nas on the soundtracks latest release, 'This Bitter Land,' starring in her role just as she does in the actual film. A budding, seductive seamstress, Badu's vocals ooze over the lonesome string arrangements, her unique voice makes for an interesting torch ballad that you typically don't hear.

And somehow, with how cinematic 'This Bitter Land' is, Nas' appearance is not slouch either. He's the yin to Badu's yang, showcases the troubles of inner-city life through dense visuals and grizzled bars, despite there not being a single drum in the whole orchestra. Out of the context of the film it does suffer from a bit of disillusioned excess, as you can't just pick this up and play it as an ordinary single. I'm sure, given the film's strong message, 'This Bitter Land' lashes out more of an emotional punch when playing during the movie. At the very least, it's reassuring to know the music holds up to the expectations a film soundtrack lays out for itself.

DJ Khaled - Holy Key

Not even Kendrick Lamar can save a DJ Khaled cut from tedium. 'Holy Key,' another single for the upcoming Major Key, an album filled to the brim with A-list artists, is just another in a long line of Hip-Hop put out by the producer/DJ that does absolutely nothing to advance the genre forward. His production style is beyond stale, stuck a decade in the past without any evolution to speak of, featuring the same tired cliches we heard during Hip-Hop's unquestionably worst era. 'Holy Key,' as expected, exists in the same light, relying on scratchy synths, lame hi-hats, and infinitely boring loops. It's a tacky beat for a time we'd like to forget.

For what it's worth, Kendrick does his thing on here, but it's too little too late. By the time he arrives the impenetrable boredom and monotony has already implanted itself in the song, forcing Lamar, by association, to be generic himself. Before King Kendrick arrives though, Big Sean takes the stage to try and one-up Khaled's weak beat. Thankfully, surprisingly to some, he does. Never one to fully discount the merits of Big Sean, I've always seen his rapping ability as a smidge above the majority opinion of bad. He's a mediocre lyricist. However, when put against able bodies he tends to exceed expectations, and he does here. But at the end of the day, 'Holy Key,' like the bulk of DJ Khaled's discography is shiny but pointless. It has all the flair with no weight to back it up.

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