Thursday, September 22, 2016

Loosies Of The Week, September 16-22

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. Can't go a week without some more Bubblegum Trap, especially relevant since it marks the week D.R.A.M. gets his first #1 Rap hit with 'Broccoli.' Also got some old ElectroPop heads returning to some mediocrity. 

The Weeknd - Starboy

Well, everybody's favorite mainstream Pop crooner is back, and *gasp*, he's cut his hair. The bulk of Starboy's discussion, the new album from The Weeknd set to drop in November, centers around the iconic hair being cut. And in our world where marketing, branding, and identity lords over all Pop music, this is a big deal. Less obvious, but more important in regards to the music, this shift in style signals a shift in the music as well. How drastic though? Not so much, if 'Starboy,' the lead single featuring Daft Punk, is any indication. In reality, the largest change has to do with the French House duo being involved, but even the production here, while certainly more Daft Punk Pop-oriented, still takes a great deal from The Weeknd's earlier Pop material.

However, that's not reducing the quality. This is a really solid Pop song. Not as good as 'The Hills,' but that seemed like a farce to hit the charts anyways. 'Starboy' is more comparable, as should be the case, with 'Can't Feel My Face.' And while I appreciated that song, it got annoying extremely quickly. Let's hope that fate doesn't reach 'Starboy,' because there is no denying this is going to be all over the radio. Much like Daft Punk's recent work with Pharrell on 'Get Lucky' and 'Lose Yourself To Dance,' this pairing is destined for the top, and the song's content and style seems to indicate that. The atmosphere is darker, more ominous, but still catchy enough to be enjoyed on a grand scale, something, I feel, 'The Hills' squandered as it focused purely on the atmosphere. Needless to say, The Weeknd's not going anywhere.

Danny Brown - Really Doe

When Atrocity Exhibition's tracklist dropped everyone's eyes fixated on 'Really Doe,' and for some very big, obvious reasons. While there's other tracks containing some features strewn about Danny Brown's highly anticipated third LP, none of them contained the high-profile names all contained within 'Really Doe.' Two TDE members, Kendrick Lamar, who's been on a ridiculous feature streak, and Ab-Soul, along with Earl Sweatshirt all come through here to help Brown beef up his album rollout. And if 'When It Rain' and 'Pneumonia' wasn't enough to convince you on Atrocity Exhibition's potential greatness, 'Really Doe' will certainly do so.

For fans who adore Brown's left field antics, 'When It Rain' satisfied that thirst. 'Really Doe' strips that back, focusing on a single beat curated by Black Milk that loops for one of 2016's ultimate posse cut. Similarities are obviously going to be drawn to A$AP Rocky's '1 Train,' and while the LP's third single doesn't take it that far, it definitely could have. Each emcee, yes even Ab-Soul, comes equip with an above solid verse, to the point where it's arguable if Danny's is the worst out of the bunch. The last two, Lamar and Sweatshirt, are undoubtedly the standouts though, with the former presenting yet another twist on his often used flow (see: a less extreme 'Vice City'), as the latter uses aggressive vision and superb lyricism to cap the track off nicely. In reality, what's lacking the most here is Lamar's hook, which really acts as a sequencer more than anything else, since he's hardly saying anything to begin with.

Shamir - Tryna Survive

Shamir's range is wonderful. If you've only known him for 'On The Regular,' be prepared to throw your expectations out the window. No, that's not because Shamir all the sudden made a serious Hip-Hop track. In fact, it's because he didn't make a Hip-Hop track at all. I'll be the first to admit to not knowing Shamir was anything more than a trendy come-up in the LGBTQ Hip-Hop community, but 'Tryna Survive,' a quaint little Indie Pop track made specifically for a short film created by his friends, seems to indicate his strong suits aren't just selective. He's got a bright, bubbly voice that fits the simple, but super delectable production, making 'Tryna Survive' an ultimate end-of-summer montage track.

Made for the short film Sheep Plays Wolf, which stars an ill-tempted adolescent who, we find out, was actually helping those she was hurting, 'Tryna Survive' fits her ideology of helping those overcome their fears by experiencing things out of their routine. Content aside, which, let's be honest, is quite cheesy, Shamir makes this song with his wonderful little melodies and bubbly voice. There is absolutely nothing special about this song, but it's that inherent simplicity, making an Indie Pop song with no over-complications, that allows 'Tryna Survive' to succeed. Could've benefitted from being a tad shorter, but nonetheless, the happy-go-lucky hook and Shamir's infectious verses make the little throwaway something much more.

Tycho - Epoch

With each new Tycho release it seems the San Fran IDM producer seeps further and further back into obscurity. At this point it really seems like he's appeasing his diehard fans, of which he has enough to satisfy a steady output, without actually diversifying his catalog in an attempt to usher in more listeners. 'Epoch,' the latest single off his TBA 2016 LP, might be his most dull, uninspired, and by-the-books yet. He's been no part of a visualized progression, only continuing to make the exact same song as many times as he can. Now, his earlier LP's, namely Dive, thrived because his sound was fresh, the ideas relatively unique as Hansen was still trying to prove himself. On 'Epoch,' and even the latest single 'Division' to some extent, Tycho just seems to be breezing by off his set in stone ideas.

While I can criticize him for doing so, it's not as if the music is awful. He's been regurgitating ideas for over half a decade now because it works. He's the painter who creates pictorial landscape after pictorial landscape. Pleasant to look at but devoid of substance. He also works the divide between oddball IDM players and those set to the tune of the ravers, fitting a mold that's otherwise lacking in the wide-spread Electronic genre, which allows him to garner fans without doing much work. And yes, what many say about Tycho is true; his music is perfect for studying. So if you dig music best set to furnish the far reaches of your earlobe, causing as little disruption as possible, 'Epoch' is another track for you. Tycho never tries to grab your attention, and 'Epoch,' being one of his most uninterested tracks yet, fits that mold swimmingly.

The Cool Kids - Running Man

The Cool Kids are back!...and no one seems to care. A shame for sure, but maybe a sign of changing times. It seems like just yesterday 'Black Mags' released and headed right up that new, hip, fresh Internet alley with a brand of Hip-Hop that didn't try anything new but was inherently cool by design. Kind of a shock to pinpoint 'Black Mags' to its original release in 2007, right alongside M.I.A.'s 'Paper Planes,' two singles I lump together in my mushed memory. A few somewhat successful singles here and there, including 'Pennies' which appeared on the NBA 2k9 soundtrack, but without an appeal that could extend to a full-length LP, their only attempt coming far too late on 2011's When Fish Ride Bicycles, The Cool Kids unfortunately turned into a fading fad. Nothing more than a pivot point in Hip-Hop history.

They're not alone either. While both Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish arose from Illinois and Michigan respectively, their style of Hip-Hop could be closest associated to an updated form of the Bay Area's Hyphy, with The Pack drawing nearest to their style. One such member of said group was Lil B, who went on to have a long Internet-fueled career by force. But even he's now gone by the wayside, leaving the South to fend for car speakers. So while 'Running Man' has failed to reignite that spark, it's not all that bad a song. The lack of attention it's gotten still quite odd considering it adds a massive, Trap-flavored bass to its low end while still maintaining their trademarked sound. The personalities are there, production variety too, just not fan interest. For them, and any type of hype-track though, the bread and butter lies in the hook, and 'Running Man' doesn't have all that catchy of one, which is certainly not helping its cause.

NxWorries - Lyk Dis

NxWorries is the short and sweet collaborative team of Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge. Last year they dropped their EP Link Up & Suede. This, as I'm sure many of you know, was before .Paak blew up with his recent feature appearances and his mostly wonderful Malibu LP. Knxwledge, an underground producer, has released a treasure trove of beat tapes for the better part of this decade. His work has gained him some recognition but, similar to his quiet personality, the beatsmith hasn't garnered much of an acclaimed following. This, despite actually producing 'Momma' off Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly, which just so happened to be one of my favorite beats off that project. Anyways, the duo is soon to release their debut LP Yes Lawd this October, and 'Lyk Dis' is the third officially released single from this affair.

As far as Neo-Soul goes, it's solid, but not outstanding. Both artists do their thing, but never go above and beyond. While 'Lyk Dis' is surely rather uninteresting to me, Yes Lawd itself will certainly be an intriguing affair, if only for the fact to see how .Paak handles production not 'designed-for-.Paak.' Malibu, despite having a wide variety of producers, had a very similar vibe throughout that certain artists, like Domo Genesis and Mac Miller, have trend-hopped onto by bringing .Paak on their projects. Here it's just .Paak and Knxwledge, which given the latter's almost nonexistent quality control, might be a mixed bag of goodies. For a laid back R&B cruise though, 'Lyk Dis' will surely please. It doesn't wow, startle, or try anything new, but it's pleasant, and sometimes that's all it takes. 18 songs of that though, we'll just have to wait until October to see how that holds up.

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