Thursday, November 30, 2017

Deep Cuts: November '17

Welcome to the seventh installment of Deep Cuts, a new monthly segment highlighting standout tracks that weren't given a spotlight to blossom. All songs listed below have been released in the month of November on albums where they weren't previously released as a single. The only condition I've imposed upon myself is that no artist can have more than one song. 

Bjork - Saint
Utopia | Art Pop

Utopia has stirred a fair amount of controversy in the past week or so as the growing disparity between critical applause and fan discontentment becomes further apparent. As it stands, I'm tip-toeing the line, unsure of Utopia's worth, especially in the confines of Bjork's growing catalogue. The album, a hushed, tranquil daydream, aligns itself more with lazy days on the couch than car drives to work, yet it's exactly the latter that allowed 'Saint' to catch my eye. Simply calling Bjork and Arca's pet project beautiful would be an understatement, but on 'Saint' that simple description is apt. Unlike many other Utopia tracks that linger without a motive, 'Saint' travels through a painting's various hills and valleys. You really get the sense off the bat, as birds chirping and synth chimes dot the landscape. All whilst Bjork freely floats around the colors, recalling Julie Andrews' liberating spins in The Sound Of Music. A suitable comparison given the fact that 'Saint' is precisely about the power of music, and its able to cope or help in any certain situation. Bjork's scattered vocals, layered over one another, along with Arca's Post-Industrial stabs, evokes this harmonizing tone that represents Utopia wonderfully.

Yung Lean - Agony
Stranger | Ambient Pop

Something happened to Yung Lean between the release of Warlord and Stranger, and being that the former was a misshapen mess of lackluster ideas, I never stuck around to find out what. This made Stranger's sudden development that much more startling, as Yung Lean did something one would never expect; he returned to his Icelandic roots, rather than caving into traditional Hip-Hop norms. Few places is that seen better than on 'Agony,' a late album bloomer and one of Lean's more somber and serious tracks to date. In it, a piano, purposely out of tune, stumbles across solemnly as Lean confronts the psychosis that plagued his life's lowest portions. Unlike other singing efforts, Lean uses his poor vocals to accentuate the hopelessness, fear, and anxiety that tormented the time he returned home following another mental relapse. Combining the rickety instrumentation, along with the children's choir, and Lean's own depressive language ("Take a pill and go to sleep," "I'm alone in a hole in the ground"), and it's safe to see why 'Agony' ascends to such an emotional climax. It's his brain and talent, for once, working in synchronicity.

Fever Ray - Mama's Hand
Plunge | Electropop

Throughout The Knife's fantastically creative and diverse discography Karin Dreijer proved herself a renowned expert at teasing. One moment, she's flirting with magical fairy tales of nonsensical meaning ('Parade'), the next she's jauntily leaping over foreign strings on a track ('Kino') many believe is about rape. Her aggressive gender and sexual politics has always been at the forefront of her music, and that much was evident throughout Plunge. Take 'This Country's' "the perverts define my fuck history" or 'To The Moon And Back's' "I want to run my fingers up your pussy" as example A and B. However, the track featured on Deep Cuts has nothing of the sort, but it's that exact defiance that allows 'Mama's Hand' to make an even greater impact. When serious artists make serious music, the listener rests into expectations. When someone whose emotional backbone is exhibited as freely as our own personal lives, like Dreijer, the reflective moments like 'Mama's Hand' become all-to gripping. Here, over a synthetic jungle beat, Dreijer takes a nostalgia trip back to the icy confines of her youth in Sweden.

Cyhi The Prynce - Nu Africa
No Dope On Sundays | Conscious Hip-Hop

There's no denying the bloated length of No Dope On Sundays, Cyhi The Prynce's debut album long since in the making. With that piece of knowledge known, one could forgive the G.O.O.D. Music emcee for divulging a fair bit more than he needed to. However, what's perhaps most curious about No Dope On Sundays is that, unlike the majority of filler-filled albums, Prynce's best work comes in the middle. One such cut is 'Nu Africa,' a terrific combination and representation of G.O.O.D. Music ideals. Around the time of Cruel Summer and Watch The Throne, the Kanye West-led label was going through a transition period honoring the motherland. Black-rich artists like Q-Tip, Mos Def, and Hit-Boy were signed, along with Nigerian artists D'banj and Don Jazzy. 'Nu Africa' comes as a direct result of that, a self-righteous indictment that African-American's role in American culture has institutionalized them, if you will, and that Cyhi, and all those becoming further integrated in American ideals, should travel back to the motherland. You can hear it in the music, as deconstructed drums dance freely under Cyhi while Ernestine Johnson enters for a persuasive spoken word monologue convincing those of the migration.

Big K.R.I.T. - Miss Georgia Fornia
4eva Is A Mighty Long Time | Southern Hip-Hop

Safe to say, I never thought Big K.R.I.T. was capable of making such an ambitious, conceptually-cohesive project that functioned, simultaneously, as thoroughly enjoyable Southern Hip-Hop. But that's exactly what he did on 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time, an album that was assuredly a long time in the making. Deep cuts dot both sides of the double LP, from 'Big Bank' to 'Bury Me In Gold.' Out of all 4va's tracks though, none get imbued with that country fried Soul more than 'Miss Georgia Fornia,' a track that confronts Big K.R.I.T.'s decision to pursue his music career by leaving his home of Mississippi in search of fame. Now, considering Hip-Hop relevance, that was, unlike most's assumption of California, actually Georgia, and more specifically Atlanta's trend-savvy music scene. Clever title alert incoming; 'Miss(issippi) Georgia (Cali)fornia. As for the music itself, with Joi's heavy-handed Soul and a slab of southern instrumentation, comparisons to Nappy Roots comes forthright. That is, with an extra layer of emotion K.R.I.T. provides, one that comes around full circle by track's end with a mystifying orchestral rendition.

No comments:

Post a Comment