Beyond The Surface

Dreamville's Ari shared two more singles this week, one entitled "Pedigree" and the other "No One", both soulful.
JID shared "Off Deez", a single that will be featured on his upcoming album, DiCaprio 2. The project is set to release this year on the artist's birthday, November 26th.
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On the 16th, Big KRIT released a short compilation entitled, Thrice X. The project is centered around finding God in isolation and in return not feeling indebted to anybody. Thrice X is available on major streaming platforms.
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Tyler, The Creator released a not so festive holiday EP, entitled Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr, Seuss' The Grinch. If you and your cousins like to make "Store runs" (side-eye) before joining the rest of the family for holiday dinner, this just may be the EP for your. The project is available on major streaming platforms.
This week Saba released "Beautiful Smile", a single about maintaining optimism when things are bad.

On the 16th, Anderson .Paak released his highly anticipated album, Oxnard and it did not disappoint. The Self-righteous revolutionary album is relevant and just on time. Paak, who is keen on using his instruments to make statements allows us to relate where we can to his firsthand experiences. Taboo subjects based in politics, spirituality, love, financial freedom, and more are discussed as the artist spill from his heart. The album is very much so a rock and funk influenced classic that can be played for many summers. Oxnard is available on major streaming platforms.

Beyond The Surface

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On the 8th, smittened Smino, released his second studio album, NOIR, an ode to his "life being a black ass movie". The versatile rapper delivers scatted verses that tell-all about his highs and lows as of late, mentioning partying, casual relationships, heartache and hardship. NOIR is full of timeless sounds, from jazz and caribbean influences to galactic effects and latin flavor. The album is available on all streaming platforms.
Anderson .Paak released his second single from his upcoming album, "Who R U?", which takes on a much different sound than "Tints". Both singles will be featured on his upcoming album Oxnard which is available for pre-order now.

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Upcoming rapper, Kash Doll released a visual for her new single, "Ice Me Out". The single is separate from the rapper's Brat Mail mixtape, released in March.
Dreamville, Princess, Ari Lennox released two jazzy love songs this week. The artist, known for her candid approach, sings about wanting to "pull up" and get choked out-- during sex of course. She makes it's sound so dreamy though. "Grandpa" and "40 Shades of Choke" are available on major platforms along with "Whipped Cream".
Artist: Khalid
"Better"
Album: Suncity
On Things Could Be Worse rising Hip-Hop artist, Alex Aff speaks on life post-transition from Durham to Charlotte, NC-- a move made in hopes of "getting rich quick". Instead, the artist was met with obstacles and resolved friendships, but in turn used love, and the "little things" as his solace. Things Could Be Worse is self-recorded and produced, therefore takes on Aff's signature raw, coasting sound. The album is available on major stream platforms.
Known Hip-Hop Producer, 9th Wonder brought out the Jamala Squad with the recently released 9th Wonder Presents: Jamla is the Squad II, a sequel to part one, released in 2014. The project, mostly Hip-Hop, is dense in appearances, featuring the likes of J. Cole, Rapsody, Busta Rhymes and to my surprise, King Draft.

Beyond The Surface

Anderson Paak's "TINTS" visual dropped earlier this week. The song will be featured on his upcoming album, Oxnard, set to drop on November 16th.
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On the 26th, upcoming soul singer, Herizen, released an experimental album entitled Come Over To My House. The album is her first official EP and on it the hipster displays her musical versatility. Herizen metaphorically discusses day-to-day obstacles in relating to one's self and others. Come Over To My House is available on major streaming platforms.
Joji shares the official visual for his Ballads 1 single, "Wanted U". Like his music, the "Wanted U' visual is almost transcendental.
The official visual for Reason's "Situations" dropped last month. The single is off the TDE artist's latest album, There You Have It.
On October 17th, Asian Doll, released So Icy Princess months after the trap queen became a part of rapper, Gucci Mane's label, 1017 Brick Squad Records. So Icy Princess is the rising rap star's proclamation as the first lady of the label and reiteration that she is the hardest "Doll", ahead of other female artists with the stage surname. The album is true to the trap genre; for the most part it is upbeat and aggressive. Asian Doll raps mostly about her South Atlanta roots, desire to get money, and street beefs. So Icy Princess is available on all streaming platforms.
Teyana Taylor released a super intimate visual for her single "Gonna Love Me" which is one of eight Keep That Same Energy tracks.
Lord JaH-Monte released a simple visual to accompany his single, "Uber Uptown" from his recently released album #BestRapperCLT (Real Life 3).

Beyond The Surface

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Two days ago, on the 26th of October, Mick Jenkins released his sixth studio album, and it is nothing short of a masterpiece. The album, entitled Pieces of a Man, commences with jazz feels and open mic dialogue, both of which shape the rest of the album. On Pieces of a Man, The artist uses his poetic flow to speak on the purges he has been experiencing (mostly by way of resolved friendships). He also elaborates on how he has chosen to fill the fresh voids with extreme focus on himself, relationship, and craft-- and a side of recreational narcotics. Mick, rough around the edges (evident in his delivery, "bout that life" narratives and grungier music choices), manages to be so without using misogynistic terms-- a gesture I find honorable, making the album title Pieces of a Man fitting. Be sure to check out his single. Check out his single "Bruce Brunner". Pieces of a Man is available on all major platforms.
Earlier this week, Justine Skye shared a heartfelt visual for her single "Build", featuring Arin Ray, in which she speaks to a woman's burning desire to craft the perfect man worthy of love, respect and time.
Jamila Woods shares the visual for her single "Giovanna", a self-praise anthem. In the visual she channels various parts of herself through embracing aspects of her deeply rooted culture.
NAO's Saturn dropped on the 26th as promised. The album's title is symbolic of the lessons life's has to offer-- and in NAO's case by way of romance, thus the album is centered around the concept of using love as a learning tool and growth gauge. Sonically there is a nice balance between slow and up-tempo tracks, and of course NAO sounds great. The album is definitely a must-add to the vibiest of playlist. Be sure to check out the "Make It Out Alive" visual. Saturn is available on major streaming platforms.
Spacedad20xx and Cuzo Key's collaborative album, Universal Player, released on the 25th , is the epitome of southern rap-- but with twist; the collection of "love" songs is immersed in futurism, easily making Universal Player something to roll-up and ride to, or just chill. It has an ebb and flow of lo-fi instrumentation and wide ranging melodies. The album is available on all streaming platforms.
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Rising star, Joji, released his second studio album this year, Ballads 1 and 'yes' is really all I want to say. The artist of Japanese-Australian heritage is well versed in many genres and eras of music, as it can be heard. He fluidly runs together psychedelic rock, pop, RnB and trap and I'm in awe. On Ballads 1 the artist speaks from the giving end of selfless love, longing to be on the receiving end, if not today than in another lifetime. The artist sings his memoirs of inadequacy as he collects his thing to go. Ballads 1 is available on major streaming platforms.

Beyond The Surface

On the 12th, upcoming RnB singer, Summer Walker, released her first full studio project entitled Last Day of Summer. Summer, who makes music for the fluidly feminine, type-A, hopeless romantic woman that will flip the script with little notice, reveals her own psychological views of how love should go. The young artist relates to many women in her desires to be free in love, not leashed to societal or superficial standards. She also presses the taboo topic of role reversal on the album's first single, "Girls Need Love", wanting it to be socially acceptable for women to assume the role of the aggressor if they choose. Overall the album gives off trap-soul vibes. Last Day of Summer is available to all platforms.
Jay Pluss, released his single "On One"exactly a week ago, just months after his project, Triple Blackness. On his new single, Jay (+) talks about laying low and mapping out his major comeback.
On the 25th, Amber Mark shared the official visual for her feel-good track "Put You On" which features rap artist DRAM.
Known soul singer, Daniel Caesar, shows us his wild side with his sexy new single "Who Hurt You?".
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Khalid released his second album, Suncity days ago on the 21st. The album, seamless all around, is an open letter to the upcoming star's hometown El Paso, Texas, its latin influence sprinkled through out the album in various ways. On Suncity, Khalid celebrates being a light. What can be seen as a plague of misunderstanding is actually a gift. The singer celebrates finding the correlation between life, experience, growth and love. The album is another fusion project, off-centered between RnB and Pop on the genre spectrum. Suncity is available on all streaming platforms.
Lord Jah-Monte OGBON, brought us more "King Callis" vibes with the release of #BestRapperCLT (Real Life 3). While the rapper has chosen to go by his birth name, he remains the same in essence. The name change was essentially the embodiment of integration; the rapper continues to rhyme about his origin, destination, and everything in between. On #BestRapperCLT, Lord Jah-Monte talks about simultaneously navigating different avenues with one eye open, carefully avoiding pitfalls of the past. The lyricist is aggressive in his delivery of threatening punch lines over delicately classic lo-fi beats-- definitely a vibe.
Lost, released on the 18th, is compilation of Brent Faiyaz mixed emotions. The RnB artist is a product of a brutal environment, yet remains in tune with his emotional body. On Lost, Brent unbottles his unsettling feelings about the space between his current position and end goal. In the process of sorting through those feels, life continues to happen to Faiyaz, causing his anxiety to boil over and seep into other areas of his life. The troubled artist sings about his fear of "opps" or gold-diggers, while deeply longing to dedicate himself to a woman that will love him at his lowest. The contemporary project has 90's RnB and rock undertones and signature euphoric transitions. Lost is available on major streaming platforms.
RnB artist Amerie, who has been missing in action, has resurfaced with a double side album, Side A entitled 4AM Mulholland and Side B entitled After 4AM. On the double sided project, Amerie gives way to the idea of loving now and thinking later. Sometimes that means rehashing a failed relationship, dropping our bags ("hoes") at the door, and always ignoring the possibilities of failure. While both sides are about the same thing, they take on different sounds. I prefer Side B for its fluidity and natural tones. The album is available on all streaming platforms.

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Beyond The Surface

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On the 12th, London turned U.S. RnB star, Ella Mai released her self-titled debut album, which is solely about love. The acronym "ELLA" is revealed as the album progresses to highlight emotion, lust, love, and awareness as progressive stages of romance. Ella uses ballads and two-part harmonies to address her short-comings and offerings-- made privy by conscious involvement, and she celebrates being loved regardless of imperfection. The singer brings light to the idea of using love as a healing mechanism, understanding that healing through love is only possible when all parties surrender their need to control and embrace vulnerability-- a twin flame concept. Obviously the singer is a hopeless romantic. The album, well-written, cohesive, and diverse, is ultimately a classic RnB album made simple. Ella Mai is available on all streaming platforms.
Earlier this week, Mahalia shared the official visual for her single, "Surprise Me". The visual is collection of choreographed candids of a seemingly great love, while the song is Mahalia's acceptance of the thought-to-be love as an illusion. The single is one of five on Mahalia's EP, Seasons.
Longtime RnB artist, Nivea has returned over a decade later after being sidelined by the industry. The diamond in the ruff was the first chosen to unveil the raw truths behind her career coming to a sudden halt years ago on BET's web docu-series, "Finding". Shortly after its airing on September 21st, Nivea released her single, "Circles" which is a sure RnB hit.
Champagne Eyes is AlunaGeorge's third studio project and also a concise personification of the divine feminine becoming aware of herself. Aluna eludes to the patriarchal idealism of the divine feminine, speaking on the expectation to be perfect, "emotional", dependent and "wholesome". The artist classifies her work as RnB/soul but there are definitely some stylistic fusions present in her music. The EP is available on all streaming platforms.

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Beyond The Surface

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On September 21st, upcoming RnB singer, Mahalia released her second studio project, Seasons. The project is a long time coming with the debut of Never Change being over 3 years ago. Mahalia has managed to stay relevant and grow her fan base through collaborative works, the steady release of singles, touring and social media. Her EP, Seasons is all about "love"-- except maybe it is really about an unhealthy attachment. The collection of well written songs highlight common feelings of inadequacy and abandonment, and the tendency to ignore them for the sake of maintaining a connection. Seasons is available on all streaming platforms.
About 2 weeks ago, Dreamville artist, JID released "151 Rum", a track about his reality that highlights lyricism and flow. The rapper also made an appearance at the COLORS studio where he debuted another single, "Working Out". JID's latest album, The Never Ending Story dropped last March. Since then the artist has been pretty low-key, occasionally mentioning studio time on twitter in between live performances. I'm predicting the release of a full project within the next year.
This week Kelela released a remixed version of her October 2017 album, Take Me Apart.
In September, Nigerian Native, Obi released a groovy afro-rap track entitled "Mood". On the song he and featured artist, Lasgidi air lustful experiences shared with various women.
Anderson Paak and Kendrick Lamar team up to gift us with a funky hit about maintaining a private life within the limelight.
Upcoming soul singer, Hunnah, finally shares the official visual for her single, "Think About It". The release of unresolved feelings is visually represented by ridding herself of the physical reminders.
On the 4th Jaden Smith released his trap-techno single "GOKU", the Dragon Ball Z reference serves as a metaphor for Jaden's personal growth and life progression-- a message I can get behind.
Justine Skye's "Build", released just days ago, speaks on a woman's burning desire to manifest the man of her dreams in place of men that disappoint and waste time. Justine vows to channel her energy into building herself up instead. The track features upcoming artist, Arin Ray, who can also be heard on Earthgang's latest song "Stuck".
Earlier this week, singer-rapper IAMDDB shared the official visual for her single, "Kurr£ncy" which is one one of 8 tracks on her album Flightmode, Vol. 4, released in June.
Soul singer, Elle Varner has returned with the release of her single "Love You Blind". It comes as no surprise that the song is about love, specifically not rush into it to avoid deceit, but the country sound the track takes on is certainly unexpected. While this sound seems unusual coming from Elle, I've decided to see it as one of her many branches.

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