#PressPlay: 8 Under the Radar 2018 Album Releases that are Indefinitely Worth the Listen

#PressPlay: 8 Under the Radar 2018 Album Releases that are Indefinitely Worth the Listen

As we are transitioning into the 4th quarter of 2018, the time to sort through my music to select favorites for the annual Musical Year in Review is quickly approaching. There have been quite a few mainstream projects on the radar, however, I’m taking this as a chance to to acknowledge the projects that have seemingly gone undetected

Read More

Album Review | At What Cost - GoldLink

An easy contender for my blooming list of  S U M M E R  2 K 1 7 favorites, D'Anthony Carlos, professionally known as GoldLink, has fully emerged on the music scene with the release of his debut studio album, At What Cost, which is only 2 years shy of his latest mix tape,And After that, We Didn't Talk. Ever sinceThe God Complex mix tape in 2014, GoldLink has been giving us an earful with quality sound.

Hailing from the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area-casually referred to as the DMV-GoldLink's sonic profile seems to be progressively unique by default, given the solid traditions of where he was born. Infusing more of a go-go sound this time around, this album is rich with the culture of the rapper's hometown. It's not an upbeat tempo go-go like BackYard Band or New Impressions, but it does have an element that makes it feel like the humid summertime in Washington, D.C. Darius Moreno, the young illustrator who is responsible for the album artwork, adds a kind of playful and imagination ridden twist on the common vices of the industry (money, cars, and women). I like Moreno's use of an artistic style that is somewhat reminiscent of 90's hip-hop culture, an aesthetic I can definitely appreciate as someone who grew up in that era.

From the surprise cameo from 90's R&B icon, Mya, to that magnetic, ongoing bond he seems to have with Montreal producer/DJ, KAYTRANADA, the collaborative efforts on this album are stellar and probably is the backbone of what makes this album so great. A host of mainstream and underground names in the industry came together to confirm the re-play value of the whole compilation. It's also amazing that he was able to hunt down artists, some of whom have literally been in hiding for decades, and like the findings pure Egyptian gold, resurrect the voices of the dead to create a masterpiece.

Not quite mid point on the track list, the interlude on track 4, Hands On Your Knees ft. Koyayi, sets the tone for this album. Lights low with a flavored combination of blue, red, and green bulbs flickering, a disco DJ in a semi-lit corner of the room, spinning and hyping the crowd filling a Friday night house party in the basement is the image I'm able to paint in my head. Ultimately, this interlude sets the tone for the listening experience; it's something like being in a time capsule of sorts that allows the listener time travel privileges, which captures those nostalgic ideas and brings them to life on this record.

A staple track and one of my favorites on this record seems to be Crew, a melodic mid tempo, cruising-in-the-summer tune featuring Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy. It's such a fun homage to their common home arena, radiating more of that home sweet home vibe that can be sensed throughout the album. My other favorites are Some Girl featuring Steve Lacy, which I love even more than Crew, and Meditation with Ms. Jazmine Sullivan's velvet voice blessing the hook. 

Overall, there's a very present and positive, feel good energy that circulates so effortlessly, and every transition, track, and feature compliment that flow, as well as the story telling aspect of this album, exceptionally well. He continues to prove that he rides his own wave. 

Read more about Darius Moreno: Darville, Jordan. "Darius Moreno Is The Artist Who Wants To Bring The DMV To The World." The Fader. published 24 March 2017. accessed 4 April 2017. 

Album Review | Dangerous Woman - Ariana Grande {#MusicMayChallenge no.22}

Artist: Ariana Grande
Album: Dangerous Woman (2016)

Ms. Grande has been consistently winning our hearts for quite a few years now. Before she gained mainstream attention, she was posting covers via YouTube. It wasn't until 2012, when I heard her cover of 'Emotions' by Mariah Carey, who just so happens to be one of my all time favorite musicians, that I became an immediate fan. Her good girl image accompanied with a powerful, angelic voice and incredible vocal range make it hard to deny or ignore her talent. 

Dangerous Woman was released a few days ago and I was pleasantly surprised. Even with a title as alluring as "Dangerous Woman", the content on this record still manages to have an innocent touch overall, but she's has earned her right to loosen up, be sexy from time to time, yet still keep it tasteful. I find it rather endearing that this album still plays on the safe side, but I don't think it's her style to dive too deep into sexuality, which I respect. She's nothing like what society expects a former Disney star to be and that's another thing that I've always really liked about her.

On all her projects, she tends to collaborate very well with other artist, even the ones with a completely different sound. For instance, never in a million years would I expect a Lil' Wayne verse to work on 'Let Me Love You', but that song is actually one of my favorite tracks from this album. Leave Me Lonely, as well as 'Side to Side' , were also tracks where the artist's spot on the song was cohesive. My opinion on the song 'Everyday' is a bit bias, because I don't too much like Future, but it's still a decent song. All in all, the collaborations made the album.

Favorite tracks: 
  • 'Sometimes'
  • 'Let Me Love You' ft. Lil Wayne, 
  • 'Dangerous Woman'
Dangerous Woman is an album I can tolerate to listen to on repeat. Although I can appreciate her direction as an artist, I still feel like she may be holding back, like there's a few soulful layers we haven't seen yet. If that's the case, she definitely has a bright future ahead of her. One thing I've learned in regards to longevity in the music industry is that it's never good to give too much too soon, and being that she so young, I'm convinced there's more in store for her audience.

Follow #TheSkyBoxSuite on Twitter + IG: @TheSkyBoxSuite | @ChymereA

Album Review | Chapters - Yuna {#MusicMayChallenge no.21}

Artist: Yuna
Album: Chapters (2016)

Singer/songwriter and self-taught musician, Yunalis Mat Zara'ai (professionally known as Yuna) has been crossing cultures and pushing labels with her acoustic sound since the dinosaur days of Myspace. As long as I've been a fan, I've never been able to put her in a restricted box, because her music is so experimental. Essentially, the goal was to make express creatively without losing herself and I think she's been able to accomplish that. Even now with a new record out and an evolving buzz around her name, Chapters is a record that gets back to the basics of creating music for the sake of music. 

Last month, 'Crush' featuring Usher fell on my radar and I anticipated the comeback. Although there was a project released in Malaysia last year, Yuna has been working in silence for the past couple of years with subtle appearances on different projects. Her discography is amazing, so I say this carefully, but Chapters may just be her best solo album yet. It has such an incredible and consistent vibe. 

Favorite songs: 

  • Best Love 
  • Crush' ft. Usher
  • Used to Love You ft. Jhene Aiko
There are a few repeating patterns I've noticed in the lyrical content of her songs, one being unrequited love. I can only assume this to be a personal topic and it's where I relate to her the most. She also talks about self-love personal growth rather frequently. Particularly, tracks like 'Places to Go', 'Poor Heart', and 'Used to Love You' from this album are reflections of the heart that has been through the trenches, but haven't given up on love-more importantly, self-yet. 

Follow me on Twitter: @TheSkyBoxSuite | @ChymereA