The Bruno Mars time machine is back and better than ever! He presented us with his first album since 2012’s ‘Unorthodox Jukebox,’ and it was an interesting ride. As Mars’ newest album, “24k Magic” brings us back to the classic funk 80’s and 90’s, and although it was a huge risk, he pulled it off to perfection.
The album starts off with the title track “24k Magic,” one of the best songs of 2016. It is upbeat and you will be dancing by the end of it.
This album does a great job incorporating the use of the slow jams like “Versace on the Floor” and “Calling All My Lovelies.” While “Versace on the Floor” is all around a fantastic song, bringing a sexiness and dreamy vibe to Mars’ music, “Calling All Lovelies” seems cheesy and dull, with weak lyrics and Mars calling the actress Halle Berry over the phone, implying she is one of his “lovelies.”
The album closes up with the songs “Finesse” and “Too Good to Say Goodbye,” and they are flawless. “Finesse” brings a Boyz II Men sound from the 90’s, reminding the listener of their classic song “Motown Philly.” “Too Good to Say Goodbye” may be one of the best tracks on the album. The electric sound from the 80’s delivered a powerful ending, making this album hard to say goodbye to.
After his 2015 success, ‘Beauty Behind the Madness,’ The Weeknd decided to change a few things around. First it was his haircut (no more dreadlocks!), next it was his sound. Over the past few years his music has been known for its moody R&B love stories, but The Weeknd made a change to a Michael Jackson type sound in his newest album ‘Starboy.’
The album begins with the title track, ‘Starboy’ ft. Daft Punk; the opener isn’t very special since it sounds much like his older music, but it provides the fans with a message that the old Weeknd is dead and a new one is here. This leads right into his new sound with the songs ‘Rockin’’ and ‘Secrets,’ where the album shines.
Combining his classic R&B with a Michael Jackson sounding chorus, he forces this new sound in the song “Rockin.” It is upbeat, flows quickly and The Weeknd allows you to hear a little of the new sound he is using. On the other hand, ‘Secrets’ flows perfectly start to finish combining R&B and the 80’s sound from ‘Rockin.’ The Weeknd slams us with his new sound throughout the whole song to the point where you’re in love with it and don’t want to go back to his older music.
The last song of the album, ‘I Feel It Coming,’ was released a week in advance. The Weeknd incorporated Daft Punk into this track as well, which is an interesting move considering this track flourishes his new 80’s sound while ‘Starboy’ reminisces for his older tunes. However, Daft Punk plays a major role in this song by adding to the electric background, and it was the perfect ending to a perfect album.
‘Starboy’ was a rare experience; the album was flawless and will easily be in talk for the album of the year.
Awaken, My Love!
From directing a television show, to starring in movies and releasing an album,
Donald Glover has had one of the best years of his life. Also known as Childish Gambino, Glover dropped his third studio album, “Awaken, My Love!” on Dec 2. Listeners had been waiting for a Gambino album since the speculations of a new project was teased back in September when he had a concert at Joshua Tree, Pharos. After that show, Glover did not publicize his album at all before it came out. His last album, ‘Because of the Internet,’ was very innovative in the hip-hop community, so fans of the artist had big expectations for this album. Gambino didn’t fail to impress, but some people have been disappointed because the album does not contain any rapping and is very indie. The genre of the music is of a funk, soul, rock album.
The first track of the album, ‘Me and Your Mama’, was one of the two singles that Gambino dropped prior to the release of the album. The track is a mix between the genres of rock and R&B which is a mix that may be strange, but works. Additionally, Gambino released a VR experience of the song that he performed at the concert back in September.
The other single released early is track six, ‘Redbone’, which is the most popular song of the album. This soulful track was previewed by listeners during his Pharos concert and has a groove to it that keeps you very intrigued. This song is about a light skinned black woman as the title of the song describes, because that is the definition of a redbone. The lyrics go into depth about how Gambino is breaking away from her by singing, “You wanna make it right, but now it’s too late. My peanut butter chocolate cake with Kool Aid.” The last line is a metaphor of how the two are different, but the same because the peanut butter and the cake are sophisticated, and the Kool Aid is a child’s drink, but they are all sweet. ‘Redbone’ debuted at number 75 on the Hot 100 charts by Billboard, and is undoubtedly one of the best songs of the album.
The final track of the album, ‘Stand Tall’ is a positive and uplifting track that is very slow and melodic. The main message of the song is to, “Keep all your dreams, keep standing tall. If you are strong you cannot fall.” Throughout the song, Gambino talks about the lessons that his parents give him and he has taken it to heart. ‘Stand Tall’ is a great track to end the album with and gives the listener empowerment to go out and chase their dreams.
“Awaken, My Love!” sold 101,000 copies in its first week (including streaming), which is higher than 2013’s “Because of the Internet.” This album is so out of left field and ahead of it’s time. Gambino’s new style without rapping is very different, and his inspirations are very visible in his work. This album is very artistic and is definitely worth a listen, but does not appeal to all listeners.
4 Your Eyez Only
Cole has done it again: The man from North Carolina put out one of the most influential albums of the year. The live instrumentation on the album is out of this world with his use of bells, guitar, bass, trumpets, violins and the piano. Prior to the album, Cole released a 40 minute video titled ‘Eyez’ which showed his listeners what was going on in the studio and how he makes music. “4 Your Eyez Only” contains ten songs, which is the least he’s released on any album, but the quality is just as good if not better on this album.
The most popular song on the album, ‘Deja Vu’ has a similar beat to Bryson Tiller’s ‘Exchange’ and Cole has two verses on it. The producers of the song, Velous, Boi-1da, and Vinylz voiced their opinions on the beat and believe that “The Mekanics” (consisting of 5 star and Foreign Teck) stole the beat and gave it to Tiller. The third song of “4 Your Eyez Only” is about how he wants a woman to leave her boyfriend for a normal guy, like him. People respect the song’s sound, which is similar to 2pac.
The seventh track off of the album is ‘Neighbors.’ The hook for the song is, “The neighbors think I’m selling dope,” which is based on a true story when Cole was recording his album in an upscale house in North Carolina. His white neighbors called the police because they thought drugs were being produced and sold in his house. The SWAT team raided the house when nobody was home and simply found the recording studio. On the second verse of the song Cole raps, “Some things you can’t escape; death, taxes and a racist society.” He goes on to say that it doesn’t matter how wealthy and popular you are, racism still persists.
The ninth song of the album, ‘She’s Mine, Pt. 2’ is rapped from his perspective about becoming a father. He talks about how great caring for his daughter is, and describes his daughter as a gift that God made which he has fallen in love with for the first time. Cole also goes into corporate greed, saying that Santa Claus represents greed in the world, as represented by Christmas and Black Friday during which people purchase things they can’t afford.
The album is projected to debut at the third highest selling (first week) of the year, only behind Drake and Beyoncé. Additionally, it is projected to outsell his last album, “2014 Forest Hills Drive.” It is all about a fictional person that changes throughout time and the last song reveals he died and made the album for his daughter, and the story parallels J. Cole’s life. The concept of the album is very unique and is also inspired by 2Pac’s fourth album, “All Eyez on Me.” Overall, “4 Your Eyez Only” is one of the strongest albums made to date.