_ Welcome to The Best of Last Week. Darren and I have decided to expand New Music Friday (on Monday) a bit by allowing ourselves to choose from sources of audibility other than Spotify. This could include SoundCloud, YouTube, live show or who knows what else. Here is the best of what last week's releases had to offer..._
”Believe” - Allan Kingdom
The Minnesota rapper has been making some serious noise in the past few years. With his Future Memoirs project, guest stint on Kanye’s “All Day”, and his crazy good live show (personal co-sign here Kingdom dropped Northern Lights last week. The rapper and executive producer Plain Pat's work has found a special place in my earholes. Youseewhatididthere?
Their best look comes on “Believe”. Plain Pat’s minimalist production bumps. Filled with 90s era synth sounds, a seething guitar riff and a crazy drum finish, he reminds you of why he blew up after producing Cudi’s early work. Meanwhile, Kingdom rants about the work did to get to this point and the people left behind. It’s thoughtful and arrogant at the same time. Lines like “It's like I believe that anyone can be special/ They called me naive but I believe anyone can be settled/ I took all my dreams and then I got what I got/ Fresher every season watch my problems get washed” are the best example of a confident young rapper on the come up.
”Love Somebody” - St. Lucia
Jean-Philip Grobler AKA St. Lucia, the Brooklyn based synth pop act continues to make jams that would be perfect for rolling credits after a John Hughes film. “Love Somebody” is no exception, highlighted by its tropical synth production and crisp vocals. It starts slow but explodes about halfway through. Somewhere Phil Collins, Sting and Judd Nelson are smiling as they listen to this earworm in some sleazy jazz hall.
”Blue Bucket of Gold” - Gallant ft. Sufjan Stevens
Gallant’s cover of Sufjan Stevens’ track off the excellent Carrie and Lowell give it new life. Gallant emotes as effectively with his voice as Sufjan does with his production and that’s the highest compliment I can give. It’s pure vocal mastery. Listen to that closing note another time if you disagree.
"Lazarus" - David Bowie, performed by Michael C. Hall
Late submission here. It may not be this week's best but this song -- and its sadly foreshadowing lyrics -- will live on forever. Thank you, David Bowie. May you rest in peace.
Kataja’s Pick of the Week: “Reaper” - Sia
Song I Loved Last Week: "Fresh Prince" - Cousin Stizz
With all due respect to Michael Christmas, Sammy Adams, Moufy, Mr. Lif & Edan, Boston hasn't had a hip-hop act like Cousin Stizz since Gang Starr (RIP Guru). The Dorchester's rappers scarce production and chill delivery is hypnotic. "Fresh Prince" is off the critically acclaimed Suffolk County and was stuck in my head all last week.
How unreal is that opening line? "I'M THE FUCKIN FRESH PRINCE! THINK MY NAME IS ILL SMITH"! To put it into Masshole terms, this kid is colder than the storm of '78. He's wicked good at rapping.
The Best of Last Week: “Real Friends” - Kanye West ft. Ty Dolla $ign
After an odd 2015 with tracks like “Only One”, “FourFiveSeconds” and “All Day” and the bad-not-good “Facts”, it’s nice to have Kanye back making stellar music! If we can believe Kim, G.O.O.D. Fridays are back and Yeezy came out firing with the excellent "Real Friends"*.
The song is the spiritual cousin of 808’s & Heartbreaks’ opener “Welcome to Heartbreak” in its brooding resentment of fame and its disastrous effect on his relationships. “Heartbreak” throws couplet after couplet of his regrets (“Dad cracked a joke, all the kids laughed/But I couldn't hear him all the way in first class” is still the most poignant line), “Real Friends” lays out the difficulties he has with making time for family reunions and communions or catching up with friends (“I'm a deadbeat cousin, I hate family reunions/Fuck the church up, I'm drinkin' at the communion/Spillin’ free wine, now my tux is ruined”). But this new one goes deeper by providing an original perspective by highlighting the two-way street nature of maintaining relationships. While he deserves hsi fair share of blame, the jealousy of his friends and family changed them for the worse (“I had a cousin that stole my laptop that I was fuckin' bitches on/Paid that n---a 250 thousand just to get it from him”).
It's best characterized in the second verse, a pseudo conversation with a past companion, performed by Ty Dolla $ign. They both illustrate their fractured relationship:
Dolla:Couldn’t tell you much about the fam though I just showed up for the yams though
Ye: Maybe 15 minutes, took some pictures with your sister Merry Christmas, then I'm finished, then it's back to business
Time and money change people. Be careful what you wish for with this Powerball bonanza…
*I’ll hold off on discussing “No More Parties in LA” ft. K.Dot because it will probably be next week’s Best of Last Week.