Taylor Swift – ‘Lover’ Album Review

Taylor Swift, for the past 13 years, has been a music sensation. She has evolved from a country-songwriter to a superstar pop icon. Her fifth album, 1989, marked this transition and it is not only her most successful album with great hits such as “Blank Space” and “Shake It Off”, but it considered her greatest. Her next album, Reputation, showed her more adult side as she had more mature and more adult songs.

For her seventh album, she continued to explore her more adult themes such as exploring relationship pain with “The Archer”, and “Death By a Thousand Cuts”. These songs show the pain that can result from heartbreak and relationships to friendships gone wrong.

 However, there was a lot of variety with this album as she had beautiful love ballads such as “Lover”, catchy pop tunes that are nice throwbacks such as “Paper Rings”, “ME!”, and “I Think He Knows”. These songs are flashbacks to the more lighthearted jams of the albums Red, and 1989. Also, there were songs that were about society, such as “You Need to Calm Down”, where she called out those protesting against the LBGTQIA, and “The Man”, which calls out the gender roles of men and women.

Every song on this album is great except for “I Forgot You Existed”, which is a more folky song that does not work with her vocals. However, the rest of the album is a masterpiece with the catchy vocals of “You Need to Calm Down”, the throwback songs like “Paper Rings”, and somber but beautiful songs such as “The Archer”. This is her second-best album behind 1989.

Richest Tracks: “The Archer”, “Paper Rings”, “You Need to Calm Down”, “Daylight”

Worst Tracks: “London Boy”, “I Forgot You Existed”

Rating: 9/10

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Rapsody – ‘Eve’ Album Review

When music fans discuss the best female rappers in the game right now, there are three that get mentioned the most: Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Nicki Minaj. While those women should be respected for making female hip-hop as mainstream as it is today, there are other women who are miles above in their pen game and overall quality of music. Some of these rappers that come to mind are Tierra Whack, Rico Nasty, Little Simz, and Rapsody. Four women who have shined the brightest in my opinion with their lyricism, topics, and flow that the “big three” lack. I first became aware of Rapsody when she released Laila’s Wisdom back in 2017 even though she had been in the rap game for almost ten years at that point. The album was a jazzy and soulful rap project that ended up being one of my favorite albums of that year. With Little Simz’s GREY Area being my favorite project of 2019 so far, could Rapsody deliver something to compete with her?

While Eve is no GREY Area, Rapsody solidifies herself as one of the great rappers, not just female rappers, of her era. The album pays homage to numerous African-American female figures throughout history such as Nina Simone, Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, and Sojourner Truth. The overall theme that brings these tracks together is embracing black beauty and empowering the black woman. It is without a doubt that African-American women are the most marginalized group of people in the United States. Even with our previous First Lady being an African-American woman, the average African-American woman was still being suppressed and censored from having a voice within our society. For 2019, however, this project is another phenomenal way to promote black beauty and empowerment. Prior to Eve, there was Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You was an emphatic statement on body positivity and natural beauty which still is one of my favorite albums to listen to. If I were to compare the two albums, Eve is the hip-hop, twin version of Cuz I Love You. This album samples a wide range of older songs from Aaliyah, Nina Simone, and my favorite track on the album, “Cleo”, which brilliantly samples Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”. “Ibtihaj” is a tribute to “Liquid Swords” by GZA of Wu-Tang Clan fame. A very groovy hook from D’Angelo and even a verse from GZA, himself, make this track a must-listen. “Iman” is another highlight with a beautiful sample of Billy Paul’s “Ebony Woman”. JID absolutely shines on this track and his consistency is sky-rocketing his stock in the rap game.

At some point, we have to appreciate these under-the-radar female rappers because they are not going to be in their prime forever. By the time December rolls around, Eve could wind up as a top-five rap album of 2019. It’s that good.

Richest Tracks: “Nina”, “Cleo”, “Aaliyah”, “Whoopi”, “Serena”, “Maya”, “Ibtihaj”, “Iman”, “Afeni”

Worst Tracks: “Myrlie”, “Michelle”

Rating: 8/10

BROCKHAMPTON – ‘GINGER’ Review

Ginger is the fifth full-length project from Texas/California all-male group, BROCKHAMPTON. Since 2017, BROCKHAMPTON has seen a quick rise in stardom through the music industry, thanks to the legendary Saturation trilogy that will be streamed for generations to come. However, things took a turn for the worse in 2018 as one of their lead vocalists and literal face of the group on all three Saturation covers, Ameer Vann was kicked out of the group following multiple allegations of sexual abuse. The tumultuous exit of Vann came recently after the group landed a $15 million deal with RCA Records. With the signing to RCA and the departure of Vann, many fans and critics questioned the direction that the group would take and how they would adapt to losing a vocalist, while one-dimensional, was the main staple on the majority of the fantastic tracks in BROCKHAMPTON’s discography so far. When Iridescence dropped in the Fall of last year, I said in my review that the group was still reeling from Vann’s departure and the project, while good, was nowhere near the quality of any of their previous works. Thus, leads us to Ginger, which will take you down a cathartic experience as each member sounds off on the turmoil and near breaking points that they hit last year.

Leading into Ginger, we were given four teaser tracks. “I BEEN BORN AGAIN” has a banging beat but other than Bearface’s cold kickoff to the song, no one really has a stand-out moment. That all changes with “IF YOU PRAY RIGHT”, which is BROCKHAMPTON at their finest. The horn samples mixed with this futuristic beat would have fit perfectly on the group’s best album, Saturation II and every member is at their best on the song. “BOY BYE” is the stand-out instrumental of the entire project and the vocal chemistry is near-perfection. “NO HALO” sets the tone of the album and is one of my favorite tracks of 2019. The song brings out the emotion of previous events and how these group members were affected by them and how they were lost and struggled to find themselves. Matt Champion’s reverbed singing on the hook is very satisfying and this alt-R&B direction that the album goes down fit right into my wheelhouse. Unfortunately, the sound of this project has never felt more commercial for BROCKHAMPTON, which could be a troubling sign for the group.

Other than the lead singles, the only song that really stands out is the powerful “DEARLY DEPARTED”. in which the group finds closure through this catharsis of letting out their true thoughts on Vann. Dom McLennon’s verse was morbid in that he discusses Vann setting up one of his friends to get robbed. When I go through the rest of this tracklist, however, none of them caught my eye. “SUGAR” is a perfectly fine alt-R&B song and “ST.PERCY” is this mild banger with Kevin Abstract and Matt Champion using their vocals in that Drake-styled, Caribbean accent. The album-titled track has this incredibly bland instrumental with obnoxious autotune strewn throughout. “BIG BOY” has an intriguing verse from JOBA but the instrumental is all over the place and out of focus from everyone’s vocals. “HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU” is not even a BROCKHAMPTON song. It is an unnecessary extension of “IF YOU PRAY RIGHT” with British rapper, slowthai delivering over the track’s instrumental.

Ginger is BROCKHAMPTON’s weakest attempt in terms of production. While there are beautiful, enticing, and powerful moments, much of the group’s originality is stripped back by the generic sounds on here. The album is saved by the vocals and delivery of each group member, proving that the group is one of the most versatile music groups of the 2010s, but the sound that we have come to associate with BROCKHAMPTON is missing. Again, another good album from the group but easily the group’s least ambitious musical statement.

Richest Tracks: “NO HALO”, “SUGAR”, “BOY BYE”, “ST. PERCY”, “IF YOU PRAY RIGHT”, “DEARLY DEPARTED”, “LOVE ME FOR LIFE”, “VICTOR ROBERTS”

Worst Track: “GINGER”

Rating: 7/10