Childish Gambino Shares New Animated Music Video for “Feels Like Summer”

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Following his instant classic music video for “This Is America” that got everyone talking and interpreting, Donald Glover under his “Childish Gambino” project has dropped another stunning music video, and this one is beautifully animated. This video isn’t as dark as “This Is America,” but it too may have underlying messages and symbolism that is sure to get fans creating their own theories, and it is jam packed with cameos from numerous rappers. The video is directed by Donald Glover, Ivan Dixon, and Greg Sharp, with character design by Justin Richburg. Watch the video below:

 

 

Album Review: Blood Orange – Negro Swan

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Artist: Blood Orange

Album: Negro Swan

Genre: R&B/Alternative R&B/Alternative Pop

Rating: 8/10

“You asked me what family is and I think of family as community. I think of the spaces where you don’t have to shrink yourself. Where you don’t have to pretend or to perform. You can fully show up and be vulnerable and in silence, completely empty and that’s completely enough. You show up, as you are, without judgment, without ridicule, without fear or violence, or policing, or containment, and you can be there and you’re filled all the way up, so we get to choose our families. We are not limited by biology. We get to make ourselves and we get to make our families.” Powerful words from Janet Mock, a transgender rights activist who provides frequent thought provoking narration on Dev Hynes’ fourth album under the “Blood Orange” moniker. The album is titled Negro Swan, and it is described by Hynes himself as “an exploration into my own and many types of black depression, an honest look at the corners of black existence, and the ongoing anxieties of queer/people of color. A reach back into childhood and modern traumas, and the things we do to get through it all. The underlying thread through each piece on the album is the idea of hope, and the lights we can try to turn on within ourselves with a hopefully positive outcome of helping others out of their darkness.” Considering how much of a talented producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Hynes is, the execution of this idea is unsurprisingly near perfection. Reiterating what Janet Mock said in the aforementioned quote, the idea of finding your own family and community where you’re truly at peace with yourself is the overall message in this album that explores the dark subject of being involuntarily cast as an outsider in order to find the light at the end of the tunnel. “After school, sucker punched down. Down and out. First kiss was the floor.” Sings Hynes on the album’s Marvin Gaye inspired opening track “Orlando,” a smooth Funk heavy track that comfortably welcomes the listener to the album despite it’s unhappy subject matter, but the understanding that things won’t be easy when your natural self just so happens to go against unfair societal norms leads to this album’s uplifting and encouraging nature. To accompany the album’s deep subject matter, Hynes utilizes his impressive ear for melody to produce instrumentation rich in lush vocal melodies, Funk filled bass lines, bouncy synths, dreamy guitars, and frequent infectious flute arrangements that will make anyone swoon. He even invites numerous musicians to contribute like on the track “Hope” which features gorgeous lead vocals from Tei Shi and a vulnerable Puff Daddy, a side of him we don’t normally see. A$AP Rocky and Project Pat add a powerful but laid back punch to the track “Chewing Gum,” and Steve Lacy provides synths on the Prince evoking track “Out of Your League.” The combination of all of this leads to an “R&B” odyssey that isn’t afraid to experiment, and instead of being preachy, this album explores vulnerability in order to reach a point of self-acceptance, and it does so while creating feel good tunes. This album creates the community and family Janet Mock describes on “Family,” and this is a place where we’re all free from judgement.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 08/26/18

Childish Gambino Releases Two New Summer Songs

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Donald Glover A.K.A. Childish Gambino has had quite the year. The multi-talented artist sparked controversy and countless think pieces with his dense music video “This Is America,” he’s embarking on a tour in September, and a new album is most definitely on the horizon. Now, Gambino has released two brand new Summer songs titled “Summertime Magic” and “Feels Like Summer,” and they have been released under what he’s calling the “Summer Pack.” You can listen to both tracks below:

serpentwithfeet Releases New Track “seedless”

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Baltimore’s own serpentwithfeet will release his debut album soil this week, and it’s looking like this album may be the most innovative “R&B” album in years. Following the hauntingly beautiful single “cherubim,” serpentwithfeet has released another new track off the album titled “seedless.” You can listen to it below:

The Internet Share Details Of Upcoming Album “Hive Mind”

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The Internet’s long awaited follow-up to their 2015 album Ego Death will be released on July 20th, and it is titled Hive Mind. The band have also unveiled the cover art, and have released a new track off the album titled “Come Over.” Check out the track and the album’s cover art below:

Hive Mind Cover Art:

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Come Over:

Album Review: Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer

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Artist: Janelle Monáe 

Album: Dirty Computer 

Genre: Pop/R&B/Soul

Rating: 10/10

Self-acceptance is unfortunately a difficult thing to gain for a lot of people. Especially if aspects of your true self go against the grain or are primarily frowned upon by the general public. If you don’t conform to societal norms then you’re unfortunately going to be subjected to ridicule, alienation, and even cruelty. To avoid these things a lot of people conform to social norms and abandon things that make them unique or individualistic. It’s unfortunate but it’s reality. It is immensely admirable and commendable when someone truly accepts who they are regardless of the fact that they will be placed in the minority. A beautiful thing that occurs among people in this minority though is unity, and a beautiful way to express any frustration or self-acceptance is art, and what is the most universal form of art? Music, of course. Some of the best musicians fearlessly touch on subjects considered to be taboo, or make powerful statements of individualism. It’s been happening since the dawn of music, which makes music the art form that is truly ahead of the curve. We still have plenty of artists that push the boundaries today, and one of them is an admirable woman named Janelle Monáe.

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Janelle Monáe does it all. She’s an actress, a model, a producer, and a musician. A very intriguing musician who has been making music as far back as 2003. Those of you familiar with her know that she is an uncompromising, unsparing, and fearless artist who proudly speaks for people who have had to deal with hardships such as African Americans, homosexuals, and women. Her music has featured some of these themes in the past, and they were quite impactful, but the main focus was a cinematic concept dubbed the Metropolis Conceptual Series. This series focused on a fictional android named Cindi Mayweather. Mayweather ends up falling in love with a human, and is then sentenced to disassembly. This concept spanned one EP and two full-length albums. Now, her new album Dirty Computer departs from this series, and is a lot more personal featuring very relevant topics. Dirty Computer, as she explained in a recent interview is the idea that we’re all computers. We upload, we download, we share information back and forth, and with every computer comes bugs and viruses. Now are those negatives or positives? With this album she wanted to have a conversation with us as human beings about what it means to tell someone that the way that they’re programmed is a flaw, that they need to conform and be reprogrammed. With a name like Dirty Computer, she continues to pay tribute to her love for Sci-Fi, but this is the most human album she has ever created. It is a powerful statement of self-acceptance. It celebrates sexuality, race, and gender of all forms, and even though she is speaking from the perspective of a pansexual African American woman, it’s still easy for anyone to relate to her. Everyone of all backgrounds is invited to this celebration.

The album can be broken down to three parts. The first part is a fearless statement of individualism. With tracks like “Crazy, Classic, Life,” and “Take a Byte,” Monae expresses her desire to live life on her own terms and in doing so she encourages us all to not be ashamed of our personal desires, and with immaculate production rich with Funk bass, lush Synth-Pop influenced synths, and even some Trap percussion Monáe provides beautiful and powerful vocals. She even raps a bit with infectious swagger. “We gave you life, we gave you birth, we gave you God, we gave you earth, we fem the future, don’t make it worse,” Monáe flows as she speaks for feminism and kicks it’s detractors in their teeth on the all rapped “Django Jane.” Female empowerment is a major theme on this album, and that theme is celebrated head-on on the track “Pynk.” Featuring Grimes, this track is a smooth Pop anthem that celebrates the beauty of women, and the term “Pynk” comes from….well… you get the picture.

The influence that is obvious on this album is without a doubt the artistic and androgynous nature of David Bowie, and of course… Prince. His influence is definitely heard on the track “Make Me Feel” with it’s sexed-up fun and catchy as Hell chorus, and apparently the man himself provided the bouncy synth line that screams his signature sound. It turns out that Prince was actually working with Monáe on this album before he passed away, and Monáe definitely honored him with this track.

The second part of the album finds a more vulnerable Monáe. It represents the fear that comes with being different from the norm. No matter how proud you are about yourself, it is a scary world filled with people who don’t take to people outside of the norm kindly. The track “Don’t Judge Me” on the surface sounds like Monáe is singing to a lover, but this track can strongly be interpreted as a letter to her fans and the media asking them to accept her for who she is. She hasn’t always been vocal about her personal life. It wasn’t until recently that she came out as pansexual, and up until now the grandiose concept on her previous albums overshadowed any personal content. With a line like “Even though you tell me you love me, i’m afraid you just love my disguise,” it’s almost as if she’s telling the world “This is who I really am.” Backed by gorgeous string arrangements, this is one of the most melodic and powerful moments on the album. The track “So Afraid” carries a similar tone, but this one is gut-wrenching. Monáe pours her heart out as she expresses how scary it can be having the feelings she has regardless of how self-accepting she is. With this feeling comes uncomfortability and at times it feels like she can’t prevail. Though she has made peace with herself, she still has to fight any self-doubt that comes her way, and that is something we can all relate to. The final part of the album is the closing track “Americans.” This ends the album on a more upbeat note musically, but the lyrical content satirizes the racist and homophobic nature of America. “I like my woman in the kitchen. I teach my children superstitions. I keep two guns on my blue nightstand. A pretty young thing, she can wash my clothes, but she’ll never ever wear my pants,” Monáe sings as she smoothly glides through this reflection of Americas corrupt values, but with this detailing of the negatives, she also displays the positives in which she expresses how this country is her home and instead of running away, she’s determined to stay here and put her life on the line to better this country and rid it of it’s ignorance and hatred. It’s an uplifting end to an important album. Even though this album doesn’t feature a blatant concept like it’s predecessors, it still has a cinematic vibe to it, but this time it features an unfiltered and honest Janelle Monáe, and in the world of Pop music, a world that for the most part produces spineless and shallow material, Janelle Monáe is a Godsend.

Oh yeah, there’s also an incredible short film to accompany this album.

 

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Date: 04/30/18