MUSICAL PEAK

i’d argue that a lot of things in this world are best in their rawest form; their most true — music being one of those things.

On Friday, 7th October, 2016, Black America Again, and HERE — studio albums by Common and Alicia Keys respectively — were released. Two great bodies of work from artists well into their music careers (with Common being just reasonably a few years ahead of Alicia). Last night and this evening, i put myself to listen to each of them, and weirdly, almost feel this strange honor to have done so.

alicia-keys-here

The reason i felt inclined to write today, was because of — or should i say ‘subconsciously’ linked to — Usher’s eighth studio album Hard II Love (which i was disappointed with, and more openly voiced my opinion, here on Twitter: http://bit.ly/2g0csjV). In contrast to that, i felt that what Alicia and Common brought to the table, was them. [By that] meaning; themselves (of course, obviously); their true artistic selves, and while inspired — it wasn’t so obvious and plain to see. The reason i say so, is because, i do somewhat believe that it was albums delivered by artists like Solange (A Seat at the Table), and Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp a Butterfly) — though considerably younger than the two main subjects of here — that set new standards for elders, who, like i say, are fairly well into their careers now. Despite Alicia (who, might i say, sounds beautifully NY, how she gets on this album) and Lonnie being known to consistently give us great music each time around (and if not, then good at least), it’s nothing new to know that there are plenty of recording artists making music to sound like the times — whatever’s popping right now — hence why i’m happy and me being proud of two of my favourites of all-time. Who knows — had nothing but trash excuses for music been released in 2016, would two remarkable LPs from two veterans have come of this age? Hmmm… — one can only wonder, right? Perhaps they weren’t so inspired to make and release top-tier music. Perhaps they were already in these creative zones of theirs and had the juices flowing.

But anyway, without further ado — and to avoid dragging on (even though that sounds silly to me right now, since i’ve dragged on enough already) — rather than make this like an essay (which, now that i think of it, is actually a type of writing i’ve grown bored of — and again, even though i stated i’m pretty bored of them, this will probably still find a way through me to sound like one… hypocrite; i know), i thought it would be much lighter (HOW?!) to instead just let go of some of what was running through my head, both as i listened to Common’s [new] album, and watched the short film that he dropped alongside it. So — not to in any way disregard what incredible music Alicia Keys put out, but — here are my POINTS:

Me personally, i think that Common is the original Kendrick Lamar, just without the rough edges — a poetic MC; an extremely Afrocentric, woke individual, proud to be where he’s from, who knows the ghetto, and, [being] unafraid to, with confidence, can comfortably and unapologetically speak on issues going on, both within it and outside of it… but also provide suggestive solutions, and always a positive light to the negatives.

Black America Again being a more accessible version of — and easier-on-the-ears-and-to-consume/dissect listen than — Like Water For Chocolate, but just as clearly focused on the message as [he] was in the tail-mentioned (Oxford, you better quote me on this one — i coined it, motherfuckers, a’ight?).

Is Common the blackest light-skin of all-time before Jesse Williams? (this one was just for my own humoring — purely).

COMMON Black America Again with BJ The Chicago Kid (Live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)

i’m super glad that Common switched up “Black America Again” for the short film, showing and bringing variation to a song; stripping it down to the raw and exposing a different side to it. Just when i thought for a second, ‘Aaah — why wasn’t this version on the album?’ i snapped out and realized: it’s art — and fortunately, Common knew how to do it in just the right way.

The only thing that i’d change about this album, would be the placement of “Black America Again.” The climax of that song is so strong, i’m surprised Common didn’t put it at the end of the album. i mean, “Letter To The Free (featuring Bilal)” was super… but the the title track trumps — it be trumping.

Watching the Black America Again short film triggered me to come up with the word ‘glorientacious’ also.

COMMON Black America Again (short film)

Kareem Riggins did his thiing on the production (along with Robert Glasper) for this project. For Robert, i certainly get why artists such as Erykah have worked with him; and why others are also keen to. And Bilal — well, between being heavily featured on Common’s eleventh solo effort (four tracks in total) and two tracks on [Kendrick Lamar’s] To Pimp a Butterfly, he sure is showing how brilliant he is, to be the go-to — and with a shared chemistry as great as his & Common’s, it’s no wonder they’ve been linking up for over 15 years now.

One of my favourite things about 2016, is the accidental-yet-non-surprising connection between many albums that have spawned from what’s been vividly going on in America over the past three years. For e.g. you could take — as much as they’re the obvious and more favorable choices — A Seat at the Table and Black America Again, put them into a playlist back to back, or Black Messiah and To Pimp a Butterfly, and they’d make the perfect musical companions to each other.

The way how George Clinton & The Parliament Funkadelic and A Tribe Called Quest were probably grooving to TPAB, to me, is likely of the same-natured likeness of gratitude that Marvin Gaye and Gil-Scott Heron would show towards Common’s collection of songs, here in 2016.

Again, it’s no real news that Malibu by Anderson .Paak, has been my favourite album of 2016, as well as the album i regard best this year. But while it’s only been one single listen to Black America Again so far — Common may just have dethroned .Paak, and snatched the A.O.T.Y. title from him. Really, i just hope and pray that Common’s latest album doesn’t become my new and all-time favourite Common album, taking over Be; also meaning that it would become my favourite album, not only in hip-hop, but of all-time altogether, which a huge deal, with the latter being in cemented, firm position for a good three years now.

Without nitpicking, i’d say there’s no way that anybody can tell me the album is not a 9/10 at least. And if Common wanted to, he could really ended on this note, yo.

If John Legend’s new album Darkness and Light is of the stell’ that Alicia (not to cause confusion and have you drifting off into thinking i’ve turned this whole portion of the text into being about her(e) album) and Common gave us, then the fourth quarter of this year has truly come full-circle. First Alicia and Common, then John? *Ron Simmons ‘DAMN!’*.

Oh yeah, and: if Common could grow hair — i have no doubt in my mind that he’d have locs… freeform locs.

It’s easy for me, i suppose, to say, since i’m not a U.S. citizen, living in America — but don’t feel so sad about Trump, folk(s). It’s not the end of the world until it is. You’re still going to wake up. Just change the way how you look at the world. Doing so might not change the world or fix/solve everything, no. However… you might as well make the most of the badness with some goodness, right?

Sincerely,

LSNCLR

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Great. But you know what I think would be greater…

Kendrick. Thank you for the music as always. Blessing us with the roawr from the core. As you gain more fans and lose a few here and there who just can’t get with the continuous and ever-happening sound-departures — from early K. Dot on C4 and Kendrick Lamar EP, and(O)verly Dedicated, to Section.80, then again to good kid, m.A.A.d. city, and AGAAAIN to To Pimp A Butterfly — I’d rather praise the purity and untouched~ness of the latest release (untitled unmastered). Seems like we’re forever going to seen the same discussion that Jigga fans and Kanye fans (“day-ones” and laters) be having about the change of the sound directions from one album to the next. Who cares though? You really ain’t gotta listen. Nothing wrong with not liking the music from an artist you love. It’s inevitable the music is gonna miss you rather than hit when it changes up to what you’re not used to, or when an artist is experimenting.

Could easily be handed your favourite food every day, but the moment ya Momma wanna introduce you to an experiment she’s been cooking up in the kitchen; and even though you might not like it – the respect given to her for trying is way more to be highlighted.

I’ve just always had more respect for the attempt. Whether it works for you or not is a mystery to be discovered, but music is going to be music. I’m inspired by the nature of it – motivates me to do me in whatever I do; and acts as a constant reminder that I gotta let it flow < and that ridere is what I love about the all-over-the-placeness in some tracks drawn by the live instrumentation; it drives me to a place where I can be free of perfection, or tried-for perfection at least in many scenaruos I see and sense with music and life in general. I’m happy that I know some of what Kendrick was up to during the process of making TPAB now really. So don’t diss this when it was probably primarily responsible for the so-called “masterpiece” that you claim; that is TPAB; that you love so much.

NOW, anyway and back to my reasoning for this log… wouldn’t it be great to hear your dream collaborations?

Mine? In this case speaking about Kendrick.

So, I’m bumpin’ the new compilation of the untitled records (that Cee-Lo feature was niiice, and Kaseem, that yo son producing?! explanenlighten me, please) and can’t help my thoughts going back to when I heard To Pimp A Butterfly, right… all that’s swilling in my brain is one question: WHERE DA FRIGGIN’ D’ANGELO & KENDRICK TRACK ALREADY?! Dot, you’re hurting me.. you too, dawg.

If I had it my way and could piece together a musical orgy ©, I’d have to have it go a lil’ sum like deeyuws (i’MA break it down into song structure rather than just the artists on it):

Prod. Sounwave, Flying Lotus, Terrace Martin, Timbaland, Dr. Dre, James Poyser (add.), Pharrell (add.), Raphael Saadiq, (add.), Madlib (sampling), Ryan Leslie & Q-Tip (keys), Questlove? (drums), & Dev Hynes (guitar)

Intro: Common & Missy Elliott (16-bar spoken word… don’t ask. Missdemeanor, mate – you don’t KNOW)

Beat switch (yes, this early on) and it drops… haaauurddd

Verse 1: Kendrick Lamar, Mos Def, Method Man & Redman (mixed written from all three 24 tough bar-for-barz, no playing with it)

Funky smoove groovy Bridge (dey gets buzy): Chance The Rapper & Kanye West (Janelle Monae, background vocals)

Verse 2 (they get all gosp’hetto or sum sh’): Alicia Keys,  Jazmine Sullivan & Jill Scott

Verse 3: D’Angelo, Bilal & Maxwell (D’Angelo takes it from the end of the last verse and goes into a classic-style D’Angelo mumbling verse, Bilal scats, then Maxwell comes in where he switches the gears up towards the end and just croons to get the ladies wet)

Beat switch again (dance breakdown, prod. Pharrell, Saadiq & Timbo, who also ad-libs)

Hook 2: Janet Jackson & Tinashe (The Weeknd, background vocals)

(claps and drums with snares too also)

Outro (dis is da climax now, where everyone just jumps in one by one and it synchronizes in the right way through evened out~overlapping layers and it just gets mad wild): Erykah Badu & Chrisette Michele (w/ Frank Ocean & James Fauntleroy in the background harmonizing) sing light vocals to start it off and carries on throughout until end when Tyler, the Creator ends the track with a  couple silly-ass lines, meanwhile Pusha T, Earl Sweatshirt & YG come with two straight hard bars, as A$AP Ferg drops slight noisy ad-libs and Miguel comes in doin’ those wild screams, and then Big K.R.I.T. & Freddie Gibbs come with a straight aggressive melodic two bars, James Fauntleroy (harmonizes), Miguel (doin’ those wild screams). Tyler, the Creator ends the track with a couple lines.

A bit tew much for you, raaight?

Yeah, so that’s what a fantasy is, to those who don’t know. Hope you understand it. If not, den fukarf.

Jokes on you if you think the tags might hurt the fiews I get. EVERYBODY GETS A HASHTAG! HarrHa *opera octave voice if I could reach it.*

 

Top-down musicccc

This is where I could’ve honestly done with Spotify or Apple Music, lol. Devotion and The 20/20 Experience in the stereo for me today, though.

To me, there’s no limitation on what’s soul music, when it hits your soul and you can feel/recognise the soul in it.

Happy #SoulfulSundays

LSNCLR