Three Must Listen To Albums of Summer 2019
It is easy and safe to create popular music, but it is hard to create something that brings out emotion and challenges the way listeners think. All three of these albums recognize music is still created to impact an experience, idea, or culture. These artists were truly committed to making meaningful music, and that is why they are the three albums you must listen to from the summer of 2019.
IGOR, Tyler, the Creator
In 2017, with Flower Boy, Tyler, the Creator broke out of his hardcore, emotionless phase and entered a more pensive and thoughtful world. This mental change came with many benefits to his music. He has truly evolved as an artist and with IGOR, he takes that next step into becoming a multifaceted superstar.
IGOR is a well-synthesized love story that flows from front to back. The album is meant to be listened to in order for the message to come across. It starts rosy and blissful with “EARFQUAKE” and “I THINK” which represent the honeymoon stage of the relationship. “A BOY IS A GUN” details the trials and tribulations of the relationship. Finally, “GONE, GONE / THANK YOU”, “I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE” and “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” depict the heartbreak Tyler goes through when the relationship ends. This storyline gives IGOR a third dimension that so many albums no longer have.
Tyler is the first solo rap artist to ever have an album hit number one that is entirely self-produced and self-arranged with IGOR. With that said, the production is what sticks out most on the album. Tyler makes the most of every single sample, which are all picked extremely thoughtfully.
Overall, the album as a whole has a very retro-pop feel to it. Especially on tracks like “GONE, GONE / THANK YOU” despite the somber lyrics, the song itself has a very joyous tone to it, which is phenomenal. IGOR is a complete album and one of the best of 2019, but I think the best parts come when Tyler isn’t rapping. His extremely deep voice contrasts with the vibe of the rest of the album, and by not including too many cuts with his rapping, each track is more well rounded and easier to listen to. Nonetheless, IGOR is an absolute must listen for Summer 2019.
ZUU, Denzel Curry
Denzel Curry has been putting out consistently solid music his entire career and has never gotten the mainstream recognition he deserves. With ZUU, he continues on this path of hard-hitting yet melodic bangers with exceptional finesse.
ZUU is riddled with references to Dade County, Florida, where Curry grew up. In many ways, ZUU is a tribute to his roots. The first track, which takes the same name as the album, describes Dade County as a zoo rich with gang culture.
The second track, “RICKY,” named after Curry’s father, references advice he received from his parents growing up. “RICKY” is one of the standout tracks on the record. It gives us an insight into how Curry grew up and what influences his music. For example, in the final verse, Curry raps “We was Three 6, Wu-Tang mixed with Dipset,” which of course references three of the prominent rap groups of all time: Three Six Mafia, Wu-Tang Clan, and Dipset. Curry’s delivery becomes more aggravated and vicious as the track continues, which adds to the personality of the track greatly.
The standout cut on the album is undoubtedly “SPEEDBOAT.” The hook on this song is unbelievably catchy and Curry’s flow throughout the verses is silky. The tempo of the song makes it feel like you are riding shotgun in a speedboat in the Miami Bay. Be careful while listening to this song while driving because you might end up with a speeding ticket. For me, “SPEEDBOAT” has to be one of the most overlooked songs of the summer.
Throughout Diaspora, Goldlink incorporates influences from across the world, most often from Africa, hence the title of the album. This was no accident, Goldlink talked about his inspirations for the album in an interview with Spotify, “Diaspora was inspired by universal blackness...it’s important because we’re 6-8 generations removed from where we started from. It’s about time we turn around and bridge that gap before it becomes 15-17 generations removed, and we have to do the work of interconnectivity before it’s too late.” The motivation behind the album is truly important and it is great to see a piece of music be devoted to the preservation of culture.
It is a tall task to try to preserve culture through music but Goldlink did a great job of it with Diaspora. One way he does this is with his features. All the artists Goldlink enlisted were aware of what he was trying to accomplish with the album. They all add to the cultural authenticity of the album perfectly. For example, Wizkid, a Nigerian artist who has previously worked with Drake, provides a great hook on the track “No Lie” which ends up as one of the exceptional songs on the album. It is a seamless fusion of modern hip-hop and afrobeat. There are a few more recognizable names including Tyler, the Creator, Khalid, and Pusha T, but I think the greatest featuring spots came from some of the smaller names. For instance, Ari PenSmith, a small R&B artist from the U.K., provides one of the greatest moments on the album with his hook on “Joke Ting.”
Some other noteworthy tracks on the album include “Zulu Screams” which is a fast-moving African dancehall track which blends well with Goldlink’s accelerated delivery. The interluding chorus from London native Maleek Berry gives the track a true African quality. “Spanish Song” is a breezy summer song which adds a hint Carribean influence to the album.
One of the main problems with the albums I found was the fact that Goldlink hid a lot of himself behind his features. There were only a few times when he had a verse that I would consider memorable. There are only three tracks without any features on the album and I felt that at times, this was not a Goldlink album. I would not say he was overshadowed on the album, but he never really gave himself the spotlight.
None of the songs on Diaspora wanted to be hits, which is something I respect about Goldink. It has never been about the success for him, especially with this album. He was striving for something much more important than a number one single and he accomplished that.