This is part one of a nine-part entertainment review series by The Easterner. Karlee Van De Venter, author of this article, is the arts and features reporter for The Easterner. Her opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Easterner, its staff or Eastern Washington University.
Da Venter Vents
In the past couple months, a lot has happened, and it can be hard to keep up with everything. EWU students are keeping up with a global pandemic, a massive economy drop, election news, and the start of spring quarter. But now we’re quarantined, isolating, and maybe a little bored with our daily routines.
Something that not even a pandemic can take away is music. There has been a large amount of music releases in the midst of everything else, but it probably took the back burner.
Now that we have a little extra time, here’s some new music to try out while you’re quarantining. Some albums, some singles, and a lot of different genres, all waiting to be added to your playlists.
Since her last album in 2017, Jhené Aiko has appeared on a lot of other projects. Over the past few months, she teased her upcoming album by dropping three singles: Triggered, None of Your Concern and P*$$y Fairy (OTW). Then, she finally dropped the long-awaited “Chilombo,” with twenty tracks for listeners to enjoy. Aiko fans all over praised the album. Songs reference Aiko’s relationship with rapper Big Sean, and their sometimes problematic relationship. This album is best listened to with your undivided attention.
Song to try: B.S (featuring H.E.R.) | When to listen: While relaxing
Another long-awaited album came from charismatic rapper Lil Uzi Vert. Varying in different subgenres of trap, Lil Uzi Vert dropped the 18-song album with only one feature. If you were a fan of his music before, you’ll be a fan of this album. It’s reminiscent of his past music without being too repetitive in sound. Lil Uzi Vert’s range shows in some of the tracks, while others pay homage to Future, a big influence of his. The rapper also changes his flow a significant number of times in each track.
Song to try: POP | When to listen: Getting hyped
Growing in popularity, Megan Thee Stallion has been on top in the female rapper scene, especially since Hot Girl Summer. This EP had to be a hit, or it could’ve killed her growing success. With nine songs, Megan Thee Stallion showcases why she’s so revered: her flow is up to par with many male rappers. Megan Thee Stallion has arguably the best flow out of all the new-age female rappers, and she wasn’t afraid to show it. Each track has a slightly different style, showing off her versatility as well. This EP is for hyping up women who aren’t afraid to be bold.
Song to try: Hit My Phone (featuring Kehlani) | When to listen: Getting hyped
Oprah’s Bank Account
Lil Yachty and Da Baby dropped a single titled “Oprah’s Bank Account” featuring Drake. The two rappers’ flows really compliment each other, and Drake’s contribution fits in well. This comes off more as a Lil Yachty song than a Da Baby song, but showcases both nonetheless.
A fairly new rapper, Jack Harlow had something to prove with this EP. With the success of featured single WHATS POPPIN, party people were waiting to see if he would be able to continue with that hype. Being a white rapper means having to really prove yourself, especially in this subgenre. While not the best album of the year by any means, it seems like Harlow will keep his spot in the limelight for a little while longer.
Song to try: I WANNA SEE SOME ASS (featuring jetsonmade) | When to listen: Partying
Fresh out of her relationship with rapper YG, Kehlani dropped “Toxic” as an homage to their problematic relationship. With her signature moody beats and intense lyrics, she talks about how hard toxic relationships are.
Heaven or Hell
Don Toliver released this 12-song album hoping to get recognition as another musical success from Houston. While contributing to Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD, and being a heavy influence on Scott altogether, his music doesn’t get the same level of hype. His last album was released so close to ASTROWORLD that it was overlooked. However, if you’re looking for another ASTROWORLD, this album isn’t it. With similar levels of autotune and similar range, Toliver proves there’s a difference between him and Scott. Toliver’s vocals are higher and more refined in melody. His beats have range, and each song is its own. While Scott fans may find themselves enjoying this album, it’s easy to see that Toliver is an artist of his own. Toliver wanted to bounce back from his last album, and many would say he did.
Song to try: After Party | When to listen: Getting hyped
Rapping about starting from nothing and working your way to success, Guapdad 4000 recognizes his greed in this track. A fairly short single with a consistent beat, Greedy isn’t the last we’ll hear from Guapdad 4000 this month.
A Written Testimony
Rapper Jay Electronica raps about black power and social issues in this ten-song album. Channeling other activists in the craft like Jay Z and Joey Bada$$, Jay Electronica’s own sound is still prevalent in this album. Each song is unique while still flowing in its place in the album. Snippets from other artists and throwbacks to the black power movement can be heard throughout. Perhaps the most unique part of this album is the element of background tracks you’d often hear in a network sitcom. Jay Electronica’s beats and impeccable flow make for a great album. Fans waited for nearly a decade and were definitely pleased with the result.
Song to try: Flux Capacitor | When to listen: Chilling
Butterflies Pt. 2
Queen Naija sings about still getting butterflies in a relationship after being together for a while in this R&B masterpiece. The guitar is accompanied by a chill beat in the chorus that shows off Queen Naija’s vocals. The song is a follow up to her 2018 hit “Butterflies,” and shows how much she’s grown as an artist since then.
Pray 4 Love
Rod Wave’s sound is pretty consistent in this 14-song album. The modern subgenre showcases soft beats with intense rapping, which is growing in popularity. Wave is a prime example of this with his juxtaposition of a piano-heavy beat accompanying raps about being a thug. This is what Russ is trying to be, but actually accomplishing it better than Russ ever could. Similar to rappers like PnB Rock and A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Wave’s vocals are the forefront of the album.
Song to try: Ribbon in the Sky | When to listen: Driving
Unlike Guapdad 4000’s last single this month, Platinum Falcon focuses on vocals. The beat is extremely unique but still isn’t the main focus. Guapdad 4000 is again talking about money and his lifestyle in this track.
Point Em Out
PHRESHER and A Boogie wit da Hoodie collaborate in this intense single. The two have very different sounds, and that is apparent in Point Em Out. They rap about their lifestyle and “trapping” from a young age.
The Weeknd’s coveted fourth studio album features 17 songs in the deluxe version. While The Weeknd refines his sound with every album, this album is reminiscent of his earlier albums. The R&B beats match his falsettos and show the range in his vocals. It’s what fans expected from this album, both in sound and subject.
Song to try: Snowchild | When to listen: Chilling
Ryu & Ken
A collaboration between Young Chris, Wale and Guapdad 4000, Ryu & Ken has a sound like 90s hip hop. The three artists compliment each others’ sounds really well, and it sounds as if they were a group of their own.
Childish Gambino fans know that the artist changes his sound with every album, and this was no exception. With little promotion of the album, fans had no idea what to expect from 3.15.20. However, it’s worth betting that not many were expecting this. The album has some callbacks to his sound in the previous album, “Awaken, My Love!” but still sounds quite different. The album is like if Lo-Fi and disco music had a baby, and that baby was adopted and raised by Childish Gambino.
Song to try: Algorhythm | When to listen: Cleaning
Joyner Lucas gets personal in this 18-song album. The album features four skits that tell a story interspersed throughout the album. The skits and songs call back to a young Lucas, learning about his ADHD. With intense subject matter, the sound is still on brand with Lucas’ past works.
Song to try: Gold Mine | When to listen: Driving
COVERED IN MONEY!
Rapper JPEGMAFIA raps about his wealthy lifestyle in this single. With subject matter we’ve heard time and time again, JPEGMAFIA puts a unique spin on it with this funky sound. The flow is consistent with his past discography, but the track is something new.
Coming off of the success of her first studio album, Dua Lipa released 11 songs in this album. Bringing 80s pop into modern music, Dua Lipa’s sound is refined in this album. Most of the album features standard pop music topics like love, sex and dancing. However, the last track, “Boys Will Be Boys” comes with an unexpected twist. Dua Lipa brings up toxic masculinity and feminism in this upbeat track, taking the intense subject matter and delivering it in a fun package.
Song to try: Boys Will Be Boys | When to listen: Working out
Dolce & Gabbana Dalai Lama
Yet another single from Guapdad 4000, who clearly has been busy this month. More subdued than the previous singles, Dolce & Gabbana Dalai Lama has a more approachable sound. The subject matter is again his lifestyle, but more sympathetic. Guapdad 4000’s versatility is evident.
BEFORE LOVE CAME TO KILL US
Jessie Reyez’ signature raspy voice compliments R&B beats well, which is proved in this 14-song album. After the success of “FIGURES” as a tragic heartbreak song, Reyez delivered an album with pretty dark subject matter. This album should honestly come with a trigger warning, as she references suicide multiple times. Her sound is very unique and this album definitely has replay-ability.
Song to try: IMPORTED featuring 6lack | When to listen: Before bed
This project by Knxwledge is unlike anything else on this list. Each track is so different from the last and showcases Knwledge’s versatility. Some of the tracks are specifically about the beat, with no accompanying vocals. Those with vocals show that Knxwledge has the ability to create bars, but sometimes prefers to focus on the sound. If you’re looking for something different from the rest of your music, this album is it.
Song to try: Minding_My Business featuring Durand Bernarr and Rose Gold | When to listen: Any time
PARTYNEXTDOOR hasn’t released an album in four years, but his sound is more or less the same. If moody R&B is your thing, then PARTYMOBILE is a great new album. There are elements in this album that he hasn’t tried before, and you can hear a bit of maturing. But the most notable thing about this album has nothing to do with PARTYNEXTDOOR at all. This album featured a collaboration with Rihanna, who hasn’t appeared in music in years.
Song to try: BELIEVE IT with Rihanna | When to listen: Relaxing
Cayendo and Dear April
With no warning, Frank Ocean released two singles, Cayendo and Dear April. Cayendo is sung half in English, half in Spanish. Ocean’s vocals are bone-chilling as always. Dear April has a completely different sound from Cayendo, but both are reminiscent of Ocean’s previous projects.
Wake Up, Sunshine
All Time Low has been around for over a decade, delivering pop-punk alternative songs with every album. Wake Up, Sunshine was no different. Their sound has evolved over the years while still remaining true to their signature sounds. Each song on this album is different from their other tracks, which is especially impressive for a band that’s been around for this long.
Song to try: Monsters featuring blackbear | When to listen: Cleaning
Drake has been successful for years. One of the reasons he has been able to remain on top is that he recognizes trends. Toosie Slide is a prime example of this. Seeing some of the aforementioned artists succeed through TikTok dance trends, Drake created his own. While Drake’s sound is still the same as it has been, he instructs dance moves in the chorus, presumably in hopes of a Tik Tok trend of his own.
Peanut Butter Pootie Tang
Once again, we have a Guapdad 4000 single, with a different sound than before. Another subdued track with a good beat, Guapdad 4000 talks about girls and money in this track.
Kiana Ledé contributes to the R&B movement about empowering women. Ledé talks about love and loss in this masterpiece of an album. Every song is different than the last. Ledé’s vocal range exceeds expectations, where you’ll swear you’re listening to a feature from another artist.
Song to try: Second Chances featuring 6lack | When to listen: Relaxing
Neon Future IV
Steve Aoki is a legend when it comes to house music, and it’s clear to see why. This album has an impressive variety in features from just about every genre you can think of. Each song compliments whoever is featured with a whole new sound. Unless you hate EDM, there’s at least one song for you in this album.
Song to try: Cut You Loose featuring Matthew Koma | When to listen: Working out
It Is What It Is
Thundercat’s fourth album is his best yet. The vocals about existentialism over a tune that’s the perfect mixture of R&B, soul and jazz music is unlike anything he’s released before. Each song is so different that it’s hard to pinpoint what the overall sound is. Thundercat’s versatility goes beyond any other project on this list in a highly recommendable album.
Song to try: Dragonball Durag | When to listen: Any time
The last Guapdad 4000 appearance on this list comes in a collaboration with Rich Brian. The two compliment each other well in this track about achieving all your goals.
The New Abnormal
Indie rock band The Strokes calls back to their work in the early 2000s with this new album. If you were a fan of the Arctic Monkeys, this album is a great new project to listen to. The New Abnormal features more synth and lighter tones than previous work, maturing their sound.
Song to try: Eternal Summer | When to listen: Cleaning
The New Toronto 3
Tory Lanez has changed a lot since entering the public eye, and this album shows where he’s matured to. The album features 16 songs and intense beats throughout. Lanez was fresh out of a break-up when writing this album, which explains the amount of emotion in the album. Lanez has grown as a rapper, now having sculpted his own sound.
Song to try: The Coldest Playboy | When to listen: Getting hyped