It didn’t seem too long ago that I started my second semester of freshman year, however as crazy as time has moved by, the amount of music that has been released this year has been even crazier. Great projects have been released this year from artists so many different artists this year artists like Araabmuzik, Toro Y Moi, Thundercat, Logic, Justin Timberlake, Jessie Ware and many more have helped to make this year so far a great year in music, however, there are only five spots that I chose for my favorite mid year albums. As the year progresses, don’t expect this list to remain the same or for these albums to remain in the same spots. Enjoy and remember this is my damn opinion. P.S. Yeezus, Born Sinner, Saab Stories, and a few others weren’t even considered since they just came out.
5) A$AP Rocky – Long. Live. A$AP
First off, I almost forgot to even include this LP on my list for the exclusive reason that this album actually leaked a few weeks before 2013 even started. However, once I compiled my list, I was in shock that this project was forgotten. It’s almost hard to put someone like A$AP Rocky in a category. Although from New York, Rocky’s style is composed up of sounds and flows that are located all across the south. When listening to his debut mixtape, Live.Love.A$AP in 2011, his delivery is reminiscent of southern rappers such as Young Jeezy but his sound and production is heavily influenced by the syrupy and smoke filled sounds from Houston. In many of his songs, he plays homage to artists such as UGK, Bone Thugs, and even talks about his fascination with syzurp and other aspects of southern rap culture while proudly representing his home, Harlem. His debut album, Long.Live.A$AP is no exception. Long.Live.A$AP features stellar production that can be heard from his debut mixtape and more. Instead of the hazy syrup production by Clams Casino that made Long.Live popular, Long.Live.A$AP features production from not only Casino, but also Hit Boy, Danger Mouse, Noah “40” Sheib, Skrillex and more. With so many different producers, its easy for an album to lose what makes it flow together, however, with this LP, it is not the case. The features are another plus for the LP. Throughout the album, people like Schoolboy Q, Santigold, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown, Big Krit, Yellawolf, and even Florence Welch, help to diversify the album. Tracks Like “Long.Live.A$AP”, “Goldie”, “Wild for the Night”, and “Suddenly” show Rocky at his strongest, and of course, lets not forget about “1Train”, the posse cut that features seven of some of the most tallented MCs in the game. Overall, Long.Live.A$AP delivered and is a great example of a debut album that combines great production and experimental sounds without sacrificing stylistic elements. Stand out Tracks: “Long.Live.A$AP” “Goldie” “LVL” “Wild for the Night” “1Train” “Suddenly”
4) James Blake – Overgrown
Electronic music producer, James Blake, is the leader in an emerging genre of electronic music known as postdubstep, a sub genre of dubstep that focuses on more mellow drops than the song of some of the most popular artists in dubstep like Skrillex or Steve Aoki. With his debut self- titled LP James Blake released in 2011, Blake mixes in his soulful singing with pianos, heavy synths, and strong echoes making the album extremely experimental with its mixture of electronic and soul sounds. This time, Blake returns with his follow up album, Overgrown. Overgrown continues the sound that can be heard from his first record with dissonant noises and heavy synths. One of the ways this album stands out from his previous LP has to do with the greater since of force and passion that comes from Blake’s voice. The lead single “Retrograde” is a prime example of the newfound passion that can be heard from Blake’s voice. At the core, Blake stays true to his previous work, focusing his album on love songs but also shows that he is open to experiment with other sounds and other artists. The song “Take A Fall For Me”, features a spoken word verse from Wu Tang member RZA that surprisingly matches very well with Blake’s background vocals. Overgrown is a great sophomore effort from one of music’s most intriguing and creative young minds. Stand out tracks : “Overgrown” “Take A Fall For Me” “Retrograde” “Digital Lion” “Our Love Comes Back”
3)Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
In 2012, up and coming Chicago rapper, Chancelor Bennet released his debut project, 10 Day, a mixtape recorded during a ten-day suspension from his preparatory school in Chicago. Overall, the mixtape featured a style or rap that was reminiscent of early Kanye and even a little Drake with his frequent crooning. However, for me, the mixtape fell flat with only a handful of songs that I thought were decent. His voice was nasally and too hard to get into for me, also, I wasn’t a big fan of his singing. However, once this tape was dropped last year, Chance went from an unknown local Chicago artist to being featured and working with many other artists in the game from Action Bronson, Childish Gambino, Hoodie Allen, and Joey Bada$$. Following the success from these features, Chance the Rapper dropped his second mixtape in April of this year, Acid Rap. When compared to other releases, not only did Acid Rap see an improvement of Chance’s lyrical ability, but also an expansion of his sound. Throughout the mixtape, Chance paints a picture of a drug induced kid, high on acid, ecstacy and more pshychadelics which seems to parallel the style and audience of a Kid Cudi. However, what makes Chance different is instead of exclusively rapping about his extensive drug use or his personal/emotional problems, Chance takes a much more socially conscious approach and goes after heavy topics that dominate hip- hop such as murder, rape, and gun violence, specifically within the city of Chicago, Illinois. His conscious tone and delivery changed dramatically from his 10 Day mixtape and takes cues from the style of Kendrick Lamar. Overall, Acid Rap is a breath of fresh air, especially for Chicago whose rap palate is filled with rappers such as Chief Keef and his GBE squad whose trap based music mainly glorifies violence and murder. Stand out tracks: “Good Ass Intro” “Pusha Man” Coco Butter Kisses” “Lost” “Acid Rain” “Chain Smoking”
2)Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
It’s been three years since anyone’s heard anything form the indie rock band Vampire Weekend and in three years, a lot of things can change. First off, three years is almost an eternity in the music world. Rarely can acts even pull off such an elongated hiatus and still expect the relevancy they once contained. But with the release of Modern Vampires of the City, Vampire Weekend showed their fans and critics that not only can they remain relevant, but also that they can remain one of the most popular forces in indie music. If there is one thing on this album that deserves a tremendous amount of praise, it would have to be the growth of lyricism from front man and songwriter Ezra Koenig. Compared to their previous albums, Modern Vampires takes a more political approach with their lyrics. Tracks like “Unbelievers”, “Hannah Hunt”, and “Ya Hey” tackle the many problems with organized religion and the question of human salvation. On the lead single “Diane Young”, Ezra discuses topics like death, dying young, and mortality. Just like previous albums, love and relationships are a common theme on the album too. “Step” discusses a previous relationship and the issues of commitment and responsibility. “Hannah Hunt” also discusses relationship issues but more in line with a breakup instead. Overall, this album features solid songs that show off great songwriting and instrumentation. Stand Out Tracks: “Unbelievers” “Step” “Diane Young” “Hannah Hunt” “Everlasting Arms” “Ya Hey”
And my number one favorite album of 2013 so far is….
Lil Wayne - I Am Not A Human Being II………
1) Daft Punk- Random Access Memories
As I stated before, to come off of a long hiatus and still remain relevant is an amazing feat to conquer, especially if you have been on a hiatus since 2005. Who am I talking about? I’m talking about one of the most secretive and mysterious duos of recent time, the masked duo, Daft Punk. Although it’s been eight years since Daft Punk released their last album, the duo has remained in the news for their work on the soundtrack to the 2010 film Tron, and through their viral marketing which sparked the anticipation for their latest album Random Access Memories. As opposed to their last albums, Memories finds itself discovering the roots of electronic music rather than following the trend of it like their previous albums did. It’s been a long time since I could listen to an entire album without skipping any songs, and Daft Punk’s Memories is one of those albums. Every song on the album features exquisite instrumentation that traces the roots of electronic music and seamlessly incorporates disco, classical, and funk music together without having it seem too abstract or forced. Even the featured artists in the album fit perfectly within the album. Pharrell Williams adds a great disco/funk vibe to the tracks “Lose Yourself To Dance” and “Get Lucky.” Panda Bear from Animal Collective adds great vocals to the track “Doin’ It Right” and Paul Williams probably has the most emotional and most captivating vocals on the album in “Touch”, a ballad about the troubles of being a robot and not being able to experience the same senses that humans can. Every song, beat, and sound on the album seems absolutely natural and sound borderline opera like and therefore deserves to be number one on my list of favorite albums of the midyear. Stand out tracks : All of them