The Government Says My Job is Not Essential, But These Songs Definitely Are
I always thought the end of the world would come at a quicker pace. I didn’t go to church as a kid but I always imagined hellfire. A dark intrusive fantasy where you could at least get a thrill out of sidestepping comets before the final flash of the sun extinguished life on earth.
But instead we find ourselves in a slow crawl toward the quarry. If there was a judgement day, I missed it. I’ve gotten used to the fog that clouds my vision, yet still I know that one day, the ground will disappear from under me.
Our current crisis makes it feel like that day is around the corner. And if not, our administration’s environmental incompetence assures us that it’s not far behind.
At a time where we’re all losing our jobs and our faith in future plans, it’s becoming harder and harder to fill the day. It seems backwards. Perhaps if we could go outside and confide in each other, it’d feel more like a celebration. A party put on for us, our grandparents, our ancestors, the neanderthals, the dinosaurs, the amoebas, protozoan, and prokaryotes before us. But instead I find myself staring at the wall for hours at a time, fading in and out of a disappointing sleep.
I guess it just serves as a reminder for when this curve finally flattens. Sure, there will be another doomsday/month/year looming but we should be celebrating as much as we can. If not for our ancestors and the dinosaurs, then at least for our friends, families, and favorite songs.
So if you’ve been particularly entranced by the wall in your room or perhaps the point where the wall meets your ceiling, then you’ve probably missed out on some of the music that’s come out since we all began self-isolating. I’ve put together a list below of some of my favorites.
Flee – Remember
Coming off of last year’s XOOL SUMMER collaboration with StupidXool and the success of the single “SWISH/USE 2” which features Brent Faiyaz, Flee is riding a Queens-sized tidal wave into 2020. Nothing could make it clearer than a LONEWOLF-directed music video for his first single of the year. On “Remember,” Flee trades in the summer-y production he frequented last year for a darker piano-based beat- but still floats on it like it’s second nature.
KeiyaA – Nu World Burdens
Chicago-raised, New York-based, KeiyaA put out an album last week, Forever Ya Girl. With nary a quantized drum on it, the album is a bouncy ode to jazzy R&B of the ‘90s with modern reinventions in both production techniques and progressive subject matter. A blend that you might feel like you’ve heard before, but not like this. The entire album deserves a listen because it hits many different beats but still captures a very complete picture. A perfect introduction to KeiyaA.
Mick Jenkins – Frontstreet Freestyle
I liked Jenkins’ The Circus project from earlier this year, I really did, but this “freestyle” from last week is better than every track on it by a fairly large margin. I think it has to do with his energy- something we haven’t gotten much of since his first few projects, and of course the Kaytranada production.
Kaz Moon – Weather
Kaz Moon’s Bleed EP from last October was a charming meteor shower of strong vocal performances and varied instrumentation. The song “Mantra” came together so impressively as a catchy but still innovative bedroom-pop song that I have full faith in Moon’s ability to hit the charts. His first release of this year came in the form of “Weather,” a light and catchy track with thoughtful, loving lyrics that’s over before it even really gets started.
Kemba – More A Man
Kemba put together one of the best albums of last year with Gilda, a dedication to his recently deceased mother. There were many hard hitting, bouncy tracks on it but I found myself coming back to the slower, more emotionally dense songs more than anything. Kemba’s ability to express his sorrow and frustration is strangely intoxicating and nearly unmatched in the genre. This single from last week is more of that. Kemba croons over the airy synth arrangement and uptempo drumbeat, speaking about his shortcomings as a man.
Voldy Moyo – I Can’t Speak 4 Nothing
UK-based Voldy Moyo released his project, We Take the Same Steps last month, featuring production from DJ Blackpower and AFB, which are the beatmaking alter-egos of MIKE and Medhane, respectively, two of the best rappers in this current landscape. The presence of these two, on the boards, in the music videos, and on social media makes it seem like Voldy Moyo is the newest member of the extended sLUms NYC family.
Drakeo the Ruler – Ion Rap Beef (Remix) (Feat. Earl Sweatshirt & 03 Greedo)
Speaking of sLUms NYC, their unofficial mentor, Earl Sweatshirt, hopped on Drakeo the Ruler and 03 Greedo’s “Ion Rap Beef” the other day. Earl gave a number of quotables but the most important line of the song came one second in, before he even started rhyming, “Fuck the DA, free the Ruler.” I hope this begins a trend of popular artists remixing the work of incarcerated artists to shed a light on their situation and spread awareness to their music. If you’re interested in reading about Drakeo and Greedo’s cases, Jeff Weiss penned great pieces on each of them: 03 Greedo & Drakeo the Ruler.
If this is the end, I’m going out the same way I came in: playing Civilization and listening to Nellyville.
Also, read this other thing I wrote called, Does Your Dusty Uncle Keep Talking About the Golden Age of Hip Hop? Put These New Songs on an 8-Track Tape and Watch Him Vibe Out