Rap: DAMN – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar not only raps, he story-tells. He breaks away from the mainstream rappers rapping about drugs, money, and girls. Instead, Kendrick focuses on real-life struggles of a black man and experiences. Some lyrics he raps in this album are, “At 27 years old, my biggest fear was bein’ judged/How they look at me reflect on myself, my family, my city/What they say ‘bout me reveal/If my reputation would miss me/What they see from me/Would trickle down generations in time/What they hear from me/Would make ‘em highlight my simplest lines.” While the album is rap there is a variety of sounds such as more of a jazz vibe with “BLOOD”. There is also a more hip-hop vibe with “LOYALTY” ft. Rihanna. Base booming rap songs such as “DNA”, “HUMBLE”, and “LOVE”. And of course, there is also some old school gangster rap with the song “FEAR”. This album has something for everybody while maintaining a relevant and catchy rap/R&B feel. The whole album has great rhythm and beat that makes you want to vibe out and relax.
R&B: American Teen – Khalid
Khalid sings for the teens. The album contains songs like “Young dumb & broke”, “8TEEN”, and “Location”. His album is full of great beats and rhythms that make you want to sing along. Khalid sings about highly relatable and known topics to teenagers. Such as in the song American Teen where he says, “ And we don’t always say what we mean It’s the lie of an American teen My youth is the foundation of me Living life as an American teen.” His voice is soothing and relaxing. The songs are filled with dance beats, synths, and tales of high school shenanigans. The album can be enjoyed during times of sadness and happiness. When you’re sad, the album is full of fragile relationships, like friends having a blast only to grow apart. Lovers missing one another only to get caught up in abusive mind games. Khalid’s album gets you deep in your feelings and is a perfect album to listen to over a breakup. The song “Coaster” is perfect. “ Maybe you weren’t the one for me but deep down I wanted you to be.” Or when you’re happy with songs like “Let’s go” with lyrics, “Travelling where the wind will take That might be from place to place Oh shit, I just graduated I don’t have any obligations So let’s have a little fun Go ‘head and drop all the relations”. Overall it’s a great album and will be enjoyed time and time again.
Alternative: Come Over When You’re Sober – Lil Peep
First thing’s first, rest in peace Lil Peep. A young talented man was taken from us far too soon due to drug and mental health problems. Peep was an emo rapper, singing lyrics like, “I used to wanna kill myself/Came up, still wanna kill myself/My life is going nowhere/I want everyone to know that I don’t care.” A song on the album called “Better Off (Dying)” speaks about a failing relationship with himself. On “Awful Things,” Peep treats texts from a lover like it’s the only thing keeping him alive. Throughout the album, there are recurring feelings of self-harm and self-sabotage. He also talks about his distorted view of intimacy. There’s a bit of poetry to these cutting interactions: “What have you been through?’ she asked me/Every fucking kind of abuse,” he screams lyrics on the song “U Said.” The song “The Brightside” is a clear reference to going to heaven: “Help me find a way to pass the time/Everybody’s telling me life’s short, but I wanna die.” “Burn me down ‘till I’m nothing but memories.” On the song “Awful Things”, you can feel Peep’s pain. Each lyric is sung like he is in physical pain. The song “Benz Truck (гелик),” sounds overdosed on drugs and incoherent. Peep is a great rapper/singer. He’s intriguing, delivers raw grief, rage or joy, as well as uncomfortable and touchy subjects that he somehow turns into a catchy song. You either love Peep or hate him but for most it was love.
Country: Life Changes – Thomas Rhett
Thomas blends genres from rock to R&B to country to pop to even EDM on this album. This album has something for everyone, no matter what genre they prefer. “Unforgettable” is an upbeat and fun song it tells the story of him and his wife in the beginning stages of their relationship. He paints a picture in his lyrics that take us right to that moment. “That Mangorita you were drinkin’ / and that Coldplay song that you were singin’ / and I bet right now you’re probably thinkin’ / that it’s crazy I remember every detail but I do / from your blue jeans to your shoes / girl that night was just like you / Unforgettable.” “Leave Right Now” is probably not what you would expect on a country album as the song is very EDM-Inspired and is personally my favourite. “Grave” is the most popular song on the album. This deeply sentimental song will put listeners in their feels. The song is very impactful and leaves a lasting impression. There is a very strong religious presence in this song Rhett sings, “When the good Lord calls me home and this life is through / I may be six feet deep but I’ll still be lovin’ you…I’m gonna take it to the grave with me.” Overall the album has some of the best country songs I’ve heard. And that’s coming from a guy that despises country.
Electronica: Sophie Kennedy – Sophie Kennedy
Kennedy has many quirky layers that shine through in this album. If you could take the windbreaker, mom jeans, dirty converse sneaker hipsters and put them into an album this would be it. She uses a warped and monotone voice while singing on the album. It’s an album with a rich variety of acoustic and electronic sounds: there are crisp pianos, robot sounds, and synths. The lyrics about “lovely sugarbunnies,” “snails that have been operated on” and “dogs on logs with anxiety” would feel awkward in any other album but it somehow fits right in. Kennedy sings lines like, “the eggs are just sizzling in the pan,” in “William by the Windowsill,” a great easy flowing song with a great electronic piano and robotic background. In Dizzy Izzy she says lyrics like, “lazy Lizzy she’s not busy / take the bus to business palace,” and “little pockets filled with olives,” as well as “yellow helicopter to take me to the mental doctor.” The song is very upbeat and is one of my favourites. The song “Build me a House” is more of a soul and rhythm song which is a nice change for the album although it still stays with the piano theme of the album. Overall the album has a great upbeat pace and a feel that won’t get your spirits down. Listening to it gives me a kind of motivation to go out and do something.