Introducing: The Rotation

Music is one of our favorite topics to discuss here, so we’re rolling out an Apple Music playlist series called the Rotation, where we compile new and relevant songs to listen to occasionally spliced in with underground favorites and artists who just need more shine in general. The first playlist is a warmup jumper. Nothing totally uncomfortable or out of the ordinary. It’s encouraged to put this playlist on shuffle. Also included in this post are our March Madness Soundcloud playlists, which will eventually turn into the Soundcloud Rotation playlist series once April rolls around. Listen, share and enjoy. If you have any artists you want to make a case for to be in the next installment of the Rotation, let us know. Or better yet, write about them. The Rotation: 1 features songs from Frank Ocean, Kendrick, Wizkid, and Playboi Carti among others. You can find the Apple Music playlist here and March Madness 1-3 are available below. Follow our Soundcloud for continuous updates here.

Road Trips with Mom: A musical Odyssey

by Gabi Watkins

Over spring break I visited Florida with my mom and younger siblings. During the 42 total hours on the road I listened to a lot of NPR and classic rock. From epic ballads about love gone wrong to ventures of sex and drugs, the era of Rock ‘n Roll was a defining and crucial point in the evolution of music. Throughout my car ride I heard some songs that stuck out to me not only as a fan of this genre, but as a music lover in general:

Part 1: “Paradise By the Dashboard Light”

Michael Lee Aday, better known by his stage name, Meat Loaf, started his musical career in high school through theater productions. After graduation he made his way to Los Angeles where he formed his first band “Meat Loaf Soul”. The band opened for various artists including Janis Joplin, the Who and The Grateful Dead.

Meat Loaf then went on to record for Motown Records, where he released his debut album, Stoney & Meatloaf in September 1971. Despite the album’s moderate success, he was unhappy with Motown and left shortly after to audition for various parts in musical theater. It was during one of these auditions he met his future collaborator Jim Steinman. He had success in the theater, starring in the production of Hair on Broadway and earning a part in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

All the while he was working with Steinman on creating his second album and left theater in 1974 to pursue his music career exclusively. In 1977 he signed with Cleveland International Records and had his big break that October with his sophomore album and claim to fame, Bat Out of Hell.

Bat Out of Hell contains some of the most revolutionary and iconic tracks of the 1970s. Composer, Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf brought together aspects of hard rock, pop and spoken word lyrics, tied together by one of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s key elements – sex.

 

“Paradise By the Dashboard Light” highlights the album; a three part, eight minute long epic, telling the tale of high school sweethearts about to take their relationship to a physical level in a car. Meat Loaf and Ellen Foley embody the suspense and desire of young lovers at the beginning of the song, with Meat Loaf proudly proclaiming “we’re gonna go all the way tonight”.

The first part then cuts to a metaphoric play-by-play done by New York Yankees’ shortstop, Phil Rizzuto. This transition is part of what makes this song so iconic as listeners feel the excitement resounding through commentary as the player reaches first base, is nearly thrown out at second, steals third base and sprints for home plate leaving Rizzuto to proclaim, “Holy Cow I think he’s gonna make it!”

Foley then stops the run short, making it clear that she won’t go any further until she knows they’ll be together forever. The male and female vocals intertwine as Meat Loaf pleads with her to let him ‘sleep on it’, promising to tell her in the morning. After their banter makes it clear that she needs confirmation now, he gives into frustration and reassures her that, “I’ll love you ‘til the end of time”.

The song ends with an ironic twist as Meat Loaf exclaims, “now I’m waiting for the end of time, to hurry up and arrive”. Despite the relationship turning bitter and the couple clearly not being able to stand each other, they keep their vows to stay together and reminisce of their first time, remembering how the spark that was once there is now but a distant memory.

The well thought out story line and sarcastic undertones portrayed in these lyrics mash together with an experimental pop-funk tune and the heavy guitar that this era is known for. The song itself peaked at 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the album has sold over 43 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling records of all time.

Album Review: Awaken, My Love!

by Josh Cook

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I’m in love when we are smoking that la-la-la-la-la.

I’m in love with this album.

As a person who loves Donald Glover and would defend him to my grave, I’ll admit that I’m biased when it comes to his work because of the respect I have for him as an artist. So if you’re looking for an unbiased album review…you’ll never find it.

The album is relatively short, so I’ll keep this sweet.

Even though it’s only 11 songs and 49 minutes, this album is exactly what I wanted to see from Donald. And I don’t mean that I wanted him to not rap. He made what he wanted to make, and it’s art. I mean I love 3005 just as much as the next person…but this album is wildly groovy.

With my own opinion set aside, I’ve heard two things said about this album: 1) “No I haven’t listened to it yet, but I heard it’s fire.” And 2) “Wow the new Gambino is lit! Have you heard it yet?”

Of course I have, and I agree. The album starts with a banger, sprinkles in the feels and smooth jams, and ends with a ballad. That is a recipe for success, and Donald cooked up a special meal for our ears.

Despite not being a typical Gambino album chalked full of banging beats and top-notch clever bars, this album finishes in my top three from him with Royalty and Because the Internet. Personally, I love the sound and the funk vibes, and advise that you give it a listen.

My three favorites from the album are Redbone, Me and Your Mama, and Baby Boy – in no specific order. If you don’t like any of those three, listen to the others—Zombies is also awesome. If you listened through it once and didn’t like it, listen to it again. My experience with all ‘Bino music is that it grows and grows on you.

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If you’re still struggling with your own ego and displeasure that Donald made something besides rap, here’s an article I recommend you read before listening again. à http://www.okayplayer.com/news/how-i-got-over-myself-and-learned-to-love-childish-gambinos-new-album.html

 

So smile when you can.

Keep on your dreams, keep standing tall.

If you are strong you cannot fall.

4 Essential Songs to Hear Before the Year Ends

by Valerie Buvat de Virginy

White Ferrari

Frank Ocean’s long awaited album, Blonde, quickly made its way up to the number 1 spot on the Billboard 200, with one constant theme; his obsession with cars. Ocean narrates a fantasy in this track, driving with his love in nothing other than a white Ferrari. This song is essential in the message of the whole album to never stop moving forward against any internal battles and melancholic nostalgia.

Listen here:
https://play.spotify.com/track/2LMkwUfqC6S6s6qDVlEuzV

Boyish

The young Minnesota raised group of lads, Hippo Campus, rose to fame with their subliminal angsty hit, “Suicide Saturday” in 2015. Known for their mysterious northwestern soweto and playful guitar riffs, “Boyish” adds an element of youth not yet ventured by Hippo Campus. Lead singer Jake Luppen resembles a sort of alternative James Dean persona with his impressive range that he hits in this song. The heavy use of brass instruments and quick tempo makes this track the perfect teaser for their upcoming album, Landmark, set to release on February 24, 2017. This is one album you do not want to miss, folks.

Listen here:
https://play.spotify.com/track/2mvctjgrevLQn08AUW6jMc

Season 2 Episode 3

On their latest album titled How To Be A Human Being, British group Glass Animals, are back again with their futuristic sound in “Season 2 Episode 3” (no, that’s not a reference to your Netflix binges of Stranger Things). This song personifies the lazy couch potato we all know and somehow turns it into a pretty groovy tune. This entire album is meant to be blasted on a cold, Friday night, but “Season 2 Episode 3” will send you into a trance like state. You won’t be able to turn this song off. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Listen here:
https://play.spotify.com/track/4vcoNCrTtunmJ9q8srpVly

A Change of Heart

 The 1975 shook the music world early this year with their sophomore album, I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It. “A Change of Heart” is sort of response track to one of their most well known songs, “Robbers.” With the lyric, “You used to have a face straight out of a magazine. Now you just look like anyone.” frontman Matty Healy is implying how he and his partner have fallen out of love. The pair are passed the “ignorance is bliss” phase of a relationship and are now beginning to see the many flaws of one another, losing their compatibility. This electric and low tempo song is an emotional investment. Not only will this brilliant song will lead you to experience a very personal cathartic moment, but potentially cause you to have a change of heart of your own.

Listen here:

https://play.spotify.com/track/035QPHPAcqApSGMMcogT45

Music & Revolution: A documentary from Levi’s & Skepta

Grime MC Skepta has had a huge last two years. After the release of his debut album, Konnichiwa, the North London wordsmith has created a new audience and increased the popularity of Grime worldwide, and received important cosigns from the likes of Drake, Kanye West, and A$AP Mob. He recently partnered with Levi’s to mentor 12 young artists in his home town of Tottenham, in North London. Skepta showed the young artists how to navigate the digital age from an artists prospective.   The project was turned into a documentary. Watch Music & Revolution below.

Album Review: Starboy

by Joe Mitchell

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The Weeknd released his 4th album in 4 years, Starboy, last Friday with a solid combination of classic RnB bangers with a mix of a mainstream pop feel. The album includes a list of 18 songs with features from credible artist such as Daft Punk, Lana Del Ray, Future and Kendrick Lamar. After pulling out of Rihanna’s European tour in March, the man formally known as Abél Tesfaye decided he would start working on his next album that was released only a about a year after beauty behind the madness which got world wide recognition with the hit “I cant feel my face.”

Starboy as a whole was noticeably more mainstream than the Weeknd’s previous albums catering towards pop culture while still trying to have his classic RnB style to it. Trying to appeal to more of a mainstream culture is not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion as it’s just a way of expanding the fan base. The Weeknd told Zane Lowe from Beats 1 in LA last week “It’s good to have darkness, because when the light hits it feels that much better.” This statement speaks volumes because it gives the Toronto native flexibility to always go back to being a creative RnB artist who will not just get swallowed up by pop culture.

On the album there is like any other album songs that stand out more than others for various reasons specifically “Starboy”, “Party Monster”, “Secrets”, “True Colors”, “Sidewalks” and “Love to Lay”. “Starboy” takes the roll of the signature song of the album and has the same kind of feel as “The Hills” did in Beauty in the Madness or “Wicked Games” in Trilogy. “Starboy” has the a catchy chorus and with Daft Punk producing the beat you can not really go wrong with it. “Party Monster” is the next song that is for sure a banger on the album with it being one of the 4 songs released before the album. It takes on a feel similar to “In the Night” in beauty in the madness, with it not necessarily being the most upbeat song like false alarm but you could definitely bump it at a party. “Secrets” is another song on the album that is a very solid make. Secrets is that song that you’re for sure putting on first thing once you get in the car if you’re just trying to chill and relax. It’s not as slow and heartfelt as True Colors but it is just a chill song with good production behind it that you’re playing anytime you’re traveling on the road, laying down listening to music before bed or taking a shower. It’s just a super dope chill song. True Colors is that song on the album that makes you want to have a special someone in your life if you don’t already have one. It’s a classic RnB love song that makes you want to feel something special with someone. Sidewalks features Kendrick Lamar with a great verse and the Weeknd delivering a nice hook where he says, “Sidewalks saved my life, they don’t ever lie, sidewalks saved my life, they showed me all the signs.” Great song, good message, and Kendrick was a great fit for the feature. “Love to Lay” is the last song I consider a must listen, possibly my favorite besides Party Monster. Max Martin and Ali Payami produced the song, with the Weeknd having an excellently executed hook definitely one of the songs that is a radio hit. The song is constructed extremely well and has the radio feel reminiscent of “Cant feel my Face.” I wasn’t very impressed with “False Alarm”. I thought it was definitely put together very poorly and probably rushed when put together. I was honestly kind of scared about the album when it came out pre album but the album has since proved that’s not the case. Besides “False Alarm” there’s no song I’m skipping over when it comes on in my library.

Overall, Starboy is a solid well-constructed album and even though it is pretty mainstream and pop I don’t think that should take away how great of a artist the Weeknd is or how well the album was made. I hope going forward however the Weeknd can start doing his own sound again like he did in “Kiss Land” and “Trilogy.”

Stream Lil Uzi Vert and Gucci Mane: 1017 vs The World

by Jacob McKay

The collaborative tape features 7 songs from the Atlanta Veteran and Philly upstart, featuring production from Zaytoven and Manny Fresh among others. An interesting concept for a collaboration to say the least, as both rappers offer very contrasting deliveries. Uzi feels at home over most of the production here, with Gucci sounding out of place on some of the songs. It’s up to listeners to decide, but I would venture to say that Lil Uzi is in the process of cementing a sound that isn’t quite the same as Gucci’s old Atlanta. “Changed My Phone”, the first song on the project, sets the tone with hard hitting production from C Note and a filthy hook by Uzi. Gucci feels at home here, and this could be the song on the project that goes the farthest. “In ’04” features both Uzi and Gucci on the hook, and is the other most successful example of collaboration on the project. The project is Uzi’s 3rd this year, and adds to Gucci’s impressive list of releases since being freed from jail. Listen to the project below, and stay tuned for more releases this winter.

“Blocking my haters like Shaq”-Lil Uzi Vert