And another one bites the dust! It’s time to say goodbye to yet another year. However, before we exit we must reflect on the last twelve months and what it has bestowed upon us musically. 2015 has definitely been better musically than 2014 was. Easily we can refer to this as the year of the return. We had a few musical veterans in the game re-emerge, and bless us with mew music. Even R&B began the steps towards a comeback. Puffy Daddy reminded us he still has the Midas touch, Dr. Dre didn’t give us highly anticipated “The Detox,” but he did release the album “Compton” in support of the N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton.” Let’s not forget, the baby of the Jackson clan resurfaced with a world tour that got extended twice, before we even got the album. Needless to say 2015 was beyond a good year for music.
“Turn The Lights Off,” tells the tale of a man who obtained fame and fortune, which later caused him some unwanted life woes. Rico has effortlessly proven himself to be that artist he’s set out to become. The LP is rich in lyric and displays good concepts, such as the “The Proposal.” The song suggests that the couple should just get married because they’re doing all the “imperfect” cliché things married couples do in the manner of argue, lie and fall out of love. His transparency about infidelity and the way he approaches each song is refreshing. Although you may grow weary with his constant rap breakouts throughout the album, it’s hard to deny the fact their so good and worth the listen. All twelve songs are perfectly sequenced, and transition smoothly, where you can easily hear the story being told. Told so well that the closing tune sounds like a sitcom cliff hanger, leaving you wondering what really happens when you Turn The Lights On!?
“Free TC” is the perfect album for a true music lover. It does a good job at displaying the potential of Ty Dolla $ign as an artist. Its wide range of sound is a refreshing delivery from a true musician. The downside of the LP is its selected songs that leave you torn between him being a rapper or singer. Still it doesn’t take anything away from the project, or the fact you have to weed out the clutter of songs. Ty’s content is strong, but it merely scratched the surface of who he is. The albums significance and underline message of social injustice and mass incarceration slightly comes across subtle. Its bark is the personal track “Miracle” that features his brother TC and friend D-Loc doing their verses from a jail cell, right before its transition to “Wherever.” Throughout the duration of the album his brother [TC] appears on the interludes via collect calls from prison. It spreads the overall theme and message about the importance of TC’s freedom through Ty’s music.
“MMM” is the soundtrack for the ultimate hustler, and its track “Workin” is the theme music for the everyday hustler. The project intertwines elements of the film, which makes Harlem the narrative, and paints the portrait of going from nothing to something. “MMM” had to be made and serve as the prologue in order for “No Way Out 2” to even have an existence. When listening you’ll realize that “MMM” covers all music basis and styles, past and present. Along with capturing the hustler’s spirit, it also reflects the heart of Harlem and merely serves as the homecoming of Puff Daddy.
“Wildheart” is electric, funk, and blues. The albums material easily grows on you with each listen. It showcases his growth sonically, but more noticeable is the fusion of sounds and experience; its musical porn that’s liberating and sexual. You can hear the heart of L.A. in the music and there’s parts where you’ll think it’s an ode to L.A. “Hollywood Dreams” is the truth of the journey to the dream. Miguel has crafted an album that can soundtrack a night full of joy, booze, sex and no regrets, leaving two with no sleep, but sweet memories and in dire need of a large cup of coffee in the a.m.
“WATTBA” is more than a solid effort, but it makes you wish Drake had picked someone who could accompany him with stronger material, lyrically and thought wise. The genius of the collaboration is that their music style differs, which adds color to the created music sound. The two found a lane and stuck the course, but the overall project sounds rushed (6 day recording process) without any real thought process. They brilliantly close the album with solo tracks, and in true Drake fashion he leaves us wanting more on “30 for 30 Freestyle.” Both Drake and Future make great music alone, and should stick to featuring on each other’s project, oppose to this album, which is fun music that will become theme music for the elite in the trap game.
Sullivan always has a fresh and original approach to her songwriting. Her style is somewhat unorthodox; the lyrics go in one direction, while the melody proceeds in the opposite direction making her sound unique, unpredictable, and yet relatable mixed with raw and gritty lyrics. For that alone she will forever remain as a heavy contender when it comes to R&B music. Her raspy voice is unmatchable, but matches perfectly with her songwriting skills. Her ability to raise self-awareness on a song such as “Mascara” to becoming a stick up kid on “Silver Lining” to discovering her beauty and self worth on “Masterpiece” is the pure and authentic view of her very own life’s reality show.
“Black Rose” sounds more like a beautiful exit, and less than a grand finale. It’s personal, vulnerable, and sensitive, but its material is full of apologies for his infidelities. Yes, its genuine R&B accompanied by live instruments and traditional R&B topics, but it’s missing memorable moments after it’s first leg. Tyrese has resurrected the R&B genre with “Black Rose,” but it appears the relationship he was trying to salvage couldn’t be saved.