Angel’s Top 10: August
September 13, 2017
#10 – The Race by Tay-K
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard 17-year old Arlington rapper Tay-K’s “The Race”, or at least stumbled on the movement “#FreeTayK” on some form of social media. As the story goes, the music video for the track was recorded as the now imprisoned lyricist was quite literally on the run from the law for accusations of capital murder and assault. One thing’s for sure and two things are for certain, facing the charges he’s up against and doing time could be the best thing to happen to the young rapper’s career. In hip-hop, once an artist lands himself in jail, they’re looked at as some sort of hood martyr.
Their street credibility peaks and their music, now looked at as gold, is streamed astronomically with newfound appreciation. “The Race” has garnered remixes from other artists such as XXXTentacion, ‘Lil Bibby, and most recently ‘Lil Yachty, making it more so a viral hit than it was before. When asked why the song has become so popular, rapper Shawn Cotton had much to say. “It’s real,” he said. “Look at the story. It’s so authentic. It’s real, and he has the story to back it up. Rappers talk stuff all day about what they do, but everything he’s saying, happened. It’s like Tay-K was telling us a story. It’s like we’re little kids about to go to bed, and Tay-K’s telling us a story about himself, and he’s visualizing it in the video. And it happened. It’s all on the news.”
#9 – Look What You Made Me Do by Taylor Swift
Hate me all you want for including this but the latest single from Taylor Swift is a bonafide bop. Well, production wise at least. The nuanced bassline melody in the chorus along with the spoken repetition of “look what you made me do” makes for a sexy melody and a decent attempt at the good girl gone bad cliche. The whole track is comparable to when a middle schooler tries on her first swatch of black lipstick, which is to say edgy, but in the tamest sense of the word. Swift throws not so subtle shade at those who have wronged her in the past year (Kim Kardashian and Kanye West to name a few) and I was honestly 100 percent here for it until she interpolated a spoken voicemail as the bridge, infamously stating, “I’m sorry, but the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead.”
#8 – 1-800-273-8255 by Logic feat. Alessia Cara & Khalid
Seemingly every teenager in this generation can relate to the sentiment relayed in 1-800-273-8255 in one way or another. We’ve all been at a low point where we want the entire world to simply melt away and Logic, assisted by Alessia Cara and Khalid, captures the angst and dispirited nature of a suicidal individual very effectively. It begins with Logic claiming “I don’t wanna be alive / I just wanna die today.” The song progressively becomes more positive, ending with “I finally wanna be alive,” much to my dismay. I mean, it’s wonderful to be spreading an affirmative narrative that promotes life and powering through its pitfalls, but the reality is some are still grappling with their demons, and the ending choruses kinda threw me off.
#7 – Swish Swish by Katy Perry feat. Nicki Minaj
It’s no secret Taylor Swift and Katy Perry have shared ‘bad blood’ toward one another for a while now. Exchanging subliminal jabs on the twittersphere and through song, the two mega stars have had a passive aggressive beef since 2013. Fresh off the release of her new album “Witness”, Katy Perry seems hell bent on adding fuel to the flame, only this time with a partner she can tag in the ring. The Nicki Minaj assisted track Swish Swish is all about surpassing your haters and winning in the face of opposition. Many of the lyrics reference basketball terms. “Swish Swish bish, another one in the basket, can’t touch this,” the singer taunts.
#6 – Havana by Camila Cabello
Fresh off the departure of her former girl group Fifth Harmony, Camila Cabello released a pair of singles early in August. While both “OMG” and “Havana” were formidable tracks, the latter takes the cake with its seductive, sleek production, suave trumpet melody and feature from Atlanta rapper Young Thug. This track is also superior because it doesn’t allow itself to be oversaturated with dance beats, but makes room for Camila’s cuban roots to shine, with a heavy latin influence in instrumentation. Though Cabello’s voice is notoriously described as obnoxious and underdeveloped, here she is sexier and more mature.
#5 – Wild Thoughts by DJ Khaled feat. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller
“Wild Thoughts” has all the elements for a certified radio hit. A gimmick (albeit an irresistible one), star studded features, and of course, DJ Khaled. The 41-year old producer with a humorous lust for life calls upon the talents of Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, who both give the track a R&B twist amidst the Latin rock instrumentation and heavy muted bass guitar. Innuendoes are sprinkled throughout, courtesy of Rihanna, and the chorus, though nonsensical, is extremely catchy. If that’s not enough, Asahd is on the album’s cover, which is a win in itself. The late 90s hit “Maria, Maria” is sampled, lending the track a retro feel and appealing to the older and younger generations.
#4 – Summer Bummer by Lana Del Rey – feat. A$AP Rocky & Playboi Carti
The warm weathered month of August was certainly not devoid of downtempo bops, and for that we can thank the queen of sultry sadness itself, Lana Del Rey. On “Summer Bummer”, she calls upon longtime friend A$AP Rocky and relative newcomer Playboi Carti to illustrate this unorthodox narrative of murky love in the summertime heat, and it’s just a step down from her 2012 summer hit “Summertime Sadness” in terms of tempo and style. The heat-dazed, shade-cooled beat produced by Boi-1da walks the fine line between hip hop and indie, making it a sweet spot for the songstress and rappers alike. “I got a feeling in my bones / Can’t get you out of my veins / You can’t escape my affection / Wrap you up in my daisy chains,” Lana dreamily sings before Carti goes on a rampage with barely audible ad libs in the chorus.
#3 – Love Galore by SZA feat. Travis Scott
SZA has been practically inescapable these past few months as she heated up the summer with sophomore album release “CTRL”, rising from virtual obscurity to mega stardom in a very short span of time. Most notably from her newest album is Love Galore, a minimalistic breezy track driven by percussion and the dreamy vocals. She teams up with Travis Scott, who offers not only a verse of his own but whimsical autotuned ad libs throughout. “Why you bother me when you know you don’t want me?/ Why you bother me when you know you got a woman,” SZA questions of her suitor. I feel with this track that the 26-year old has finally established her sphere of influence in the music industry and hopefully her presence will inspire more authentic R&B artists to be brought to the forefront.
#2 – Bodak Yellow by Cardi B
From the same woman that brought you “a thot never gets cold,” 24-year old rapper Cardi B has at last made her major radio debut with “Bodak Yellow”. The title is a nod to Florida rapper Kodak Black, specifically his 2015 hit “No Flockin”. She emulates his flow throughout the track, with lyrics recounting her chronicles as a New York stripper all the way up to solidifying her status as legitimate competitor in the rap game, as opposed to the novelty rapper many in the industry pegged her to be. “Know you prolly heard of me / Got a bag and fixed my teeth / Hope you hoes know it ain’t cheap,” Bronx-native Cardi B raps, referencing her once jagged set of pearly whites that she had surgically fixed after her success. One wouldn’t be mistaken in calling her the hood Cinderella.
#1 – Perfect Places by Lorde
Who would’ve thought that manic existentialism and party anthems could mingle together so cohesively? Lorde accomplishes just this on her latest single titled “Perfect Places”. “Every night I live and die/ Meet somebody, take ’em home/ Let’s kiss and then take off our clothes,” the 20-year old Grammy winner writes. The track is juxtaposed around the ever so glamorous teenage experience of chasing after the euphoric sensation found under the strobe lights on the dance floor at parties, but also the accompanying vacancy in her heart as she wrestles with how senseless and void the whole partying experience can be. “Are you lost enough? Have another drink, get lost in us,” she chants over Jack Antonoff’s trademark ’80s synths. The track ends with a minimalistic piano melody followed by Lorde delivering the last line in a raspy, burned-out voice, “What the **** are perfect places anyway?”