Stillness in Wonderland
[Age 101; 2017]
Over the past three years, Little Simz, the up-and-coming London hip-hop star, has shown her range. Her 2015 underground hit, “Dead Body”, hinted toward a dark and brooding artist while 2016’s AGE 101 DROPX EP aimed toward a more electronic approach. 2016’s conceptual effort Stillness in Wonderland continues in her path of unexpected turns with an album that is mellow and soulful, reminiscent of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun.
[Young Turks; 2017]
A lot has happened since Sampha’s promising 2010 debut, Dual EP. Instead of capitalizing off of his first effort, Sampha instead spent the next seven years supporting his mother as she suffered with cancer. She passed away in 2015, and he would soon after discover his own health scare in the form of a lump in his throat. The result of this seven year hiatus from releasing music is Process, an album with a depth and maturity far exceeding that of most debut, full-length efforts.
Swet Shop Boys
It is officially time to start wetting our pants – Donald Trump will be the President of the United States in mere months. The thought of that orange faced, mentally ill galoot running the most powerful country in the world is reason enough to be nervous, but his hateful rhetoric of bigotry and oppression has been even more appalling. Expressing this panic and anxiety as a white man feels a bit like empty venting in comparison to those who actually have something to fear in the Trump dictatorship.
Enemy #1 seems to be anyone of Muslim descent. Threats of a Muslim registry and even internment camps have already been floated by the Trump camp, and one can’t help but feel helpless to a Republican majority that might just appease the mad man’s wishes. Swet Shop Boys, a hip-hop duo comprised of Heems and Riz MC (both of Muslim descent), might just be the soundtrack of angst and hope that we have all been looking for in these trying times.
A Tribe Called Red
We Are the Halluci Nation
You are more likely to hear about the Cleveland Indian’s battle with the Chicago Cubs in the World Series than you are to hear about The Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s protest of the North Dakota pipeline. Really, it isn’t that surprising. For over 400 years, Native Americans have been treated as second class citizens, their cause often ignored or quickly dismissed. With their third album We Are the Halluci Nation, the Canadian DJ trio called A Tribe Called Red are unwilling to sit idly by while the injustices of colonization continue to wreak havoc on indigenous people of North America.
Jumping the Shark
[Secretly Canadian; 2016]
We are all flawed humans. All of us. Donald Trump. Hilary Clinton, and yes, even Ken Bone. Celebrity provides us all with an outlet to judge others without fear of repercussions, but in the end, we all have our own crosses to bear. Instead of taking aim at fame, Alex Cameron decides to expose the mundane flaws of all of us: the business man, the drunk, and the dude living in his parents’ basement.
[Dead Ocean; 2016]
When we finally reach adulthood, all of the pains of puberty are supposedly left behind for a more measured and mature livelihood. We all know this myth is far from true. In fact, often those feelings of insecurity and fear are heightened with age, all of us bumbling around like big dumb teenagers trying to find our way in the uncertain future. Mitski explores this perpetual adolescence on Puberty 2, an album that exposes the endless battle to find happiness in the mundanity of adult life.
Trans Day of Revenge
[Amoeba Music; 2016]
Whatever happened to teenage angst? When I was an adolescent, teens who were frustrated with the state of the world found their battle cry in the music of bands like Propaghandi, Pennywise, and Good Riddance. The generation before me fought the reign of Reagan through bands like Minor Threat, Black Flag, and yes, Reagan Youth. But what do the frustrated youth of today turn to when upset? A snarky tweet with an @ mention? Holding up a hash-tagged sign in an Instagram photo? A Change.org petition that will be about as effective as a petition for the government to begin construction on the Death Star?