Quarantine Season is a new mixtape from Miami-based artist, Remydmc. Blending elements of hip hop, R&B and pop, the release emits positive vibes, as he chronicles the weeks spent in quarantine. After being laid off from his full time job at Carnival Cruise Line, Remydmc has been able to fully immerse himself is musical pursuits. The songs are honest and introspective. The artist examines his own emotions and tries to work through his experiences, with a focus on learning and moving forward. Featuring some chill beats and unexpectedly creative inserts (Rick and Morty samples, etc), the music is mellow and the pacing is moderate. The beat is still thick enough to get down to though, balancing nicely with the personal interludes. Delivery wise, Remydmc has a decent flow and keeps the action fluid. This mixtape is structured almost like a diary. Decades from now, releases like Quarantine Season will make for interesting time capsules. I wish this guy luck. He maintains a good attitude in the face of adversary and demonstrates some splendid skills on these recordings.
Lovesick is new EP from singer/songwriter, Shyeta. The artist has an impressive background in music, having recorded her first song Fake Friends at the age of just 12 and subsequently worked with several labels as a teenager. The album stands out for its professionalism. Shyeta has clearly dedicated a lot of time and energy into learning about and mastering her craft, right down to the fundamentals. She doesn’t rely on any flashy marketing or smoke and mirrors production gimmickry. Her vocals are reminiscent of icons like Brandy and Whitney Houston, not just in tone (though she does actually sound a bit like Brandy) but in the quality of the singing. While many contemporary Pop/R&B style artists put the focus on image and packaging, Shyeta’s performances are rich with talent and substance. There’s real passion here. In the title track, Lovesick it’s amazing the way she really belts out the lyrics with everything she’s got.
There’s a nice variety of beats and backing music, not just standard stuff either. The music for Suicide 8002738255 has a vintage, psychedelic quality to it. One of my other favorite tracks is Rebirth which has an almost “fairy tale” kind of vibe. Shyeta’s voice is what makes this album as good as it is though. Very few artists will ever be able to perform at the same level as their heroes and influences. Shyeta is an exception, and this album proves it. Lovesick helps to reestablish the high standards that were once the hallmark of this genre.
Milk Tea is a new single from John 6, Street Mike & Mackinskey. Comprising of a lawyer, a doctor, and a geologist, the artists responsible for this flavorful jam all hail from The Philippines. The song is in Tagalog, but fortunately I was supplied with an English translation of the lyrics. As the title suggests,Milk Tea is a playful track dealing with the exploding popularity of bubble/boba tea among young Filipino urban professionals. It will be relatable to many Americans as well, given that the beverage has become fairly popular here among a variety of demographics.
The song also deals with the value of friendship, and how the experience of getting bubble tea is a relaxing social outing as much of a thirst quenching one. It’s like going out for drinks with your pals but without the hangover. The musical vibe is chill, and you don’t even need to understand the words to enjoy the track. The light, synth-driven beat and casually quick vocal delivery give the song a tropically futuristic and slightly hypnotic ambiance. Production quality is clean, providing for maximum clarity. Milk Tea is a cool track with a creative premise that’s well executed.
Hurt Di Innocent is a new single from artist, Kisko Amar-I. This emotionally charged release offers social commentary and expresses support for the George Floyd related protests. The track combines elements of reggae with a little bit of rock and dance hall. The intro is pretty groovy, and the backing music features a light beat. Kisko Amar-I’s vocals drive the song, which makes sense given that there’s a social message that’s being emphasized. He utilizes his voice creatively, transforming it into an instrument in its own right through layering and tonal changes. The pacing is mellow and focused, but he does demonstrate he has the ability deliver at an impressive speed a few times in the song, (something which is also evident if you check out his other recordings). Hurt Di Innocent is a passionate and socially relevant jam that encapsulates the spirit of the age we live in.
Never Sober is a new album from hip hop artist, Von Ba$$. This release contains over 40 minutes worth of flavorful jams. Featuring occasional guest artists, lyrically rich content and a wide variety of distinct beats, it’s a true “full album.” Songs like Crunch Time hit with fresh, summertime liveliness, while other tracks like 2-3 Zone have more of a sentimental vibe. There’s something for everyone in this multi-dimensional epic.
Von Ba$$’s delivery is laid back and reflective, as he relates stories, makes plans for the evening and sometimes calls people out without ever losing his composure. He analyzes and reflects on various situations in his life, often with a nod to nostalgia. The backing music is smooth and mellow for the most part, but the moderately paced beats have enough punch to them to keep the party rolling. My favorite song on here is probably Fucked Up, which has one of the better intros you’ll hear in a hip hop song. Combining quantity and quality, Never Sober delivers the goods.
Strength n Dreams is a new release from artist, Hazeline Taffe. This cleverly titled reggae mini-album consists of two tracks: “Strength” and “Dreams.” Both are quite good. The first song is a celebration of the strength that gets the artist through each day and “overcomes every obstacle.” The tone is upbeat and inspiring, and Hazeline can certainly sing very well. Dreams is a tad more tender and sentimental. It’s an inspiring song that pleads with you to never give up on your dreams. The vocal track is outstanding, and the backing music is emotionally moving. I could almost see this song being used on a Disney soundtrack of some kind. All in all, this little album is brimming with talent and the sincerity. Too pure for this world, this is an artist that makes you really want to root for her. This is fantastic stuff.
Pre Game Freestyles is a new EP from singer/songwriter Ellis Blè. The songs combine elements of trap music, afro-beat rhythms and moderately paced hip hop vocals. The artist has a smooth delivery with a good sense of timing. His voice really does flow well, and the surprisingly detailed lyrics keep the listener engaged with the material. The backing music is fresh and mildly futuristic, but the area where the album impresses the most is with the “stream of consciousness” storytelling. The amusingly titled Horny Lately also features a groovy guitar intro and is probably my favorite jam on here. Pre Game Freestyles is a fine little EP that blends sexualized sentimentality with romance, personal reflection and a party vibe.
All-In-Moment is a self-titled album from the Staten Island-based hard rock/metal band of the same name. The songs sometimes begin with sparse and coy intros before hitting you like a freight train with assertive guitars and a full on rocking sound. The guitar playing is very precise and polished, which is especially impressive for this genre of music, where artists can get away with a little bit of messy play if the song goes hard enough. There’s nothing sloppy here at all, though. Numerous strategic pauses and breaks are incorporated into these jams for great effect. The songs are also surprisingly dynamic. No two tracks sound the same, as multiple different tones and cadences are experimented with. Refuse the Call has one of the more memorable melodies and some sweet guitar riffs. The whole album is solid though, with complex songwriting and a clean, professional mix. Lots of potential here for these guys.
Higher State is a new EP from artist, Highbred, courtesy of Dark Web Records. This mini-album contains two crisp and mesmerizing EDM jams. With an extensive background as both a DJ and a conventional musician, Highbred seems to have a knack for meticulously constructing dubstep beats and adjacent club-style forms of music. The production is very clean, and he demonstrates an affection for complexity as well as an attention to detail. True to the spirit of EDM, the ambiance is bright and invigorating, particularly as the songs slowly build and “kick in.” In the case of the track Above the Clouds things really intensify around the 1 minute mark. Tame Me has more of a mellow, flavorful vibe for much of the song but finally goes into maximum overdrive in a memorably epic moment. Though this album is brief, there’s no shortage of “danceable” energy. Higher State plays like a little jolt of lighting in a bottle.
Bleed 4 You is a single from Canadian artist, Blow_flyy. The track also includes a performance from critically acclaimed vocalist, Keonte Beals. With a back beat that’s thick and fresh, the song oscillates between smooth, melodic vocals and charismatically delivered rhymes. The dynamic back and forth of these two artists creates an almost perfect balance. Taken as a whole, it’s all very full-sounding, as the mix is compact and condensed into a tight musical package for maximum impact. Contentwise, Blow_flyy manages to demonstrate a world of passion and assertive attitude, without ever veering into the gutter of unrespectability. Bleed 4 You combines class, energy and raw talent to create a vibrant, high octane sound that’s not afraid to show a tender side. The song doesn’t waste a moment of its runtime. This is like an EP’s worth of material packed into a sweet radio edit.