Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?! by Milo
Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?!, the latest release from poet-turned-rapper Milo, is truly astonishing. The opening line, “Ghiath Matar is dead / Roses are not armour / In my neighborhood, it was become a poet or a farmer,” sets the tone for the entire record. Poetry is Milo’s way to understand and traverse the chaotic world. Saturated with enough cultural and historic references, wordplay and complex rhymes, Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?! demands and deserves your attention. Exploring his fatherhood, role as a husband, place in hip-hop and the ever-essential role of poetry in society, Milo has no-holds-barred on his bars. Ripping through references that you’d only get if you read five books a day — or as much as Milo does — he once again proves he’s got an innate ability for song-crafting.
The OOZ by King Krule
23 year old Archy Marshall, more commonly known as King Krule, finally returned after a long, dragging four years of waiting. The OOZ is a display of vulnerability, self-doubt and loneliness. Agony constantly seeps through each of Krule’s syllables as he ruminates on past relationships and rejections. The instrumentals are smokey — every detail creeping into unknown corners of each track just waiting to be discovered. Though Krule’s suffering seems insurmountable at times, there remains a sense of hope that it will pass. “I search for you / Could we align? / Could we meet here? / Until the end of time,” he croons on the title track. The OOZ is a gorgeous, yet chilling, collection of personal pain and storytelling. King Krule exposes himself so we can find solace — a sense of comfort knowing we aren’t alone in our grief, isolation and self-doubt.
DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is arguably one of the strongest commitments to the black body. An album geared toward the commercial public, Lamar carries conversations about himself and returns to the drawing board with an entire new vision. Critically acclaimed as one of the best hip-hop albums of the year, it is no surprise that K.Dot easily makes our top five. An old school combination of new testaments takes us on a high strung rollercoaster on a year that resembles a lot of lost hope. An album so closely related to the mental deprivation of today’s explicit violent and overtly racist country, Lamar loads ammunition to fight back. At rigidly dark times, faith restores disorder and offbeat understanding of trial and error. Lamar succeeds in giving us an album courageously at the frontline of destruction and despair. In full control, Lamar masters the renewal of mind and body, the sinful politics of love and trust and when it is faced against all odds.
Ctrl by SZA
SZA returns with endless romance and rawfully honest confessions of love on Ctrl. In one of the year’s most relatable releases, we find ourselves no longer hiding behind the screen. In continued combat with love and its reckless idea of online assurance, sadness is muted and instead self-worth defines the lines in which we place our love. It is much more than an album about forgetting men. It is an album of learning the ways that men attempt to control the outcome of their quick relations. On “The Weekend,” SZA strips the male ego one more time. No longer settling for the mere idea of an unleveled playing field, Ctrl seeks the fragile parts of love and learns to grasp the vital ways of protecting it, even if it means leaving behind pieces of ourselves in someone else. We find comfort lingering between the re-read texts, the missed calls and the fear of true commitment. An R&B neo soul no longer rids judgement of anyone. Instead, Ctrl asks us to critically analyze the parts of ourselves, the titles we give our significant other and the sacrifices we must make to keep sane, at least for ourselves.
Melodrama by Lorde
Self-possession plunges between love and space. A romantic endeavour rarely guarantees any stability. Perhaps it is because we do not know where or how to love. Vaguely living for the mere moment, Lorde’s Melodrama squeezes pain from an unexplored space of connection. The cure seems to be the dance floor and ironically, it is sometimes empty. Like many of us, the lonely hour makes us question if we are truly too hard to love. Would the substance abuse cure any of the pain? A low falsetto captures much more than painful piano harmonies. On “Liability,” Lorde recklessly begins to heal between erie expectations and the real reality of the love she deserves. Melodrama closely connects with the beauty of being alone. Whether the good parts never return, Lorde gives us a good reason to keep going with or without a lover by our side. Empowerment draws us closer to the battle of our teenage years, the substance abuse and the euphoric feeling we feel for mere hours. An album so close to the heartbeat of our years, the loudness of home belongs with us, wherever we go, even if alone. Melodrama calls for resetting the keys and opening everything new again.