REASON — New Beginnings
After making waves with an enthralling debut album, expectations were high coming into REASON’s first album as a TDE signee. But New Beginnings falls short of the bar he set on There You Have It. And while it’s clear he still has the ability to portray emotions in a raw fashion, that skill is muddled with lower-effort tracks and sub-par production value. Tracks like “Favorite N***a” and “Sauce” don’t belong at all; they completely stunt the momentum of the album, and only “Sauce” can be saved with a by-the-numbers Vince Staples verse.
That said, “Westside” and “Gossip” see REASON being vulnerable like few others can be, showing the side of himself that corralled so many fans on There You Have It. And while he gets out-rapped by Rapsody, Isaiah Rashad, and JID on “I Can Make It” and “Extinct,” both of those tracks are highlights for the album. It’s clear the best in the game are fucking with REASON and believe in him long-term, and with those co-signs, I have to agree. New Beginnings may be a disappointment, but it still comes through with a few tracks that can stick in the rotation going forward. It’s just not a no-skipper like There You Have It.
Dinner Party — Dinner Party: Dessert
Back with a redux of their album of the year contender, Dinner Party, the foursome of Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, and 9th Wonder added a flurry of new verses from talented rappers and singers such as Snoop Dogg, Cordae, Rapsody, and Buddy. Remixes are seldom better than their original, and in this case, many of these new verses get in the way of the smooth flow of the first release. Still, all of the talented folks the squad brought on put on such a strong performance that it’s hard not to respect. Toss it on during your dessert and everything will come together.
Mac DeMarco — Other Here Comes The Cowboy Demos
Other Here Comes the Cowboy Demos adds another 11 tracks to the catalog of Here Comes the Cowboy, and this iteration just might be the best one. While the first demos were mirrors of the original album, this latest release features a completely fresh tracklist, largely made up of plucky and casual instrumentals. And while the third release of an album isn’t typically the best version, I think Mac breaks that trend here, as these new tracks better capture the laid-back, down-tempo charm that Here Comes the Cowboy didn’t quite produce.
REPRISE: A Roc Nation Album
In support of the Gathering for Justice, Until Freedom, Equal Justice Initiative, Grassroots Law Project, and the NACDL, GOAT-ed and black-owned record label ROC NATION has come together to release something electrifying ahead of election day. Across the 11 tracks, industry leaders in Rapsody and VIC MENSA joined lead alongside up-and-coming stars like Buddy, D Smoke, Ambré, Jorja Smith, and more — and the results are incredible. Give REPRISE a listen for 35 minutes of charged inspiration from some of the game’s best.
Headie One — EDNA
Famous Dex — Diana
Papoose — Endangered Species
SAINT JHN — Gorgeous
SAINT JHN rocks a signature aggressive flow on this one, bragging about his cars and women as if nobody’s done it before. It’s not a special song and understates the show he put on for his last album, Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs. A new album is on the way, so don’t let “Gorgeous” dissuade you from staying optimistic about this young rapper.
Wowgr8 — BANG FREESTYLE
Wowgr8, one-half of EARTHGANG, absolutely spazzes on this freestyle. It’s a big update over his other SoundCloud loosies, and is a strong teaser for what should be a new album in the next six months.
Xaiver Omar — Like I Feel (ft. Mereba)
“Like I Feel” is the third release from Xavier Omar’s forthcoming EP. The swoony sweet track features a verse from Mereba, who is honestly angelic. The beat, guitar, and piano foundation float and give the whole single a dreamy feel.
Anderson.Paak — JEWELZ
“I ain’t even put my jewelz on!” Anderson .Paak has an innate talent for putting together earwormy refrains, and this one is no different. He puts a high pitch on the hook, making it irresistibly catchy. The rest of the song contains .Paak’s signature loving vocals over a guitar-centered instrumental, making “JEWELZ” yet another memorable track from the Best Teeth in the Game.
Porches — I Miss That
After the release of Ricky Music in early 2020, Porches’ Aaron Maine returns with this pop-y single. “I Miss That” is an energetic track well-suited to long drives with beautiful scenery and thinking about the inevitable, bittersweet end of summer. The drum beat and synth moments are a highlight.
Julia Jacklin — to Perth, before the border closes
This pair of singles from Julia Jacklin seem to capture an indescribable present mood. “to Perth, before the border closes” highlights the singer-songwriter’s warm vocals and a sweet chorus that is a reminder that in fact, everything changes. “CRY” is an upbeat tune that takes us through her crying at a local football field to avoid housemates — it is personal, intimate and yet completely relatable.
Shroom, Soul Food Horns, Noe Mina — Little One
This trio has extensive collaboration history, making “Little One” an effortless, gliding track with glistening horns and a smooth drum beat. Paced by climbing synths, this instrumental hints at plentiful talent without flexing it too hard. It’s more of a tip-of-the-iceberg taste test, proving that you should check out more of their music to glean a better understanding of their artistic identity.