What’s Your Pleasure? x Jessie Ware
After delaying the album a week in honor of Juneteenth, Ware finally released her highly-anticipated fourth LP. Returning to her dance roots, she sets the 12-track LP off with the lead single “Spotlight.” The song sets the tone for the dance-tastic record, doused in disco realness. The party doesn’t stop as she crescendos to the title track, the funk of “Ooh La La” and the synthsational “Save A Kiss.” This all culminates into a finale worthy of Maurice White’s pen. “Remember Where You Are” is a beautifully-orchestrated swan song, pitting visions of Dorothy returning home after getting her life in Club Oz. She’ll soon return as this is a party you do not want to end.
Sherman’s Showcase Black History Month Spectacular
IFC’s inventive sketch/variety/satire/musical comedy show returned with a fantastic Black History Month special…in June? Premiering on June 19 it was a celebratory funny, Black time. Something we didn’t know we would be lacking in 2020. Along with the special, we received a soundtrack with new songs and bonus remixes of season one classics. The new tracks included the dancehall anthem “Whoop De Kids;” clapback bop “Twerk the Other Cheek;” and, the new Black anthem “Add Some Kente.”
Ungodly Hour x Chloe & Halle
YouTube sensations turned Beyonce proteges released their sophomore album. The sister duo took charge of most of the writing and production this time around with a more futuristic sound to match their ethereal vocals. They set it off with the catchy “Do It,” an ode to the party before heading to the party. They discard unfaithful lovers on “Forgive Me,” and ask not to be judged as the other woman on “Wonder What She Thinks of Me.” It’s the 1999-sounding “Busy Boy” that is on every fan’s tongue. A solid offering from one of the most talented young acts out period.
Bigger Love x John Legend
John Legend – the Sexiest Man Alive – took a minute from producing series, starring on NBC specials and being a total social media star/activist to release new music. The husband and father of two’s Bigger Love is his first LP since the rather disappointing Darkness and Light (2016). After the buzz single fizzled, Legend dipped back in his R&B bag with “Actions.” Fortunately, most of the album follows suit with upbeat, soulful love songs. My favorites being “Ooh Laa,” “U Move, I Move” (with Jhene Aiko), and “Favorite Place.” Welcome back, John.
The Album x Teyana Taylor
Teyana is a star. She acts, dances, models, directs, sings, and has babies in between. But what hasn’t seemed to be set in stone is her mark as a bonafide artist. While many loyal fans adore her debut album VII, for the masses she is still an elusive act. The storm of Kanye made KTSE an afterthought, which meant her next project had to be it. The Album definitely has the potential but suffers from a bit of misdirection. The first and third acts are very strong boasting midtempo bops and ballads for R&B fanatics. But the midsection, the proverbial meat, goes astray with filler and too-alike songs. However, the sweet spot (“Concrete – Try Again“) and various guest features make it worth your time. The Album just isn’t the one to push Teyana from Essence’s Exhibit A stage to a headliner.
SAWAYAMA x Rina Sawayama
The Japanese Londoner has potentially one of the best albums of 2020. Channeling the best of pop music from the early aughts, Sawayama is grandiose in its sounds, lyrics and themes. Rina is a changeling hopping from one genre to the next within seconds. “Dynasty” opens the album like an emo-rock symphony from Evanescence. She follows that with “XS,” a hidden Britney bop of yesteryear. Sawayama echoes Kylie-esque dance moods on “Comme Des Garcons (Like the Boys);” and, gets introspective on the candy-pop of “Love Me 4 Me” which would have suited either of the Simpson sisters or P!nk. An album for both Y2K parents and their Gen Z children can enjoy.
MANTIC x Ro James
The long-awaited sophomore project from Rock&B artist Ro James has been one of my favorites so far. While his singles – including “Excuse Me” & “Touchy Feely” – felt incomplete as loosies, every song has an intention and purpose as a collective. It’s one of the stronger R&B albums of the year, splicing the new and traditional with ease. With strong Prince overtones, Ro serenades women with explicit gestures that never feel gratuitous. From the Usher-sampling “Last Time,” to the Miguel-assisted “Too Much,” James reminds listeners that love is the first language of R&B. My personal fave: the gloriously orgasmic declaration “Be Mine.” A song I feel is “Adorn” great.
good to know x JoJo
Fans of the then 13-year-old songstress have followed Jojo’s journey from the pop charts, through various mixtapes, and ugly label disputes. Finally free from Blackground and Atlantic Records, she is taking the reigns of her vision and voice, reassuring us her talent was never a gimmick. good to know is modern, soulful, and fresh, exuding personal tidbits of her trek to this very moment. The nine-track offering slides from yearning for an ex (“So Bad“), battling demons (“Pedialyte“) to finding pure love (“Gold“), and knowing when to let love go (“Don’t Talk Me Down“). You deserve, Jojo.
SONGS – Q2 Playlist
My favorite songs from the last three months. Enjoy