In 2016, FX aired the first episode of Atlanta and it is incredibly true to the diversity of the black experience. I remember hearing about Donald Glover’s upcoming series while I was still in high school, and I wondered what it would consist of. For the most part I knew Glover as Troy from Community, and I didn’t think his acting went much farther than that. However, after two seasons and a confirmed third, Atlanta is one of my favorite shows ever. And I am not alone here, it has great reviews from critics and fans alike, and is refreshing in an entertainment world that only does what is comfortable. After all, the reason that there are so many super hero movies, reality shows, and nostalgic reboots is that executives know that these will do well, these things involve absolutely zero risks (though that doesn’t mean that they can’t go incredibly wrong). Atlanta, on the other hand, is full of experimental and risky choices from plot lines to wardrobe decisions. Since Glover is a fan of classics like Freaks and Geeks and Twin Peaks and wrote for 30 Rock, while simultaneously working as an RA in at NYU, we weren’t surprised to see that this show was successful, but I don’t think we expected it to be this successful.
Chance the Rapper dropped his debut album on July 26th and it’s good. It shows lots of growth and maturity, but also has a few call backs to both 10 Day and Acid Rap.
For the last few months Nyck Caution has been teasing the release of his first solo album and the first single is finally here. After hearing him on the Nyck @ Knight project and some other projects by other artists (Joey Bada$$, Marlon Craft, etc.), we get to see him shine on his own project, which we haven’t seen in about three years.
I recently saw Noname in concert in Chicago when she opened for Anderson .Paak (I’ll be talking about .Paak’s performance more in depth at another time). Noname is, of course, incredibly talented, but also incredibly charismatic, and full of energy while on stage. It was whimsical to see her kinky straight wig blow in the wind as she performed some of her hits. The feeling I felt after the concert inspired me to dive into my hard drive and pull out a song analysis I did for Noname when Room 25 first dropped. Here is that analysis.
Chicago-based artist, Eryn Allen Kane, is a vocal powerhouse. Her voice yields incredibly jazzy and soulful music with an incredibly vulnerable tone. Also, she’s worked with Prince for goodness sake. Eryn is a native of Detroit, but she’s lived in a number of places including Australia, and now she lives in Chicago. She has been involved with projects by many other Chicago-based artists including Chance the rapper, Noname, Saba, and Donnie Trumpet, and the Social Experiment. As of June of 2019, she’s dropped three singles, and three full projects, including her latest project a tree planted by water. Her music video for “Have Mercy” shows some contemporary dance moves, and really creates that “oh so you an artist artist” type of feel, and it looks like her new music will be in the same vain.
Vic Mensa’s name has been in headlines for lots of reasons: some good, some bad. I’ve known about Vic Mensa and his presence in music for the better part of five or six years, but I’ve never felt inclined to listen to his music, for whatever reason. However, I think his latest release and comments on CNN are not being talked about nearly enough in the music commentary sphere.