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Miguel- 'War and Leisure' Review

A Track By Track Review

By Rap DisciplePublished 6 years ago 4 min read
The album cover to War and Leisure.

It’s been a long time since Miguel’s first commercial hit, “All I want is You”. His first album, Kaleidoscope Dream, left a sonic footprint on RnB and pop. Since then, he’s had a dilemma: as his artistry continues to evolve, the nostalgia invoked by his debut album continues to overshadow the steps he takes.

Back then, his art was under-appreciated. Now it can’t be ignored. Has Miguel put his best foot forward with War and Leisure? Or will he forever be at the whim of fans who expect a consistent sound from him?

1.) “Criminal” ft Rick Ross

Miguel crafts an edgy intro that’s ripe with an extended metaphor to lawlessness. It’s in the same vein as Michael Jackson’s Bad and Dangerous albums. Yet this track is warm with major chords. Miguel’s voice floats over the hard riffs of his electric guitar, pulse-throbbing drums, and angelic harmonies. Even without a Rick Ross verse this track would’ve been golden.

2.) “Pineapple Skies”

This one is a funkier pop jam filled with imagery. Don’t be surprised if this becomes his next single. Miguel’s gift for blending elements of different genres is under-appreciated. He shape-shifts easily, and never sounds like he is squeezing himself into a space he doesn’t belong. Although this track isn’t a favorite, it serves its purpose in coaxing the listener into the next track.

3.) Skywalker”ft. Travis Scott

This track is spacious and ambient. Many aren’t in favor of this song though. It’s not the greatest single Miguel has ever done, but how can you ignore this song’s vibe? It’s a no brainer that Travis Scott’s android vocals find themselves on a track inspired by a sci-fi film. Miguel is continuing to push his artistry; why confine him to narrow expectations?

4.) “Banana Clip"

Forget a knight in shining armor, Miguel is ready to defend his love by any means necessary. Best believe that in the late hours of the night, a draco-clutching street roamer is loosening his grip because he has fallen in love with this song. Miguel has made the streets safer with this track, no question. This track expands on this album’s Bad-esque delivery.

5.) “Wolf” ft. Quinn

This track is darker and follows a bluesy chord progression. Miguel positions himself as a lone-wolf trailing behind the one he’s after in an ice-cold stride. In a climate where singers are chanting over 808s with autotune, Miguel’s sound continues to be unparalleled.

6.) “Harem”

Miguel’s vocals are eccentric on this one. He’s really blending all sorts of elements together. At times the song’s rhythm is guided by merely a kick, but then rock-esque snares provide more momentum. This is a standout song on this project filled with yearning and layered melodies.

7.) “Told You So”

Miguel is confrontational and blunt on this one. This track is unapologetic and filled with all sorts of sonic cadences that provide tension. The bridge is especially dynamic, as the key changes and causes this song to climax.

8.) “City of Angels”

The distorted guitar makes this feel gritty. Yet despite the scarce instrumentation, this song feels overdone. Miguel recites the hook one too many times. It’s missing the ear-worms that made the previous songs difficult to shake from your ears. It’s unrelatable and lacks excitement.

9.) “Caramelo Duro”

Miguel gets in touch with his hispanic side to leave his mark on the space that despacito dominated this past summer. I never expect Miguel to follow trends due to the fact that he’s a leader in his sphere, but he rides the wave. That’s my only criticism of this song. Otherwise, it’s dynamic and catchy all the way through.

10.) “Come Through and Chill” ft. J.Cole

This is the ultimate late night slow jam. This collab follows up Cole and Miguel’s previous collaborations. Miguel’s vocals stretch over a downtempo neo-soul instrumental. The tight jazzy guitar riffs and bass notes provide a great sonic pallet. I love J Cole’s political sentiments most of the time, but his Trump comments make me cringe. It feels misfitting, and as if he tried to squeeze these criticisms in. Couldn’t he have waited for a different feature to express these thoughts? This aside, this track is easily one of the most memorable.

11.) “Anointed”

Miguel is accompanied by the somber chord progressions of his guitar. “Is that the look of freedom” he asks. It’s introspective and even therapeutic. It’s a song to help reconcile the tumultuous political climate America has found itself in. Great outro.

12.) “Now”

Miguel is accompanied by the somber chord progressions of his guitar. “Is that the look of freedom” he asks. It’s introspective and even therapeutic. It’s a song to help reconcile the tumultuous political climate America has found itself in. Great outro.


“Come Through and Chill”


“Banana Clip”



The Verdict

Miguel’s latest effort is abundant with emotions, and genre blending elements. He’s more edgy and convinced of his greatness. This is his ‘Bad’/Dangerous album. Miguel will continue to evolve even as expectations try to devolve him. War and Leisure is a B+.

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Rap Disciple

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