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Pink Sweat$ “Pink Planet” Album Review

Pink Planet offers listeners one safety net after the other. It’s hard to get angry listening to this album. Thankfully, it manages to charm way more than it offends, though its length may be a turnoff for casual listeners.

Pink Sweat$ (real name David Bowden) harnesses a unique superpower: kindness. From the onset of hearing his lyrics, we know what he’s about. There’s no unnecessary mystique or pontification. He’s a regular guy who wants people to be happy. It’s refreshing and completely needed in today’s musical landscape.

The Review

“Pink City” opens up the album with classic Gospel leanings a la organs and echoing background choirs. It’s an inspiring number with lyrics, “Yeah, it’s hard in the city. Where I’m from, mm. Tryna live, gotta make it. Make it out of the slum.”

“Heaven” is guaranteed to turn even the hardest grimace into a smile with its sugar-coated honesty. One of the standout tracks, Bowden soars when given traditional R&B production. Lyrics include, “It’s more than a thrill. I’m following what’s real. And don’t get mad when they don’t understand.”

Now to my favorite track from the album. Don’t be surprised if you hear me make a cover of “Paradise.” Pink Sweat$ shows he’s versatile when it comes to different musical styles. The acoustic track breezes through all the right places, and I still find myself pressing repeat on it constantly.

Notable lyrics include, “We fell apart too many times, yeah. But we always land back hеre some way, somehow. Whеn I close my eyes, I’m feelin’ so divine. It’s like paradise, paradise.”

“Magic” feels like “Heaven Part 2.” There’s nothing new or remarkable about it. Yes, it continues the album’s central theme, but it doesn’t feel…necessary?

Notable lyrics include, “And I don’t know what you did. But every time we touch, it feels like magic. It’s like magic, oh. I don’t know where we’re goin’. But every time, a cold sweat when we’re right here. When we’re right here, oh.”

We get just a wee bit naughty with “So Sweet” and its groovy guitar and lyrics, “Lay your head upon my shoulder, yeah. And tell mе all about your dreams. Don’t want no space between еach other. I wanna feel you all over me, yeah.”

My goodness! We’re already at third base, Bowden? Slow it down, my love! Otherwise, it’s another short but ultimately inoffensive track. I forgot it as quickly as I heard it.

“Chains” is probably my least favorite song, if only for its lyrics. Otherwise, I adore the melody and stripped back production. Still, I just can’t get behind these lyrics, “‘Cause baby, I’m a slave for you (Yeah, ayy). You got me wrapped up in your chains (Yeah).”

Yeah, you lost me there, buddy.

By the time we make it past the “Interlude,” the album starts to become a blur. “Beautiful Life” and “PINK MONEY” felt like the exact same song, and by the time “At My Worst” arrived I was struggling against a wave of sugar-induced nausea. Still, it’s probably the most quintessential Pink Sweat$ song on the album, so it makes sense.

The rest of the album offers more of the same, a standout being “Not Alright,” a The Weeknd-flavored banger that arrives too late. “Honesty” brings Pink Planet to a fully-realized nap, and I honestly feel conflicted on whether or not that’s a good thing.

Final Thoughts

Pink Planet’s mission is to delight and charm, and it accomplishes both in its first half. With a shorter track list, more variety in lyricism and production, and songs long enough to make a lasting impression, this could have been a much more solid debut.

Nevertheless, it leaves plenty of room to grow, and Pink Sweat$ showcases that he’s fully capable of personal and artistic growth. You don’t need to hear every song on this album to enjoy it, but I do recommend a listen.

Find the album below:

What did you think of the album? Sound off below!

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Joyce Wrice “Overgrown” Album Review

Nostalgia continues to overpower us. Overgrown, Joyce Wrice’s debut album, clearly establishes that. Refreshingly, Overgrown consistently succeeds in exploring a theme of maturity.

Interestingly, YouTube introduced me to Joyce Wrice by chance. I wanted to find new indie R&B acts, and she was the first one I stumbled upon. “Ain’t No Need” quickly became a morning staple before work.

So now we arrive at Overgrown, an album determined to transport R&B back to its basics. I’m not mad at it. I’ll be the first to admit R&B needs to be rescued from creative bankruptcy. Joyce deserves props for taking a traditional approach amidst the Trap&B movement.

The Review

“Chandler” opens up with sweeping violins and jazzy background vocal stylings. It’s an opener I’d expect from 2000s staples like Mya, Tamia, and so much more. “Chandler” has a clear goal: transportation. It drops us into a realm meant to be filled with overture. R&B’s sparse production as of late makes it an immediate standout.

“Falling in Love” continues this idea, propelling us with a slick, video game aesthetic. Featured singer Lucky Daye’s vocals blend with Joyce’s beautifully. The lyrics, “If I’m willin’ to give you all of me. I don’t wanna stay somewhere that I’m not wanted” resonate. They further establish the album’s central theme.

The single “On One” arrives just in time for those mandatory summer evening cruises with friends (or solo). It also sets up an interesting narrative. Lyrics, “We be going back and forth. Acting like you so unsure. But everytime you’re here, it’s like I’m all yours” showcase the fragility and uncertainty that come with love.

Freddie Gibbs offers a classic “2000s featured rapper” vibe. I can’t hate on it, though. It doesn’t really take away from the song, or maybe I’m just desensitized to it by now.

“Losing” is perhaps my favorite track on the album based on its lyrics alone. “I’m loving the idea of you in my head. But that’s not the real you, you could do so much better. Now that I know the real you, I could do so much better.”

Yes ma’am! *Snaps fingers*

“You” acts as a sort of jazzy refrain to “Losing.” I’m a sucker for slowed-down, jazzy production, and this hits all the right spots. It’s criminally short, serving as a sort of interlude, but it offers just enough to still satisfy.

“Addicted” feels like typical Soundcloud fare honestly. However, the track serves to showcase Joyce’s sonic diversity. The lyrics continue the theme of “I know I should do better, but…” which I giggled at. Still, it was mostly enjoyable.

“I know by now I should be better. If I’m speaking truthfully. And honestly, I’m feelin’ kinda lonely. And I had you on my mind like a million times now.”

“Must Be Nice” sounds like it was pulled straight out of the year 2005 and remixed for today. I could have sworn I heard LeToya Luckett make something similar. That’s not a dig by any means! Masego’s vocals massage the track with lyrics like, “If we take time off, we’ll never rebuild, yeah. We cannot construct with different people, no.”

“Think About You” mostly fills up space and isn’t too memorable to me. Even the lyrics, “Take me outta my head. ‘Cause I know love. And it ain’t there. You make me feel it where my heart is,” don’t offer anything substantial. However, it’s a microscopic misstep, and I’d rather stumble in a similar fashion if I had to. The production still slaps, if nothing else.

Then we get to “So So Sick,” arguably the best track on the album. Featuring a slick, jazzy “They Don’t Know” by Jon B sample, this is Joyce Wrice at her best. Memorable lyrics include, “But when I move on and find somebody new. Give ’em all the love that you could’ve had. Had to cut you off, now you got it bad. Now you so sick, I’m with somebody new.” It serves us an updated “I Bet” by Ciara, and I love it!

“That’s On You” slows everything down as we reach the credits. Featuring a mix of Japanese and English lyrics, it’s a great song (among many) to chill and vibe out to. And as someone who’s over the “vibe music” that’s not to be taken lightly.

Finally, we reach “Overgrown,” the title track. A soft, piano-driven ballad, it serves as an understated culmination of the overarching themes of the album: growth & maturity. I was impressed with lyrics, “You will be scared, unprepared sometimes. And don’t you choose to lose your faith. You are loved, you are enough.”

Final Thoughts

Overgrown triumphs as a debut album, a departure from most R&B projects that focus on crushes and heartbreak. Joyce Wrice wants to establish boundaries and expectations from the start. It’s like we’re getting a do-over of the 2000s with all the mistakes we made back then in the back of our mind. I definitely recommend a listen.

Listen to the full project below:

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VanJess “Homegrown” EP Review

If ChloeXHalle had a younger set of sisters, it would be Nigerian R&B duo VanJess. The pair certainly started out in a similar fashion, though VanJess is in a musical lane of their own.

Enter their latest project, Homegrown. As the name suggests, thematically the album centers around the duo’s journey from home recordings to being signed to label RCA.

For such a short record, Homegrown is so full of depth you’ll feel satisfied by the end of it all. The duo still has room to grow, but the arena is theirs for the taking.

A fun note about the album artwork: VanJess used inspiration from 1970s Nigeria.

This is where we come from,” they said in a recent interview regarding the album’s title. “This is our essence, this is our soul, but we’re not going to exploit it. When we were coming up with our album artwork, we were inspired by the idea of what it would be like to be quarantined in the 1970s in Nigeria.

“Come Over” certainly does a fantastic job of conveying the latter theme. The song makes its entrance as an immaculate blending of 70s disco (especially the groovy bassline) and 90s vocal stylings. Specifically, I heard so much of T-Boz of TLC that I had to check and make sure they weren’t featured on the track.

We then slip into “Slow Down” with the “Darkest Night” by Lafayette Afro Rock Band sample, also famously used by Wreckx-N-Effect on “Rump Shaker.” The ladies are at their best here, their vocals in near-perfect sync throughout the entire song.

I particularly enjoyed the lyrics, “I like it when you’re simple. Treat me like a lady. Do things with a purpose. Do things with intention.” You better let these dudes know!

From there, we slide into “Roses,” which serves a more dancehall mood. It’s not their most sonically cohesive track, and much of their message gets a little muddled and difficult to understand at first listen.

However, I do appreciate the shift from “You better come correct” to “I can be vulnerable if you’re ready.”

The chorus, in particular, further illustrates this with, “You got to be sensitive with roses. Fragile but open if you want this. Never been lost in someone this fast. Gimme love, all of me is yours to take.”

“Curious” is an obvious standout and finds the duo in their “Trap&B” bag, musing about an encounter with two presumably shy men. This track is appropriately feature-heavy, with the duo joined by Grammy-nominated R&B singer GARREN and Hip Hop artist Jimi Tents. I’m a huge Destiny’s Child fan, so I immediately caught the “No, No, No” similarities.

Still, I wasn’t a huge fan of the lyrics on this one, which included: “You just my type. Definitely in my mind. Passed me by again. And you looking right. We thinking the same thing. So why you acting shy? It’d be better if youJust come up and say hi, hi, hi.”

“Dysfunctional” steeps us into a more groovy electronic vibe with the duo returning to the “respect my love and my time” theme. This was also a return to a more cohesive sound that was easy to digest.

The rejection of toxic love rings true with lyrics, “I don’t wanna play, yeah, no games. I’m just tryna stay, yeah, yeah, yeah. Don’t say “Hey” in the light, but you’ll pull up Wednesday night. It’s like this every time.”

“High & Dry” featuring KAYTRANADA gives us more of the same sonically with the Trap&B aesthetic. I’m not a fan of their vocal stylings on these kinds of tracks, but overall “High & Dry” pleases way more than it offends.

Lyrics such as, “Something in the water, that’s why you can’t wait to taste it. Tip-toe in the garden of my Nubian oasis,” offer clear picture of the duo’s desire for sexual liberation, which is a nice change of pace.

Oddly, though not my favorite track, it has the best lyrics on the entire album.

“Caught Up” sees a return to another groovy alternative wave, reminiscent of many early 80s hits.

With the lyrics, “Heavy breathing, as I’m sinking. Know what it means. In too deep and suffocating. You’ve captured me. I’m in misery without your company,” I notice a trend for VanJess to jump back and forth between similar ideas and themes.

It’s not too much of a distraction, but it does become a little redundant after a while. Still, it doesn’t completely deflate my enjoyment of this particular track.

“Boo Thang” sends us back to the early 2000s with its pop leanings. Devin Morrison’s vocal stylings are right at home with the production. I could instantly picture myself as a teen at the skating rink, waiting for my crush to cruise on by.

The lyrics, especially, remind me of my adolescence with, “I think about you in the morning. I think about when I’m yawning. They think I’m phony, all of your homies. Tell you I’m playing but they don’t even know me, uh.”

Lastly, we arrive at “Part II” with “Come Over Again.” We get a much more slowed-down, baby-making rendition this time around. Once again, it’s trap heavy, but this is the first instance where I feel everything fits perfectly. It’s a great finisher to wrap everything up neatly.

Listen to the full project below:

Final Thoughts

VanJess shows incredible depth and promise as an R&B act. Few seasoned artists offer as much potential as they do, which is highlighted on Homegrown.

Though it has its fair share of lyrical missteps and strange sonic quirks, overall Homegrown serves its purpose. It proves VanJess has plenty of potential.

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Kelly Rowland “K” EP Review

It’s been nearly 8 years since Kelly Rowland graced us with Talk a Good Game. Since then, we’ve been anxiously waiting for a full-fledged album from her.

Alas, it seems my favorite chocolateer favors smaller projects over bigger ones. Ultimately, Kelly’s K EP is a delight, even though it could be so much more.

Before we get deeper into the review, let’s take a moment of silence for the absence of “Coffee.”

Got that out of the way? Perfect.

K opens up with “Flowers,” its sparse production and echoing vocals painting a haunting picture of the desperation one feels to appreciate those who are still with us. Even though I enjoyed the themes and ideas behind the track, I wasn’t blown away by any of it. In fact, I was waiting for a sort of climax that never happened.

This would unfortunately become a running theme on K. Most of its 6 tracks feel anticlimactic, as if they begin and simply lose steam.

I’m not expecting dramatic Whitney Houston-level key changes on bridges. That would probably be overkill. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that Kelly could stand to put her foot on the gas a little more.

Immediately following “Flowers” is the empowering “Black Magic.” While I, of course, loved the message behind it, I was still underwhelmed by the hook (or lack thereof). Perhaps this was done intentionally. Maybe Kelly didn’t want to put an obvious chorus any of her songs on K.

I could respect that more with production that wasn’t obviously suited for the more pop side of R&B.

That brings us to “Hitman,” a track that’s all too ready to be played nonstop by the NBA. It was a standout to me simply because of this familiarity.

I’d expect to hear it on a commercial break or in between plays at a live game. I’ll give kudos for the song not pretending to be anything more than that.

For some reason, we didn’t get an actual music video for “Crazy,” which was well…insane. Obviously a standout on the project, a Donna Summers-esque video with choreography would have launched “Crazy” into the stratosphere. Alas.

“Speed of Love” is easily my favorite song on K. It’s a gentle, acoustic number (which I’m always a sucker for) and hits all the right emotional notes. “Speed of Love” feels like a fully-realized song, which is a shame since we don’t encounter it until the end of the EP.

Finally, we bring everything to a close with “Better.” The piano-driven midtempo track adds a nice finishing touch with lyrics focusing on seeking a partner who loves you on equal terms. The lyrics, “Your partner should be a reflection of you,” in particular stood out to me. Yay for expressed expectations!

You can listen to the EP for yourself below:

https://tidal.com/browse/album/173027740

While I wasn’t impressed with the project as a whole, I appreciated the messages and themes of blackness, self-love, remembering to be grateful, and so much more.

If it were any other artist, I could let many of the things I’ve been critical about slide. However, this is Kelly Rowland. After watching her navigate the music industry for as long as she has, my standards are a little higher than usual.

Plus, I ultimately want to see her continued success, and I hope she continues to release music and a fully-realized follow-up to 2013’s Talk a Good Game.

What did you think about the album? Let me know in the comments!

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Megan Thee Stallion “Good News” Review

Megan Thee Stallion’s album Good News has arrived, and problematic men need not apply.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for everyone’s favorite Houstonian, but we won’t cover all of that in this post. One, there’s too much to go over. Two, you’re probably already up to speed anyway.

Instead, I want to offer an objective point of view with regards to my album review, one that isn’t clouded by the shenanigans proceeding it. Curious to know my thoughts? I’d hope so since you’re already here. Keep scrolling for more.

I’m Always Here for Dragging Arrogant, Trash Men

Let’s start on the high points. Our girl wastes no time galloping up and down the backs of trash rappers and the clout chasers who support them on the opening track, “Shots Fired.” For so long, I’ve wanted more female artists to call out the male-identified fuckery that dominates hip hop.

It was refreshing to hear her directly address the drama between herself and Tory Lanez, even though everyone’s still talking in circles about wHaT rEaLlY hApPeNeD at this point.

And from here on, the stans are going to drag me for all eternity.

The Filler Disappoints…And Honestly Makes No Sense

I’m going to be honest. Most of the tracks with featured artists sound like outdated filler tracks from early 2000s rap albums. They offer nothing of substance to the record except having the names attached to them.

In fact, the only track that truly sticks out is perhaps “Freaky Girls” with SZA, but it’s hard to go wrong with an SZA feature. Perhaps, after a few listens, they’ll begin to click, but as it stands I’m not impressed.

The Artists & Tracks Seem to Collide With Each Other

Meg has a very distinct flow that, unlike other artists, doesn’t mesh well with certain types of instrumentals. Part of being a rapper is recognizing when your flow isn’t marrying the beat. It’s what separates the pros from the amateurs.

We know Meg can slay it down on a beat when she has the proper setup. There was no reason for the delivery to come across as rushed and thrown together as it did on the majority of the album.

Ultimately a Disappointment

I honestly wasn’t expecting much from Hot Girl Meg, but I wasn’t expecting the bar to be set so low either. For an artist with so much potential, Good News should have been a much stronger effort than what we ended up with.

Hopefully, the sophomore outing will feature more cohesion, less noise, and more compatibility between the artist and the music. Notably, her fans and most of social media seem to like it, so my opinion won’t matter much anyway. Perhaps, that is the “good news.”

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David Tribble “Thrown” Review

Sometimes, we have to find the royalty within ourselves, a task David Tribble knows can elude us. Luckily, Thrown won’t just try to inspire you to find it. Its mission is to reveal you in the process.

The title Thrown is filled with double-meaning. It’s meant to invoke the feeling of being “thrown” into disarray while doubling as a word play on “throne,” represented in the title image. As an artist who balances his faith with his music, the musical content strives to find the perfect equilibrium between the two. For the most part, it’s charming.

Production-wise, Thrown isn’t a challenging record to take in. Most tracks feature only an acoustic guitar with Tribble’s non-threatening vocals to lead the way. “Feathers,” the first track on the album, gently seeps into our spirit with its Sunday devotional-style lyrics “I won’t grow weary. I won’t grow thin, and I fly like the eagle flies.” Right away, you’re aware of what you’re in for. What follows is more of the same.

“Wife and Daughter” dives a bit more into the storytelling angle as Tribble slowly takes his time to allow the scenes of the song to play out. “Headed down to Texas, west on the interstate, ended up on my front door knocking with his head. He was holding a picture of my wife and daughter, carried the cross of my Lord and savior.”

Soon, we’re lead to the title track, “Thrown.” Fittingly, it encapsulates the true meaning of the album as a whole.

“I’m down here on this basement floor. All I wanted was a glance and nothing more. But now I’m crawling in the dark looking for a light to bring me home. Cuz everything else’s been thrown.”

“Ready to Go Then” puts an echo-y acoustic spin on a very familiar subject: heartbreak. One of the standout tracks, “Ready to Go Then” captures the lingering, free-falling feeling of watching someone you love walk out of your life.  “I don’t want to let to you go, but I know that you are ready to go then.”

“Bible on Tap” eventually brings everything full circle with a more obvious approach to merging Tribble’s religious background into the forefront.

“What if the Bible was on tap, and we all started drinking, drinking it down, catching a buzz on what it teaches about love and hope and forgiving our enemies?”

Where Thrown succeeds is its ability to appeal to the casual listener as well as the religiously disciplined. There are songs dedicated to the Christian faith, but there are also tunes that are appropriate for any occasion. Tribble’s latest work has a catchy duality factor to it, both welcoming and heartbreaking. Strangely enough, it fits together competently.

Check out more from David Tribble here!