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Music Notes (July 2017)

Okay the past few months have been CRAZY! Yeah, I've slipped up on the blogging, but I promise to do better. Anyway, a lot of really nice musical things have happened lately, so here are a few albums that have come across my iTunes playlist:

1) 4:44 - Shawn Carter's (Jay Z) newest album is probably the most "woke-est" album of the summer (if not the year). Mr. Carter effortlessly moves from track to track and reveals a different aspect of his musical psyche each time. Nothing on this album sounds like typical Jay Z (whom we've all come to hear rap about blowing money, females, etc.), which is probably a display of the maturity (or narcissism depending on your take). The ten tracks on the album leave no want of skips. Carter discusses everything from a juxtaposition of samples detailing financial wealth and inheritance and identity (Story of O.J.); to his mother's liberating announcement of her lesbian identity (Smile); to seemingly apologizing for womanizing...possibly with TWO "Beckys" (4:44). Frank Ocean (where the hell has he been hiding) and Damian Marley make some guest appearances. Overall, the album is solidly one of the best albums this year (it went Platinum in the first six days of release). Check it out!

2) Future Friends - SUPERFRUIT (b.k.a. Scott Hoying and Mitch Grassi from Grammy winning, platinum recording artist "Pentatonix") have released their debut EP. This EP is the first of a two part release (part 2 released in September of this year). If 4:44 is the "woke-est" album of the summer, then Future Friends is arguably the feel-good album of the summer. With one of PTX's members resigning for family time, many of the members have taken the transition period for solo projects. Superfruit brings a variety of original songs from the duo that reminds me of an elaborate fusion of 80s pop with contemporary music and swagger. The duo musically travels from Art Pop Electronica (Imaginary Parties); to infectious grooves, pronounced bass lines, and urban swag (Bad 4 Us); to a slick EDM pop joint (Future Friends). While it's weird not hearing three other voices alongside Mitch and Scott, SUPERFRUIT (duo) delivers a quality EP that will have you jamming all year.

3) Steven Universe: Soundtrack Vol. 1 - Rebecca Sugar is an absolute genius when it comes to her Cartoon Network hit "Steven Universe". The show features the vocal talents of Estelle, DeeDee Magno, Uzo Aduba, Patti LuPone, and even Rebecca Sugar (the show's creator) herself. The album (which has yet to have a physical form, but can be downloaded via iTunes), gives a nod back to classic 80s rock ballads to empowering numbers (Stronger than You). Most of the songs are often guilty of the frequent use of Ukuleles as exemplified with songs such as “Giant Woman”, “Peace and Love (On Planet Earth)” and “Be Wherever You Are” for the sake of maintaining it’s colorful hipster schtick but are thankfully short & charming in such a way that they don’t overstay their welcome. Lastly, Rebecca Sugar's jazzy waltz of "Love Like You" is a respectable send off to the album. If you're not a fan of the series, then a quick persual and singular track by track download would suffice. However, the album is completely worth a listen!

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