As long as you have options, you will have decisions to make

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Janet Jackson, “The Velvet Rope” (1997) album cover.

I’ve learned that there is only so much you can handle before you start to crack. When you see the small crevices begin to appear, you must respond and make decisions. And decision-making is maybe the most important thing about being “an adult” (or at least that’s what I’ve found in my 24 years in this life cycle).

Decisions can be easy but are often incredibly difficult to make. …


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Making a list of best albums is hard, but then agreeing with your friend? Y’all thought agreeing on where to eat was hard? Nah, b. We both had to leave out albums that we liked cause the other wasn’t feeling it, and albums not on either of our lists showed up here cause compromise is what good relationships are built on (and we woulda fought otherwise).

We got our personal honorable mentions first up, and then an alphabetical list.

HONORABLE MENTIONS


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In August 2013, I left Michigan for New York much like Madonna, with a dream, determination and probably about $35 in my pocket — except the part about being a white woman and going to Manhattan. I departed a life in 80% black Detroit for a new one at 61% white Vassar College, arriving a week early to participate in an orientation for low-income and first-generation students.

I ended up at this school mostly because my mother said I would attend whichever college offered the most funding. …


SCORE: 9

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Prefer to listen? You can hear the review, or read it below:

Marcos: Noname is a rapper from Chicago and she came up with others such as Chance the Rapper, Smino and Saba, many of whom have been a big part of her music up until this point.

Matt: Technically, it’s her first album as Telefone was a mixtape and it’s pretty incredible to watch her meteoric rise over just the past two years.

Marcos: Telefone got a lot of rave reviews, a lot of great critical reception and I think among hip-hop fans was really popular. Definitely didn’t get much radio play but in hip-hop circles, it was seen as…


SCORE: 6

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Prefer to listen? You can hear the review, or read it below:

Marcos: Eminem is a rapper from Detroit.

Matt: Yes, my hometown, and this is his tenth — I repeat, his tenth — studio album and it’s already №1 on the Billboard album chart.

Marcos: The surprising part is this album sold almost 200,000 more than his album, Revival, that just came out last year. That’s a huge jump for an artist this late in his career to drop an album that people mostly thought was mediocre and come back the next year, and his fans were kind of revitalized with it.

Matt: I did hear that Pitchfork gave it…


Our love language sets the tone for our failures and triumphs

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Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

After my first breakup, I thought I’d never date again. Then it happened again. And again. And again, more times than I can count now.

I should note that most of these people were not full-on committed romantic partners but people with whom I had some kind of connection that abruptly ended or gradually dissipated. It’s just easier to call all these situation-ships “breakups” with “exes.”

With each breakup, the pain got easier and I eventually concluded that my heart was never broken; rather, it ached. …


SCORE: 8

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Prefer to listen? You can hear the review, or read it below:

Marcos: Ariana Grande is a singer from Boca Raton, Florida. This is her fourth studio album. It’s by far her most mature and interesting album.

Matt: Absolutely. She grew a lot. There’s a whole lot packed in here.

Marcos: Jumping straight into this first trick, it’s a very quick glimpse of where this album wants to go emotionally and vocally and at first, I thought it was kind of a bad thing. It seemed like, vocally, it was a warmup. …


SCORE: 8

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The “Day” version of the David LaChappelle-created album cover.

Prefer to listen? You can hear the review, or read it below:

Marcos: Travis Scott is a rapper from Houston, Texas. He came up under Kanye and he doesn’t really do much rapping — he’s more of a general musician.

Matt: He’s kind of a mastermind of sounds, using his voice and other varied sonic elements, but not much of rapper.

Marcos: That’s how he got popular. He came up with Rodeo which, at the time, was this new, innovative way to put sounds together. It sounded like a continuation of inspirations being Kid Cudi and Kanye West but more innovative.

Matt: He’s a circus master of current hip-hop flavor. He…


SCORE: 8

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Prefer to listen? You can hear the review or read the abridged transcript below:

Marcos: Denzel is from Carol City, Fla. and is one of the progenitors of the SoundCloud Rap genre.

Matt: He’s bringing a lot to hip hop right now, definitely one of the biggest contenders for revolutionizing what we talk about in hip hop music and combining many sounds, as is characteristic of Florida hip hop music.

Marcos: I didn’t listen to very much of this genre. Not to say that it was bad but it just didn’t draw my attention, with a few exceptions. Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” — it catches you, it keeps you. If you say you…


By Matt Ford

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Billboard

On her self-titled debut EP, Queen Naija paints a portrait of a young woman, mother and lover. The Ypsilanti-bred artist released the EP on July 27 on Capitol Records.

The EP comprises five songs spanning themes of heartbreak, motherhood and finding new love, making for a compelling debut from the two-time American Idol contestant.

Queen Naija’s two openers tell the story of infidelity and pain. On both songs, Queen looks inward at her self-esteem and endurance and warns an ex that he will pay for his sins.

“Medicine,” the single that put Queen’s talents on the…

Matt Ford

Musings on God, music, sex and self-honor. Lover of Janet Jackson, Maxwell and King T'Challa. Portfolio/Publishing Services: https://5-d.works/

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