Music Listened to During the Month of November

Tinashe — Nightride (R&B) (2016) 6+ Not bad R&B. Production is a little on the creative side as well which is always a plus.

A Tribe Called Quest — We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your service (hip-hop) (2016) 8- Tribe came through for the first time in over a decade with this record that encapsulates their previous jazz style with some contemporary flare. They’re still the masters of balancing chill rap with poignant, lyrical gems. It includes some Phife Dawg verses as well which are a great touch. Hip-hop’s greatest three-man-weave does it again, and at a great time, too. Hearing from these voices in 2016 is more meaningful than I thought it would be; listen to “We the People…”, and you’ll catch my drift.

6LACK — FREE 6LACK (R&B) (2016) 5+Moody, syruppy R&B is getting played out. Everyone’s trying to be the next PARTYNEXTDOOR or reincarnate what The Weeknd did better than anyone since his 2011 Trilogy. 6LACK is no different, but some of these beats are so well-produced that it gives his boring singing a pass. I got bored of him halfway through the first song. It’s not like he’s bad, he’s just not really impressive in any way. There’s a couple of stellar beats on this project that make it worthwhile.

The Weeknd — Starboy (R&B) (2016) 6 The Weeknd goes mainstream again following 2015’s incredibly commercially successful Beauty Behind the Madness. Unfortunately, like its predecessor, Starboy soars when it tries to take contemporary pop R&B in new directions, but more often than not it falls flat. The success is demonstrated most strongly with the title track that gets a lovely touch in the production from Daft Punk. It’s a top 20 song of the year with a great, outer-spacey groove from the percussion, melancholy piano keys that draw you into Abel’s falsetto voice, and, again, just a great percussion groove. You feel like a super cool astronaut riding around in a shiny silver space-lambo when this song is on. “Reminder” is another standout early on where he pulls off the ultimate flex by bragging about his Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards win (a feat that would be completely embarrassing if not for the fact that it was for a song about cocaine). It’s too bad the album doesn’t have more lyrical moments like this. Instead it’s more of the same boring party, girls, and drugs problems. It’s too bad, because when you have a name, face, and music as prominent and recognizable as The Weeknd’s, personal lyricism to attach all that to can really take your music to special places. Instead, it’s pretty much more of the same, and with 18 tracks, there’s plenty of fat that could’ve been trimmed down to help the more successful and ambitious cuts stand out more.

YG — Red Friday (hip-hop) (2016) 6+YG links up with DJ Mustard again for a quick little EP. It’s strongly reminiscent of YG’s My Krazy Life; these tracks can very easily serve as b-sides from that record. It’s good, but not as good as either of his past two full-length albums.