amanmusthaveacode
Published in

amanmusthaveacode

iLoveMakonnen — My Parade: Immediate thoughts & reactions

Photo by Michael J, via Pitchfork.

iLoveMakonnen deserved better. That’s probably where we need to start this one.

Makonnen deserved better than the shake he got from the music industry, better than languishing on the OVO Sound shelves after signing there, better than seeing the boy Drake jump on his Tuesday song. Deserved better than to get a pseudo opportunity with Warner Music afterward, of which came very little but a Carnage collab and another with Lil Peep & Fallout Boy.

Look, we know, we know, we’re getting emotional. But there’s a reason for that. Makonnen deserved better because, simply, he makes some of the catchiest music that we’ve ever heard. It sounds like absolutely nothing on Earth, but that doesn’t make it any less great.

We say all this to say this: the music industry hasn’t been kind to iLoveMakonnen. (Yet, he still loves us.)

But maybe that’s changing. On Tuesday this week, Makonnen surprise-released what’s technically his debut album My Parade with absolutely zero advance notice to his fans or the general public. Makonnen explained the creative process and significance of the album in a statement released that same day. “The My Parade project is my first album being back in control over my art and creativity,” the statement reads. “It’s about celebration of self and having your own parade even if the world is raining down on it. My Parade album is a collection of genre-bending styles that I like to experiment in and showcase my versatility as an artist putting no limits on my musical expression. It’s for my fans who appreciate and enjoy all of the different eras of ILoveMakonnen’s music so far and for new ones joining in now on my artistic journey. This is releasing music in its purest form. The artist creates and then releases it to the world. No major label, no distributor.”

Will there be something as infectious as Tuesday? Or maybe a song as intoxicating and thrilling as Drunk On Saturday, by any objective (read: subjective) measure the song of the year 2019. Only one way to find out.

As always, we’re running through this new album and barely, if ever, stopping it or pressing pause. What follows are our mostly unfiltered thoughts about the album.

1. 2SEXY

Know what we said above about how Makonnen’s music sounds like absolutely nothing on this Earth? Who even thinks of using windpipes in the way they’re used on 2SEXY???? Mind you, this is very much a great thing. “Cause I’m too sexy, I’m too sexy, I’m too hot,” this part of the chorus hits better if you think of it as the windpipes saying it. The “You know I keep ’em checkin’ for me, no Nikes” line got a chuckle from us. It’s weird and neat how the effect on the kick drums of this beat has a vague and distant resemblance to Clipse’s Grindin’. (Look we’re probably way off base here, but we can’t stop hearing it and no we won’t explain ourselves.)

Great way to set up the rest of the album. Keeper.

2. If It’s Cool

Judging super quickly from these first two songs, Makonnen is now making Miguel-circa 2012 music and we’re definitely not mad at it. (Meanwhile, Miguel just released a new EP that’s very much not Miguel-circa 2012. Oops.)

Oh wow. We thought we’d only mention how groovy the bass is and that it makes a perfect match for Makonnen’s voice but then the chorus ended AND WE HAVE ANGELIC KEYS PLAYING. “I just wanna sex, sex, sex ya all across the room (All across the room). All across thе land, I just want me and you.” Yeah, like, If It’s Cool is the love song. You’re not quite sure you should do it, but the urge is too strong and before you know it you’re saying all these things to your (former) lover. “Give me one chance to prove my love to you.”

3. Whoopsy (feat. Payday)

If this beat is any indication, here with Whoopsy we have a Playboi Carti song courtesy of Makonnen — but of course, he has a much better voice, presence and just overall everything than Carti. Payday rapping now…. not a big fan and it’s not even because we’re very much an 80s baby.

Yeah anyway, not a bad song but Whoopsy is a step or two below the previous ones on the tape.

4. So Saucy

Look man, we’re gonna need to have a dialogue. Because Makonnen makes damn great music, and always has for that matter. He excels at making songs like So Saucy, a song that no one else in the world really could replicate. Makonnen’s music is music that’s airy, eery and sticky. It’s music that stays in your head after just one listen. It’s music that would make you feel utterly miserable but because it’s sung from Makonnen it acts as an earworm. It’s layered music that you’ll never stop playing and, a little like Young Thug, the beauty isn’t quite in what Makonnen says but in how he says it.

On So Saucy, Makonnen is back to singing about drugs, which has traditionally been the well that never empties. There’s a fucking dumb pun about Ragu sauce there in the chorus, but we’ll allow it. Because we’d rather focus on the rest of the chorus and the “They’ve been talking ‘bout me bad ’cause they know I’m the truth” sentiment.

5. Whip It Harder

Big trap beat on this one. “Meet the plug at 3, Krispy Kreme south side,” is Makonnen’s plug merely a vaccination agent? Oh the beat slows down to almost a crawl for the chorus. We like the switch-up.

Whip It Harder isn’t the best song on the album but because it’s so short it never overstays its welcome. Not mad at it.

6. Bad Bitch With a Stutter

One thing you notice on My Parade is the huge place that Makonnen’s choruses occupy. To take a song at random, Bad Bitch With a Stutter has a chorus that lasts until 00:50 before the first verse starts. This isn’t a complaint, mostly because there isn’t much to complain about with the album’s choruses, which for the most part are big and catchy like you would hope for.

Can we also discuss Makonnen’s voice? It’s a warm and versatile instrument, which can at turns sound menacing af and then angelic enough that you could hear it narrate children’s stories. Oftentimes, this happens in the same song, verse or even rhyme.

7. More Bitches than the Mayor (feat. Lil B)

Hello Based God. Hope you’ve been well! Against all odds, he works so well with Makonnen. More Bitches than the Mayor is a clear highlight so far. The keys on the beat here are gorgeous.

A little like what Uzi gave us last year with Eternal Atake, this album is full of beats and melodies that twinkle, sparkle, scintillate, flicker or a slew of other synonyms of the word. Look, the beats knock and they’re dynamic and very much of-their-time. We like that about the album, is all.

8. All I Wanna See

That drop! :O We weren’t sure about the intro to this beat, which is all distorted keys, but then it dropped and it’s almost like the skies cleared out. This is the song you play when you leave the club in the thick of the night. You’re alone and going home, but the last thing you want is for those two things to remain the same. “Baby know that I’m the man, but she the star of the show,” yup Makonnen knows.

9. I Can See It In Your Eyes

Makonnen in storytelling mode. Pretty solid first verse, there’s a lot to unpack but the lover is someone who can’t find love but who’s also unwilling to fight for what they believe in and someone who doesn’t have money for gas but does have some for weed. The underlying message seems to be that the two are probably not unrelated.

ARE YOU HEARING THIS CHORUS AND HOW MAKONNEN’S VOICE SOARS?!?!?!? YOooooooo all this over a pseudo drum & bass beat, protect Makonnen at all costs.

10. What You Tryna Do

A guitar???? What was it that Makonnen wrote in the press statement album? That My Parade celebrates all the styles of music they love and that they want to celebrate versatility? You would be hard pressed to find a song that fits the bill better than What You Tryna Do. This is a gorgeous performance, there isn’t much more to say about it than that.

11. My Parade

Here we go, the album title track. Same guitar as on the previous song but on this one, we hear drums too. On My Parade, Makonnen discusses every heartache he’s suffered over the years and how happy or relieved he is to still be here today; it’s not quite groundbreaking, sure, but there’s real emotion in the vocal performance. “I’ve been thinkin’ ‘bout leaving for the summеrtime, find a place when I could gеt a little sunshine. Cause I’m tired of all this shade and I was thinkin’ how I could get away too.” Maybe we’ll get this tattooed on us one day.

12. Makonnen’s Beethoven

Song is called Makonnen’s Beethoven because, get this, the beat is a piano melody; we would be mad at this shitty pun if the piano wasn’t so gorgeous — but it is so what can we do? Gorgeous song, but there really isn’t much more meat to the bone beside that and that’s okay.

13. My Hustle Don’t Stop

Will we get back to the land of trap music for the final song? With a name like this, it looks like we just might. At least, the twinkles are back…and so are the trap drums. All is right in the world. “I could make a million off of meetings in the lobby,” Makonnen is back in his bag singing about slinging dope and making mad cash. “My boy robbin’ so I guess I’m Batman. We packin’, callin’ me the gat man.” We didn’t know Makonnen was a 50 Cent fan, that only endears him further in our eyes.

TL;DR

Overall, My Parade knows what it does well and does a whole lot of it to great results. Makonnen’s style is versatile but also very much his own; he’ll knock down every door he wants and there’s little we can do about it — and anyway, why would we want to stop him? Thematically, the tape doesn’t reinvent the wheels but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Go listen to J.Cole (whom we don’t love) or Lana Del Rey (whom we do love) if you’re looking for a J.Cole tape or a Lana Del Rey album.

Meanwhile, we’ll be playing in Makonnen’s house of hedonism.

.

--

--

--

The blog provides commentary on music, sports and pop culture. It looks at overarching themes and issues and goes beyond the typical stories. Most of all, it tries to laugh: give laughing a chance. Do it for the culture (and the ‘gram sure).

Recommended from Medium

Best TikTok Compilation #35 | Alechka Bragina

Music History Monday: Turangalîla

Future — High Off Life: Immediate thoughts & reactions

The Night Nick Cave Pulled A Fast One On Me

Best TikTok Compilation #34 | Alechka Bragina

Knowing When To Let Go of A Dream

Remembering Brenda Fassie

Music History Monday: A Critical Voice

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Charles BlouinGascon

Charles BlouinGascon

Poutine. Sarcasm. #GFOP. My own views. Wayne fever forever. Not a troll account.

More from Medium

The Best and Worst of Displacement and The War On Ukraine.

It is Time to Raise the Alarm on Monkeypox

Smashcut 365: A Film a Day — Year 4, Week 34

Book Review | Overrated and Overhyped: Shadow & Bone Trilogy, Leigh Bardugo