D’Angelo — “Ain’t That Easy”
Having not released an album in 14 years, fans of D’Angelo would have taken any news or sign that something was on the horizon, but they got a lot more than that right before Christmas, when the R&B singer surprisingly released Black Messiah. The album screwed everyone’s year-end lists for best albums and has been compared to Marvin Gaye and Sly and the Family Stone, with its blending of social commentary and love songs. Along with the release, D’Angelo penned a message to fans saying that the album was inspired by the protests in Ferguson and Egypt and by movements like Occupy Wall Street. The album, he says, “is not about praising one charismatic leader but celebrating thousands of them … Black Messiah is not one man. It’s a feeling that, collectively, we are all that leader.” I wonder what Yeezus thinks of that.
Joey Bada$$ — “On and On (featuring Maverick Sabre and Dyemond Lewis)”
Brooklyn’s Joey Bada$$ is set to release his debut studio album on Jan. 20, and there has been a steady flow of teasers that have been coming out in anticipation of the release. Arguably the best offering yet, Bada$$ recently unveiled “On and On,” which features European singer/songwriter, Maverick Sabre, and Bada$$’s Pro Era affiliate, Dyemond Lewis. The track features a confident yet self-aware Bada$$ as he readies for the next stage of his career, which for him also means looking at how he got to this point. A good portion of the track deals with the death of his good friend and collaborator, Capital Steez, with Bada$$’s ultimate message being “time don’t stand still, so you’ve got to move on.”
The Weeknd — “Earned It”
While I can’t say I know much about Fifty Shades of Grey, from what I have heard, the addition of The Weeknd to the upcoming film’s soundtrack is a very logical collaboration. On his latest song, Abel croons overtop of some choppy orchestral strings, giving the song a somewhat playful feeling. Though the beat is a little different from what the Weeknd has become known for, and the lyrics are pretty tame for what would be expected, it still features a catchy chorus, and some cheesy lines that you can pull out to try and impress someone, try: “you’re my favourite kind of night.” That might get you some brownie points.
Wale — “Keep It Moving (featuring Ab-Soul and Magazeen)”
For the rest of us, Wale gave us Festivus, a mixtape that continues to prove his obsession with Seinfeld (he has previously released The Mixtape About Nothing, More About Nothing, and his upcoming album will be titled The Album About Nothing). The newest release features appearances by A$AP Ferg, Pusha T and Chance The Rapper and is done in collaboration with Canadian producer, A-Trak. One of the standouts on the mixtape is the Ab-Soul and Magazeen assisted “Keep it Moving,” which as the title would suggest, is a fast-paced song that sees Wale and Ab-Soul trading verses that even Frank Constanza would appreciate.