4 music reviews, divergent and brief

the life of pablo, kanye west

standout tracks: ultralight beam, low lights, waves, real friends

why i like it: kanye is perhaps my favorite producer. he drops a gospel wall of sound and then something profane but true, and then moves towards something soft, vulnerable, meandering, raw, full of bravado. this is all what he does in the tracks, before his voice enters. he says his normal offensive things, and under that he exposes his awareness of the spectacle of himself and his life. i don’t ask for much more than that from anyone, i particularly don’t demand that from someone whose gift requires the public eye in order to feel realized.

i will admit i feel protective of him, as i do of all artists and creators who dance with their sanity in front of us. we want ‘crazy people’ to stay this side of offending us, and when we get offended we say ‘fuck him he’s crazy’…i want to examine who is allowed to be ‘crazy’, or controversial..who is allowed to make mistakes, who we wish well and hope they get help, who we just try to erase or ignore. who we demonize while they live and glorify when they die. more on that in the future. but well, unwell, he made a piece of art here, much of it is ecstatic and iterative. i could do without ever hearing the words bleach and asshole near each other again, and i would love more andre 3000. but i can’t stop listening.

a thoughtiverse unmarred, georgia anne muldrow

standout track: great blacks

my friend rich/fflood put me on to this and i initially felt annoyed that no one told me about it earlier. if it was a wine i would say it has notes of lauryn hill, mf doom, erykah badu, malcolm x. it is rap, political – nuanced ‘i am in community with other humans and i read the news and i know what time it is’ political, pleasing to the ear, and bumps in the car. if you missed it, travel back in time and get it.

traveller, chris stapleton

standout tracks: tennessee whiskey, more of you, traveller, sometimes i cry

i have to admit i found this song by accidentally listening to a playlist k michelle had curated, but i am so glad i did. i heard ‘tennessee whiskey’, and i thrilled because it felt like an accurate articulation of the sensual world. this dude sings his ass off! ‘more of you’ is the love my parents have, they just celebrated their 39th anniversary. it’s specific and forever and focused and really lovely. ‘sometimes i cry’ made me feel like he had seen me on a certain day last year when i couldn’t remember my name for the pain. i believe he has earned the emotional depth that shows up in his voice here, like he could sit in a meaningful conversation with etta james and brittany howard about heartache and art. some of the songs are too much on the country end for me, but the good slow stuff is oof so good.

this is what the truth feels like, gwen stefani

stand out tracks: make me like you, truth, rare

i have gone in and out of love for gwen. she is a badass, but she has fallen down the cultural appropriation stairs a few times. and she often performs with a pouty infant face that offends me. but i watched her on the voice and felt her goodness, felt her learning. she has landed in a realm of style that feels all her own, diaphanous and structured and lovely. so when she popped up on snl the other night in an amazing (really wonderful great good) song and dance skit with peter dinklage, i was pleased. and then she performed a song off her new album which i keep putting on and dancing (yes i am slowly getting back to dancing!!) around the house to, ‘make me like you’. then i listened to the album, which is half awesome lover pop and half awesome accountability pop. it’s solid, she sounds strong, and i love how music can allow us to synchronize our healing with others sometimes. i want all my honeys to listen to ‘truth’ and reflect on how we heal our hearts, how we land in what is right for us.

what y’all listening to?