‘Cholla’ by Jerry Paper
By: Marc Arteaga, CW
Right off the bat, Jerry Paper’s newest single “Cholla” strikes the listener’s ears with a bouncy instrumental that is worth dancing to. The sound of his third single off of his upcoming album, “Abracadabra,” stands out from most of his past work characterized by a more slothful mood. While his songs typically seem to have a greater emphasis on the texture of sounds rather than being based on rhythm; Paper always features deeply introspective lyrics that leave the listener curious. “Cholla” is no exception. In this song, Paper characterizes an enigmatic person who is dealing with the confusion that surrounds him. The chorus of this song, “How can I confess my crimes/ When I believe I’ve done nothing wrong,” combined with the following, “Words and symbols have flexible meanings/ Malleable is the code that defines my world,” define his keen style of storytelling. Perhaps the most interesting attribute of this is how he contrasts a strong sense of self-awareness with such a dry-comedy persona. Just look at the artwork. By no means does his meek grin or snail eyes leave the impression that he craves attention.
‘Why Worry’ by Isaiah Rashad
By: Sarah Bazzy, CW
California’s hottest hip-hop record label, Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) wanted to give back to their fans in these trying times by having a fan appreciation week starting April 20. Within those seven days, the label dropped singles from Ab Soul, SiR and Zacari. However, the most anticipated release came from early TDE signee, Isaiah Rashad with his new track “Why Worry” produced by Crooklin. After a four year stretch of waiting for new music from Rashad, he delivered a track that seems awfully relevant to the circumstances of a pandemic and an economic crisis. He raps about stress, money, family and relationship problems in his signature southern style. He also touches on his public perception and critics being in his ear. “Now life is? For those who spite me with them false advices/ Bootleggin’ my CD, talkin’ ’bout you bunkin’, talkin’ like you ballin.” This is probably in regards to fans constantly battering him for new music and making up scenarios about why he has been so absent from the TDE family events the past four years. However, Rashad comes to the conclusion that his opinion of himself is the most valuable one he can listen to and that worrying will not get him very far. Instead, he invites listeners to “follow him” out of those turbulent chaotic thoughts through the bouncy carefree production of the song. As for TDE fans, their worries about Isaiah Rashad’s new music has definitely subsided as he announced that more music is on the way.
‘Synchronize Vibration’ by Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Roy Ayers
By: Joshua Moreno, CW
The brainchild of Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the collective released “Jazz is Dead 001,” an album that revitalizes the popular genre by releasing original music featuring legendary jazz players. The album “Jazz is Dead 001” was released just last month with “Jazz is Dead 002” around the corner. To promote this next album, the collective released “Synchronize Vibration,” which features jazz vibes player and composer Roy Ayers. Ayers had previously collaborated with the duo on 001, working on the opening track “Hey, Lover.” The new song, “Synchronize Vibration,” follows the suit of “Hey, Lover” as it utilizes ethereal keyboard chords accented with vocal harmonies and synth drones that pierce through the soundscapes. At three minutes and 30 seconds, the length of the song seems to follow the same format that 001 did with particularly short tracks for a jazz album. “Synchronize Vibration” does not feature solos nor jam sessions that add that sense of bravado improvised music like jazz often features. One point of the song features a bridge that gives breathing room to the rhythm section with the drums and bass riding out. It feels that this part of the song could have gone with a solo to add an extra flair, but rather, the song returns to the vocal harmony verses that began it. As this song was chosen to promote 002, I do hope to hear more improvised sections on the new album which is scheduled to release June 19, 2020.
‘Love in Mine’ by Big Thief
By: Koby Park, CW
Another creekside stroll, another teary-eyed bonfire, and yet another single released by the boundless psychedelic folk quartet that is Big Thief. Their latest single, “Love in Mine,” kisses the salty pool of tears left behind by their latest full-length, “Two Hands,” released back in October of 2019. As an extension of the last album, the track was initially released as a B-side of an exclusive seven-inch vinyl for fans; but standing alone as its own entity brings light to the gem that might have otherwise gone by unnoticed, collecting dust on a record shelf. James Krivchenia’s careful drumming, alongside Max Oleartchik’s flush bassline, make for a firm foundation which Buck Meek’s twangy guitar licks are able to effortlessly sway from ear to ear. Atop all this lies the soulful lifeblood of the group, Adrianne Lenker, and her acoustic fingerpicking and delicate singing. Lenker’s tranquil yet emotive vocals awaken the likes of folk rock legends Joni Mitchell or Vashti Bunyan, while her lyrical prowess can be equated to the mystical and poetic valor of Bob Dylan. “What we leave behind/ Like cicada shells/ Will be hollowed/ And eaten by the hands,” Lenker sings, and “Whatever comes/ When it comes/ Whatever leaves.” Perhaps coming to terms with whatever may have brought her tears in the past, Lenker zooms out to a wider lens, reminding everyone that we are mere spectators of this infinite natural framework.
‘WHOLE WORLD’ by Earl Sweatshirt (feat. Maxo, prod. By Alchemist)
By: Conrad Talamantes, CW
If you are looking for something to help you escape the dreadful state of things in this unprecedented time, then this track is not the one for you. With the help of Maxo and legendary producer Alchemist, Earl Sweatshirt elevates the collective bleak energy of the world into sonic form. “World ‘round me steady crumbling” is the chorus Maxo echoes throughout the song as Alchemist’s beat emits a bleak repetition of just two notes in what sounds like the soundtrack to being stranded in the desert with an empty canteen. Earl Sweatshirt’s verse is an extension of the unique style that he has cultivated in the past few years. We always hear that hip-hop is more or less poetry over music, but Earl Sweatshirt explores that idea to its fullest extent by completely shifting his rhyme scheme to unpredictable, almost random patterns. In fact, some of his lines do not even rhyme; its non-phonetic symmetry allows an air of expression that only comes with the directness of free verse. Through his voice and delivery, Earl Sweatshirt makes lines like “I like to think of life as deep, chilly water/ We in it feelin’ warm swimming upstream” hit the heart harder than any clever rhyme could.