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The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

2 Chainz, Solange, Omar Apollo, and More Release New Music

Solange – When I Get Home

Following an extended hiatus, Solange is back on the forefront of the modern R&B/soul scene with When I Get Home, her first album since 2016’s A Seat at the Table. The two are immediately comparable, with noticeable parallels in their intro tracks as well as the cover art, a tangible continuation of the first album’s approach.

It’s that development that defines When I Get Home. Solange doesn’t set out to prove anything to anyone, but rather to celebrate her hometown through experimental R&B/Soul, adding in jazz, hip-hop, and electronic influences.

Solange is genre-evasive at every moment, fitting Gucci Mane and Playboi Carti features into far-from-trap beats in a way that’s organic and refreshing. Both features exhibit novel sides to the rappers that don’t show on conventional production. Production from Tyler, Earl, Pharrell, Dev Hynes, and Standing On The Corner brings further exploration.

The album’s composition is well-suited for Solange’s experimental goals. Sitting at 19 songs and 39 minutes, Solange gave herself the option to either expand upon ideas, or establish them and move forward.

When I Get Home has a lot to unpack. Each listen further unfolds and ties the album together, lending it a high replayability factor. It’s complex and rich without clutter or distraction; each element is all it needs to be and no more. The best approach is to listen closely — and then listen again.

2 Chainz – Rap or Go To the League

2 Chainz has a history of delivering when he’s in album mode. His long string of mixtapes speak for themselves and outline a substantial career on their own, but there’s no doubt that his best work comes from working overtime in the studio. How else would we have been blessed with the absolute anthem that is “Good Drank?”

LeBron James is credited with executive production on the project, and it seems as though his time not trying to win games has paid off with an album full of beats that bang in the whip. Individual song production is off-the-charts, with legends and household names delivering on every single track.

9th Wonder hops behind the tables for the soulful, contemplative Threat 2 Society and knocks it out of the park for the umpteenth time in his career. 30Roc drops a hard-as-fuck bassline on Statute of Limitations that feels like a sequel to “I’m Different” in the best possible sense. Momma I Hit a Lick is doubled in dopeness by Pharrell’s signature touch, as if the Kung Fu Kenny feature wasn’t enough.

Lyrically, Tity Boi is in top form. There isn’t much big-picture content to trace from song to song. But that’s not being shady. Not every album is good kid, m.A.A.d city, nor does it have to be. Larger narrative or not, it’s a strong group of tracks that represent a highly-refined version of what he’s been doing for years.

2 Chainz is ultimately more mixtape/single rapper than album rapper, and Rap or Go to the League is best received as such, like an extravagant Christmas tree with fourteen individual presents underneath. It’s perfect for the streaming age: chock-full of songs that’ll slide into your local sports & culture blog’s playlists or get you extremely lit in the kitchen when they pop up on shuffle while you’re cooking ramen.

Omar Apollo – Ashamed

“Ashamed” comes on the heels of a great 2018 for Omar Apollo, in which the Mexican singer and instrumentalist Stereo, a seven-track EP which caught the ears of fans across genres, as well as that coveted Pitchfork review. He started releasing SoundCloud loosies in late ‘16, showcasing natural talent and maturity far beyond his years.

Apollo hasn’t slowed one bit, creating “Ashamed” as the latest reason to hop on his bandwagon. Apollo’s style incorporates funk, jazz, r&b, soul and pop influences with taste and ease. The end product is funky, smooth, and a convincing showcase of the 21-year old’s versatility and talent.

Apollo’s infectious personality bleeds from every measure. “Ashamed” features howls, yelps, and exclamations belted with the confidence of an artist who’s been selling out stadiums for years and the youthful energy of a teen in his bedroom with nothing to lose. He isn’t quite doing the former yet, but given this performance, he can’t be far off.

“Ashamed” is like a highlight reel of an array of genres and their respective icons. It’s got the larger-than-life spunk of Anderson .Paak. He belts out impassioned falsetto yelps that instantly echo Prince. His driving, groovy basslines and sultry instrumentation relate to D’Angelo’s best r&b. Traces of the jazz, soul, and funk of yesteryear all find their place alongside modern bedroom pop and dance music in Apollo’s arrangement.

But make no mistake: Apollo’s style is entirely his own. Blended with a deft hand, these individual elements form a unique musical space, at the center of which stands Apollo. He fills every corner of the track with a passion and energy that’s impossible to ignore.

the moment’s entirely his own, and from the first bass stab and funky guitar wail, he grabs the reins and doesn’t look back.

Jordan Rakei – Mind’s Eye

Jordan Rakei is far from new to the British movement of genrefluid sound- the collaboration between alternative, indie, and hip-hop blended together within unique stylisms and a centralized atmosphere.

A lot of the central sound of these musicians has to do with their inclination towards a diverse skill set. They can sing and compose, but they can often play the keys/guitar/drums/anything else just as well. Their compositions are just as strong and compelling as their lyrics, and neither forces the other off center-stage. It’s a delightful balancing act.

Rakei makes a great part of this movement, bringing these skills together on his new single, “Mind’s Eye.” The track is arranged with pumping drums and an excitable, plucky guitar all guided by Rakei’s centering voice. The track builds, falls, and finally crescendos into a grand explanation of that feeling of finishing a difficult hike and reaching the picture-perfect scene representing the full beauty of nature.

Driven by his natural talent, Rakei has a bright future as an artist always ready for contribution. Look out for dude’s name in the credits of future songs, as he’s just as important and talented behind the scenes as he is with his name on a track.

Loyle Carner & Jorja Smith – Loose Ends

Loyle Carner and Jorja Smith link up for the first time on “Loose Ends,” a contemplative track in which Loyle and Jorja strike up an easy relationship, countering each other’s styles with smooth harmony.

Jorja takes the opening hook and the chorus, and seamlessly transitions into each of Loyle’s verses. The artists play nice with each other- bearing similar vibes of inviting the listener from a cold street into a heated coffee house with subdued, hushed vocal styles.

The instrumental slides in with comfort along the pair, as a piano section eases the track along with deft grace.

Neither Smith nor Carner jump off of the record, but each are interesting in their ambiance and relatable through lyrics. Loyle seems to be lamenting mutual failure in several close relationships, wishing he’s been more connected with his loved ones. It’s a concept he gets across without overdoing it, and the product is a song that you might not put on while performing aux duty, but it’s comforting for some alone time.

-The Sideline Sounds Staff

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