Headphones: What soul sounds like in 2017

Hip Hop and R&B are making a huge comeback. Several artists are reverting their efforts back to the actual sound of their music, as opposed to the superficial and competitive nature of artistry we see in the music business right now. Artists are starting to regain importance in their lyrics and sense of soulfulness; putting the focus of their visuals, short films, or back up dancers on the back burner. 

Album of the Week: AfterHours – Mack Wilds: A talented actor is giving more of himself we didn’t know existed. Most recently known as FOX’s Shots Fired lead role as a cop, Mack Wilds just released a great 12 track album. He has quite a beautiful voice and a great sense of rhythm-- luckily identifying himself as an R&B/Soul artist.  

The unborn artist really impressed with this set of songs. His voice is like a warm mixture of Zayn, Usher, and a touch of Mr. Ocean. This album is so incredibly relaxing and transparent. Wilds doesn’t try too hard, he’s physically in the music. His vocal delivery is enough to prove that. However, the infamous 90s producers known as Teddy Riley and Scott Storch on these tracks certainly help Wilds overall sound.

Wilds features a total of three artists in his new album. Wale is featured in the most popular and abstract song of the 12 tracks, titled ‘Bonnie & Clyde.’ This song is an emotional reflection of a past relationship-- a theme extremely recognizable throughout the entire album. ‘Couldthisbelove?’ is a painfully honest track. It is so nice on the ears; the lyrics are relatable in such a real way. The actor/singer introduces the ‘freestyle’ by sounding charmingly unconfident by saying, “Why Y’all gotta put me on the spot right now? I don’t even freestyle,” and proceeds to rap/sing a strong verse over an acapella melody.

A couple of Mack Wilds tracks on After Hours remind me of Trey Songz or other past popular R&B artists. ‘Stingy’ is one of those songs for me. It is a beautifully produced song, presumably about a past girlfriend and one of them being called stingy. What a vibrato on Mack, leaving nothing behind as he dips from his head voice into his deeper voice with ease. Another one of these tracks I feel I might have heard before, is the track named ‘Explore,’ a simple song lyrically and rhythmically. The track reminds me of a good Ed Sheeran pop song with a touch of R&B. The song didn’t stand out to me until the very end where an alternative effect is over the tune. On this album, Mack noticeably tries and makes the all of the tracks more creative with innovative producing effects similar to those on Blonde by Frank Ocean. I admire his desire to be innovative and different, without overdoing it.  

Several songs are heavily sexual such as ‘Go crazy,’ where Wilds features a sexual interlude of a female character explaining what she wants to do to Mack over a voicemail, and follows with Mack’s reciprocated temptations. This song and album as a whole, really invites us into Mack Wilds’ ‘after hours.’

Single of the Week: Biking-- Frank Ocean featuring JAY Z & Tyler, the Creator: A truly diverse, intricate song essentially about the cycles of life. JAY Z comes in waves; relaxed and reciting powerful lyrics that take us in several different directions. Z alludes to references such as the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a famous BMX bike rider from Queens, past lyrics of his own, and several more references to biking terminology. The tune shadowing Jay Z’s characteristic voice is a wondrous, melodic and psychedelic background.

Frank comes in after JAY Z introduces Ocean’s verse as a “Sidebar.” Ocean’s voice is comforting with truthful, abstract lyrics and an accompanying harmonic, hopeful melody. Frank does not disappoint these days. The mysterious emotional artist has been featured in recent collaborations with other prominent artists, casually sprinkling his grace on other musician’s singles. Ocean sings raw lyrics about not being able to get help from anyone else besides this person he is singing to. He’s biking around, representing his freedom to roam while showcasing everything this he is capable of with this song of his. “Shirt in the breeze like I'm sailin' And I walk in my sleep, I can't help that (I can't) When’s the last time I asked for some help that I couldn’t get from nobody else, yeah?" Somehow the talented singer alternates between singing and secretly being a really good rapper—you’ll see. Frank also references BMX tricks and the nature of bike riding. He also talks about his thoughts on marriage, religion, and more. 

Tyler’s really hones in on his verse. Its simple, blunt, and clever. I really enjoyed his role in this track. The three character’s collaboration is uncharted, graceful, and intriguingly unorganized in the truest way possible. Jay Z’s role is characteristic of himself, Tyler is utterly a more powerful Tyler, and Frank Ocean steals the break in melody with his captivating unique sound.

Music Videos

 EDM: Oh Wonder-- Ultralife: Oh Wonder recently released their best music video yet on April 12. They could of went in a number of directions with the lyrics, but took it to almost every perspective. The music video explores the themes of self discovery and happiness. The group really captures the human experience accurately in this short video.

Electronic: Run Up-- Major Lazer ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR & Nicki Minaj:  This music video does an excellent job in showing just how attached the millennial generation really is to their cell phones.  The video takes place at a huge, fun party and throughout the video shows the constant distraction in our lives that keeps us from being present.

Update: Kendrick Lamar has announced his track list and name of his highly regarded album titled DAMN. There’s even a series of meme’s stemming from the title and face expression displayed on the album cover. The album is to be released April 14, and features artists such as Rihanna and U2.

Similarly, another large name—Lana Del Ray has shared her album cover on Instagram alike Kendrick.

The band Korn has recruited Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo's 12-year-old son Tye, to play bass for them on their upcoming tour.

Enrique Iglesias earns the number one spot on the Latin Airplay Chart for the 29th time.

Although it seems he is off the radar, the Beibs is approaching $200 million in revenue from his ‘Purpose’ World Tour.