20 Summer Releases Worth A Listen
With the fall semester now in full swing, summer is quickly becoming a fleeting memory. The absurd amount of music released between May and September, teamed with the freedom to attend as many concerts as my internship money can buy, make it, in every sense, the most turned up portion of my year. As an avid fan, I am fascinated by the progression of sound as trends fade, but inevitably leave a lasting impression. Rigid genre definitions become irrelevant, and unlikely collaborations start popping up constantly. This summer, like any other, was filled with viral tracks, videos and stories. Snoop Dogg became Snoop Lion, Carly Rae's "Call Me, Maybe" made the radio unlistenable, and South Korean hit "Gangnam Style" remains in heavy rotation at all parties. Earl Sweatshirt re-emerged, and 2 Chainz is now a household name. The goal of this playlist is to document some of the most notable releases of the summer and, more importantly, the general direction of music as we look forward to another year in Claremont. These songs are, by no means, listed in order of quality or separated by category. Instead, I hope that the sequence creates the most engaging and smooth listening experience for you all. Underneath the list you can stream and download the whole thang, so feel free to skip to the bottom. Have a great weekend and get ratchet in the foam!
1. Featured: "Swimming Pools (Drank)" (produced by T-Minus) by Kendrick Lamar
Album (Release Date): good kid, m.A.A.d. city (October 22nd)
Over the last couple years, Compton's Kendrick Lamar has proven himself to be one of the most promising artists hip-hop has seen in a long time. His debut independently released album, Section .80, was an instant classic and earned him a deal with west coast legend Dr. Dre and Interscope records. Lamar possesses a timeless sound, innovative flow and conscious content that feels like the next natural step for great west coast rap. His Black Hippy crew, consisting of Lamar, Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q (see 19) and Jay Rock, is steadily rising and gearing up for a huge year.
"Swimming Pools" is the first single off of Kendrick's highly anticipated album and truly embodies the breadth of his ability. While on the surface, this makes for a high-energy raging cut, if you pay attention to the lyricism you can uncover an incredible amount of commentary on alcohol use and abuse. His ever-evolving flow manages to express and deconstruct any and every emotion that goes along with his chosen topic. Turn this one up, and note that the chorus could very easily be our school's slogan.
2. Featured: "Pyramids" by Frank Ocean
Album (Release Date): channel ORANGE (July 10th) (iTunes)
Odd Future affiliate Frank Ocean first gained notice for his mixtape, Nostalgia Ultra, last year. After being featured prominently on Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch The Throne album, he quickly became a favorite for music enthusiasts in all genres. In addition to having a voice worthy of a church choir, Ocean is a superb songwriter capable of delving into all sorts of feelings and topics. His debut album, Channel Orange, received an overwhelmingly positive response from both fans and critics. "Pyramids" is a nearly ten-minute post-soul masterpiece in which Ocean creates an abstract tale 0ver a lightly electronic, evolving instrumental. Check out the visually stunning, and graphic, video for the song above.
3. "My Type of Party" (produced by DJ Dahi) by Dom Kennedy
Album (Release Date): The Yellow Album (June 22nd) (Free Download)
4. "Just What I Am" (featuring King Chip) (produced by Kid Cudi) by Kid Cudi
Album (Release Date): Indicud (TBD)
5. "Puppy" by Netsky (video above)
Album (Release Date): 2 (June 25th) (iTunes)
6. "Now" by Matt and Kim
Album (Release Date): Lightning (October 2nd) (preorder on iTunes)
7. Featured: "Underground Anthem" by Flosstradamus
Album (Release Date): XO (TBD)
Chicago-based production duo Flosstradamus had an enormous summer as they helped usher in the rapidly emerging sub-genre of electronic music known as EDM Trap. The sound finds its roots in southern hip-hop trap production (think Gucci Mane, Juciy J and 2 Chainz), while utilizing the build and drop structure associated with much of electronic music. The result is explosive birthing a movement that has gained support from both the EDM and hip-hop scenes. While the formula draws many comparisons to dubstep, trap done well manages to bring the same kind of high energy with out being as overwhelming and, at times, obnoxious. Even further, the doors for collaboration with hip-hop are wide open as many rappers are already beginning to work with these producers. In fact, trap-pioneer Hudson Mohawke (20) received co-production credits on three tracks from Kanye West and co.'s Cruel Summer album (17). The movement's collision course with rap may make it a slightly more sustainable model than dubstep that, at the very least, will leave a lasting impact on the progression of both genres. As with all EDM, though, be prepared for plenty of uninspired and annoying attempts to mimic high quality trap production.
"Underground Anthem" was first unleashed as part of Flosstradamus's groundbreaking BANNED mix, a musical overview of the new niche and outline of its conversion with hip-hop, and later officially released as the first single from their upcoming album, XO. When I listen to this song, I can't help but get up and flail my arms uncontrollably. Play this at high volume, preferably in a residential area.
8. "Goldie" (produced by Hit-Boy) by A$AP Rocky
Album (Release Date): LongLiveA$AP (TBD)
9. "Sixteen" (featuring Andre 3000) by Rick Ross
Album (Release Date): God Forgives, I Don't (July 31st) (iTunes)
10. "Real Life" by Cat Power
Album (Release Date): Sun (September 4th) (iTunes)
11. "I Will Wait" by Mumford & Sons (video above)
Album (Release Date): Babel (September 25th) (preorder on iTunes)
12. "Constant Conversations" by Passion Pit
Album (Release Date): Gossamer (July 23rd) (iTunes)
13. "There Might Be Coffee" by Deadmau5
Album (Release Date): > album title goes here < (September 25th) (preorder on iTunes)
14. Featured: "Ég Anda" by Sigur Ros
Album (Release Date): Valtari (May 29th) (iTunes)
Post-everything is the only way I can really try describe Icelandic band Sigur Ros. Their mind-blowing and mesmerizing compositions have the power to induce a state of consciousness of their own. With their sixth album, Valtari (cover pictured to the right), they continue to elevate their epic feel creating an extremely cohesive experience from start to finish. I was lucky enough to catch Sigur Ros at Outside Lands in San Francisco and their show was absolutely unbelievable. "Eg Anda," their album's opener, is perfect for zoning out and relaxing.
15. "Chasin' Paper" (featuring & produced by Pharrell Williams) by Curren$y
Album (Release Date): Stoned Immaculate (June 1st) (iTunes)
16. "Righteous Minds" by Joey Bada$$
Album (Release Date): 1999 (June 12th) (Free Download)
17. Featured: "Tides" by The xx
Album (Release Date): Coexist (September 10th) (iTunes)
In 2009, alternative English group The xx (pictured to the left) released one of the strongest albums of the year with their self-titled debut. With expectations through the roof, they followed with a stellar sophomore effort titled Coexist, which carried a more somber, minimal style. Throughout, lead singer Romy Croft tells stories of love and heartbreak with her soothing and ethereal vocals over soft instrumentals featuring subtle undertones of electronic and hip-hop production. "Tides" was one of my personal favorite tracks from the album with its addictive melody and captivating bassline, but you really have to listen to the whole album to completely appreciate it.
18. "Clique" (produced by Hit-Boy) by Kanye West, Jay-Z, James Fauntleroy & Big Sean
Album (Release Date): Kanye West Presents Good Music Cruel Summer (September 18th) (iTunes)
19. "Unnecessary" (featuring ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul) by Childish Gambino
Album (Release Date): R O Y A L T Y (July 4th) (Free Download)
20. "Higher Ground" by TNGHT (Hudson Mohawke & Lunice)
Album (Release Date): TNGHT EP (July 23rd) (iTunes)