Releasing a fourth album in as many weeks, Kanye West is dead set on keeping himself in everyone’s conversation — even if the results have been mixed
Troye Sivan – Dance To This (feat. Ariana Grande)
When a crossover pop single grabs attention in 2018, it’s only a matter of time before the collaborations start popping up. That’s where Australia’s Troye Sivan finds himself this summer, after the brilliant success of catchy My My My! landed him Billboard placement and a musical guest spotlight on Saturday Night Live. The heir apparent to that breakthrough is “Dance To This”, a slinky duet with Ariana Grande. Both artists have a bit of a coo to their singing voice and pair excellently over a beat that wouldn’t be out of place on Drake’s More Life. Typical of a single aiming for success, there’s no element out of place here. It’s the chemistry between Sivan and Grande that elevates it past your typical fare.
Jorja Smith – Blue Lights (RISE Recording)
I’ve never been someone who dwells on Tiny Desk recordings, but I see the appeal of them. Hearing your favourite artists stripped down and barren gives you a new context to enjoy something you already liked. That’s the immediate thought I had after listening to the RISE recording version of Jorja Smith’s “Blue Lights”. While the song is nothing new, Smith’s Lost & Found album is — the soulful shine recalls the early music of Alicia Keys, but it’s on this stripped-down version of the lead single where he hear the modern context. As Smith sings about police brutality, that she wants to turn “blue lights into strobe lights”, you realize her fragile voice is timeless, but this song is absolutely of its time.
Nas – Adam and Eve (feat. The-Dream)
Releasing a fourth album in as many weeks, Kanye West is dead set on keeping himself in everyone’s conversation — even if the results have been mixed. His own album, the bland ye was preceded by Pusha-T’s excellent DAYTONA and followed by the loose, but mixed Kids See Ghosts collaboration with Kid Cudi.
Now, we get West the redeemer, as Nas makes his long-awaited return with an album entirely produced by Kanye: Nasir. While critics will quickly jump on the anti-vaccination lyrics, some out of touch lines, and a slightly tired flow, “Adam and Eve” shows the whole project working at its peak. West’s piano intro immediately brings back the vinyl scratch of old school hip hop, with Nas burning through three verses in 4/4 time. Similar to Pusha-T, he turns into reflection mode by the end (“It’s evident they all the same, with gray hair and still mean muggin’ / Gray hairs of wisdom, that means you seen something”), giving us what we all wanted — Nas, lording over the current scene, providing perspective.