The R&B singer delivers her brand of throwback vibes on her debut album
Joyce Wrice has been bubbling for some time on the underground R&B scene. The LA-based singer/songwriter broke out in 2016 with her EP Stay Aroundand continued with collaborations with artists such as Westside Gunn of Griselda, The Free Nationals, and Crush. Under the partnership with R&B producer and frequent Ty Dolla $ign collaborator D’Mile, Wrice takes listeners onto a time capsule back to the heyday of 1990s hip hop soul with Overgrown. From the jump, it’s apparent that this project takes various cues from musical elements of R&B albums of that era. The most striking takeaway of this album’s sound is the lush but gritty instrumentation across all tracks. Funky guitar licks, boom-bap drums, string melodies and winding chord progressions permeate tracks such as Chandler, Losing, and Addicted. The self-titled track is a piano laden ballad that shares similar themes of self-love and strength with Mary J. Blige’s material, particularly My Life. The collaboration with fellow half-Japanese R&B singer UMI, a remix to That’s On You, carries a bluesy feel and is noteworthy for having a crossover appeal with Japanese lyrics. So So Sick is perhaps the biggest musical tribute to 90s R&B, with a subtle sample of Jon B’s 1997 hit They Don’t Know.
Another element Overgrown borrows from 1990s R&B albums is the balance of soulfulness and hip hop swagger through its collaborations and structure. On Onewith Freddie Gibbs carries the spirit of singer-rapper collabs such as Anythingby SWV and Wu Tang Clan and Can’t You Seeby Total and the Notorious BIG. Westside Gunn’s Interlude, featuring the eponymous rapper, is humorously vulgar and reminiscent of rap interludes and intros on R&B albums by the likes of PhifeDawg and Busta Rhymes. Falling In Love, with fellow D’Mile collaborator Lucky Daye, hearkens back to collabs between singers like Slow Jamby Usher and Monica, and Final Warningby Ginuwine and Aaliyah. The album’s mix of uptempos and slow jams are tied together cohesively by interludes in the same way Faith Evans and Blackstreet used them on their albums.
Overall, Overgrown is a strong debut album for Joyce Wrice with its rich melodic textures compared to a majority of modern R&B albums with heavy hip hop influence. If this project is a sign of Wrice’s future as an artist, is it clear that she’ll be a breath of fresh air for R&B.
The Memphis rapper delivers some fight club energy with this project.
Duke Deuce has been one of the frontrunners of Memphis’s emerging rap scene along with other artists like Blocboy JB and Young Dolph. As heard through songs like Crunk Ain’t Dead Remixand Crunk Ain’t Dead MOB, Deuce aims to evoke the rowdy vibe of 90s and 2000s Southern rap greats like Three 6 Mafia. Duke Nukem is no exception with Deuce delivering bangers on top of bangers that makes you want to throw someone through a wall.
The opening track Intro: Coming Out Hard is a strong reminder of Duke’s Memphis roots, with the title and funky sound reminiscent of the duo 8Ball & MJG and their 1992 albumComin’ Out Hard. Soldiers Steppinis arguably the album’s biggest highlight with its echoing drums and military-esque call and response rapping. Fell Up In The Clubwith A$AP Ferg continues the homage to Memphis with a sample of Paper Chaserby EP & Dow Jones. Gangsta Partybrings energy into trap’s oversaturated trend of minimalistic piano-laden beats with a feature by Offset and Deuce’s almost sing-song delivery. Back 2 Backbrings a vicious vibe with an icy beat and an even more aggressive presence by Deuce. One of the biggest strengths of the album is Duke’s presence as a rapper. Overall, the lyrics on this project are your typical gun-toting, sexual bravado, and gangbanging fare, but he elevates it through his energized delivery and ad-libs.
If there’s any weaknesses to this album, it’s simply because Duke doesn’t seek to provide anything groundbreaking to hip hop. However, this doesn’t necessarily indicate an overall weakness in his artistry. Army and Outro:Go 2 Hell are Duke’s foray into harmonized raps, but feels like tedious and odd fits compared to the album’s headbanging atmosphere. The simplistic hook on Toot Toot with Young Dolph drags the song down despite some solid verses. Kirk with Mulatto is a solid track, but could feel repetitive with its piano-heavy production if compared with Gangsta Party.
Overall, Duke Nukem is an enjoyable project that serves a healthy heap of hardcore club bangers. If you need any music to rage out to, then this album is made for you.
Nick Drake’s album Pink Moon shines as a highly influential folk album
Released in 1972, Nick Drake’s third and final album saw Drake take a more personal approach to composing a folk album, choosing to only feature his singing along with his fingerpicked acoustic guitar. This stands true for all but the first song on the album, “Pink Moon”, which features a simple piano melody throughout. Nick Drake’s previous two albums, Five Leaves Left and Bryter Layter, had more traditional folk rock instrumentation, featuring drums guitars and other staples of the genre. But while these albums did feature Drake’s acoustic guitar, it played more of a background role. However, in Pink Moon it takes center stage. This gives the album a much more personal feel to it, compared to his earlier work.
Drake’s soft singing and beautiful fingerpicked guitar stand strongly on their own, and the individual songs themselves include some artful lyricism. In “Place to Be” he sings of viewing his past unbridled self through the viewpoint of his current self, and in “Which Will” he sings about the choices people make when faced with the many unknowns of life. Sadly, Nick Drake never got to witness his final albums success. After he released this album he withdrew from recording any new material or playing live, and later passed in 1974 after overdosing on a prescribed anti-depressant.
The space in musical history that this album occupies is a special one. In the 1970’s there was an explosion of styles and genres in western music. And for this album to be remembered as a classic, and a highly influential too, along with much more flashy or pop appealing albums speaks to its excellence.
Cover Photo: Keith Morris/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images Nick Drake
Heartbreak, loneliness, sadness, hope, love, and music. The perfect ingredients for an addictive pop album, and that is what artist John K provided.
Now that recipe may seem very cliché with any pop artist, but not with John K, who pulled it off beautifully, to the point where you hear and feel the emotions. This album is one you listen to repeatedly; you need to fully taste, chew, and digest every line to get the full experience. Warning though, this album will have your emotions all over the place, but in a good way.
John K, an artist you outta know, is an up-and-coming singer from Orlando, Florida. He got his first big hit in 2017 with “OT”; an electro-pop track with over 50 million streams, an independent release. Followed by his debut EP, If We Never Met, which is included on the album. After If We Never Met, he signed with Epic Records in 2019.
His debut album, “love + everything else” lets everything out. Whether you’re struggling with moving from a previous relationship or thankful for that special person in your life, this album covers it all. Here are my top favorites from the album.
Happiness is that song that reminds us me that it is ok not to be ok. The song goes with the pandemic perfectly; because we will get back to the happiness, we are all missing right now. We had many bad days in 2020, but good days are on the horizon, and we will get there soon.
The lyric from the song that reinforces that is “Happiness where you been? Are you gone? Are you comin’ back?” Yes, happiness will be back, and when it is, take advantage of every moment.
Ok, this song is a total vibe that I love to throw on in the morning while getting ready. Fun fact, the music video for this song was shot in one take, and it’s well done for one take. So if you need a song to vibe out to, look no further than parachute.
My favorite lyrics: “Vibin’ we could talk all night or sit in silence” I mean, this is me; whatever my significant other wants to do, I am happy to do and enjoy one another.
If we never met
When I hear this song, I automatically think of how grateful I to have that special person in life. “If we never met, I would be drunk waking up in someone else’s bed.” John K is honest and thankful; he is not that person.
He’s thankful to have the love with his wife and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Shoot, I feel so thankful for this song.
My favorite lyrics: “I’d be lost in a crowded room of fake friends.” This signifies how the genuine people in his life do keep you grounded.
learning how to love
The song we all can relate to at one relationship at some point in our lives. Hearing this one, I think of myself as still learning how to love. This is something you will always continue learning how to do.
Whether it is taking care of yourself mentally or learning how to balance loving yourself and your partner.
My favorite lyrics: “Tell me what to do to make it last ‘Cause I’m still learnin’ how to lovе.”
The wedding song of the album makes you feel so loved after a somewhat dark song.
I love listening to this song right after learning how to love because you see the growth. Even though the songs are not back to back on the album, I love that they’re both on there.
John K shared that this song is a message for his wife that she would have forever (now I’m emotional).
My favorite lyrics: “I love you more than the bad days ahead, I love you more than the nights that we ended with slammin’ doors.” In a relationship, we have disagreements. As long as we resolve the disputes, learn from those disagreements, and move forward, that’s important.
days like this
Ah yes, days like this, this track is the perfect reminder to enjoy every moment with those you love.
Whether it is family, friends, or even co-workers you enjoy being around. It has that perfect Saturday midday vibe on a 72 degree sunny clear blue sky day.
My favorite lyrics: “Days like this, make me wish we had more days like this, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh.”
Create those memories with the people you love. If there is one thing I learned during this pandemic, life is short, so enjoy every moment of it.
An exceptionally creative track using creative metaphors to describe his own issues as a boyfriend.
My favorite lyrics from the song: “I only buy cheap sunglasses ‘cause I know that I’ll, know that I’ll lose Them sooner or later, oh, baby, I can’t keep anything, can’t keep anything, can’t keep you.”
let me let you go
This track is a jam that I enjoy at night. The song is another one we all relate to at one point in our lives, or maybe you are in the place right now where you are stuck in a relationship and need a decision.
My favorite lyrics from this song: “Gotta let me love you, or gotta let me let you go.” You have to make that decision because it is not healthy to be in limbo forever.
The track you have on when you are missing the person you are about the most. My favorite lyric “Feels like it’s been six months and seven days when I’m without you.”
love + everything else is precisely that love and then everything else on the album for you. I feel for his first album John K did so well my score is 8.5 out of 10.0.
John K is an artist we should keep on the radar as I expect the next album will be even better.