This week on Timely Tunes we have new music from 2 Chainz, Lorde and Chelsea Wolfe and a couple of playlist tributes to recently departed musicians.
2 Chainz “Poor Fool” from “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music”
2 Chainz has long been one of the most entertaining rappers, and frequently his sharp-witted personality outshines the featured artists for whom he is providing guest verses. His albums have never fully connected with me from front to back though, which is what makes “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music” one of the most unexpected surprises of 2017. At thirty-nine, he is practically a septuagenarian in rapper years, yet this is one of the hungriest and best rap albums of 2017. It is hard to settle on just one highlight on an album full of greatness, but this track, which features Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd in the supporting role, is a disorienting delight.
Lorde “Hard Feelings/Loveless” from “Melodrama”
Lorde already sounded like an old soul on her debut, released when she was just sixteen. Now twenty, she has managed to create a masterwork of incredible emotional depth and power on “Melodrama”. She is doing things within the pop framework that are shockingly new, strange, honest, and beautiful. “Hard Feelings/Loveless” is a devastating and complex portrait of loss that proves just how incredible and assured her still-young artistry is.
Chelsea Wolfe “16 Psyche” from “Hiss Spun”
No one channels darkness into beauty quite like Chelsea Wolfe. Her past albums have been tangentially connected to metal, but nothing has sounded quite as heavy as this new single. Guitar duties are shared between Wolfe and Troy Van Leeuwen of Queens of the Stone Age, and they interlock into a doomy, powerful maelstrom. Some of her best work yet…
I have also included Mobb Deep’s classic DJ Premiere-produced “Peer Pressure” in tribute to the all-time great Prodigy who passed away tragically this week at the age of forty-two. He was one of the best storytellers in rap, and Mobb Deep’s “Juvenile Hell”, “The Infamous”, and “Hell on Earth” remain a triptych of godlike ’90s New York hip-hop worth revisiting.
The playlist ends with Chris Cornell’s first solo work, “Seasons”, a track included on the soundtrack to the early ’90s Seattle zeitgeist film “Singles”. Over a month has passed since Cornell left us, and it still hasn’t completely sunk in with me. Soundgarden were one of the most important bands of my childhood, and their albums retain all their power to this day. Chris was, to me, the greatest rock vocalist of his generation, a virtuoso whose multi-octave voice scraped the sky but was also capable of immense nuance, and this track is an understated example of his versatility as a songwriter.
TIMELY TUNES, VOL. 49
1. Bjork “Frosti”
2. 2 Chainz “Poor Fool”
3. Khan Jamal “Elements of Life”
4. J Dilla “Detroit Madness – Instrumental”
5. Mobb Deep “Peer Pressure”
6. Umit Aksu Orkestrasi “Ikimiz Bir Fidaniz – Baris K Edit”
7. Les McCann “Sometimes I Cry”
8. Robert Palmer “Woke Up Laughing”
9. Talk Talk “Happiness Is Easy”
10. Lorde “Hard Feelings/Loveless”
11. These New Puritans “Organ Eternal”
12. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Sad Waters”
13. Chelsea Wolfe “16 Psyche”
14. Black Sabbath “Snowblind”
15. Chris Cornell “Seasons”
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