Weekly Capsule Reviews – 18/12/2016


This week: 21 Savage & Metro Boomin, Beyoncé, Kevin Gates, Homeboy Sandman, KEN mode, Kamaiyah

21 Savage & Metro Boomin – Savage Mode (15/07/2016 – self-released) – (EP/Collaboration)

Easy-listening womanising through the grim production—conveniently being good at maths in school comes in handy for counting cash. Well if it’ll get the kids interested… The beats are easy, the hushed tone is easy, the rhymes are easy, the womanising is [too] easy. Think Tricky minus anything to do with society. Y’know, important stuff. (8/10) [Dorney’s Top Records of 2016: #9]

Beyoncé – Lemonade (23/04/2016 – Parkwood Entertainment/Columbia Records)

I can’t tell if the words are worth more than the accompanying “visuals”. I think the kids call them “music videos” these days. They add another layer of context, let’s be frank, even if they’re as disingenuous as “Stop shooting us” in the “Formation” video. From a subdued start, we’re then inundated with pride. “6 Inch” is the working-class, strong, independent woman stuff—Donna Summer and all that—with a man for moral support in The Weeknd. Much like Lady Gaga, the gimmicky country virtues are sweet and real even if hypocritical when the potential shots are coming from her end. Daddy’s advice, not exclusively hers. “All Night” is what this record/she is all about—a perpetual, rhythm-heavy show of perfection-striving within imperfections. I think she realises this herself which makes Lemonade more deliberate than direct in spots. (8/10)

Kevin Gates – Islah (Deluxe Edition) (29/01/2016 – Bread Winners’ Association/Atlantic Records/Dead Game Records)

Materialism is the order of the day, as usual, but he’s not as tough as he projects, and I think he knows himself. Hedonism and nihilism, violence and peace, womanising and respect—he’s an acting hardman but may dwell on capping your ass when met face-to-face, he even admits it himself, he’s not afraid to talk about his feelings. Among many highlights—moreover, semi-highlights—there is the hook of “2 Phones”. He got “clientele”. Make of that what you will. (8/10)

Homeboy Sandman – Kindness for Weakness (06/05/2016 – Stones Throw Records)

Offering up a lesson in moral ethics I don’t mind as long as his ideas on the current private prison situation and journalism are always more important than the music—I believe him, too. “I love it when the puppet interrupts the puppeteer” he gloats with a vindictive assurance, like something’s around the corner. Check out the wobbly bass of “Eyes”; the chill “It’s Cold”, with Steve Arrington’s frog in the throat; the brilliantly frustrated “Talking (Bleep)”; and the finale that wards off all the troubles and coyness that you may hold when speaking the truth even if “you don’t think it’s the right move”. (8/10) [Dorney’s Top Records of 2016: #17]

KEN mode – Nerve (10/11/2016 – Reptilian Records) – (EP)

Fugazi-sounding, obviously. Ian MacKaye’s ire is easily evident. The heavy background guitar noises are met with a lot of heavy foreground guitar noises. It’d be nice to hear the latter a bit more. (8/10)

Kamaiyah – A Good Night in the Ghetto (14/03/2016 – self-released) – (Mixtape)

A rags-to-semi-comfort story, sipping Moët from the bottle but still semi-strapped for cash. We all have to let loose sometimes, don’t we? (7/10)


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