Trying to make sense of everything happening in the music industry over the past few months is a near impossibility. The constant milestone-setting behavior is borderline overwhelming, and the American public can’t get enough of it. Breaking news virtually surfaces on a daily basis describing how records aren’t just being broken, they’re being shattered. One day, Post Malone broke a record held by The Beatles by charting 9 tracks in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. Days later, Cardi B became the first female rapper to have multiple number 1 hits on the same Billboard chart. Fast forward to present day, and Drake just accumulated 300 million streams on his new album Scorpion through Spotify and Apple Music on the opening day alone. Simply put, music is more attainable than ever, and the staggering statistics show it. Let’s put it in perspective: if the music industry was a car, most of us would be holding on for dear life, screaming for it to slow down.
But the music industry isn’t a car – it’s a rollercoaster. Queasy as we may be from the unrelenting ups and downs, we keep begging it to go faster knowing that the ceaseless stream of adrenaline is just part of the experience. Rarely do we get a moment to walk away and reminisce on the wild ride that we’re experiencing together as a unified listening public. So take this opportunity to appreciate a snapshot from the past three months – where are we, how did we get here, and what drove us in this direction.
Most people would agree that the most outlandish musical event from the past few months, both literally and figuratively, was Kanye West’s fabled “Project Wyoming“. After all, Kanye’s attempt to host a publicly promoted, privately attended album release party in the middle of a Wyoming cowboy ranch defined what it means to be a Kanye fan in 2018: dedicated, apprehensive, exploratory, and occasionally head-scratching. His polarizing 7-track album ye was the highlight of the project, putting his intense battle with bipolar disorder on full display. The album didn’t question whether “old Kanye” can coexist with “new Kanye”, but rather whether Kanye can coexist with his own emotions. No matter if you liked the album or not, ye harps on an unfortunate mental conflict that innumerable others silently struggle with on a daily basis. This project not only saw the release of Kanye’s polarizing 7-track album, but also resulted in the eventual release of 4 other supplemental collaborations that he helped produce: Kid Cudi’s KIDS SEE GHOSTS, Nas’ NASIR, Pusha T’s DAYTONA, and Teyana Taylor’s K.T.S.E.
Now, you may be asking yourself “Who the hell is Teyana Taylor…?” In my opinion, she’s the proprietor of the most impressive album released as a part of Project Wyoming. Taylor’s mixture of bluesy soul with wildly seductive hip hop outlines the narrative of a bohemian innovator; someone who follows the beat of her own drum and candidly struts into fame through a natural grace and liberty. The free-spirited 27 year old Harlemite has a distinctly flawless voice, but an equally enticing fondness for vintage soul. Her collaboration with Kanye on the production K.T.S.E. tastefully samples artists like Michael Jackson, James Brown, and Sly & The Family Stone, thus promoting her musical acumen just as much as her historical appreciation.
Amidst all of Kanye’s residual commotion, America’s most beloved celebrity couple (and no, I’m not talking about Kimye) gave us a reason to believe in sincere togetherness. Beyonce and Jay Z’s long-awaited collaboration on EVERYTHING IS LOVE received resounding approval on concept alone. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want a collaboration from The Carters? As a musical representation however, it goes further than civic demand. EVERYTHING IS LOVE is a testament to the duo’s iconic lives as a single unshakable force, constantly shaping popular opinion on major social issues related to race, gender, and class. Age realistically isn’t a factor when it comes to the Queen, but it was an incredibly pleasant surprise to her Jay Z sounding so objectively great despite pushing 50. If you want to sample the expectedly senior sounding Jay Z that most people were truthfully waiting for, take a quick listen into his feature on Drake’s new song “Talk Up“. You can’t win ’em all, Jay.
Although a few beautifully slow songs from artists like Florence + The Machine, Snail Mail, and Manchester Orchestra snuck into the limelight, there’s no shortage of lively summer jams currently reigning over their sun-drenched subjects. Provocative warm weather bangers like Janelle Monáe’s “I Like That” and Anderson .Paak’s “Bubblin'” set the stage through mainstream markets, while underground dance anthems like More Giraffe’s “Dinosaur” and Kidswaste’s “Beautiful Life” have potential to sneak through the speakers of your local basement party. But what’s the use talking about all this summer fun when we can dip our toes in a refreshing pool of new music?
The following playlist contains my favorite 30 songs released over the past three months. As always, the songs are in no particular order with a restriction of only one song per artist. Shuffle away, and don’t be shy – let me know your thoughts!
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For the first-timers visitors, nostalgic listeners, and general music nerds, there’s lots more music to inspire the soundtrack to your everyday life. Discover how the year started with my last major playlist of 2018’s best songs: FeenyFaves – Best Songs of 2018: Q1 (January – March)