Remember the good old days of 2016? Back when nazi’s were still bad guys, nuclear war wasn’t a threat, and the biggest argument we had among friends was if Kanye was always crazy? Remember that thing called hope?
Now that we are in the first act of the world’s worst dystopia movie script it’s time to check into the music that served as the soundtrack to the human race itching closer to self-destruction. The revolution will not be televised but it will probably have a soundtrack of a trap beat tapped out on a keyboard at 75 BPM, uploaded to soundcloud. Here’s what we at Couchsessions listened to this year…the things that gave us comfort, made us sad, made us mad, and most ultimately made us feel alive. In no particular order and reasoning, (similar to 2017, seriously, what a bad year)…
Thundercat – Drunk
With the Jazz resurgence in full swing the easiest thing bass guitar maestro Thundercat could have done was drop a jazz record to keep him heavily touring (and paid) into 2018. Instead he penned the sweetest sounding R&B song about jerking off after a rough night on the town. Drunk is Thundercat most personable album; it’s a glimpse from a rock star into the non-rock star things that make up their real life. Sometimes life as a musician is playing a big city concert hall for thousands; sometimes it’s staying at home watching episodes of Dragonball Z.
Sampha – Process
Sampha has a voice that reminds you of a young father’s lullaby. There’s something in it that just screams out comfort even though his album Process was about anything but; it was written in the wake of Sampha’s mother’s death. Process’s overarching themes of mourning and melancholy work because as a songwriter Sampha always finds a way to bring it back to the beginning with one small thing; hope.
Uniform –Awake In Fright
Released on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration Uniform’s Awake In Fright is anything but an easy listen; distorted 808 drum patterns come at you a mile a minute and the guitars sound like they were scraped directly from hell. Uniform’s industrial barrage is a glimpse of what political and social complacency got us (check out their clip below for ‘Killing Of America’ illustrating all the mass shootings incidents that took place in the US in 2016). During the 80’s punk and metal thrived while authoritarianistic reaganomics and thacherism were in vogue expect the same in this nazi-normalized world of Trump and Brexit.
Migos – Culture
Calling their album Culture was prescience; nothing loomed larger then Migos in hop-hop. Call it mumble rap, call it fake hip-hop; no matter how you cut it Migos’s razor sharp triplet flow and singles like ‘T-Shirt’ illustrated proved not only was trap popular music, trap IS pop music.
Mach-Hommy – HBO/The Spook…
Mach-Hommy charges hundreds of dollars just for digital releases; being a fan requires a bit of a disposable income. This year he peaked out of the shadows a little bit by streaming his 2016 release HBO(aka Haitian Body Ordor) for the first time along with a new collaboration with Knxwledge – The Spook… Mach-Hommy lurks in a world where imaginative wordplay and violence meet and can combust at any given moment; there’s no pinot grigio just Millers and wings, a check might be written to hit your cousin at your mom’s in laws pad while he shows up in a Tesla playing some 94 Biggie.
Kendrick Lamar – Damn!
Those who end up at the top of the hip-hop throne normally don’t care about the people below them. Jay-Z spent his time busy spraying champagne on video models. Lil Wayne used it to learn how to skateboard. Not Kendrick’s; his love for his people comes out of every pore of every rhyme he makes. Damn! is a step away from the new jazz styling’s of ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ before but it’s as passionate a love letter (and as imaginative lyrically to boot). It’s something to give us hope while the nightly news scares us.
Jlin – Black Origami
No one’s drums knock harder than Jlin’s. Samples get chopped up and distilled down to their percussive essence then meticulously put together in a beautiful mathematical equation. Black Origami builds on her previous album Dark Energy to a more intricate space where the beats speak to you cerebrally while slapping you in the chest. It’s what Android’s Dream of.
Gucci Mane – DroptopDowop
Gucci pulled a street to chic move transforming his lean and arrest ladened image into a testimonial of hard work, clean living and crossfit. As the world’s best A&R Gucci put Future, Young Thug, 2Chainz, Migos, Metro Boomin and Mike Will Made It on the map. In the year and a half since his release he’s dropped five (!!!) albums and Droptopwop is the best of them. Gucci is still playing the hip-hop scoundrel from a decade ago but in a smarter and healthier way.
CTRL is that late night phone call you get from a friend in a bad relationship. They know their mate ain’t no good and they promise an imminent breakup…only for you to get that same phone call a week later. As popular rap label TDE sole songstress SZA’s been making good R&B for a while but on CTRL is where she finally makes great R&B by adding Soul to the mix. Here is to breakups and makeups.
Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory
Watch any interview with Vince Staples and it doesn’t take long to realize he’s the smartest man in the room. It’s what makes him one of the best young MC’s today. With avant garde dance producers in toe Vince is throwing the same witty and introspective observations as he always has, it’s just this time he’s bringing his sermon to a different flock.
Brockhampton – Saturation II
In the past at Kevin Abstract and company sounded a bit too much like their idols in Odd Future but Saturation II is where they become confident enough to be themselves. They can dabble in G-Funk (Gummy), Organized Noize-esque Soul Funk(Tokyo) and make it their own with fun and serious topics, imaginative production, and a surprisingly sharp vision of who they are at such a young age. Long live the greatest boy band since N’Sync.