Inspired state of mind
Jay-Z 4:44 Universal
DID I sign up for Tidal just to listen to Z’s latest album? You bet I did. And it was worth it.
Beyonce’s critically-acclaimed Lemonade in 2016 hinted at Jay-Z’s alleged infidelity, and much of the speculation was built around the narrative of uncertainty in the Carter-Knowles household.
Fast forward to 2017 and Jay-Z has dropped his latest album 4:44, just weeks after the birth of his twins (rumoured to be named Rumi and Sir).
The album seems to provide an extension to the Lemonade story. The title track opens with a sample of Hannah Williams’ harrowing Late Nights & Heartbreaks and Jay-Z saying... sorry (“I apologise, often womanise...”).
The rest of this brilliant track is filled with revealing notes on regret and fatherhood and it ends on a fearful note that one day his children will not think kindly of his past (“My heart breaks for the day I had to explain my mistakes...”). It seems that the rapper really hopes people would reconsider their perception of his public persona.
On the self-dissing track Kill Jay Z, he asks if he truly deserves his fame and loyalty (“[expletive] Jay Z, I mean you shot your own brother/ how can we know if we can trust Jay Z?”). Then there’s another nod to Lemonade where he reprimands himself for almost letting “the baddest girl in the world get away”.
4:44 is more than just a response to Lemonade. In songs like The Story Of O.J. and Moonlight, Jay-Z highlights the problems within his racial community. He drops the hard truth about how the lack of awareness on matters like finance and the music industry have constantly failed his people.
It’s on these songs that Jay-Z brings back his swagger and brags about how his investments has paid off for him. He provides wisdom (“You know what’s more important than droppin’ money at a strip club? Credit...”) with a number of mic-dropping worthy lines that makes other rap songs about excess and wealth pale in comparison.
4:44 is a noteworthy album where a man drops his ego and is upfront about his flaws. Along with all the mouthwatering revelations that may or may not be about his personal life, 4:44 is a stunning, relatable piece of work that is honest, inspirational and engaging at the same time. Nevermind that he is one-half of a billionaire couple with one of the most famous women on earth. – Angelin Yeoh
DJ Khaled Grateful Sony
THIS is one album for all the imaginary over-the-top house parties in your head. Yes, the one that includes A-list stars like Beyonce, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Drake, Chance The Rapper, Alicia Keys and more.
DJ Khaled’s star-studded 10th studio album is a mammoth offering with 23 songs inspired by his executive producer son.
His first child Asahd was born last October and it seems he has built Grateful around his happy new addition in life. The enthusiasm is evident on the celebratory number I Love You So Much featuring Chance The Rapper. Now is this the kind of parenting song that any kid would be #blessed to hear as DJ Khaled repeatedly goes “You’re my son/You’re a mogul”.
This zest for life is contagious and it’s highlighted in songs like Shining and the anti-hater anthem Nobody.
There are other catchy numbers like I’mTheOne featuring Bieber, which will have you dancing along in no time, and the sexy Wild Thoughts featuring Rihanna, which samples Santana’s Maria Maria.
Grateful ends with the sound of Asahd’s laughing as his father says thank you to him for executive producing the album... If that is something that puts a smile on your face then Grateful is the one for you. But if you just want to have a good time, hey, this album has got you covered as well. – AY
Skits But No Independent
A little knowledge can be dangerous, but that’s not a fear Skits needs to contend with. Its debut, But No, exemplifies the capacity of a quartet of well-heeled musicians firmly clued in to their chosen musical pursuit — atmospheric instrumental — to dish out what it does best.
Skits has worked hard to remain on the right side of the tracks, and the success it achieves on But No is a testament to hard graft and worldly experience. With members comprising of now-defunct units like Free Deserters and Citizens Of Ice Cream, dues have been thoroughly paid within this foursome.
The 10-song excursion is a thrilling ride into a sonic wonderland, visiting a variety of shades and moods on its way. Subtle, lead off track, Day In Day Out ,isnot.
Main man and guitar player Brendan Teh sets the tone with grating guitars on pretty much the opening salvo. A charming sense of naivete permeates the synth lines, which incongruously cradles the edgy tunes. But Narrative bucks that trend ... and the Alice In Wonderland narration on it is simply hilarious.
In fact, almost the entire album is punctuated with historic audio samples extracted from a variety of local and foreign sources. Shortchanged’s surfy foundation dovetails neatly with an excerpt of classic P. Ramlee movie Ibu Mertuaku, given the era they both come from.
Math Gagal touches on Barry Goldwater, the right-wing Arizona senator who pledged to embrace extremism and reject moderation in the 1960s, a time when nuclear war was callously bandied about. How this short tune segues into Barang Sampah is a work of art in itself. There is no substitute for genuine imagination that comes chockful of colourful chords and catchy melodies.
But No says a lot with very few words ... almost like a silent scream, or an underwater inferno. This is a pretty explosive listen. — N. Rama Lohan