Revisiting Time: Beyoncé – Lemonade

In honor of not only Throwback Thursday but also the joy that Lemonade is FINALLY on Spotify, I wanted to revisit my views on Beyoncé’s most recent solo album. When I first heard this album my compliments were reserved as I was expecting a more upbeat album. However, having had time to digest I feel this album is possibly one of her most powerful, honest and mature albums. I love when songs on an album tell a story via the track listing. Most of the songs on this album follow on and finish off from each other. The album for me screams pain, struggle, loneliness and hopelessness. I’ve named some songs below that I feel are really poignant;

Pray you Catch Me:

The first track from the album as with most intro tracks paints a picture of what the future songs may be about. The title of the song implies vulnerability and is obvious at this point the album will mostly be about her relationship with her husband. The idea she repeatedly sings “Pray to catch you whispering, I pray you catch me listening” implies that she wants her lover to know she is seeing what is happening and is hurting. The song is quite mellow, but you can’t miss the pain that is evident in it. The last lines “What are you doing my love?” show the hopelessness and confusion she has been made to feel from this pain the man who she considers her love.

Hold Up:

This is personally my favourite song from the album. Many people loved the song due to the dramatic video but for me this song shows the depths of Beyoncé vocal ability. Aside from her vocals, we see another side to Beyoncé. Following on from her pleading in the first song she sings “Can’t you see there’s no other man above you? What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you” letting him understand how crazy it is that he would risk ruining the support she gives him. In this song she also ignores her usual politeness and reminds us she’s got a sassy side to her! “I don’t wanna lose my pride, but I’ma fuck me up a bitch”. As of recent Beyoncé has been more free with her language in her songs and this is a prime example. She questions herself as many women would in this situation; “Know that I kept it sexy, you know I kept it fun” meaning that she did everything she thought would be enough and yet he still strayed. Another point to add from this song is that not only is she expressing her love for him, she is also reminding him who was there from the beginning (her). The repeated lines “They don’t love you like I love you” and when she sings “Let’s imagine for a moment that you never made a name for yourself or mastered wealth….Never made it out the cage, never had the baddest woman in the game up in your sheets”. With those lyrics she reminds him that she is a ride or die and has been there despite his wealth unlike the women he has been cheating with. I love the instruments used in this song and the way they compliment the mood of the lyrics.

Don’t Hurt Yourself:

Following on from “Hold Up”, this song is a pure anger that it feels like a venting session. It feels like at this moment of the album, Beyoncé is at breaking point and is just filled with rage. Again, this shows a more explicit version of Beyoncé with the frequent use of swear words. The song reminds me of the tone of her older song “Ring the Alarm”. In the song she sings about the frustration she feels from his lack of trying; “You ain’t trying hard enough, you ain’t loving hard enough” again reiterating the point that the man in question seems to be giving up. The most important words for me in the song come right at the end as she calmly says “If you try this shit again, you gon’ lose your wife”. In all the songs leading up onto these words, she never dropped an ultimatum like that, she usually expressed her anger or hurt or frustration, so those words are quite final and chilling.

Sorry:

This unapologetic anthem is possibly my second favourite song on the album and is another female anthem. This song reminds me of the impact of her song “Irreplaceable” and even many of her Destiny Child’s songs. The song focuses on the aftermaths of a breakup as Beyoncé famously sings “I ain’t sorry”. In the song she encourages women to sing “boy bye” as an act of strength. Towards the end she sings “Me & my baby, we gon’ be alright” implying that she will survive despite the heartbreak she has endured. The song is accompanied by a strong video featuring Serena Williams. For me, the cameo from Serena is quite poignant as during this time and throughout her successful career, Serena has endured so much criticism. The idea of her in this video feels like she is showing how unapologetic she is being who she is.

6 Inch Ft. The Weeknd

While this isn’t one of my favourites, I like the message that is embedded in it. The song is a great motivational song that empowers women. The song uses the setting of a strip club where the woman in question is one of the dancers. In the song she sings “She works for the money, she work for the money” showing that she is there to earn money for the work she is doing. A professional approach to a job, just as everyone else would be in their job. 

Freedom Ft. Kendrick Lamar & Formation 

Similarly to 6 Inch, both songs are another examples of empowering anthems however with also the added focusses on race and black women. For me the visuals that come with Freedom song are powerful as the video features the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner. The feature from Kendrick is perfect as I couldn’t think of any other rapper that would have done it justice like he did. Formation, another black power anthem references police brutality, race in America while also encouraging women to be strong and “slay”. 

All Night 

This powerful ballad is such a beautiful love song. Another one of my favourites from the album, Beyoncé vocals really shine. With this being the last song on the album alluding to love or even relationships, it can be argued to be a climax. I feel like Beyoncé is comforting her husband in this song and reassuring him “Our love was stronger than your pride. Beyond your darkness, I’m your light”. She expresses how she knows that together they are the best they can be and they are a pair. She further sings “But every diamond has imperfections” which could be a reference to her relationship and how every relationship has flaws. The last line of the song is Beyoncé saying “How I missed you, my love” which is in parallel to her closing line of her first song on the album when she said “What are you doing my love?”. The song can be argued to be the climax to the anguish, pain and suffering she had endured throughout the album.

The album as a whole contains so much emotion and rawness that it’s easy to see how and why it took so long to be released. Hopefully Beyoncé releases a new piece of work soon that can start where this ended, with her in a happier place. 

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Dave – ‘Psychodrama’ Album Review.

Released: 8th March 2019

UK rapper Dave has finally blessed us with his debut album ‘Psychodrama‘. I was excited about the release of this album as it was a long time coming and I certainly haven’t been disappointed. With albums, I feel it’s only right you take a few days or even weeks, to sit on it and take it in. In the space of a few days, my favourites have already changed, and I was hearing things and understanding meanings to songs I never picked up on before. I feel Dave is very socially aware for his age, it’s hard to believe Dave is only 20 years old with some of the content he raps about. In his intro track “Psycho” he even states “I’m a hitmaker if you ever noticed, I could be the rapper with the message like you’re hoping”; he has the ability to relate to the youth with his experiences and possibly even language and make commercial and successful songs but also relate to a more mature audience with his subject matters and hidden messages. In his song “Purple Heart” he uses clever wordplay and metaphors to describe his love for a woman. Some of the metaphors are so clever, you probably have to listen to it more than once to catch what he is saying. Someone once told me that with lyrics, everybody’s interpretation is personal to them. I feel that with Dave’s album, regardless of who you are, your age, ethnicity, gender, you will find your own unique meaning behind Dave’s lyrics.

Psycho‘ is the first song from the album and it serves similarly to a monologue. There is no main chorus and Dave just spits his thoughts into one track. For me the most important part of this song is towards the end when we hear more answers. From 2 minutes, 20 seconds, the flow changes as does Dave’s mood. Dave raps “Brother I’m a careful, humble, reckless, arrogant, extravagant, nigga, probably battlin’ with manic depression”, he openly displays his weaknesses as well as admitting his battle with depression. I like the honesty Dave exudes with his music and I feel he does this with the sole purpose of helping other people to acknowledge and speak up too. Continuing with the theme of therapy, towards the end Dave raps; “And to my fans, the reason I could get to this, you’re my drug, the instrumental, my therapist”, Dave states that it’s through music and the support he gets from it that heal him. For most people, music is a form of therapy and for Dave it is his way of letting out all his worries and fears.

Dave has 3 songs with features on this album and it’s each featured artist offers something unique to the song . The first feature we hear is the JAE5 produced song “Location” featuring Nigerian superstar Burna Boy. When I first heard this song I was sceptical about the sound from Burna as I couldn’t work out what kind of sound he was trying to portray. After sitting on it and listening to it, I now really love this song. Of course JAE5 does no wrong with this track and especially around ‘2:11’ when the beat takes a turn before Burna Boy comes in with his verse. The song has a kind of seduction to it as Burna sings for the person in question to send him “the location”. Dave raps about his “come up” but keeps his cool throughout the track with quotable and memorable lines such as “Girl from India, sweet as naani, head so good, now I speak Gujarati”.

The second featured track features UK star J Hus as he assists him on the song “Disaster”. The two have previously collaborated on Dave’s 2017 song “Samantha”. This song for me is unique because it is not a Dave track featuring J Hus, it is a collaborative effort from both of them equally. The way Hus comes into this song and plays off Dave’s verses reminds me that J Hus is an undeniable talent in the UK scene. Hus shows his versatility by singing the chorus but by also battling Dave on the rap verses. This is by far my favourite song on the album.

Dave uses his song “Environment” to expose the truth behind some ideologies. He touches on the “culture” with lines like; ” Where I’m from, everybody wants to make it out but nobody wants to see somebody make it out”. He references the music industry with lyrics such as; ” The moment that you ain’t it, the labels are looking for replacements”. Dave mentions his upbringing and social issues in songs like “Streatham”, “Black” and “Screwface Capital”. He is very open about the struggles he faced growing up “Tell me what you know about a bag full of bills and your mom crying out, saying, son, I can’t take it” (Screwface Capital). In his single “Black”, Dave talks about the social and racial inequality he faces as well as other people his race or age group may face too. (Check out my review and video review for this single on a previous post) https://musicandlifeblog.com/2019/02/24/videos-to-watch-mostack-dave-uks-finest/ .

Lesley’ is one of the sadder, emotional songs as Dave raps the story of a woman who is abused by her boyfriend Jason. The song touches on Dave’s first meeting with her to how she suffered and the dramatic conclusion to her story. Dave’s storytelling abilities have always been evident through many of his songs but this one seemed more fitting given the current “Me Too” movement. Hopefully the song helps women in that situation to walk away from toxic and abusive situations and gives them the confidence to understand their worth. ‘Drama‘ is also another emotional and personal song from Dave. The final song on the album follows the theme of the first track being a monologue without a chorus. Dave uses the song to speak to his older brother who is currently incarcerated. The track also features a snippet of his brother.

Overall, the album for me is possibly one of the best UK rap debut albums in a long time. A debut album in my opinion is supposed to let the world know who you exactly are and what you stand for. This album did all of that and more. From this album, Dave is a unique lyricist who cares about the world and wants to make a difference to the youth while also letting the older generation understand what it’s like to be him or someone like him . Dave is not scared to tell the truth and expose the falseness of ideologies. He uses his music to be real and honest. He touches on race, poverty, suicide, abuse, love, friendship, betrayal and so much more. Be prepared for intelligent wordplay, snazzy metaphors and incredible production. Hopefully this album can go to number 1 and if that is the case, it is thoroughly deserved.

I actually have tickets for the tour and I honestly cannot wait to hear and watch these songs performed live and feel the raw emotions.

Have a listen below:

New Music: Album Review: Usher – “A”

Ok, so Usher is considered one of the best artists of my generation and his infamous “Confessions” album has gone down in history as one of the best R&B album of the 20th century. (Personally one of my favourite albums of all time). It’s hard when you peak so well to follow up with work anywhere as close.

This new album called “A” is a collaborative album with American record producer Zaytoven. Zaytoven famously won a grammy for his collaboration in Usher’s ‘Raymond V Raymond’ album so it is clear the pair usually make good music. This album features only 8 songs (I say “only” due to the fact there seems to be a trend with artists releasing longer albums at the moment).

Overall, the album contains a few good songs and it is clear that Usher has changed his singing style as the album sounds like a different version of him. I do prefer the older version of Usher which is more of him hitting high notes and less of the rapping but times change.

My favourite songs are:

Stay At Home Ft. Future (1) – The first song on the album, I like the beat and Future’s feature (haha) is great.

ATA (2)- This is the second song on the album and I like the way Usher sings the chorus with his use of wordplay.

She Ain’t Tell Ya (6)-  This beat in this song sounds like a remixed version of ‘Lovers and Friends’ (2004) released by Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz featuring Usher and Ludacris. I have not been able to confirm if it is the same beat but it definitely gives me a nostalgic feel. This is possibly my favourite song on the album. The song seems to be Usher explaining his side of a situation with a woman explaining all the things she has supposedly left out in her version. He starts the song off by singing “Today I’m’ma tell you my side, I hurt you, you hurt me, even exchange” implying they both have done something bad to each other. The irony and juxtaposition in this song is that Usher will say something to stand up for himself like “She ain’t tell you she was motivating me” and “She ain’t tell you I boost her self-esteem did she?” but then go on to sing things like “She ain’t tell ya I paid for her body yeah” and “And she ain’t tell you how I flaunt her up in karats”. He goes from expressing positives and how she influenced him in a positive way and vice versa to then describing her in a materialistic way. To indicate he paid for her body and express how he showered her in diamonds is quite egotistical, gives the impression she is easily bought. I do however like the contrast in the song, Usher plays the role very well and it would be great to hear a female singer or rapper do their own version of the song.

Have a listen below.

New Music Friday: Invasion of Privacy

The highly anticipated debut album from woman of the moment Cardi B is finally out!!! Her debut song ‘Bodak Yellow’ was arguably one of the hits of 2017. The song allowed the world to see Cardi B in a different light, a legitimate artist, rather than just a character on the TV show “Love and Hip Hop’. This album is one of the best debut rap albums I have heard in a while. The production on each song is incredible and you can tell some real thought and effort when into the making of this album. I will focus on specific songs in due course and I always believe albums should take time to marinate in your ears for at least a week before you can choose the real hits. However, on first listen these are my quick opinions.

  1. Get up 10 (Intro) . This is such a great introduction to the album and reminds me of the infamous introduction on Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nighmares’ album. Favourite line: “I was covered in dollars, now I’m drippin’ in jewels”, pretty much sums up Cardi as a whole.
  2. Drip Ft. Migos. Typical Migos song meaning very hyped and very catchy, Cardi’s verse was good. Only issue is that Cardi was drowned out on her own song. Migos definitely overtook it. Favourite line would have to be every adlib when “Ice” is mentioned.
  3.  Bickenhead. Pure rap. This song really demonstrates Cardi’s rap ability. The song will definitely have you bopping your head. Favourite line: I’ma flex like a ‘roid, I’m a ten, she a ‘droid”
  4. Bodak Yellow. Classic. The song that started it all and it is yet to get old. Favourite line: These expensive, these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes”….classic!
  5. Be Careful. This song was released a few days earlier and while many were not expected this direction from Cardi, I welcome the refreshment. Only wish is that a singer such as Dej Loaf was the one singing the chorus. It is nice to see Cardi in a more vulnerable light though and it reminds us that she is human and can be be versatile. Favourite lines: “Thinkin’ I’m flawed because you inconsistent…
    It’s gon’ hurt me to hate you, but lovin’ you’s worse”.
  6. Best Life Ft. Chance the Rapper. One of my favourites on the album. I love the sentiment behind it. Chance as usual adds his own unique signature to it. Favourite line: “I made a couple M’s with my best friends, turned all my L’s into lessons”
  7.  I like it Ft. Bad Bunny & J Balvin . If you are a fan of Reggaeton or latina music, this song will definitely win your hearts. You cannot listen to this song without feeling like you want to salsa or cha-cha! Favourite line: Oh he’s so handsome, what’s his name”. Full review coming soon.
  8. Ring Ft. Kehlani. This song is enough to get anyone in their feels. Kehlani’s beautiful voice provides the song with a R&B feel. Favourite line: “You gon’ be sick to your, stomach” (more the tone change at that part but will provide a more detailed review in due course)
  9. Money Bag. Possibly my least favourite on the album because the song sounds extremely similar to ‘Bodak Yellow’ in terms of the flow. This song does have one of my favourite lines though; “I said “Bae, it’s a snack,” he said it’s a entrée”. Haha
  10. Bartier Cardi Ft. 21 Savage. This song was released as the second single on this album (after Bodak Yellow). The flow on this demonstrates her ability and I believe 21 Savage compliments the vibe of this song so well. Favourite line: I like hot sauce on my chicken”
  11. She Bad Ft. YG. I almost didn’t even recognise YG on this song! He sounds very different but I do like this song. Favourite line: I could buy designer but this Fashion Nova fit”
  12.  I Do Ft. SZA. A very fitting end to the album andI can’t think of anyone else who would do this song justice other than SZA. Favourite line:  My little 15 minutes lasted long as hell, huh”