By Charles Donalson
photo via Bradley A. Murray
Jamila Woods, “Bubbles”
“Bubbles” is the first song from Ms. Woods’ debut album Heavn. The track sets the tone for the rest of the album, both sonically and subject-wise. The track starts with beautiful vocal loops, courtesy of Ayana Woods and Dee Lilly. The instrumental to the song is very smooth, even with the chill trap-like drum pattern that enters almost a minute in. The synth bass was used very carefully and correctly to create a smoother and more emotional feel to the track. The lyrics speak as an ode to the trapped black girl; Woods goes on to sing the melodies, “How many different oils we know, to turn our skin from brown to gold.” She jumps into her album, making it clear to the listener that this project is for black girls. The rest of Heavn displays these same extensive qualities, as “Bubbles” shows.
Stark of Huey, “Shenanigans”
“Shenanigans” serves as a party anthem for your friends. The track starts with a classic soulful sample and quickly kicks into a catchy loop with a banging drumline. Stark enters his verse stating, “Don’t play with me boy, cut the shenanigans.” For the rest of the song Stark goes on and boasts about himself with lyrics that insist on him being the brightest young star Chicago has to offer. And throughout the consistent bars, he not only taunts but encourages other rappers from—and out of—his city to challenge him in a battle of lyrics. The hard drum kicks give a very banger-like feeling to the track, which surely lives up to the hype that Stark has provided for this track.
Hora English – “Discomfort”
“Discomfort” is the first official release from the aspiring new young artist, Hora English. The beat begins with an interesting loop of a few different and very light sounding instruments. The vocals begin with the lyrics, “When I think about you, my heart starts to rumble / I can’t tell if I’m hungry or if I am in trouble.” The rest of the melodic song continues to convey the struggles of teenage relationships, such as the inconsistencies and trials that one faces with intimacy at such a young age. All throughout, the singer keeps a very soothing and catchy flow, and even uses different styles of lyrics and techniques. In the end, English leaves us wanting more and restless for another release.
G Herbo, “L’s”
“L’s” is the first track from Chicago artist G Herbo’s long awaited mixtape Ballin Like I’m Kobe. The instrumental starts as a loop of slowed vocals, which are soon met by some very hard-hitting kicks and quick hats. The rapper details the life he had growing up in the city’s East side; Herbo states, “In the streets ditching school / Murder, drugs around me / Rapping it just found me / Thank God it wasn’t the county.” The song continues to express the struggles the young rapper faced during his adolescence. Herbo shows his diverse style in a very modest way during the track. He comes from the influence of Chicago style rap referred to as drill music, but what separates this rapper is his care for lyricism and his East coast-like flow that not many from his city have. The rapper opens up his long anticipated project with a very memorable track that will leave many rewinding and excited for the rest of the mixtape.
The song starts off very melodic and soft before St. Louis artist Smino comes in with the calm but catchy hook, “And we just want to be wanted / Runnin from real life, perfect persona / Fucked up in real life, wanna be wasted / Wasted my whole life / Chasin.” The song cascades into harmonic harp strings and a myriad of instruments that create a more comfortable sound. Through the first verse, his cadence becomes more playful. The next hook loses the drumline and displays the perfect ending to this summer song.