ABCs of New Music
Matt McMahon | Thursday, March 5, 2015
“All Day”- Kanye West ft. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom, and Paul McCartney
Kanye’s latest track resituates the artist after the announcement that his new album will be a surprise, and the subsequent announcements as to the title, album cover and songs on that surprise album. Following up the delicate, heart-wrenching “Only One,” in which West’s mother speaks through him to the granddaughter she was never able to meet, and his feature on the playful, pop-oriented, Rihanna showcase “FourFiveSecond,” Kanye has unveiled the studio version of “All Day.”
In five minutes of skittering bombardment, West channels the unrestrained aggression found across “Yeezus” and harnesses it to respond to a string of racist remarks that sound so poignant he has no doubt heard them all thrown in his direction. This is the most naturally West has progressed from “Yeezus” since the “God Level” excerpt that scored Adidas’s World Cup spots. He’s abrasive, the production is brash and he confronts those issues on “Yeezus” that have not gone away in the time between.
With the continued evolution of West’s sound, he has continued to mature. As he’s grown as an artist, he’s taken on an increasing number and variety of collaborators. With vocal contributions from Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and the Beatles’ Paul McCartney, it is clear Kanye believes that to make the best work, you must surround yourself with all modes of greatness. It’s no wonder the intro to “All Day” recalls the intro to “Monster,” one of Kanye’s finest collaborative works, while combining with the sentiments of “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves,” his most recent hits.
“Baby Blue”- Action Bronson ft. Chance The Rapper
Action Bronson’s new record “Mr. Wonderful” is scheduled to be released March 24, but the rapper has already dropped a handful of tracks that are set to be featured on the album over the past few weeks. This includes lead single “Easy Rider” produced by frequent collaborator Party Supplies and the excellent, 40-produced “Actin Crazy.” The newest release, though, “Baby Blue” is by far the catchiest, most lush effort of Bronson’s career to date.
Produced by English pop artist Mark Ronson, “Baby Blue” is crisp, punchy, and soulful, with a clean piano riff driving the action. The overall tone feels distinctly at home for the guest verse from Chance The Rapper. In fact, the piano and trumpet outro sound as though they’re coming from a track with Chance’s most recent project The Social Experiment. Even the hook, a simple, catchy airing of grievances against a love lost, delivered by Bronson in a nasally rasp, can easily be heard in Chance voice.
Meanwhile, Chance’s vocal contribution shines in the guest spot, reciprocating with Bronson after his feature on “NaNa” off Chance’s AcidRap. Here, Chance offers a witty, sometime-vengeful, sometimes-forgiving verse wishing a series of silly, minor inconveniences on a girl who dumped him. “I hope you win the lottery and lose your ticket,” he hopes, before understandingly coming around, closing with a bittersweet “I hope you happy, I hope you happy / I hope you ruined this shit for a reason.”
“Cold Stares” Nosaj Thing ft. Chance The Rapper and The O’My’s’s Maceo Haymes
Downtempo and Electronic Hip Hop producer Nosaj Thing has his third studio album “Fater” due out May 5. Yesterday he released the record’s first single “Cold Stares,” which features vocals from Chance The Rapper and a hook from The O’My’s lead singer Maceo Haymes. Haymes opens the minimalist, click-clacking song with an a cappella, atmosphere-filling intro in his signature soulful falsetto. Nosaj quickly manipulates the lines into the song’s hook, accompanying the vocals with a minimalist beat and sparse shuffling percussion. Then Chance The Rapper takes over, employing his spoken word-esque flow heard on previous guest spots, including “Baby Blue,” “Life Round Here” and “Confident.” Matching the beat, Chance is even more sluggish on “Cold Stares,” sleepily weaving choice words into spacey full bar rhymes.
This isn’t the first time Chance and Nosaj have worked together, previously collaborating on a track for Yours Truly’s “Songs From Scratch” series, which later became the “Paranoia” section of “Pusha Man” off Chance’s AcidRap. This is also not the first time Chance and The O’My’s have collaborated, coming up together in the Chicago SAVEMONEY music scene. All three artists feel at home on “Cold Stares,” familiar with each other’s work and dealing with the same kind of sleepless insomnia conjured by the songs production and lyrics.