Alec Compton ’22
Arts & Culture Editor
Khaled Khaled: 8/10 (Ade)
Famed New Orleans producer DJ Khaled dropped his long awaited twelfth studio album Khaled Khaled on April 30, 2021. The 45-year-old disc jockey and social media star put everything he had on every song on the record. On the 14 track album, Khaled collaborated with a whopping 26 different artists and groups including everyone from rappers like Cardi B and 21 Savage, to pop singers such as Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake. The record has a central theme of ‘rising to the top and being the best person you can be.’ Khaled speaks to this theme through songs such as “THANKFUL” and “I DID I”’. This record is not comprised solely of new tracks but also carries two of Khaled’s most well-known records: GREECE and POPSTAR. Both were released initially as singles in 2020 featuring his close friend Drake. Despite being older, these two tracks are some of the most memorable and popular songs on the album, both having excellent performances from the Toronto rapper. Overall, the album is a good experience that has a message for all ages. It empowers and encourages the listener to be the best version of themselves, no matter what anyone else tells them.
SoulFly: 10/10 (Ade)
On March 26, 2021, St. Petersburg native Rod Wave dropped his long awaited studio album, Soulfly. The 21-year-old rapper and singer is revered for his deep and thoughtful lyrics, inspired by his life in the hood. Soulfly continues with his motif of reflecting on his past throughout the album while being portrayed in a new and exciting fashion. Songs such as “SoulFly” and “Tombstone” are low-key vibe type songs, that emotionally attach you to his past, while songs like “Richer (feat. Polo G)” and “Street Runner” are more up-tempo and give off more ghetto gospel and love song vibes. Soulfly sold 200k units the first week it was released, and had topped every major chart for Albums including the Billboard 200 by the end of the week. Rod Wave has constantly produced songs that make both mothers and their sons cry, and this album did not change that one bit. His emotional connection to his fans is what makes Rod Wave one of the top hip-hop and ghetto gospel artists of today. The grade given is not only based on pure singing talent, but the meaning and effort behind each song as well.
Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine: 9/10 (Alec)
On their new record, Brockhampton returns to a lot of the sounds that popularized them in the past. Servicing many loud, energetic tracks while at the same time providing melodic songs to placate their newer audience, Brockhampton doesn’t miss a beat. On this record, Brockhampton delve into themes of family, success, and religion. One standout in the track list is the bouncy “DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY.” Upon the first listen, it seems like a basic club banger with a g-funk twist, but the lyrics discuss in detail racial injustice and gun violence. This message is cleverly laced between a groovy synth line and a loud infectious chorus. Another highlight on the album is the A$AP Rocky assisted track, “COUNT ON ME.” From Rocky’s smooth opening verse to the earworm chorus, it’s not surprising why this song is taking off with fans new and old. Roadrunner is as much a return to form for Brockhampton as it is a new frontier. They have succeeded in both appeasing their older fans and appealing to the new ones due to their stylistic eclecticism. Brockhampton is a power group, and I wouldn’t count them out anytime soon.
Sour 6/10 (Alec)
Olivia Rodrigo hit the scene only a few months ago with her breakout single “driver’s license,” a song which took the world by storm for its melodramatic lyrics and the chill-pop instrumental. I watched Rodrigo’s success with indifference as I didn’t think much of the song. I only started to see potential in her when she released her third single for this record, “good for you.” This track is almost a pop-punk banger about her feelings on an old lover. Potential is the most prominent thing this record has going for it. Rodrigo is clearly talented and is a decent songwriter, but drowns in her Lorde and Taylor Swift influences, with many verses sounding indistinguishable from Swift, and a select few chanted bridges sounding eerily like a Melodrama era Lorde. This album is at its best when Rodrigo gets personal with her lyrics, on tracks like “hope ur ok,” or “enough for you.” One thing I can commend this record for is its vulnerability and performance. I believe Rodrigo means what she’s singing and the lyrics can be quite personal at times. But ultimately, if Rodrigo ever wants true critical acclaim, she must stop wearing her influences on her sleeve and develop her own unique sound. Yet she is only 17 and I have faith that she will accomplish this.
Photo Credit: Spotify