Kendrick Lamar & SZA - "All The Stars"
In honor of Black History Month all the posts for this month will feature artists of color.
Now Regardless of whether or not his genre of music is your "thing" you can not deny the fact that his album “DAMN” is genius. It's the first non classical or jazz album to ever win the Pulitzer Prize. That is how staggering this work of incredible artistry is. Listen to it just once, and tell me you don't feel the same way.
I can not profess to have been a huge Kendrick Lamar fan, I knew his music through his collaboration with other artists, but this heartbreaking look into what self-reflection can be, is earth shaking.
Lamar has been branded as the "new king of hip hop" numerous times. Forbes said, on Lamar's placement as hip hop's "king", "Kendrick Lamar may or may not be the greatest rapper alive right now. He is certainly in the very short lists of artists in the conversation." Lamar frequently refers to himself as the "greatest rapper alive" and once called himself "The King of New York."
On the topic of his music genre, Lamar has said: "You really can't categorize my music, it's human music." Lamar's projects are usually concept albums. Critics found Good Kid, M.A.A.D City heavily influenced by West Coast hip hop and 90s gangsta rap. His third studio album, To Pimp a Butterfly, incorporates elements of funk, jazz, soul and spoken word poetry.
Called a "radio-friendly but overtly political rapper" by Pitchfork, Lamar has been a branded "master of storytelling" and his lyrics have been described as "katana-blade sharp" and his flow limber and dexterous. Lamar's writing usually includes references to racism, black empowerment and social injustice, being compared to a State of Union address by The Guardian. His writing has also been called "confessional" and controversial. The New York Times has called Lamar's musical style anti-flamboyant, interior and complex and labelled him as a technical rapper.
He speaks words of truth that often go unheard, but he speaks them nonetheless. He is a master of his trade, and he refuses to accept someone else's views as his own without inspecting them first. If this is what the future of Hip-Hop sounds like, count me in.
She's got that untouchably cool aesthetic that not only raises her up, but also makes her feel immediately familiar. Her sound is relaxed and yet still driving, and so while her music is always in control it's the kind of sound that can turn promptly into a wild ride.
As I listened to her music yesterday, noming on tacos and reveling in my purchase from the vintage shop next door, I thought to myself that this was a perfect bubble of moment. It was lovely little locket of time to tuck away and hold on to for always. SZA's music was an integral part of it.
SZA describes her vocals as having a "rasp" which she initially tried to "tenderise". Her vocal style has been described as taking on the "lilt" of a jazz singer. According to Marissa G. Muller of Rolling Stone magazine, Rowe's vocals alternate between a "vapory husk and a sky-high falsetto." Jordan Sargent of Pitchfork magazine labelled Rowe's vocals as being "chillwave" and "ethereal."
SZA musical style is described as "alt R&B". SZA songs are built over "layers of sliced, delayed, and reversed vocals" and contains "twists and mutates".[ Reggie Ugwu from Billboard finds her musical style to feature an "agnostic utopia dripping with mood", that straddles the "line between minimalist R&B, '80s synth pop and soul". Rowe's music is predominately PBR&B and neo-soul, but has been noted for taking influences from a broad variety of genres including soul, hip hop, minimalist R&B, cloud rap, ethereal R&B, witch house and chillwave elements. Michael Madden described SZA's musical genre as being "agnosticism corresponds", noting that her work is not just one style of music and is versatile, noting the musical style is not just "R&B, pop, soul, or one thing at all."
SZA began writing songs due to being "passionate" about writing and enjoyed poetry, when writing lyrics SZA "freestyles" them in order to express whatever comes to her "mind", noting that it does not always make sense to herself. Thematically, SZA work contains "unravelling lyrics", that touch upon themes of sexuality, nostalgia, and abandonment. According to Michael Madden from Consequence of Sound, SZA lyrical is sometimes "purposefully general" and sometimes "an ambitious but quick reference", which Madden compared to the rapper Angel Haze and her debut album Dirty Gold.
This collaboration for the iconic, instantly classic, and pivotal movie in cinema for black actors, Black Panther, is at once epic and gritty. Is a story in a song filled with majesty and yet still walking through the weeds. It a gorgeous piece of songwriting and perfectly encapsulates the at soaring victory of the Black Panther Movie and yet the struggle for it to earn its rightful respect with industry leaders.
So today with the dirt in my shoes and the stars in my eyes, I choose Kendrick Lamar & SZA’s "All The Stars" as my, break open your body, let the light leak out, find the strength to go on when there is no strength left, song for a, look to your ancestors, the trail of diamonds in the sky, find the magic in their presence Friday.