Mic-Check 🎵 Weekly Music Newsletter (11.29.21)

New Rod Wave. DJ Khaled & Sech link up. Unearthed David Bowie album. Beatles documentary. Years & Years and Galantis duet.

Virgil Abloh, the visionary fashion designer behind Off-White, passed away Saturday at the age of 41 after a private two-year battle with cancer. He was a major influence on the music world, particularly the hip-hop community. Yesterday, Kanye West’s Sunday Service choir performed Adele’s Easy On Me in his memory. Below are some of the album covers he helped create.

The Recording Academy released their nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards. Jon Batiste leads the pack with 11 nominations — Billie Eilish, Doja Cat, H.E.R., Justin Bieber, and Olivia Rodrigo follow close behind. JAY-Z picked up three nominations this year, bringing his career total to 83, surpassing Quincy Jones and Paul McCartney for the most of all time.

Click here for a Spotify playlist with the songs mentioned in this story.

BIGGEST Songs of the Week 📈

Decades before Drake arrived on the scene, rap and R&B were on a collision course — which makes sense given hip-hops roots are in Sugarhill Gang’s highly melodic Rapper’s Delight. In the 80s, rappers started to become comfortable showcasing their often terrible vocals on tracks like Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh’s La-Di-Da-Di and Biz Markie’s Just A Friend. By the 90s, their singing prowess had improved, and rap groups like Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Cee Lo Green’s Goodie Mob were building their careers on the back of their melodies. Female rappers like Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, and Missy Elliott were adept at performing both their verses and their choruses. By the 2000s, singing had become commonplace for rappers — see André 3000 on Roses, Kid Cudi on Day ’N’ Nite, or Kanye West on the entirety of 808s & Heartbreak. Yet, during this time, Ja Rule was routinely mocked for singing his own hooks, and on D.O.A., JAY-Z told rappers they were “singin’ too much.”

But when Drake released his debut mixtape So Far Gone in 2009, the game was changed forever. Drake accelerated the merge between rapping and singing, practically making it the standard overnight. He was so vital to the genres’ fusion that The New York Times claimed he was the pioneer of rap-singing. A few years later, the rules were rewritten again, this time by Future, the godfather of ‘mumble rap,’ a style which has influenced a wave of rappers, including Young Thug, Migos, Gucci Mane, and Travis Scott.

The rules are in the process of being revised once again, this time by Florida native Rod Wave. A musical trailblazer, Wave is known for mixing his soulful singing with modern day trap beats. Though the soul-trap term was originally coined by Bryson Tiller in 2015 on T R A P S O U L, Rod Wave’s music has struck a chord with the youngest generation, guiding a new crop of rappers. On this week’s biggest song, By Your Side, the 22-year old interpolates Plain White T’s’ Hey There Delilah.

1. Rod Wave, By Your Side (Soul Trap) 👍

2. Sech, DJ Khaled, Borracho (Reggaeton) 😐

3. $NOT, Go (Trap) 👍

4. Anuel AA, Llorando En Un Ferrari (Latin Electropop) 😐

5. Years & Years, Galantis, Sweet Talker (Dance Pop) 😐

6. Alan Walker, Benjamin Ingrosso, Man On The Moon (Dance Pop) 🗑️

7. Quando Rondo, The Realest (Trap) 😐

8. Hwa Sa, I’m a B (K-Pop) 👍

9. SpotemGottem, Hurricane Wisdom, Got a Lil Older (Trap) 😐

10. Jack Kays, Travis Barker, OUTRUN MYSELF (Emo) 😐

Noteworthy 📰

  • After appearing on Drink Champs last week, Wu-Tang Clan members Ghostface Killah and Raekwon linked up on Bob James Freestyle.
  • Legendary singer Dionee Warwick and Chance The Rapper have finally collaborated on Nothing’s Impossible — here’s the tweet that started it all.
  • Kali Uchis and Ozuna shared Another day in America, cut from the soundtrack for Stephen Spielberg’s upcoming West Side Story film.
  • Blueface teamed up with fellow Los Angeles rapper Blxst on Chose Me.
  • Brooklyn rapper KOTA The Friend counted his blessings on the Thanksgiving anthem GRATEFUL.
  • DJ KAYTRANADA shared a house remix of Normani’s hit Wild Side.
  • Ed Sheeran tapped K-pop stars Jessi and SUNMI for a remix of Shivers.
  • WATCH: Silk Sonic performed Smokin’ Out The Window at the American Music Awards and Fly As Me at the Soul Train Awards.
  • WATCH: 95-year-old crooning icon Tony Bennett took his final bow alongside Lady Gaga after they performed Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.

BEST Songs of the Week 🔥

Brighton band Thyla premiered back in 2017, but they’ve yet to release a studio album. Originally a dream-pop group, the band began experimenting with grungier shoegaze sonics on their 2019 EP What’s On Your Mind before incorporating poppier synth driven styles this past year. Finally comfortable with their sound, Thyla is gearing up to drop their self-titled debut in January.

The rockers have been firing off previews in rapid succession, sharing Breathe, Gum, and 3 earlier this year. This week, the trio shared another, Flush, a cry for help with a killer chorus. According to singer Millie Duthie, the single is about how social media, “promised a world of interconnectivity but we’ve ended up in a digital dystopia; a society paradoxically more isolated and alone.”

1. Thyla, Flush (Indie Rock) 👍👍👍

2. DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ, Lose Myself (Outsider House) 👍👍👍

3. Julie Doiron, The Letters We Sent (Slowcore) 👍👍👍

4. Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, We Are Not Alone (Art Rock) 👍👍

5. Backxwash, Dreamcrusher, Thumbs Down (Not I) (Industrial) 👍👍

6. Yard Act, Payday (Post Punk) 👍👍

7. ML Buch, Fleshless Hand (Sophisti Pop) 👍👍

8. Menahan Street Band, The Stranger (Soul) 👍👍

9. Failure, Submarines (Alternative Rock) 👍👍

10. Matilde Davoli, Glitch At Dark (Art Pop) 👍👍

Albums Spotlight 💿

Anonymous London producer DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ is possibly the most prolific artist you’ve never heard of. In less than four years, the electronic workhorse has released seven full length albums, three EPs, at least 12 DJ mixes, and hundreds of tracks. This past weekend, the enigmatic DJ released two albums, The Makin’ Magick II and The Other Realm. Clocking in at nearly four and a half hours, the records are a staggering amount of music to release in a single day but insignificant in the context of DJ Sabrina’s gargantuan discography.

Named after Sabrina Spellman, the titular character from the 90’s sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, DJ Sabrina’s music delivers a heavy dose of nostalgia through pop samples from the late 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. Her style contains elements of lo-fi, hip hop, roller disco, power balladry, eurodance, and Daft Punk-esque house — or as she describes it, “AOR/MOR/AC-Filter House-TV Movie-Indietronica or Hallmarkwave for short.”

Epic dopamine inducing collages of nostalgic sound, DJ Sabrina’s albums are reminiscent of The Avalanches’ 2001 landmark album Since I Left You, which contained over 3,500 samples. Since I Left You opened the doors for plunderphonics, a whole new wave of creative music, but it also set in motion the strict sampling laws currently enforced by the music industry. Fortunately, DJ Sabrina’s anonymity allows her to temporarily evade these restrictions and allows us to get lost in her densely packed, magically enjoyable dance records.

DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ, The Makin’ Magick II & The Other Realm (Outsider House) 👍👍👍

  • Favorite Tracks: Lose Myself, Wheels In Motion, I’m Still High, Music, Burn, Sabrina Makes Me Feel

Richard Dawson, Circle, Henki (Progressive Rock) 👍👍👍

  • Favorite Tracks: Methuselah, Cooksonia, Lily, Ivy

R.A.P. Ferreira, Light Emitting Diamond Cutter Scriptures (Jazz Rap) 👍👍

  • Favorite Tracks: Contrapuntal, East Nashville, Brother Mouzone Library Card, Blackmissionfigs

David Bowie, Toy (Pop Rock) 👍👍

  • Favorite Tracks: Karma Man, I Dig Everything, Conversation Piece, Toy (Your Turn to Drive)

Cynic Ascension Codes (Progressive Metal) 👍👍

  • Favorite Tracks: Mythical Serpents, The Winged Ones, Elements and Their Inhabitants, 6th Dimensional Archetype

Other Notable Projects: Anuel AA Las Leyendas Nunca Mueren, Black Label Society Doom Crew Inc., Deep Purple Turning to Crime, Defcee, Messiah Musik Trapdoor, Ghouljaboy dreamcore, Hypocrisy Worship, Kill Bill: The Rapper Snowglobe Theory, LORD JAH-MONTE OGBON Beautifully Black, Nell Smith, The Flaming Lips Where The Viaduct Looms, NiziU U

A Must Watch Beatles Docuseries 🎥

A project so significant we had to create a new section for it — in 2017, Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson was given 60 hours of footage and 150 hours of audio recordings from The Beatles’ 1969 Get Back Sessions. Jackson turned the unseen content into an eight hour docuseries which was released as Get Back on Disney+. The series captures a monumental moment in music history, covering pop’s biggest band over 21 days as they write their last two albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be, and deliver their final live performance from the rooftop of Apple Corps. Ultimately, the docuseries rewrites the group’s demise, bringing context to the rumors of who broke up the band, whether it be Paul, Yoko, or Allen Klein. A historical rarity, Get Back is an exhausting watch, but it is nevertheless a must see for all fans of music history. Check out the trailer here.

WORST Song of the Week 🗑️

daine, IDC (Emo Rap)

Next week: Arca releases at least 3 studio albums, KICK ii, KicK iii, and kick iiii.

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