Album Roundup

Different name — I like the sound of the assonance in “Album Roundup” more than the aural clunkiness of “This Week in Music”; plus, since I’m now covering singles released every week as well, the name for these OG posts would need to change to the even clunkier “This Week in Albums”, which is yuck — but the same format!

And for the first time in ages, I actually listened to EVERY album that cracked Apple Music’s Top 30 Most Streamed Chart this week.

You’re welcome.


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Light of Mine — KYLE

R&B is many things nowadays — mostly great, thanks to the inventive infusion of EDM that has ushered in a sort of genre renaissance — but it’s rarely profoundly weird. Well Kyle’s here to fill that void! Some imperfect comparisons: he’s like a stranger Khalid, who himself is no stranger to Kyle since he appears herein. Another one: Kyle’s an R&B Logic, and not only because they both insert narratives that unfold over the course of their albums, communicated largely through spoken interludes that crack open their psyches, revealing different identities represented by various character voices that explore their musical senses of self.


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Ready — Ella Mai

Of all the phenomenal R&B seemingly released every week, somehow this generic bullshit is what breaks into the mainstream?! Sorry, that wording was probably a bit harsh; there’s nothing THAT wrong with the album. In fact, it’s quite enjoyable! But given the quality and creativity of her genre competition right now, I just don’t understand why people latched onto her. Maybe it has to do with how much her voice sounds like Beyoncé’s circa Destiny’s Child, back when it lacked the resonant range and depth she’s grown into. I have a feeling Ella Mai won’t be making the same progression in the years ahead…but I hope I’m wrong!


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Love Yourself: Tear — BTS

The reigning champions of K-Pop heard around the world return to once again demonstrate how the genre is so much more than just the stereotypes. They’re talented enough even to compel the largely talentless Steve Aoki to forsake his own stereotypes by restraining his formulaic big-room fallback, a far-cry from his usual producing that makes me cry from pain. Speaking of which, BTS understand that lyrics aren’t what define music as the global language; rather, it’s their wildly diverse producing, which knows no language other than the gyrating rhythms of the body it universally induces. Notoriously-monotonous rappers should take note! And while we’re on the subject:


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F.A.M.E. — Maluma

Here’s just such a someone who could take a page out of BTS’ producing book! If only his producing matched the diverse novelty of hearing a non-English album crack Apple Music’s Top 30 Most Streamed List. A prime example of his over-reliance on tried, true, and tired formulas: I swear the beat of the chorus in “Condena” sounds exactly like the beat of the chorus in  “Closer” by The Chainsmokers, a group to whom no self-respecting musician should ever want to be compared (unless we’re talking about the size of their respective bank accounts). Mooching a recognizable chord progression is a lot more than an innocent sample. Then again, perhaps a non-English album could only get the sort of marketing push required to top streaming charts if it sticks strictly to the popular familiar. If true, how sad…


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Reckless — NAV

I’ve never understood NAV’s widely-heralded appeal…until now. But perhaps this change-in-heart is simply due to my musical biases. Departing from his customary EDM-tinged hip-pop (you’re goddamn right I just invented that stylistically mashed-up genre), Reckless dabbles more in EDM-tinged R&B, a mellower register whose pronounced MOOOOOOD jives with my musical preferences. If only less tracks in the album’s middle half devolved into the former. Even so, his most pervasive problem remains TOO MUCH AUTOTUNE.


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Goodbye & Good Riddance — Juice WRLD

Emo trap might seem like a genre melding with immense potential…if we were talking about an album that actually sounds professionally recorded. The aggravating inconsistency of the amateur mixing here torpedoes that potential. Lil Skies’ Life of a Dark Rose from earlier this year provides a blueprint for producing that intentionally sounds amateur; the album harkens back to hip-hop’s early days, when dreamers gathered in their living-rooms to make it big with nothing more than scrappy equipment and their dreams. That’s a specific vibe grounded in clear artistry, not attainable through the random messiness of Goodbye & Good Riddance.


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Harder Than Ever — Lil Baby

Featuring the worst Drake of 2018 (which isn’t technically saying much since he’s in the midst of such a stellar year…but it’s rough, un-relatively speaking). With every subsequent release, Lil Baby’s looking more and more like a one-hit wonder. I’m still a big fan of his debut album…but both of his follow-ups have disappointed.


2018 Albums

  1. Black Panther — Kendrick Lamar
  2. Dirty Computer — Janelle Monáe
  3. Light of Mine — KYLE
  4. Man of the Woods — Justin Timberlake
  5. beerbongs & bentleys — Post Malone
  6. The Color of You — Alina Baraz
  7. DAY69 — 6ix9ine
  8. My Dear Melancholy, — The Weeknd
  9. Culture 2 — Migos
  10. ? — XXXTENTACION
  11. SR3MM — Rae Sremmurd, Swae Lee & Slim Jxmmi
  12. Bobby Tarantino II — Logic
  13. Vacation in Hell — Flatbush Zombies
  14. GANGIN — SOB X RBE
  15. Sex & Cigarettes — Toni Braxton
  16. Isolation — Kali Uchs
  17. D6: Reloaded — Lil Wayne
  18. KOD — J. Cole
  19. Little Dark Age — MGMT
  20. Blue Madonna — BØRNS
  21. 44/876 — Sting & Shaggy
  22. Common Ground — Above & Beyond
  23. Amen — Rich Brian
  24. Five Five — Pouya
  25. For My Fans — Fetty Wap
  26. It’s Complicated — Wale
  27. California — Diplo
  28. Punken — Maxo Kream
  29. When We (Remix) — Tank
  30. 2.23 — Blac Youngsta
  31. Invasion of Privacy — Cardi B
  32. Cosmic — Bazzi
  33. As She Pleases — Madison Beer
  34. Ready — Ella Mai
  35. BEWARE THE BOOK OF ELI — Ski Mask the Slump God
  36. Love Yourself: Tear — BTS
  37. Activated — Tee Grizzley
  38. By the Way, I Forgive You — Brandi Carlile
  39. The Big Pescado — Berner
  40. P2 — Dave East
  41. Life of a Dark Rose — Lil Skies
  42. Camila — Camila Cabello
  43. I Like It Loud — Tiesto
  44. M A N I A — Fall Out Boy
  45. Victory Lap — Nipsey Hussle
  46. MEMORIES DON’T DIE — Tory Lanez
  47. Bless Yo Trap — Smokepurpp & Murda Beatz
  48. Reckless — NAV
  49. The Longshot — The Longshot
  50. Fate — Tammy Rivera
  51. The World is Yours — Rich the Kid
  52. Kolorblind — DJ ESCO
  53. Edgewood — Trouble & Mike WiLL Made-It
  54. Hurtin’ Me — Stefflon Don
  55. F.A.M.E. — Maluma
  56. Rearview Town — Jason Aldean
  57. Obsessed: Hedwig and the Angry Inch — Lena Hall
  58. November — SiR
  59. The Chocolate Box — Jeremih
  60. Goodbye & Good Riddance — Juice WRLD
  61. Heart Break Kodak — Kodak Black
  62. Die Lit — Playboi Carti
  63. Lil Boat 2 — Lil Yachty
  64. Glock Bond — Key Glock
  65. Drip Season 3 — Gunna
  66. Spiritual Conversations — Mozzy
  67. The Play Don’t Care Who Makes It — 2 Chainz
  68. Humble Beast (Deluxe) — G Herbo
  69. Rich As In Spirit — Rich Homie Quan
  70. Pain and Pleasure — Tink
  71. Golden Hour — Kacey Musgraves
  72. Dex Meets Dexter — Famous Dex
  73. Ray Ray from Summerhill — YFN Lucci
  74. Fredas Son — YFN Lucci 
  75. We Beefin? — at Wendys
  76. Harder Than Ever — Lil Baby
  77. Just Cause Y’all Waited — Lil Durk
  78. Sick Boy…Everybody Hates Me — The Chainsmokers 
  79. Hear No Evil — Young Thug
  80. Until Death Call My Name — YoungBoy Never Broke Again
  81. 2 Heartless — Moneybagg Yo
  82. Grow God — Money Man
  83. Don Talk — Don Q
  84. N****S Get Shot — Young Dolph
  85. Rich Hood — HoodRich Pablo Juan
  86. The Leek 4 — Chief Keef

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