My review of the newest additions to my playlist
This weekend R&B fans were FED. A five-track EP from Summer Walker titled Life on Earth, new Kaytranda ft. Lucky Daye, and a new track by Snoh Alegra that’ll make you call your ex. Fans also got a feminine rap twist on Flo Milli’s track “Weak” which samples- you guessed it- “Weak” by SWV. Finally, the much-awaited “XS” remix by Rina Sawayama ft. Bree Runway. Keep scrolling for my breakdown and review for each project below!
After how much I LOVED Summer Walker’s previous projects, I was curious how this EP might stack up. I was not disappointed. Clocking in just over fifteen minutes, Life on Earth is a classic Summer project. A little heartbroken, a little toxic, and very, very sexy. The project opens with the opening strums of “Let It Go.” A simple acoustic guitar chord progression, a pittering trap drum, and Summer’s layered vocals make up this track; a smooth delivery for what is essentially a tongue in cheek middle finger to an imagined ex. The next track “SWV” features NO1-NOAH a less mainstream songwriter and producer. Their voices compliment each other well amidst a warbling synth melody and “boom-bap” drum machine rhythm. Summer enlists PARTYNEXTDOOR for her track “My Affection.” Their voices practically glide over the simple electric piano melody and drums as their lyrics reminisce on love lost before the “glow up” and the fame. NO1-NOAH makes a return for the sexed-up, stand out track “White Tee.” Heavy on bass and snapping trap drums, Summer and NO1-NOAH exchange lurid and cocky verses. Their style of delivery and timbre blends beautifully for a positively intoxicating track. It’s nasty; It’s toxic; It’s so, so good. Finally, we close similarly to how we began with opening strums of a guitar launching us into the final track “Deeper.” Summer’s voice slinks over the track seductively as she urges her lover deeper physically, and fears their deeper emotional connection. Produced by London On Da Track the track has his distinct trap&b feel similar to Summer’s debut studio album Over It. Which brings me to my next point, this EP definitely sounds like Over It rejects. Not that any of the songs are bad, they just sound ever so slightly adjacent to the sound of her album. I can hear how these may have been left off in order to produce a cohesive debut album (which she did), or it could just be due to the fact that both were heavily produced by London On Da Track. All in all, it’s an enjoyable EP and another solid show of Summer Walker’s staying power. 8.5/10
As a lukewarm KAYTRANDA fan and an avid Lucky Daye fan, I was intrigued by this project. I love Lucky Daye’s voice and the way his project Painted leaned heavily into a more retro R&B sound. KAYTRANDA projects have been…interesting to me. He’s an artistic and pioneering producer and songwriter- I just think my ear hasn't caught up to him, so his songs can be hit or miss for me. On “Look Easy” Lucky Daye’s voice is unsurprisingly smooth af. Driven by futuristic synth sounds, snaps, and a persistent staccato drum line the song has a hypnotic quality. It took a listen or two (or three honestly) for it to settle on me but the more I hear it the more I'm bobbing my head too it. Overall, not a bad track but somewhat on the edges of my palette. 6/10
Honestly, I just stumbled on this track because I’m rarely checking for Snoh Alegra, but I’m glad I found it! On “Dying for This Love” a pitter-patter percussive line accompanies bright keys and slightly distorted electric guitar as Snoh sings. This song is infectious. As Snoh interrogates a past lover her soulful voice really fills the track and gives it weight. The extra weight comes from the lyrical content, Snoh recounts “dying for [a] love” she from a past relationship that went bad- and alluding to a willingness to jump back into it if her ex is with it. Dangerous words in the isolation of quarantine. Nonetheless, this track was a pleasant surprise for me! 10/10
If you had told me someone was going to turn “Weak” by SWV into some “niggas ain't shit” type twerk track I wouldn't have believed you, and yet this is precisely what Flo Milli does here. I’ll admit I’m late to the Flo Milli train, rap just isn't my primary genre so I always get there late, but this track has me digging through her discography. An ingenious sample, femme bravado, and “these niggas weak” as a hook makes this track a summertime earworm. This is a pregame with your girls song. This is a going out cause your man ain't acting right song. This is just a good song. Flo Milli’s witty lyricism and flow are so enjoyable and the instrumental is so danceable — no, twerkable. Throwing it back to this track (six feet apart) with your girlies is a MUST. 9/10
Last but certainly not least is the “XS Remix” by Rina Sawayama ft Bree Runway. I was introduced to Rina pretty recently with her debut studio album SAWAYAMA. The original “XS” is featured as a single from this album and is undoubtedly one of the stand-out tracks. Bree Runway is a singer, rapper, and songwriter whose name I’m more familiar with than her work which isn't to say it is or isn't good; I just haven't dived in before. Her performance on “XS Remix” will have me digging in soon though. The tracks instrumental largely gives early 2000’s R&B vibes with a gripping heavy metal guitar riff that snatches your attention each time it leads you into the chorus. Rina’s vocals exude “00’s pop princess” perfectly as she delivers a snarky condemnation of meaningless materialistic consumption. On the remix, Bree serves opulent and self-indulgent rap bars in tone and flow that invokes Missy Elliot, which wonderfully pairs with the retro vocals and production. Although a track from two artists I’m not particularly invested in the “XS Remix” undoubtedly delivers “a little bit more.” 9/10
That’s the end of this week's Monday New Music Round-Up! What new tracks are on your playlist this week?