Our music staff has returned with their seventh round of Music Streaming Suggestions! We have another solid lineup this week, headlined by the likes of Future, A$AP Rocky, Amy Winehouse, and Danny Brown. As usual, we added our new suggestions to our weekly-updated Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure.
AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP (2015) - A$AP Rocky
You can’t talk about 2010s rap without mentioning A$AP Rocky, and you can’t talk about Rocky without mentioning AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP.
His 2015 opus is, in my humble opinion, the best album of Rocky’s career. It’s often hard to believe that Rocky has become one of the biggest rap artists in the world off of only three albums and a couple of mixtapes, but ALLA exemplifies just how much quality Rocky pours into each release that bears his name—whether it’s a solo project, an A$AP Mob endeavor, or even just a feature.
At the time, ALLA was Rocky’s most ambitious release by a long shot. On ALLA, Rocky began to move away from the spaced-out cloud rap sound that carried his previous projects, and with that, he naturally began to grow out of the early-2010s Tumblr aesthetic that put him on the map. Instead, he tapped into his experimental side and refused to shy away from new styles or genres, enlisting the most elite personnel of his career—Kanye West, Rod Stewart, Mos Def, Mark Ronson, M.I.A, Lil Wayne, Future, ScHoolboy Q, Miguel, Bones, Juicy J, James Fauntleroy, and Joe Fox—the small London artist that Rocky stumbled upon and gave a shot, featuring his vocals on five tracks.
As many artists' best albums do, ALLA boasts some of Rocky’s most notable tracks: “L$D,” “Everyday,” “Jukebox Joints,” “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2,” "Canal St," and “M’$” are just a few of ALLA’s heavy hitters. These tracks—alongside the other 12—put the industry on notice. -Evan Linden
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “L$D,” “Jukebox Joints,” and “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2”
Back to Black (2006) - Amy Winehouse
Succumbing to the terror that is travel nostalgia, I find solace in revisiting albums that protected and comforted me while living abroad. Spending the duration of my summer (2019) in London, I was introduced to a plethora of U.K. musicians. From rappers to sensational bands to rising pop stars, I entered a new realm of entertainment that I continue to indulge in today. But someone had to pave the way for these up-and-coming artists. In America, we had Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson (among others), while across the pond, the British had The Beatles, Elton John, etc. These artists were historic trailblazers and are continually infused in modern entertainment and culture.
Amy Winehouse was one of those pioneer artists in the U.K. She lives on murals across London, tourist-attracting statues in Camden, and in a pre-COVID era, reverberating against the walls of crowded pubs. Her imprint is immeasurable and a lot of her legacy can be attributed to her second and final studio album Back to Black.
There is a lot to appreciate and unpack with this album. Winehouse’s elite sense of vulnerability. Her well-packaged admixture of jazz, soul, blues, and pop. Her ability to be so transparent about love. And most notoriously, her awareness of the demons she had long closeted rewritten in under 35 minutes. It soon became no secret Winehouse was struggling with substance abuse and addiction—many considering this one of her final cries for help.
I am grateful to have grown up during the “Rehab” and “Back to Black” era. Her agony radiated through her powerhouse vocals, making her one of the most fearless yet daunting artists to date. I will always love, respect and adore Winehouse for many things, but Back to Black sits at the top of my list for helping me through my courageous summer in a place she once called home. -Deja Williams
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Me & Mr Jones,” “Love Is A Losing Game,” and “You Know I'm No Good”
XXX (2011) - Danny Brown
Imagine this: you wake up to blazing sirens outside the crackhouse you reside in after a three-day drug bender. You aren’t really familiar with what happened during your crazed, drug-induced state, but you know the future is bleak and dangerous. White powder is patty-caked on your ripped-up black Wu-Tang sweatshirt, and there is a passed-out prostitute to your left. You ask yourself one question: "How the fuck did I get here?"
XXX is the sonic version of that very scenario. Danny Brown’s breakout mixtape encapsulates the most experimental, chaotic, macho, and drug-influenced persona any rapper had seen since ODB. His flow is as jagged as whitewater rafting in Gore Canyon, while somehow always managing to remain cohesive. His flow intertwined with his incredible wordplay propelled Danny Brown to stardom and showed us how rap is evolving in some of the gnarliest ways possible. XXX might be baptism by fire into a demented world, but as you progress through it, this world becomes just as alluring as it is twisted. -Marty Gross
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: "EWNESW," "Pac Blood," and "XXX"
Monster (2014) - Future
Although many believe that Future's apex came and went with the physical peak of the trap renaissance—the publication of DS2—the ascension began with his genius break-up project Monster, an aptly-titled masterpiece that ranges from angsty, to just plain angry, to heartbroken, all the way down to dealing with the struggles of addiction. The DJ Esco-assisted mixtape is most famous for being the home to "Codeine Crazy," but if you ask me, it isn't even a top-five track on the project.
Future buries his listeners with the first three tracks. "Radical" is an abrupt introduction into a clearly traumatized artist's perspective—one who abandons all responsibilities and fully dives into a world of chaos. The title-track, "Monster," is as straightforward as it gets in its pursuit of excellence. It's a trap anthem that raises the blood pressure of every listener, for better or worse. Future is much less Batman on Monster, and is far more Heath Ledger's Joker. He wanted to see the world burn after his breakup with Ciara, which is what made "Throw Away" such an entrenching, masterful breakup song.
From there on out, the project is fairly inconsistent, but shouldn't be knocked for that. For Future is a man of many tastes and moods, both of which he is masterful at verbalizing. He makes rash decisions, like when he says, "I went blonde cause I'm boujee," but with that rashness comes the ability to burst your eardrums with "Wesley Presley."
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: "Radical," "Monster," and "Throw Away"