A Month of Collaborations - Music Reviews


The Big Day by Chance the Rapper


It's hard to believe, but The Big Day is Chance the Rapper's debut album. His three previous projects (10 Day, Acid Rap, and Coloring Book) were all free mixtapes for public consumption. The latter received seven Grammy nominations and three wins, making it the first streaming-only album to win gramophones. It's safe to say that that this kid from Chicago that seemingly blew up overnight on the Internet had a lot of expectations when it came to his first "for sale" project.


The Big Day is a strong debut from the 26 year old with a massive 22 songs deep. Yes, there are a few skits, but even without them, it's still 19 tracks. That also excludes the promotional single, "GRoCERIES", which was released not too long ago. I was able to hear and catch 21 different featured artists on this album who stepped in to give Chance a hand for his inauguration. Musicians such as John Legend, Shawn Mendes, Nicki Minaj, Ari Lennox, Death Cab for Cutie, and En Vogue are spread throughout the album and only amplify the greatness that is The Big Day. On top of that, the production credits are just as stacked with hella clean beats and sounds by the likes of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Timbaland, Murda Beatz, Pi'erre Borne (Playboi Carti's "Magnolia"), and TrapMoneyBenny (Drake's "In My Feelings") amongst countless others.


What makes this debut so phenomenal is it's cohesiveness and storytelling. Chance is no stranger to sharing personal stories. In fact, it's what he's good at and it's what he knows, so why not turn it up to ten on his first official project? The album's title (and cover) is a special call out to his marriage with his childhood sweetheart, Kirsten, and it's very clear that he's smitten with her and their daughter, Kensli. It's one big "I love you" to his family.


The Big Day is, so far, the best album of the summer and might even edge out Tyler, the Creator's IGOR by the end of 2019 if I listen to it enough. For now, let's all celebrate and congratulate Mr. Bennett on this accomplishment. ★★★★


Key Tracks: "I Got You (Always and Forever)" / "Hot Shower" / "Found a Good One (Single No More)"


No. 6 Collaborations Project by Ed Sheeran


As the world waits for Sheeran's (probable) math-inspired solo album ("Subtract?" "Minus?"), he hit us with a collaboration album that shook the world when he revealed the track list and its featured players. Some big names, some smaller names, but recognizable names regardless. There are nearly two-dozen features on this project, most of which work surprisingly well.


His previous Collaborations Projects were all EPs that Sheeran released in hopes to get signed by a major label. Now that he has the star power that he has, he has been able to recruit A-listers, such as Khalid, Chance the Rapper, Eminem, 50 Cent, Travis Scott, Cardi B, and Bruno Mars. What one needs to understand going into this album is that it's all for fun and shouldn't be taken too seriously. I say that because there' not theme, rhythm, or set tone. It's literally called a "project." So I don't want to hear complaints about how it "doesn't work." This is a playlist to me, and I'd like to think it's a damn good one. I don't think you'd be able to find a compilation like this one elsewhere, so it'll have to do.


What Ed gets right is that he plays to each individual's strengths track-by-track. Stormzy? Let's make a grime track. Justin Bieber? Strictly radio pop. Meek Mill and A Boogie wit da Hoodie? It's gotta be east coast hip-hop. Bruno Mars and Chris Stapleton? Loud-ass rock n' roll. There isn't one genre on this project and that's part of its charm. Find what you like and just enjoy it. ★★★½


Key Tracks: "BLOW" / "I Don't Want Your Money" / "Antisocial"


The Lion King: The Gift by Beyoncé & Various Artists


It's always an extravaganza when Beyoncé Knowles-Carter releases any kind of new music and it's been three excruciatingly long years since the perfect Lemonade was released. One can only imagine that she set the bar for herself pretty high. However, this isn't strictly a Beyoncé album. It's more of a compilation that she personally curated. It's literally what Kendrick Lamar did for Black Panther last year and I feel that these "curated" albums are a trend that seems to be working for the better and should be explored further (depending on the film, of course).


Like the Black Panther soundtrack, The Lion King soundtrack is a celebration of black excellence, but it also expands out to African-born musicians and lesser-known artists. Aside from heavy hitters Childish Gambino, JAY-Z, and Pharrell Williams, Bey was able to recruit up-and-comers like Tierra Whack, 070 Shake, and Jessie Reyez. However, where this soundtrack shines brightest is with its African acts such as Mr Eazi, Burna Boy, and Tiwa Savage. It's a dreamy blend of talented people and sounds that form one solid collection. ★★★½


Key Tracks: "MOOD 4 EVA" / "BROWN SKIN GIRL" / "DON'T JEALOUS ME"

★★★★★ Classic | ★★★★ Excellent | ★★★ Good | ★★ Fair | ★ Poor

© Justin Recio 2019