This is powerful art, not only for people of color, but for everyone who exists beyond societal constraints. It’s for those who’ve been told they don’t quite fit, those viewed through a different lens because of their circumstances.
As Minaj says on “Side to Side,” “young Ariana run pop.” This is indeed evident on Dangerous Woman, even if the results are uneven at times.
Lemonade is a stunning album, one that sees her exploring sounds she never has before. It also voices a rarely seen concept, that of the album-length ode to infidelity.
Dev Hynes' third album as Blood Orange is a searing and soothing personal document, striking the same resonant chords as Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly or D’Angelo’s Black Messiah.
Side B is less a collection of b-sides than it is a continuation of last year's full-length smash, heart-swelling and heart-draining pop that exists in worlds just before or after love.
The songs on Moth feel related and extroverted, pulled together by a common purpose. They have a charming asymmetry, they drift in sometimes oblique and irregular patterns. This is pop that wants to show you what it’s made of.
In the best way possible, in no way shape or form is The Colour in Anything a rapid departure or reversal of what Blake does well. He still paints in deep blues and greys. His production is still unparalleled, spacious, and impossibly textured. His voice is still chilly and metallic, but maintains all its choir boy charm. His music is still towering and menacingly sad.
Oh No is a gorgeous and deadly pop music manifesto that proves yet again the sad girls are not vulnerable and silent subjects.
The genre-defying stew of funk, soul, R&B, and beat and dance music that Kaytranada has cooked up on 99.9% nods back at that heritage of percussion-driven synthesis.
KING harkens back to a time when there were clearer distinctions between R&B, pop, and hip-hop, when acts like Jodeci and SWV ruled the airwaves, and the music was lighter and more sensuous. We Are KING recalls the best of that era without completely rehashing it.
With forever-sophisticated lyrics sung in his still-creamy voice over a band so tight they sound loose, blackSUMMERS’night is probably Maxwell’s most cohesive effort since his sublime (critics panned it; they were wrong) sophomore album, Embrya—and the first since then with no skippable tracks.
Her music inhabits the arena of high-stakes R&B, where women’s voices are dominant, acrobatic, and impossible for unsympathetic listeners to tune out.
ANTI is a rich and conflicted pop record, at its most interesting when it’s at its most idiosyncratic. It’s not crammed with bloodthirsty, dance-oriented jams and feels distinctly smaller, more inward-facing than her previous records, as if it were intended as a kind of spiritual stock-taking, a moment of reckoning for both Rihanna and her fans.