Listens for the Week #8
Every week, I offer three recommendations: something new, something classic, and something I love. This week, I've been enjoying a lot of Miles Davis and Nas, but found some time to listen to some fantastic soul classics and new hip hop as well.
Westside Gunn - 10 (2022)
10 is the final installment in Gunn's 'Hitler Wears Hermes' series which has been a staple in his discography. The finale does not disappoint. A host of incredible artists feature on it from Black Star to Busta Rhymes to Run the Jewels, each matching the dark and grimy atmosphere of a Griselda record perfectly. Even Gunn, who often doesn't amaze me with his own verses, shines here between feature-stacked songs. The production is amazing as well, with Griselda affiliates like Conductor Williams offering their usual gritty style, as well as legends like RZA contributing. It's a celebration of underground hip hop, a triumph for Griselda, and a satisfying end to the series.
Sade - Love Deluxe (1992)
This year marked thirty years since the release of Love Deluxe, a gorgeous neo-soul and sophistipop album from Sade which many regard as the band's greatest masterpiece. The production on this album is so smooth and warm, with groovy basslines laced between layers of synths and saxophone. Sade Adu has one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard, matching the softness of the production in her elegant tone and writing. Lavish is the best word to describe this record, as there are few albums quite as luxurious as this one.
Something I Love
D'Angelo - Black Messiah (2014)
D'Angelo is an artist I've always loved, but only now am I fully coming to appreciate his latest record, Black Messiah. His writing takes a more political turn with this album, and the production is grander than ever. There are more minimalist moments such as 'Sugah Daddy' and 'Betray My Heart' where the production slowly rises into a beautiful, soulful crescendo, while other tracks are explosive from the start, such as the dramatic 'The Charade' or '1000 Deaths'. It's D'Angelo's most daring release and one that continues to grow on me with each successive listen. For any fan of soul, this is a modern essential.