Welcome to the domain where underground art rises from the ashes for a brief moment like a phoenix only to land in that pretty little phone of yours to get played on repeat.
Insecure – HBO Original Series Soundtrack
Once this series of Alternative R&B mixes was brought to my attention there were a few gems that stood out amongst the rest.
“Palm Trees” by GoldLink is surprisingly decent compared to their number one hit. If you are familiar with this type of music then GoldLink is no stranger to your ears. They are the masters of R&B jam titled “Crew”. “Palm Trees” is a major bop with shaky vocals and a solid bass line. I often thought that this groups music did so well because there was a communal vibe when they spit fire, and a comical way to their rhyme. GoldLink’s bars are by no means mumble rap or classical, and that is what puts this song under the category of alternative R&B.
“Girl” by 1500 or Nothin is a remixed version of the famous R&B song legendary hit by The Internet. This rendition comes off more sensual when sung by a man, and the tempo is also slowed down a bit for pleasure. I don’t prefer 1500’s style over the original, however, I would recommend it to listeners who have never heard of either version just to find which one they like better. They are similar in ways that would make a person who is familiar with both styles have reason to believe that 1500’s version is just a slowed down direct copy. What I appreciate about 1500’s version over The Internet’s version is its use of live instrument to make it sound more genuine.
“Just Sayin / I Tried” by The Internet is too ingenious on this soundtrack. The drums, synths, and snaps bounce off of each other perfectly to add the alternative side that comes in this special genre of Alternative R&B. The Internet’s high voice comes off the
track as smooth as butter. Then later on in the song The internet slows it down with some classic R&B runs. The contrast between the two sounds adds to how golden the overall song is put together. The lyrics are also highly relatable for young adults running in and out of relationships.
“Conflict of a man” by ERIMAJ has a touch of indie in the mix that gels with the strings and off beat that is backing up the singer. Another alternative R&B hit that deserves to be played on a megaphone to be shouted from the rooftops, and another highly relatable song for lost love. The conflict of ERIMAJ as a man is his attempt to move on from a breakup, and contradicting himself to see if given another chance could the relationship last. My favorite lyric in the song is when ERIMAJ sings, “Tell the truth I think of you , when I do I start to loose a sense of me trying to live a life without you. Honestly I could be eventually potentially let’s wait to look and see any possibility.”
“Hold On” by SBTRKT (feat. Sampha) holds a special place in my heart because I have been cruising on the Sampha boat ever since his debut album. It is a special kind of sound that is not for everyone, mainly just hipsters and music enthusiasts. There is a xialapjhone sound that runs through the track which I found pretty interesting. Midway through the song Sampha sounds like he is crying which is a true talent of his. A whiney tonal way of projecting sound from his lips that is surprisingly nice to listen to.
“Borders” by St. Beauty is my second favorite song on this list. St. Beauty
kills murders annihilates these high notes, and transports your head on a psychedelic road trip through fantasia, if fantasia was made with an all black cast. This song is very sensual and soft. “Borders” is almost like an R&B getaway for your body. The strings, horns, synths, and hums describe a visual escape to nowhere specific. By the sound of its narrative they are trying to be anywhere except for where they are right now, and I am living for it.
“Plastic” by Moses Sumney is a soft raspy beach indie song that is the ultimate relaxation tune. Sumney keeps repeating the same phrase over and over again, “My wings are made of plastic.” The only thing I do not like about “Plastic” is how short it is… like excuse me Sumney, who told you to stop blessing me with your virtual getaway style voice? This whisper of a song is my favorite on this entire list. I never would have imagined the word plastic to be romanticized and leave my heart achey, yet it has.
Sideline – Niia (feat. Jazmine Sullivan)
Soul, R&B, and Jazz when mixed really well marry really well. Sideline is a great example of that. At first it sounds like one powerhouse voice belting out these notes until you realize it’s just two artists that match better than peanut butter and jelly.
Niia is singing from the point of view of a side chick who is waiting to go public with her new beau who supposedly broke up with their main partner. Part 1:20 is my favorite because Jazmine Sullivan pours her heart out. It is clear when singers give the record their all, and nail it. Usually around the climax is when those moments are evident, and in this track it’s painfully obvious.
Medication – Damian Marley (feat. Stephen Marley)
“Medication” by Damian Marley and Stephen Marley may be the most stereotypical Reggae song that I have ever laid ears on, however, I can not get enough of it. Good reggae music often has a deep poetic message to it, a great vibe, or advocates for weed. This song lacks deep meaning, but makes up for it with a steady groove. What more can you expect from sons of the great Bob Marley himself?
The only reason I even dove into this project was because of its album cover, to be honest, and the familiarity of the artists name. AJR used to be well known for their hit back in 2015 titled “I’m Ready”. The brother trio then broke out of their one hit wonder reputation, and came out with a hit single title “Weak”. AJR then backed up that single with their Debut Album titled The Click.
The album kicks off with an overture, cleverly titled “Overture”, that gives a small sample of every track and mixes it all into one song so the listener can get a taste of everything before they dissect the album piece by piece.
It is hard to pick a favorites off this album because as a unit it is solid, elegant, and overall perfect in every sense of the word. In general, this album is every college students original motion picture soundtrack. Also, there are some special songs dedicated to semi-underground artists such as AJR who, in my opinion, are not giving themselves enough credit as B-list celebrities.
To point out specific tracks off of the album that are a must hear, other than “Weak” which I am sure everyone is familiar with, I recommend “Drama”, “Turning Out”, “No Grass Today”, and “Netflix Trip”. The Click is most definitely worth your time.