Against all custom and common courtesy, Frank Ocean dropped Blonde, his second studio album, in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, fucking our whole entire heads up for the second time in as many days. The hourlong opus is gorgeous and hazy and melancholic, but also hopeful, and weirdly triumphant; it’s a balm for the restless soul, like one of those ’80s teen movies in which the lead randomly breaks the fourth wall before the credits roll to remind you that you could completely miss out on life if you don’t stop to appreciate all the things that won’t kill you.
Other releases were glossed over in the shadow of the Frank Ocean anticipation machine. But the good thing about music is it lasts forever. So when the clouds part and manna rains down from heaven twice in a single weekend and you find yourself moonstruck and grabbing the tails of wild tangents about life, love, death, drugs, self-acceptance, capitalism, and systemic poverty, you can get to the other stuff when you get to it.
Here’s a sampling of what you might want to catch up on this week.
Tory Lanez, ‘I Told You’
Probably the greatest casualty of Frank Ocean Weep Fest 2016. Tory Lanez is only 24, but he’s been at this music thing for the better part of a decade, having put out a whopping 15 projects since 2009. His studio debut, I Told You, was released on Friday. After prying myself from my 47th (I kid you not) run through “Self Control” and giving I Told You a few full listens, I can only really say that there aren’t any other moments that match “Say It.” The album is 28 tracks long, and 14 of them are skits that might’ve been better off as visual treatments, which makes revisiting the album a little tedious. He also tries on a handful of styles that don’t fit well enough for him to claim them as his own, like a Miguelishly thin falsetto for bouts of bedroom R&B or Future’s trap gospel for gritty street tales. On the whole, I Told You is good, but ultimately a repackaging of what’s already out there, and Tory could probably use a little more time to differentiate himself from his influences.
After the album-opening skit, which sets the scene and invites us to refer to Tory by his government name, Daystar Peterson, the title track comes bounding through with teeth-rattling bass. It’s over six minutes long, but it’s over six minutes of heat, and it fits in with the precedent set by his peers, being that this is the year of long-ass album intros (Drake’s “Keep the Family Close,” PartyNextDoor’s “High Hopes”). It’s really a shame that Tory and Drake are constantly throwing pebbles at each other; they could be making hits together.
So Syd, the amazing frontwoman of an amazing band called the Internet, released this amazing song “Amazing,” produced by Dornik (formerly British songstress Jessie Ware’s drummer, currently crafting ambrosial R&B), who also happens to be amazing.
Syd talks about that special kind of infatuation that teeters between endearing and creepy. The kind where you’ve already decided you’re perfect for someone even though you know nothing about them and therefore couldn’t possibly know that. You might envision a life together even though you’ve only just met, and for reasons that escape you, you can’t shake the feeling of wanting to kiss this person’s face until it dissolves into dust. Being irreparably, dreadfully in love — or, at least, exhibiting the symptoms of it — is stupid and confusing. Somehow, in that airy timbre of hers, Syd manages to make it all so simple: “I just don’t like, like when they press up on you, yeah / ’cause, girl, I just know, know I’m the best one for you.”
She also talks some of the slickest shit. Like, “If you’re tired of the rain, baby, I’ll bring out the sun for you.” That’s equal parts Pharrell Williams saying he “knew he was in there” after locking eyes, Paul Williams selling the dream that he could make a ship sail on dry land, and Colin Blunstone asking, “Who’s your daddy? Is rich like me?”
Jeremih, ‘Pass Dat (Remix)’ (ft. Chance the Rapper, Young Thug, and the Weeknd)
This has been a truly torturous process.
Soon after Jeremih released his sophomore album, Late Nights, in December, Young Thug took to singing “Pass Dat” into his selfie camera. The internet began Occam’s razoring about a potential remix, and had their suspicions confirmed when Thug teased said remix on Instagram. That was eight months ago.
The Weeknd added a verse on an unofficial remix in late December and that was good — it’s still good now — but Jeremih knew what we really wanted. He teased us again in July, saying he was working on a “New One” with Young Thug and “Chance,” which was great, considering he (read: some label person) bumped Chance’s verse on “Planez” for a truly awful J. Cole one.
Almost a whole month later, we finally have it. And thank God, because for a minute there I thought we were going to have to leave well enough alone.
Raury, “Like a Star”
The best song on The Life of Pablo is “30 Hours,” and not for the artsy Arthur Russell sample, but for perfectly capturing that post-break-up stage when every conversation you have eventually becomes a conversation about her. And the longer you talk, the more you work yourself up, and the more you remember all the things she did that grated on your nerves — like eating all the Popeyes before you got to the DoubleTree to meet her that one time, and then having the gall to try to order an omelet from room service at fucking 5 a.m.
“Like a Star,” produced by Donnie Trumpet of the Social Experiment, has that same quality. Raury waxes lyrical about dueling with a girl who moved to Atlanta for him and is beginning to resent him for it; it manifests in self-destructive ways, like smoking way too much weed and spending whole paychecks on xanny bars.
Also, praise be to Donnie, whose sighing horn makes one-offs like “house with a view full of dreams you ain’t chase” seem fantastic and magical and doomed and hopeless all at once.
Nuh Weakness Kid’s Little Homie, “Hello”
Please watch this in its entirety. Thank you. And also, you’re welcome.