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Mace & Crown | April 22, 2018

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Monarch Music Minute - Solange, Regina Spektor and Danny Brown

Monarch Music Minute – Solange, Regina Spektor and Danny Brown

Rich Gabrintina
Staff Writer


Regina Spektor – ‘Remember Us To Life’ 💿💿💿💿

Born into a musical household, Regina Spektor was classically trained in piano at an early age. Spektor and her family left the Soviet Union and immigrated to the Bronx in 1989. Despite their financial struggles, Spektor continued to make music a priority in her life. In 2013, her single “You’ve Got Time” was written to be used as the theme song to the Netflix-hit “Orange is the New Black.” The track led to her first Grammy nomination and a BMI Award. Her seventh studio album, “Remember Us To Life,” was released on Sept. 30 off of Warner Bros. Records.

“Remember Us To Life” opens with the lead single “Bleeding Heart.” Spektor’s cotton candy vocals emerge from low, synth hums that bubble in the chorus. Dynamic in its sound, “Bleeding Heart” exits as a ballad conversation exchanging, “How long must I wait? / ’Till you learn it’s not too late / How long must I cry? / ’Till you know that you really tried,” in its outro.

Piano keys and percussion bounce on “Older and Taller,” a song addressing growing old and finding acceptance in the process. “Grand Hotel” is an imaginative, waltz-like story that dances above a dreamy piano arrangement and light string accompaniment. In “Small Bill$,” Spektor delivers a rap-like flow during verses while her voice drifts in the chorus.

The 11 tracks off of “Remember Us To Life” showcase Spektor’s lyrical craftsmanship and musical versatility that’s consistently defined the 15 years of her music career.

Danny Brown – ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ 💿💿💿💿

At 35 years old, Danny Brown strays from convention. He’s older than his contemporaries, but he’s never sounded outdated. The Detroit native has always distilled a sense of timeliness in his work. Before he blew up with his sophomore album “XXX,” Danny Brown hustled to put out several mixtapes and his first studio album, “The Hybrid,” in 2010. On Sept. 27, the eclectic emcee released “Atrocity Exhibition” off of Warp Records.

Until recently, success evaded Danny Brown for over a decade. His refusal to conform to a stereotypical hip-hop image prevented him from getting signed to G-Unit. However, his fearless individuality attributes to his artistry.

The title of his latest album is a direct nod to a Joy Division track. Danny Brown additionally lists Björk and System of a Down as influences. Lyrically and sonically, “Atrocity Exhibition” is his grittiest and most experimental work to date. The gothic-like production, reported to have cost $70,000 to clear samples, is mainly handled by Paul White.

In the opening track “Downward Spiral,” Danny Brown feeds his depression with drugs. The lines, “Everybody say, you got a lot to be proud of / Been high this whole time, don’t realize what I done / Cause when I’m all alone, feel like no one cares / Isolate myself and don’t go nowhere” convey his mental struggle.

Danny Brown rallies fellow rap entities Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Earl Sweatshirt in the Black Milk-produced posse-cut “Really Doe.”

Despite his goofy, gap-toothed smile, Danny Brown takes music seriously. The rock star of rap reflects on the different stages of his life and gets high to escape the weight of his thoughts in “Atrocity Exhibition.”

Solange – ‘A Seat at the Table’ 💿💿💿💿💿

From microaggressions to unjust murders, social inequality has infected America at an alarming rate in recent years. It’s always existed, but it’s become much more visible, perhaps due to people in affected communities taking charge and controlling the narrative. Solange’s “A Seat At the Table,” released Sep. 30, is a sonic and soulful exploration of the black experience.

Solange largely draws inspiration in her third studio album from poet Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric.” The spiritual songstress also draws from personal experiences by putting together vignettes told from the perspective of her parents, Mathew and Tina Knowles, and mentor Master P.

“A Seat at the Table” brings together the talent of Lil Wayne, Sampha, Raphael Saadiq, Troy Johnson, BJ the Chicago Kid, Kelly Rowland, Q-Tip, The-Dream and many others.

Lead track “Rise” is an uplifting journey to self-empowerment. “Weary” criticizes and challenges society’s hierarchical structure. The standout track “Cranes in the Sky” addresses Solange’s attempt to escape sadness. The inner construction toward happiness is illustrated in the hook, “But it’s like cranes in the sky / Sometimes I don’t wanna feel those metal clouds.”

The diverse production behind each track acts as a soft, ambient lighting that sets the mood and stage for each story told. Interludes offer words of wisdom and insight into personal accounts of struggle.

In the 21 tracks of “A Seat at the Table,” Solange successfully brings the black experience into public discourse with great detail. Solange acts a curator with an emphasis on “cure.” She channels anger and pain into upliftment and empowerment, turning poison into medicine for the wounded soul.

💿 — Face palm.
💿💿 — Eh…
💿💿💿 — We’re getting there.
💿💿💿💿 — I’ll listen to it twice, even.
💿💿💿💿💿 — Hell yes!