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Mace and Crown | May 24, 2018

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Monarch Music Minute: Future, Born of Osiris, José James

Adam Flores

Future – ‘HNDRXX’ 💿💿💿💿

Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn, known professionally as Future, surprised fans by dropping “HNDRXX” on Feb. 24, one week after releasing his eponymous, fifth studio album, stylized as “FUTURE.”

The Atlanta rapper’s sixth studio offering enlists the help of The Weeknd on the track, “Coming Out Strong” and Rihanna on “Selfish.” The hip-hop, R&B and trap mix-laced feel throughout the new record is yet another masterful statement of soul Future projects through his music.

“My Collection” launches the near 69-minute journey incorporating a smooth beat with rich, R&B chord progressions. Over the top of this rich, spacial soundscape, Future effortlessly raps with brutal honesty.

“Keep my promise, take my love with you everywhere / And hell no it ain’t about no braggin’ rights / But even if it was, s— I got it / Pinstripes on a hardtop Bugatti.”

“Damage,” a groovacious, yet urgent track possesses an Auto-Tune-infused background vocal hook. As the first verse cites, “Never ever let the money stop / Dirty police trying to f— it up / If money come, he wanna pull you over / Just to say something under there,” Future brings to the forefront, the socio-political state of racial tensions today in America.

Other tracks such as “Incredible” and “Fresh Air” add fuel to the fire while maintaining a sense of calm and control. “Incredible,” with its psycho-sexual prowess, contrasts with “Fresh Air’s” inventive mix of rhythmic syncopations catalyst to an infectious R&B/smooth jazz tone.

Though “HNDRXX” is imbued with explicative-ridden lyrics, drug references, sexuality and misogynistic notions, Future maintains a balance of power, musically. Perhaps, a less lyrically explicit set would make his music friendlier to the airwaves, a consideration for the multitalented rapper.

Stream the album on Spotify here.

Born of Osiris – ‘The Eternal Reign’ 💿💿💿💿

Deathcore and progressive metal band Born of Osiris have unleashed “The Eternal Reign.” The overdriven offering, which hit the streets on Feb. 24, is the group’s second EP. It is a re-recorded version of their debut EP, “The New Reign,” originally released back in October 2007.

The nearly 24-minute onslaught of precision metal mayhem is a testament to the group’s decade-long plus history. The update includes a bonus track, “Glorious Day,” which was originally intended for the 2007 release.

The Illinois-native quintet has had only one major roster change between EPs. Guitarist Matthew C. Pantelis withdrew after the release of “New Reign” to join deathcore outfit Veil of Maya. He was not replaced. They have collaborated with other musicians at different times for various projects in the studio and for touring including eight-string guitar virtuoso, Animals as Leaders’ Tosin Abasi.

In their formative years, Born of Osiris paid their dues working the Northland Chicago metalcore scene alongside now successfully signed bands Monsters, Oceano and For All I Am. The band cites Meshuggah, Cannibal Corpse, Slayer and The Mars Volta among some of their influences.

“Abstract Art” showcases the fierce intensity the band inflicts musically. Like a technical exercise in musical proficiency gone awry, experiments in sudden sonic shifts and unconventional stringed-guitar designs define their sound.

“Empires Erased,” “Bow Down” and “Open Arms to Damnation” attest to their ferocious 2003 beginnings. “Glorious Day” is a welcome addition to the original set on this re-release blending in and helping to further cement Osiris’ original benchmark of their signature sound.

Osiris’ ‘The Eternal Reign’ reinstates their standing in the metal. Though fresh in appearance, perhaps more bonus material would make this standout more.

Stream the album on Spotify here.

José James – ‘Love In a Time of Madness’ 💿💿💿💿💿

With musical influences ranging from the likes of John Coltrane and Billie Holiday to Marvin Gaye, jazz vocalist José James presented his seventh studio release, “Love In a Time of Madness,” on Feb. 24. Recorded on the prestigious Blue Note Records label, James continues to blend modern jazz and hip-hop elements incorporating his unique brand of spoken word and vocal jazz.

The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music veteran made his debut in 2008 with “The Dreamer.” That album represented the foundation of James’ musical journey where he finds inspiration from a wide range of sources including Radiohead and Nirvana.

James’ exposition, “Always There,” displays the hip-hop vibe overtaken by well-balanced vocal and musical arrangements throughout. What emerges is not just another predictable singer, but a discerning vocalist who improvises and uses their voice as a musical instrument, taking advantage of offering every subtle nuance within the track’s sonic spectrum with precision.

James brings the party to life with a Bruno Mars energy in “Live Your Fantasy.” With an infectious, ‘70s R&B bass line, classic Fender Rhodes comping, and embellished synth lead riffs and chordal stabs, he brings forward a classic energy with an updated feel.

“To Be With You” brings on a tonal shift as James’ continues to deliver precision vocal leads interspersed with Take 6-esque background harmonies over an introspective, ‘round midnight vibe. In closer listening, however, it is somewhat freeform in nature with a lost sense of musical time.

With other charts such as “Closer” and “I’m Yours (feat. Oleta Adams),” “Love In a Time of Madness” is a welcome addition to the jazz set offering a limitless hue of vocal treatments that embody each track.

Stream the album on Spotify here.

Rating System:

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