If following the 2020 election cycle or the frightening situation with SARS in Nigeria is taking a toll on your mental health, here's your permission to take a break from that timeline for a bit—or maybe the rest of the day. Instead, dive in and start listening to some of the excellent music this tumultuous time is inspiring.
“Woodlawn” music video, Aminé
Back in August, hometown hip-hop hero Aminé dropped Limbo, his impressive sophomore LP on Republic Records, which includes high-profile features such as Summer Walker, Charlie Wilson, JID, Vince Staples, and Young Thug. The 14-track album shows Aminé getting more introspective, and showing his range as he spits bars on everything from mourning Kobe Bryant ("Kobe"), his upbringing in PDX ("Roots"), expressing gratitude to his mother ("Mama"), and the ups and downs of heartbreak and romance ("Riri," and "Easy"). Yesterday Aminé released an insanely fun music video for the single, “Woodlawn,” named after a NE Portland neighborhood. As is expected from the Portland-raised artist, Aminé's video is stunning, includes a variety of Oregon landscapes, and sees the artist shooting the shit and riding around in the whip with his homies. Aminé also performed "Woodlawn" and "album opener "Burden" on Jimmy Kimmel recently—from a hot air balloon no less.
WATCH "WOODLAWN" HERE.
Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Able, Black Thought
The Roots’ emcee Tariq Trotter, AKA Black Thought and one of the best rappers alive, dropped the third installment of his long awaited album, Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Able, centered around America's violent history with racism. I highly recommend listening along while reading the lyrics so you can really internalize just how prolific this MC is. Among its 16 tracks are “Quiet Trip,” “Nature of the Beast,” and “Fuel,” which all feature Rose City stalwarts The Last Artful, Dodgr and Portugal. The Man—two acts who showcase very specific punctuation in their monikers. "Fuel" is my personal favorite of the three. After an epic bridge, the song seamlessly transitions into the Outro. (Portugal. The Man and Dodgr also performed "Quiet Trip/Nature of the Beast" with Black Thought on The Tonight Show last night.) Other album highlights include the heavily screwed album opener “I’m Not Crazy (First Contact)” which includes audio from a police stop; "State Prisoner" featuring live drums; and an appearance from Yoruban hip-hop duo OSHUN ("We Could Be Good [United]"). Clocking at just under 35 minutes, Black Thought's new LP is lyrically dense with dynamic, neck-breaking production, giving it high repeat value.
LISTEN TO STREAMS OF THOUGHT VOL. 3: CANE & ABLE HERE.
Things I Whispered In The Dark (Side B), Blossom, Charlie 3rown, Samuel Elsen-Meyers
After dropping Side A in July, Portland R&B singer Blossom, jazz pianist Charlie 3rown and producer Samuel Elsen-Meyers released the flip side of Things I Whispered In the Dark. Its trio of tracks ("Chemistry," "What They Say," and "Flute On 33rd") are more feeling-focused than thought-driven, and they offer some seriously soulful, laid back vibes. According to the Bandcamp page—the only place you can currently hear it—the project was created while traveling, and is merely an outline for an upcoming full-length. LISTEN TO THINGS I WHISPERED IN THE DARK (SIDE B) HERE.
“Rich and Beautiful,” Logan Lynn
Musician/producer/filmmaker/LGBTQ+ advocate Logan Lynn just released this vibrant and oh-so-relatable music video for "Rich and Beautiful" on October 16, which also happened to be the artist's birthday. Here, the catchy, upbeat single is given new life. With wardrobe by Gucci, the video is shot almost entirely inside their house, creating a gorgeous snapshot of the artist's life during the stay-at-home order. The visual also includes some drone footage of Portland by Portland Drone, and is an example of how a little creativity (and some well-placed Gucci-clad pet cameos) go a long way.
WATCH THE "RICH AND BEAUTIFUL" VIDEO HERE.
It seems like singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist H.E.R. is always cooking up something new in the studio for us to devour, and for that I am grateful, since hearing her live this year is no longer an option. Singing along to her pandemic anthem "Sometimes"—about the need to adapt when life happens and cancels all your plans—has been integral to keeping myself calm and sane while driving in 2020. This week H.E.R. delivers the single and music video "Damage," about feeling vulnerable to the whims of a partner: "Careful what you take for granted, yeah/'Cause with me know you could do damage." The song is a nice reminder to set boundaries, even with those we love.
LISTEN TO "DAMAGE" HERE.