Our third list of KCOU recent essentials.
Starving fans is an art in and of itself and D’Angelo has it down to a science. During the time most people in the KCOU music staff have been alive my boy D’Angelo has released 2 albums that had a 14 year waiting period in between. And before that it took him about 6 years to release an album. And you know what, we forgave him. And we at KCOU would probably forgive D’Angelo of almost anything as long as he keeps singing in that sexy falsetto. “What if he robbed your house?” Forgiven. “What if he took your children?” Are children really the future? I’d sacrifice a lot for another D’Angelo album. But don’t judge me let’s talk about his musical consistency. Voodoo and Black Messiah are probably better than most Great American novels and I’m pretty sure they cure cancer. He knows how to make you groove and feed your mind with concepts that make you wanna take everyone you know to Africa today. Thank you D’Angelo, Just thank you.
– Icarus Shay
Out of all of the R. Kelly albums, this had EVERYTHING. “Step in the Name of Love” is still a banger at the weddings. Everybody’s kindergarten graduation song was “The World’s Greatest”. And “Ignition (Remix)”? Easily better than America’s National Anthem. A masterpiece at it’s absolute finest.
– Alexis Ditaway
Maxwell’s BLACKsummers’night provided awesome singles such as “Pretty Wings” and “Bad Habits” and is considered to be his best work. Through this album, Maxwell expressed his take on love and heartbreak. With the track “Fist Full Of Tears”, Maxwell recounts his own experience with heartbreak. This album is one of my favorites because it has nice blues and jazz appeals in it. Maxwell’s range and artistry is evident through this album’s ability to transport you. This album represents KCOU because in college we all experience life and love and Maxwell connects to those concepts in this album.
– Sade May
In music, the hardest album is not your first, contrary to popular belief. The hard part is following up a good or great first album with a product of equal, if not superior, quality across the board. Alicia Keys was able to do that. With a voice that sounds just as good with only a piano as it does in the studio, and her skills as a musician, it is not surprising Keys left an imprint on the early 2000s. The Diary of Alicia Keys, her second studio album, plays like a diary, with Keys touching on personal subjects, themes and topics many would say they wrote in their own diaries. Propelled by the singles “Diary” and “You Don’t Know My Name”, this album is arguably Keys best project. Definitely her most memorable.
– Steven Qualls
Channel Orange was Frank Ocean’s highly anticipated debut album, released in 2012. Arguably the album of that summer, it was a different but deserving follow-up to Ocean’s critically acclaimed project Nostalgia, ULTRA. The album is a tale of unrequited love, which many fans later found out, was for a man. Albeit the news, the album still performed well and is considered to be one of Ocean’s best projects. Frank is definitely what you play when you’re trying to let some things out, or deal with your personal feelings. Try getting through the album without relating to one song, and singing along, whether you’re in tune or not.
– Steven Qualls
What happened when Justin Timberlake decided that *NSYNC wasn’t enough for him? Greatness. And it shows in his third album, The 20/20 Experience. This album has a classy, black tie affair feel yet still explores what can happen when JT meets Timbaland. It’s a beautiful thing, everyone. 10 tracks of supplied beauty.
– Alexis Ditaway
Jeremih really likes late nights or at least he’s given 3 of his most recent releases that very name. On this one he felt the need to let us know that it was “the album.” Even in today’s world of constant “mixtapes”, whatever that means, an album still does hold a lot of power. On an album that was delayed by his label that will remain unnamed, Jeremih flexes some of his best songwriting talent and displays his glorious ear for melody. He’s the dude you want at your birthday, the dude you want on your hook, and the dude that can deliver on a full length album. Why would you want to delay a guy like that’s album, especially when he had some of the biggest hits of the time both on college radio and elsewhere. Thank goodness someone (Def Jam) didn’t mess this up too much.
– Melanie Bonaré
Jill Scott’s Who Is Jill Scott? was an album of pure poetic perfection. She tells a story of love unlike anyone who has ever done it. With its neo-soul deception of strong black love and culture, it sets the album on a new level. Being Jill’s debut album it put her on the map as a respected R&B artist. The album is critically acclaimed and speaks to your soul when you listen to it. Who is Jill Scott? brings sultriness to KCOU, gives diversity to what is commonly played, and brings passion with a bit of sexiness.
– Sade May
Does it seem conceited to name an album after yourself, or is that just me? And why did we put James Blake in the R&B category, isn’t he more of an electronic artist? Are they just filling a diversity requirement, do black people even know who James Blake is? The answer to most of those questions is yes. Yes, James Blake is probably a little conceited. Yes, We did need white people on this R&B list. But let’s break down R&B phonetically or etymologically or whichever makes sense here. “R” means Rhythm and there are drums on this album so… Rhythm. There’s also a lot of tasteful repetition here that does not get tedious even once. “B” means blues, and given that this album is the epitome of sadboy feels, I think it qualifies. And the guy’s just got so much soul. I’m black and I know who James Blake is and you should too.
– Edna Mannenstein
Miguel’s Kaleidoscope Dream is a beautiful amalgamation of funk, pop, rock, and R&B. Miguel almost tries to change the definition of R&B in this album from the typical R&B themes to a colorful mix (a kaleidoscope if you will), to make a soup of sound that really appeals to the ear. Miguel on this album, like on many of his albums, has a Bruno Mars -esque innocence, and gentlemanly vibe (not pussy is mine) to him to maks for very feel-good music. This is a great sophomore album, and it’s definitely more out of the box than his first album.
– Daniel Arisa
The Archandroid plays like a musical and not just because it’s two sections begin with overtures. It’s the story of Cindi Mayweather, an android sent back in time to save Metropolis from The Great Divide, a society that uses time travel to suppress freedom and love. There are 7 parts to this story and The Archandroid tells the second and third parts. But you could listen to this album at any point and enjoy it with or without understanding the storyline because the instrumentation is so lush and well sequenced. This is the stuff after school specials are made of; I can only assume that an anime retelling of this story is in the works.
– Elorm Nutakor
When I was little I used to read the Magic Tree House books and I loved them because the kids were always transported to another world, another experience. Tree house’s that time travel to the Revolutionary War don’t exist but the closest thing I can think of that captures that feeling of awe and adventure…..mystery and nostalgia is Trilogy. Trilogy is a compilation album by the Weeknd consisting of his 2011 mixtapes House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence. The Weeknd is a fantastic artist and his newest album Beauty Behind the Madness is amazing but it pales in comparison to the masterpiece that is Trilogy.
Claude Monet was a French impressionist artist in the second half of the nineteenth century that strove to capture on the canvas the very act of perceiving nature. He wanted to capture the essence of perception itself. The Weeknd in this album can be likened to Monet or any other impressionist artist in that he tries to “impress” on the listener the essence itself of the perception of his world. That’s the only way I can explain what I feel when I listen to this album. Whether that essence be drugged induced haze, the regret of taking advantage of a lover, the thrill of forbidden sex, or questioning the legitimacy of relationship. The Weeknd seems to capture all these feelings with his drugged up psychedelic yet mellow style that he has perfected.
It’s crazy to think that this album is a compilation album because of the mastery that the Weeknd put into its cohesion. Sitting at damn near three hours with 27 songs, this is the Weedknd’s epic, no matter what he does from here he can do no wrong in my eyes after such a flawless body of work. The Weeknd creates euphoria with this album, and trust me you won’t need to be high to enjoy this.
– Daniel Arisa