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2015: The Summer Neo Soul Ruled




With the temperature hitting 90, you might not think the summer is over here in New York but it is, and it was a pleasant enough one, even if unless you were 15 and falling in love for the first time time it is doubtful you will be being waxing nostalgic about much.

Musically, as well, it was good enough but a touch ordinary. A lot of albums, I probably reviewed something like 300 plus, but not many have stuck with me. The curse of streaming and all you can eat, it’s like the old cliche about  chinese food moved to music, half an hour after you listen to a new album you are ready for another one.

The best album of the summer was Titus Andronicus wild ambitions rock opera The Most Lamentable Tragedy Of, there are many reasons not to waste yourself with 90 minute song cycles about manic depression and insanity but they are all financially based. Artistically, there is no reason when there isn’t an ounce of self indulgence about it.

But the three neo soul albums, one in the second month of the season, and two as the season bows out, made a case for this being the summer where neo soul got important. Miguel began the trio with Wildheart, Prince influenced sex songs from the Valley (not Silicon, San Fernando) to his Beverly Hill pad where Miguel seduces women with a languid falsetto and the sort of moves Jehovah’s Witness Prince won’t give us anymore. The two big singles “The Valley” and “Coffee” rode the charts in the Spring but while the album only got to #2 on the Billboard 200, and nowhere in the UK, it was undoubtedly underestimated. If he had played anywhere but Terminal 5 I’d have been so there.

Two month later, The Weeknd climaxed a year ruling the charts with “Earned It”, “The Hills” and “I Can’t Feel My Face”,  with Beauty And Madness, the best mainstream pop album since 1989. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he gets another three hit singles off this one. It is the second best selling album of the year, just behind Drake, but it has many more potential hits than Drake’s mix tape and could well end up being the most popular album of the year.

Finally, on Friday Kanye West discovery Travi$ Scott dropped Rodeo, an album that searched out a middle ground between Kanye West experimental, hip hop and rap, and neo soul, with a hugely great end of the summer album. With the three combined, a good year for hip hop has been transformed to a great year for hip hop, in the some of ’15.

Wildheart – Miguel – A-

Beauty And Madness – The Weeknd – A

Rodeo – Travi$ Scott – A-


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