By: Monica Branch and Neil MacAlister
Younger Now by Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus seems to mark each phase of her life with an album. From Bangerz, to Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, and now her newest release, Younger Now, her message, style, and sound has changed dramatically with each album.
Miley’s first single, “Malibu,” lets us all know that she is switching things up once again, this time heading back to her country roots. This album is familiar. It is nothing ground-breaking, and arguably generic, but still a happy and love-filled album with a good balance of pop and country.
The title track, “Younger Now,” embraces the changes Miley has undergone, from Hannah Montana, to her newer foam-finger toting, pot-smoking self. Most of the album plays with powerful and thoughtful messages, but it just skims the surface, making it sound stiff. With many romantic and enjoyably cheesy songs about Liam Hemsworth, along with “She’s Not Him,” rumored to be about Stella Maxwell, with whom Miley had a short relationship, and “Younger Now” which introduces a side of Miley Cyrus never seen in an album before. Here’s to hoping she’ll continue with another, more authentic country-pop album next time around. – MB
Cozy Tapes Vol. 2: Too Cozy by A$AP Mob
New York rap collective A$AP Mob (founded by the late A$AP Yams) has been busy lately, releasing projects by two of its members in the past few months. Aside from A$AP Ferg’s Still Striving and A$AP Twelvyy’s 12, they still found the time to release a 17-track followup to last year’s Cozy Tapes Vol. 1.
The second instalment in the series is significantly more bloated than its predecessor. This often proves its undoing; on top of the already large A$AP crew (Rocky, Ferg, Twlevyy, Ant, Nast, and TyY), Frank Ocean, ScHoolboy Q, Gucci Mane, Playboi Carti, Lil Yachty, Chief Keef, Joey Bada$$, and many more all contributed to Too Cozy. It’s a very busy album, often feeling like it could have benefited from some scaling back, but Too Cozy has its high points. A$AP Rocky, particularly, is at the top of his game, the guest verses (though large in number) are all pretty excellent. Tracks like “Bahamas,” “RAF,” and the Pro Era/Flatbush Zombies collaboration “What Happens” are among the most fun tracks you’ll hear this year. – NM
Luv Is Rage 2 by Lil Uzi Vert
2015’s Luv Is Rage was my introduction to Lil Uzi Vert, and while it’s a project that’s mostly passed under the radar, it contains some of Uzi’s best work: any Uzi fan who hasn’t heard “Paradise” really ought to. It seemed like a somewhat obscure tape to make a sequel to, but Luv is Rage 2 follows in many of the melodic, rock-influenced elements of its predecessor, (rather than the more traditional trap elements of Uzi’s more recent work).
Uzi is a part of the unconventional new school of hip-hop, and he rejects many of the classic tenements of the genre. This is an artist who proclaims himself to be a rock star instead of a rapper, and cites Paramore’s Hayley Williams as his biggest artistic influence.
Luv Is Rage 2, Uzi’s first commercial album, is also his best project to date. It’s an artistic, inventive record with significant input from the great Pharrell Williams, who helped Uzi totally rework the album over the past several months. It’s not a perfect album, and Uzi still has plenty of room to grow, but it’s easy to see why he’s one of the biggest artists in the world right now. – NM