By: Neil MacAlister and Rebeka Roga
Reputation by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has been one of the biggest names in music for years, a country-pop crossover darling who has leaned closer to pop with each successive album. 2014’s 1989 was a vacuous attempt at cookie-cutter stadium pop, but Reputation is something completely different. It’s a directionless amalgam of genres and styles that, while admirable in its experimentation, fails in Taylor’s inept hands. Her edgy rebrand is sad to watch, pushing an unconvincing bad-reputation persona, speaking more explicitly about sex and alcohol, and taking weak shots at Kanye West about a beef she already lost.
There are points where Taylor tries to rap (as does Ed Sheeran, with even more horrific results), mishandled integration of electronic and house music, and some Imogen Heap-esque vocal manipulation, all mixed with out-of-place callbacks to her old sound. Reputation has brief, occasional moments of the pop brilliance that made Taylor Swift a household name, but it’s not enough to save the album from its misguided ambition. – NM
No Dope On Sundays by CyHi the Prynce
In 2010, CyHi the Prynce was introduced to the world after delivering a blistering verse on Kanye West’s “So Appalled” (from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), but a regrettable deal with Def Jam saw CyHi basically shelved for the next seven years. He was relegated to a background role, mostly as a ghostwriter for artists in the G.O.O.D. Music collective. He’s released a few mixtapes over the years, but the Atlanta rapper saved his best work for his studio debut. CyHi’s an exceptional lyricist, with a notable penchant for punchlines, and his messages range from pro-black politics to the realities of drug dealing in Atlanta. This album adeptly confronts the opposing influences of the church and the streets (summed up neatly in the title, No Dope on Sunday), and features excellent contributions from the likes of Kanye West, Pusha T, 2 Chainz, ScHoolboy Q, and Travis Scott. It’s been a long time coming, but CyHi’s much-anticipated album doesn’t disappoint.–NM
Mourn by Corbin
Corbin, formerly known as Spooky Black, released his first album under his new alias this fall. The album shows how the switch of his stage name symbolizes a shift in his position as an artist. Songs on this album are produced entirely different: his songs are now quite lengthy, and tell stories. Prior to this album, all of Corbin’s music was made purely electronically, and most songs were short and contained few lyrics. Although Corbin’s sound has transformed drastically, the beauty and perfection of his music remains. In all of Corbin’s songs, the lyrics and music (whether digitally made or not), are combined into beautiful pieces of art that really make you feel something. What is unique about Corbin is you can hear and feel the emotion and the pain he divulges. It’s as if he is turning emotions that would normally be put into a diary into music. – RR