In the deluge of mainstream hip-hop/rap albums that have dropped this season, it makes sense to compensate for this by providing you all with a few alternatives to add to your summer playlist. A few may have more notoriety than others, but all have the talent it takes to ensure a spot in your summer line-up.
The chart-topping single from their debut album, I Love You, has garnered this Cali-based band nation-wide attention. The song blends a spacious melody with the rap-like vibe provided by frontman Jesse Rutherford’s enthralling vocal chords. It seems all too easy to have this track’s sentimental lyrics thrust the listener into the waiting arms of nostalgia; perhaps of love lost or a summer love that furnishes the emotive words this song has put forth.
Little known Aussie band, The Jezabels, shared this chilling tune on their debut album, Prisoner, in late 2012. The song proceeds gradually in an attempt to prevent the listener from being overwhelmed by the power this band possesses. Throughout this “guided tour”, it’s easy for the listener to abstract the imagery of a long summer road trip. The vocals of Hayley Mary are strong as ever as she lies dormant for most of the song before roaring back and taking full control of the listener’s attention, only to lay us down gently as the song fades away. It is a truly beautiful arrangement that boasts eclectic lyrics to accompany the imagery presented by the instrumental. I highly recommend giving the album a listen, but this song, especially, screams summer.
This song, created by solo artist Robert DeLong, begins very simply; hushed vocals and minimalist sounds. A few seconds in and you’ll see that all isn’t as it seems; Robert DeLong directly challenges us to remain still while the song envelops the senses. The electronic track features a wide arrangement of sounds which are held together by a constant dose of drum kicks. DeLong keeps this song together masterfully; in an arrangement that could’ve easily caused sensory overload, he organizes the sounds well enough that the listener can still enjoy things as they unfold, even when the song gets hectic. The perfect track for a night spent in a club; I’m willing to guarantee that this song will be on repeat for the rest of the season.
The beginning of the song seems to be happening somewhere off in the distance, but is gradually reined in by background vocals and a patient guitar riff. The sextet of Royal Teeth — hailing from Southern Louisiana — naturally conveys a sound that could easily be the soundtrack of your summer. The harmonizing vocal duo of Gary Larsen and Nora Patterson captures the essence of youth, while the rest of the band presents an arrangement of instrumentals that make it difficult to sit still throughout. The lyrics stand out in a defiant fashion; youths claiming to be free of fear willing to “make some history.” They do an excellent job of capturing the air of invincibility that seems to be ever-present in youth.
The young duo that comprises The Pro Letarians is doing their best to defy the boundaries that are placed on start-up hip-hop artists; they’ve released three high-quality projects that could easily be mistaken for studio albums. Joseph O. produces the song with veteran poise and coordination that betrays none of his nascence in the field (he’s 21). The emcee, Jupiter Jim, laces the beat with witty verses and metaphors that make for an experience that seems innocent at first, but evolves into the emcee divulging an intense desire to craft the group’s dreams into reality. The balance between youthful playfulness and anecdotal sensitivity makes for an interesting blend that falls right in place with J.O.’s skillful production. Now that I’m on the subject, most of their sophomore project, Hello Forever, features songs that deserve a spot on your playlist. Give them a listen, you won’t regret it.
In what may be the most intimate song on this list, The Zolas (composed of frontman Zachary Gray, Tom Dobrzanski on keys, and a combination of supporting musicians) put together a tune that seems fitting at the end of a summer night; spent listening to a live band in a modest bar. Beyond the fast-paced guitar riffs and striking keys, the lyrics paint a picture that begs for authenticity in place of the all-too-common superficiality that we encounter in one another. This duo from Vancouver combines meaningful lyrics with a playful, instrumental backdrop with which it adds levity to an otherwise serious subject. Have mercy on the replay button.