POP VIEWS OF THE MONTH: September
Back in 2013 when Justin Bieber was getting in a whole lot of trouble, you may have noticed he was usually accompanied by this guy, Khalil Shareff. But Khalil is a lot more that Justin Bieber’s right hand man; he’s an artist in his own right. The 22-year-old is signed to Def Jam Records; he and Bieber collaborated on a couple of tracks back in 2014 which Khalil released, along with some solo material. The collaboration with pop superstar Justin Bieber, certainly helped get Khalil noticed by the mainstream music industry, but failed to make him a household name. Early 2016 saw the California based singer release a few singles (which never made the mainstream music charts), also his debut album “Long Way From 916” has had the release date rescheduled multiple times.
I believe Khalil is an artist with a lot of potential; his latest release “Quality” revolves around wanting to spend some quality time with a certain lady; the slow guitar which features throughout the track gives off a more mature vibe, than Khalil’s previous releases, and his natural vocal ability is a clear standout. While Quality is only 1 minute 55 seconds, Khalil manages to give everyone that doubts him, the lyrical middle finger, with lines such as- “I could give a fuck bout what people say, I don’t let them waste my time”.
I really like what I’m hearing from Khalil, I hope his debut album isn’t too far away.
Troy Ave-Roland Collins
Troy Ave has had an insane year; from his feud with fellow rapper Joey Badass, to being involved in a club shooting, which resulted in a jail sentence. The New York rapper finally releases his highly anticipated project “Roland Collins” (which is actually the rapper’s real name). Not surprisingly most of the material he wrote in jail, and much of the record centers on his time spent behind bars. Troy Ave’s latest project paints a bleak picture of his time locked up; his track “Rikers Island” highlights the rappers lyrical storytelling ability, with lines such as- “Chained to the gate like an animal or savage, wondering bout the years like the actor Fred Savage”. I find Troy Ave to be one of those new-school emcees who embodies a more traditional style of rap.
The standout track on this project would have to be “Ridin In My Whip”, produced by newcomer Rubi Rosa. This is the first track on the record, and really commands the listener’s attention. “Ridin in My Whip” depicts Troy Ave’s release from jail, and how he is rebuilding his life, after shooting someone in retaliation for the death of an associate. The track instrumental incorporates fast synths, with a slow powerful bass, which sets the serious tone for the album.
Rolland Collins is definitely Troy Ave’s best work to date; the production value is high quality, and his lyrical delivery is on point. However the theme of incarceration grows tiresome, as majority of the songs revolve around the so called “injustice” of the court system. Troy Ave gets little sympathy from me; after all, he did shoot someone in a nightclub full of innocent bystanders.
Banks- Gemini Feed
It seems American alternative artist Banks has a real axe to grind in her latest single “Gemini Feed”. The pop electro-beat is super catchy, and the lyrics mean business. The singer-songwriter from Orange County California often uses personal experiences to shape songs; with “Gemini Feed” being no exception. I find Banks musical style makes her songs all the more endearing; her latest offering “Gemini Feed” sees Banks employ an effective vocal looping technique with a highly energetic synthesized instrumental, which integrates well with her natural singing abilities. The lyrical content within this song is something which really holds my interest-
“I tried to say I love you, but you didn’t hear me, and your passive aggressive, convincing me that people don’t care about me, and your passive aggressive.
And to think you would get me to the altar, like I follow you around like a dog that needs water. But admit it that you wanted me smaller, if you would have let me grow you could have kept my love”.
Gemini Feed seems to be a more aggressive style of music, than previous material released by Banks. The track obviously centers on a toxic relationship, which from the sounds of it, Banks is better off without. I find Banks (full name Jillian Rose Banks) to be one of those artists who creates quite genuine and relatable music; her new album “Alter” will be released August 30.
The Tide- Click My Fingers
The Tide is a newly formed American boy-band who has recently been signed to powerhouse record label, Universal. The four-piece really hit the big time, when they joined British band The Vamps on their 2015 tour. The Tide’s new single “Click my Fingers” is exactly what I expect from a boy band; positive and innocent lyrical content such as - “Lay your head on my shoulder I just want you to know I’ll stay with you forever as we both get old, forget about money we don’t need to go, no” which is directed at their predominantly female fan base.
The Tide's latest release “Click my fingers” starts off as a slow pop-style ballad, which incorporates a mixture of acoustic guitar and piano. The second verse however, fades into a rapid dance instrumental. I think the addition of the fast-paced beat is a little unnecessary, and spoils the song.
Let’s face it, The Tide are no One Direction but they do have all the elements of a successful boy band- they can sing, their good looking, and make catchy pop music. I’m sure these boys have a promising career ahead.
The Main Level- A Million More
The Main Level has been on my radar for awhile; the Norwegian boy band gained notoriety for their rendition of popular songs by Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and One Direction. After signing with Caroline Records, The Main Level released their 2013 debut album “Blackout”. Although the album was never released in Australia, the trio became quite popular throughout Europe.
This year, The Main Level have been busy with their follow up album; no word on a release date yet, but they recently released their brand new single “A Million More”. For this Norwegian trio, simplicity is the key; the track has a simple guitar melody and nice clean vocals (with a slight Norwegian accent). What’s most refreshing about this track, is the minimal use of excessive audio effects, and overproduced vocals. I hope future releases by The Main Level follow this same pattern.
Fetty Wap - Different Now
The New Jersey rapper found global fame with his 2015 hit single “Trap Queen” and soon after released his debut self-titled album “Fetty Wap”. The rapper’s muttered vocabulary and whiny voice, made his style of music quite popular within the mainstream music scene. This lead to multiple collaboration’s with many mainstream artists. After a thriving 2015 Fetty Wap kind of faded into obscurity; with very few releases, many were wondering if the pressure to top his successful debut album had become too overwhelming.
Fetty Wap’s latest single “Different Now” sees the urban artist take a new approach to his music. The track features less auto-tuned singing, and more rap verses. the lyrical content is not overly adventurous, with the main focus being Fetty Wap’s financial success. I don’t think Fetty Wap has another hit on his hands; not only is his new single released exclusively on Apple Music (which cuts out half his demographic) but the song itself, is just boring.
Austin Mahone- Send It
I would describe Austin Mahone as a poor man’s version of Justin Bieber; this is not to say I don’t love his music, Austin makes some very catchy pop/R&B tunes. The San Antonio local is currently signed to major Rap label Cash Money Records, and released his debut album “The Secret” back in 2013. The style and musicality of the whole album sounded quite dated (think 90’s N-Sync/Backstreet Boys) not surprisingly the album sales were appalling. Late 2015 saw Mahone release a whole lot of free music through his social media networks; this new music also bought a more R&B/pop style sound, Mahone even teamed up with rapper Sage the Gemini, and R&B superstar Chris Brown for a few songs.
Austin Mahone’s latest release “Send It” has a cool urban feel, and is full of Mahone’s smooth R&B vocals. The track also features Atlanta rapper Rich Homie Quan, who doesn’t really add a great deal to the song, I wouldn’t even classify him as a feature because his verse is so short. The lyrical content of “Send It” basically endorses women to send private images-
“You took it in the mirror, so I could see it clear, baby have no fear, you know it’s stayin’ here. I know you wanna share, baby might as well you know I keep it trill, you know I’d never tell”.
I think this lyricism sounds kind of seedy; especially when majority of Mahone’s fan-base consist of teen girls who may interpret the song in a literal sense.
Austin Mahone has been releasing some solid music, but nothing which has gained him worldwide attention. I think through lack of marketing and promotion, Austin Mahone’s music has never really received the recognition it’s deserved. Unless Mahone releases something groundbreaking, he will forever live in the shadow of Justin Bieber.