Classic Hip Hop Music October Pop R&B

Four Albums I Am Listening to this October

Written By:  Preston Thompson

               Music has been a big part of my life since birth. My mother sung me to sleep when I was an infant, and my late Grandfather bought me a portable radio with its own earphones when I was six or seven. As a child teenage family members put me on Hip Hop/R&B of the early to mid-nineties. Every Sunday I got my dose of gospel riding on the church van. Not to mention I sung on the youth choir then later played the piano/keyboard for my home church. From middle school to high school, I played the trombone in class, concert, jazz, and marching band all while listening to the latest Hip-Hop, R&B, pop, rock, gospel, a little county during my teenage years of the new millennium. Then, I went to college and was introduced to Hip Hop Wednesdays during the warm months of the Fall semester. All the student organizations would have tables set up on Greene Street in front of our main student center while a DJ would be spinning the ones and twos playing all the newest mixed with old Hip Hop songs (edited version, of course) of that time.

               Which brings me to today. October is a special month because it kicks off holiday season. First up, Halloween. As the leaves turn colors, weather gets cooler, and days get shorter the time has come that we prepare for Halloween night. Our homes decorated with Halloween pumpkins, ghost, spiders, tombstones, anything that says, “We celebrate Halloween,” while others rewatch famous horror movie classics all month long. And then there is music. It is that time of year I like to stream famous songs and albums that gives me that Halloween feeling. I have condensed the list down to four. These albums are not Halloween albums, but the lyrics and tone of the instrumentals put me in a mood to prepare for Halloween all October. Here it goes:

1) Michael Jackson-Thriller

               Come on now! This is an October classic although its released date was November 30, 1982. The album peaks every October in the Billboard 200 and has sold over thirty-four million units. The main reason I picked this album has everything to do with its second half. Its self-entitled single speaks for itself. The music video alone went viral when there was no YouTube. People are still doing flash mob to its iconic dance today with no variations. He follows up with a warning about getting involved in street life in “Beat It” then curving Billie Jean because the lyrics suggests she was out looking for Michael’s money by putting a kid on him. The closing three songs has us falling in love and acting upon it. When asked, it is in our human nature.

2)  J. Cole-Born Sinner

               He said it would be darker in the intro on his second studio album. After listening to this album countless times, I learn something new every time, it is darker. J. Cole gives you the dark inner thoughts from the aftermath of sneaking girls in and out of his dorm room to now having to see these same women in public years after moving on. Not to mention he dabbles into the sins of the leaders of the church and questions were is the money going? He talks about the evils of having fame and worldly possessions to a point where you really must question is having money everything? Does money really make you happy or are there more problems with the more money you possess? What I loved most about this album is how he mentions the rappers he looked up to are now becoming his rivals and how he must survive in the music industry by maintaining success, and how the older heads may start to resent him. That is like Batman viewing Robin as a threat to his success and fearing Robin could become a better Batman than him.

3)  Kendrick Lamar-Good Kid, m.A.A.d City

               I feel like somewhere between the late nineties to early 2000s some Hip-Hop albums began to slowly move away from its tradition. They seemed to be a collection of songs put together in a single album but had no real connection to the album’s title. Any song could be an intro. In fact, I feel during this era you can shuffle most Hip-Hop albums and still get the message to the song but not the whole album. Along came GKMC in the fourth quarter of 2012, and the traditional Hip-Hop albums went mainstream again. Every song on GKMC connects to one another in a story format. Kendrick also gives you an R&B feel with the way he changes his wordplay by playing with different sounds to his voice (especially with that futuristic space sound) and incorporates the bridge during instrumental transitions in a few songs. However, the main pitch to GKMC is the story. The intro begins with The Sinner’s Prayer. What is also interesting are the voicemails his parents leave needing their van back while he is out in the city driving around with his homies. Throughout the album you get a glimpse of different events he gets into with his guys. While trying to maintain his innocents, he struggles with becoming a victim to a city that is mad, driven by peer pressure to fit in. He also gives us his mental state that could have been a result of the things he has seen while out in the city. This album is so good Kendrick needs to write a prequel to GKMC then another about what happened after the original ended. And please bring back the voicemails with your parents.

4)  Beyonce-Lemonade

               We all have fallen in love with Jay-Z and Beyonce’s marriage despite the online rumors. Whatever they did we know about it and became consumed with their relationship. Their whereabouts, what they did, their family. Then Beyonce pulls the curtains back and exposes the dark side of love. She spends the first half of this album dealing with the consequences from mistakes she never made, and what she should do in the aftermath. Then towards the end she chooses to forgive and strengthen their marriage. This album dives into her feelings, pain, and vulnerability, but what I love most about this album is Beyonce told the pop world she is black, black! Not just black, but black, black. Her second halftime Super Bowl performance alongside Bruno Mars and headliner, Coldplay, following behind the release of the “Formation” music video that targeted police brutality towards black men and her love for everything black spoke for itself. We as fans have not heard this part of Beyonce in her music, at least I do not remember. The album stayed on topic and makes my list of albums to listen to in October.


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