TEEN TROUBLES by The Black Skirts
“I won’t tell our friends, my Jersey girl / The whole’s town ours, if you want it to be / You don’t need a degree, wait ’til my video’s on MTV”
The Black Skirts became one of my favorite bands when I sat down to listen to their 2019 record THIRSTY and was completely blown away. I played it on repeat for practically the entire year. Although the 2021 EP Good Luck To You, Girl Scout! kept me sated for a bit, I craved another full-length album from the band. With TEEN TROUBLES, The Black Skirts came back at the right time and delivered the brilliant production, gloomy sound, and cynical lyrics that they’re known for. Accompanied by a short film, TEEN TROUBLES is a visual album chronicling the lead artist’s youth and memories of growing up in suburban New Jersey. Having also spent most of my teenage years there, this album hits especially hard for me.
Favorites: “Our Own Summer,” “Ling Ling,” “Jersey Girl,” “My Little Lambs”
NO THANK YOU by Little Simz
“Yeah, I refuse to be on a slave ship / Give me all my masters and lower your wages / Huh, what I’m bringin’ to the table is more than a feast for the belly of the beast / Didn’t know I’m droppin’ somethin’ heavy for the streets”
Although she hasn’t yet achieved the commercial success of Nicki Minaj or Doja Cat, Little Simz continually impresses with her polished production and profound lyricism. NO THANK YOU comes a year after her critically acclaimed record Sometimes I Might Be An Introvert, the two album run effectively placing Simz in the conversation of top female rappers. Simz goes back to the basics of rap, blasting the music industry for its cruelty and airing the grievances and struggles of being a Black artist in a corporate world. Like much of Little Simz’s music, NO THANK YOU forgoes catchiness for rawness, resulting in one of the most authentic rap albums of last year.
Favorites: “Angel,” “Sideways,” “Gorilla”
19 & Dangerous by Ayra Starr
“Me no got the time for the hate and the bad energy, got my mind on my money / Make you dance like Poco Lee, steady green like broccoli / Steady on my grind, no wan hear what they wan telly me, kudi na my fantasy”
The Afrobeats genre has been rising in international popularity. “Love Nwantiti (ah ah ah)” by CKay took the world by storm in 2019, and Selena Gomez’s collaboration on Rema’s “Calm Down” proves the rise of the rhythmic style is no fluke. Ayra Starr has been among my favorite discoveries within this emerging genre —19 & Dangerous cultivates a sound of energy and hope that separates her from other artists her age. Ayra Starr is only 20 years old now, so the quality of this record is madly impressive, especially considering the album features collaborations with CKay, probably the biggest Afrobeats artist out there today, and Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child fame.
Favorites: “Rush,” “Fashion Killer,” “Snitch (ft. Fousheé)”
TM and The Family by BROCKHAMPTON
“I miss the band already / Fuck that, I miss my old man already / The kids broke up the band already / So this one right here for the fans, already”
Since Odd Future in the early 2010s, it’s been a while since a large collective of rappers made a name for themselves. In 2017, however, despite their DIY sound, queer themes, and controversial bars, BROCKHAMPTON broke into the hip-hop game with their Saturation trilogy. BROCKHAMPTON’s Kevin Abstract defined the group as the “modern American boy band,” a title that stuck with them ever since. 2022 unfortunately saw the disbandment of BROCKHAMPTON; TM and The Family will be their final two albums. Released one day apart, the albums served as a last love letter to fans. While the group reverted to the Saturation trilogy sound of dynamic delivery and catchy hooks on TM, The Family serves as BROCKHAMPTON’s goodbye, filled with heartfelt songs about the band’s struggles and separation.
Favorites: “Man On The Moon,” “New Shoes,” “Any Way You Want Me,” “The Ending”
Acid Angel from Asia <ACCESS> by TripleS
“Right now we are together, with all the weird sensations / Even if we break apart, in this dream, we are a generation”
Jaden Jeong, the masterful creative director behind online sensation LOONA and queer-edgy act OnlyOneOf reveals his new project: TripleS, a girl group whose concept stands out in the oversaturated K-pop scene. Intended to be a large multinational group, TripleS will release music in subunits characterized by different sounds and aesthetics. Acid Angel from Asia <ACCESS> is the group’s first release. It lays out their message of uniting Gen Z across the world, exploring what it means to be a teenager in the digital age. This album remains in line with Jeong’s past production style, which meshes electronic and pop to create wavy, synthy, and spacious tracks.
Favorites: “Access,” “Dimension (AAA ver.),” “Charla”