Alicia Keys is nothing less than the embodiment of consistency. Ever since bursting onto the scene with her piano heavy R&B eight albums ago, she’s steadily built a catalog that would make any artist envious. I can’t think of one bad project she’s put out; yes some are better than others but she always puts out very solid stuff. I forget about her sometimes though. She’s not in the headlines a lot, and outside of music she seems to pretty much stay to herself. But every other year or so when she pops back up again I know she’s bringing some heat with her. So I expected nothing less from her latest release, Here.
“Tellin’ you like it is, how we ever gon’ live? If we ain’t gettin’ money, how we feedin’ the kids? It’s a revolving door, where brothers be doin’ bids I know it sound wrong but the door will be what it is”
Keys’ music, while R&B, has always stayed true to her classical, piano roots, weaving it in as much as she could with the more modern sounds. She’s better at this then just about everybody out there and Here is tried and true Keys, but with an edge. Majority of it’s production is definitely rooted in hip-hop, in particular NY hip-hop. It’s a sound that perfectly lays the groundwork for one of the main themes of her music, New York culture. On “She Don’t Really Care_1 Luv” she flips a sample of a Nas classic, “One Love”, off his classic debut Illmatic. This love shown to classic hip-hop is felt throughout Here, and she even slips in some very dope interludes from hip-hop icons speaking about various topics. Aside from the very “NY” street sound she infused in her music this go around, she still has her tried and true ballads like “Illusion of Bliss” and “Hallelujah” where she lets her exceptional voice shine through.
“Said I’d be gone by five But it’s sunrise and I’m still in your bed Goodnight usually means goodbye Me replaying memories in my head”
Man, that voice. It’s as strong as ever and gives me chills when she lets loose and makes you feel the emotion she had when crafting the song. There seems to be a trend amongst artists these days of delving into topics of black consciousness and black culture because a lot of albums lately have touched on these topics. Alicia handles these topics with a better grasp than most others out there. She also touches on the culture of New York, family, struggles of black womanhood, and various other social issues. It all seems sincere and genuine, and she handles it all deftly while still keeping you engaged. She is the definition of consistent greatness.
Have you heard Here? What’d you think about it? Did you like the more hip-hop sound she went with? What was your favorite track? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave a rating for the album.
Here is Alicia Keys' homage to classic hip-hop and the essence of New York. It's still her tried and true sound of a girl and her piano, but with a lot more grit and edge. Her vocals are as strong as ever as she continues this trend of black consciousness and culture. She's the definition of consistent greatness.