Best of the Month is decided by a number of different variables; voter counts from preceding posts, reader reaction ratings, gut feelings, and lots and lots of heated discussions.
Album of the Month
For as commercially and critically successful his first album was, Zayn has never quite been able to shake off the perception of him being a product of a label rather than a genuine artist, and if you’ve followed him at all you can tell he’s desperate to do so. Everything he’s done professionally and privately has all been almost in the contrary of someone seeking to up their celebrity. But out of everything he has done, Icarus Falls speaks the loudest as to why he should be taken seriously. Coming in at a lengthy 27-tracks, it’s all about the music, and it’s all extremely high quality; from his vocals, to his production, to his songwriting, he rarely takes a misstep. It all may not be the most groundbreaking or original, but his blend of modern pop/R&B is about as good as anything else out there and could just be the moment where he’s realized his full potential and garnered his deserved respect as a true artist and superstar in the making. Very few albums this year, let alone this month, have been able to be as consistently good as this one was.
“Echo” was easily one of the best songs off Swizz Beatz’s solo project, and it gave us one the best Nas verses in some years. It was an unexpected delight and much like the song, they delivered far above and beyond anything I had imagined with the official video. It may not have anything to do with the actual lyrics of the song, but they do capture the decadent feel of it all and the effects used to bring it to life are top tier. Not to mention that it was all accomplished through practical means. The lighting, the set ups, whatever projecting technology they used to create those waterfall scenes – all breathtaking. The aesthetics are stunning and take what was already one of the best surprises of 2018 to a whole new level. Production designers take note.
Get Out made Jordan Peele a certified star in Hollywood and we’ve all been anxiously waiting for his follow-up. Us may not be a direct sequel to that runaway hit, but it’s certainly in that same spiritual vein. From the short glimpse he gave us he was able to once again masterfully build a palpable tension without giving much away and just as “Redbone” became synonymous with Get Out, “I Got 5 On It” will undoubtedly be forever linked with this one here. He has a phenomenal touch when it comes to music in his films and flipping “I Got 5 On It” into a horror soundtrack was a stroke of genius. The trailer was absolutely oozing with style and we can’t wait for the next entry into this modern ‘racial psychological horror’ genre he damn near started himself.