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Kendrick Lamar and Thom Yorke released what will possibly be the albums of the year

 

Friday May 13 was not an unlucky day at all. Many music lovers had this date marked on their calendars because it meant the return of Kendrick Lamar, the great hip-hop artist of our generation, after five years without renewing his discography.

A similar thing happened with Radiohead fans, as the group’s two masterminds -Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood- released their new work under the name The Smile, after six years of not producing together (the band’s last album, A Moon Shaped Pool, he was released in 2016).

Below we comment on both titles, which will undoubtedly be an essential part when it is time to review the highlights of the year in music, next December.

The great rapper from Compton

Lamar has delivered some of the most thoughtful and poetic work in recent years, not just from the hip-hop genre. At 34 years old, he has known how to touch complex terrain with unquestionable honesty, such as the relationship with God, mental health, race, politics, and fame.

In 2018, after winning the Pulitzer Prize in the composition branch for his album DAMN, it was understandable to question whether he had already reached the ceiling. After DAMN collaborated with the soundtrack of Black Pantherdid a world tour and then went silent for four years.

It wasn’t until a month ago that Lamar released the single The Heart Part 5with a video where he puts himself in the place of public figures from the Afro community who have recently been questioned, such as Kanye West and Will Smith.

Now with the official release of the album Mr. Morale & the Big Stepperswe find a Kendrick who expands on topics such as therapy, cancellation culture, the relationship with his father, living in stardom and the ups and downs of romance.

The album, which features collaborations with Blxst, Amanda Reifer, Sampha, Taylor Paige, Summer Walker, Ghostface Killah and Kodak Black, will undoubtedly be among the highlights of the year. Lamar’s darts, no matter what topic he decides to talk about, always hit the center of the board.

a new project

For months, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood (longtime friends of the group Radiohead) had been giving hints about a new project together. Finally, they unveiled The Smile, a group in alliance with Tom Skinner, drummer for Sons of Kemet.

The Smile looks like a kind of spin-off by Radiohead; a series of ideas that, although they still sound like the British group’s own textures, offer an air of freedom that Yorke and Greenwood might not have been able to enjoy if they had released these pieces from the reputation their band has. In other words: the expectation generated by Radiohead as a whole is not the same as an isolated project of two members, so there is more chance to experiment and not be devoured by red-bone fans.

The album, titled A Light for Attracting Attentioncontemplate harmonies very typical of the era amnesic by Radiohead, combined with outstanding string arrangements that betray the hand of Greenwood, who in recent years has devoted himself to the craft of soundtracks for films such as The Power of the Dog, Spenceramong other productions that have been characterized by violins and cellos.

From the lyrics, it is clear that the album reflects on how difficult it is to consign a Zen philosophy due to the horrors of modern life. In the song, You Will Never Work In Television Again Yorke’s voice becomes aggressive like on a few occasions (it is very reminiscent of the violent atmosphere that Radiohead portrayed on the album Hail To The Thief) to portray just that frustration. The same thing happens in the song The Speech Bubbles, which addresses a pessimism for society but to the rhythm of a soft ballad.

Some dare to say that Lamar’s production will enter the best of the decade; others that The Smile is one of the parallel projects to Radiohead that works the most. The truth is that doses of good music are at the service from any platform of streaming, to fill the audience with letters and sounds that leave no one indifferent. It only remains to listen and think.

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