Mic Drop: Acid, Lucid, Fever and Aspiring, These Musicians Are Dreaming

Mic Drop: Acid, Lucid, Fever and Aspiring, These Musicians Are Dreaming

Bren Joy – “Insecure (feat. Pink Sweat$)“
Bren Joy – “Insecure (feat. Pink Sweat$)“
Screenshot: YouTube

The music and accompanying videos released this week all have one thing in common: they all follow some form of expression and aspiration. Music has always been a way for people–artists and listeners alike–to express and identify with themselves while still inspiring listeners to follow their dreams. Those dreams can be more “acid trippy,” leaving you dizzy in the wake of the experience, or, they can represent something that is longed for, perhaps a particular a type of love. From the lyrics to the composition and even the visuals, music is made to both express feelings and create empathy.

Take one of the most recent cultural phenomenons, for example: Lil Nas X’s Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” It has received backlash, if that’s even the proper word for it, since people are just losing it over this video. But on the flip side, there are people who see this video as something they can actually relate to—well, maybe not the pole dancing into Hell, but the message behind it. It honestly feels like something you’d dream up in your sleep, and woke wondering, “What the hell?”

OK, so maybe Hell is a bit extreme—that being said, the warmer weather and sunnier days of the changing seasons don’t always mean happiness (though I would like to hope they do). Bren Joy’s “Insecure” is a beautiful, sunny, yellow music video offset with a slow and longing R&B love song. With love on our minds, Brittney Crush’s “Window” gives all of the bright and funky ‘80s vibes while still exploring themes of love and longing.

And of course, there are the dreams of artists like Big Sean and Vic Mensa, who have been in the rap and hip hop game for quite some time, using their respective platforms to bring awareness to important issues while still allowing their music to be a safe place to express themselves and invite listeners.

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Ali Gatie – “Do You Believe (with Marshmello & Ty Dolla $ign)”

Ali Gatie – “Do You Believe (with Marshmello & Ty Dolla $ign)”

Ali Gatie’s “Do You Believe” utilizes an “electric-acoustic” guitar introduction that shifts into synthesizing keys and a heavy drum beat. That, mixed with a subtle bassline that carries throughout the song and the very upbeat and “poppy” hook fit well with the subject: believing in love. The accompanying video takes place within a space-themed video game with the characters morphing into the performers as the introduction morphs into the chorus and culminates in an explosive ending.

March 26, Warner Records (R&B)

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Big Sean – “Lucky Me/Still I Rise”

Big Sean – “Lucky Me/Still I Rise”

Big Sean recently celebrated his birthday by releasing a video from a studio session for his song, “Lucky Me/Still I Rise” off his album, Detroit 2. The song starts slowly with Sean’s voice rising above the live production behind him as he talks about his physical and mental struggles and how he’s overcome them. And then he goes in: Lights flash, the rhymes spit faster and the jacket and scarf come off. Aside from being iced out, Sean’s braids-and-fade combo are worth celebrating as much as the birthday itself.

March 25, Getting Out Our Dreams Inc. (G.O.O.D.) Music / IDJ (Hip Hop)

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Bren Joy – “Insecure (feat. Pink Sweat$)”

Bren Joy – “Insecure (feat. Pink Sweat$)”

The sun is coming out and Bren Joy feels it, too. Laid up on a mattress in a sunny field and a yellow couch offset by a bright blue sky, her acoustic R&B number is serving sunny vibes. Of course, R&B singer Pink Sweat$ has crashed the yellow party in an all-pink sweatsuit but we can forgive him for that since… it’s his name. The acoustic guitar combined with fast-paced high-hats pair beautifully with Joy’s vocals. The soft nature of the song will pull at the heartstrings of listeners and speak to the “Do they love me?” feeling while quelling it at the same time. “Insecure” is off of Bren Joy’s recently released album Twenties Deluxe.

Warner Records (R&B)

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Brittney Crush – “Window”

Brittney Crush – “Window”

This funky-ass video will have you dancing in your seat/car/living room, you name it. Brittney Crush is serving all the costumes, prints, colors and wigs. The locations are also quite exquisite, from the desert to a lime green convertible and cerulean-colored, Victorian-style room. Mixed with the goddess-like lyrics, Brittney’s vocal range perfectly matches the aesthetics of the locations She knows what she wants, and what we want. The bass line gives major ‘80s energy and the distorted electric guitar feeds that energy as well.

Brittney Crush Sounds (R&B)

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Brockhampton – “Buzzcut (feat. Danny Brown)”

Brockhampton – “Buzzcut (feat. Danny Brown)”

Honestly, any Brockhampton video is a trip––both in the comical and acid sense. This video in particular is extra trippy because they brought on one of hip hop’s trippiest, Danny Brown. Ever since The Last Dance came out in April 2020, Dennis Rodman-spotted hair has made an extra comeback so expect some of that in this fever-dream of a video. Mr. Long Hair quite literally throws-up Brown into the air as they ascend from a dark underground to a neon sky. The song takes a turn from the dramatic rhymes and instrumentals into a lyrical realm, closing it out with a mild existential crisis.

Question Everything/RCA Records (Hip Hop)

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Chiiild – “Sleepwalking”

Chiiild – “Sleepwalking”

This soft rock/soul number takes viewers on a journey back in time as each character sleepwalks from their beachy dream towards being awake again. Starting at dawn, moving backward towards dusk and then forward in time again, the video both explodes with light and keeps viewers in the dark. The song’s upbeat percussion cuts above the distorted synths and guitars. The composition, production and lyrics of “Sleepwalking” are very reminiscent of Theophilius London with its rock influences and R&B flares. The feathery acoustic fade out plays beautifully into the idea of sleeping and being awake.

Avant Garden/Island PS (Soul/Rock)

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Sanya N’Kanta – “I Don’t Remember”

Sanya N’Kanta – “I Don’t Remember”

Sanya N’Kanta really wants to know where you went, and though the song is “I Don’t Remember,” he clearly does. The animated video takes viewers on a journey as he turns back the clock and walks through his past life. The loud, harsh electric guitar builds and builds until it crescendos at the final chorus and slowly brings us out of the dream. His voice shifts from a gritty tone to a gentle harmony and back again as the song moves through expressing the pain and heartache that each remembered face brings him. The punk-like hook compliments the outro as it fades out slowly and then cuts off altogether. “I Don’t Remember” is part of N’Kanta’s newest release, These are the Days which is available on all streaming platforms.

Cash Hill Records (Rock)

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Serpentwithfeet – “Heart Storm (with Nao)”

Serpentwithfeet – “Heart Storm (with Nao)”

Serpentwithfeet collaborated with Nao in an ethereal track about love and longing. Serpentwithfeet’s repetitive lyric “heart storm” hovers just below the main vocals. The distorted synths and trilling beat grow in sound until they envelop the other vocals and instrumentals. The lyric video shows two people entwined in the desert dunes under a bright sun, contrasted by the message that when two lovers finally get together, the sky will open for them, breaking the heat.

Secretly Canadian (Soul)

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Vic Mensa – “Moosa (feat. Jeremih, Eryn Allen Kane & Wyatt Waddell)”

Vic Mensa – “Moosa (feat. Jeremih, Eryn Allen Kane & Wyatt Waddell)”

On March 26, Vic Mensa released his EP “I Am,” which is packed with incredible features, important themes and that ever-recognizable in Vic Mensa production. What I like most about “Moosa” is the production. The message of the racialization of America, intergenerational trauma and family dynamics is important, but it’s one we’ve heard in many brilliant songs. So what sets this song apart from others? The combination of vocals (hello Jeremih, yes, I’m looking at you…) and construction of the percussion and harmonies. As the story moves and changes, the beats do as well. Each section is separated by a vocal and percussion change that emphasizes the passage of time and features a different vocalist/rapper. With each change, enters some pitched vocals that I just love to see in hip hop.

Roc Nation Records, LLC (Hip Hop)

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DISCUSSION