Mic Drop: Just a Couple of Juxtaposed Jingles

Mic Drop: Just a Couple of Juxtaposed Jingles

Amber Mark – “Worth It”
Amber Mark – “Worth It”
Screenshot: YouTube

Oxymorons, where would we be without them? They are a true staple in our vernacular—how else would someone know they had no idea what was going on if we didn’t tell them they were “clearly confused.” Or that the whole “yeah, no” means “no” and “no, yeah” means “yeah.” You know what I mean, yeah?

Regardless, it’s always fun to listen to music that has two totally different things happening at the same time (think SZA’s dancing in the “Good Days” video). An artist could be singing about a lost love but if the beat is going hard, I’ll most likely keep dancing—and vice-versa. Even if the lyrics are joyous, I might be more inclined to just sway in my seat if the instrumentals are more melancholy.

This week, we’ve got a few juxtaposing jingles among our weekly releases. Amber Mark’s “Worth It” depicts a very blue aura in the music video, but the song focuses on harnessing self-worth and love. In contrast, in Zsela’s remixed version of “Drinking”, the beat and overall vibe of the instrumentals is house beat-esque but speaks on love, loss and addiction.Then, in sharp contrast those, Flying Lotus and Thundercat give us an anime teaser extraordinaire with “Black Gold,” a track from the upcoming Netflix series Yasuke.

But quite possibly the most out-of-the-box track this week is from the one and only king of 4/20, Snoop D-O-Double-G, who released his new track “Look Around (feat. J Black)” on the holiday. There’s a lot going on there that I can’t even begin to unpack. Maybe you can put me on—so let’s get into it.

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Amber Mark – “Worth It”

Amber Mark – “Worth It”

Sometimes your world gets turned upside down—especially when you start to doubt yourself. In this self-love anthem, Amber Mark wants listeners to know that they are “so damn worth it.” Even though it is has a heavier message, this song has such a danceable vibe. The lowkey bassline and melodic piano collide with a rhythmic drum and percussion section that will have you dancing alongside Mark in some summer silks. The blue aura of the video gives both a hopeful yet melancholy feeling that artfully complements the theme of the song. “Worth It” is the type of song to play when you feel like everything has gone wrong in your day and you need someone to understand—all while dancing it out.

April 23, 2021, EMI (R&B)

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Flying Lotus – “Black Gold (feat. Thundercat)”

Flying Lotus – “Black Gold (feat. Thundercat)”

I was recently talking to one of my colleagues at The Root about how Thundercat makes music to listen to regardless of mood. This song is no exception. This Thursday, Netflix is set to release Yasuke, an anime series about the Black Samurai who is pulled back into fighting after taking a young girl into his care, starring the one and only Lakeith Stanfield. According to Pitchfork, Flying Lotus produced the original score for the series and even consulted with the executive producer, LeSean Thomas, as they both see themselves as “outsiders in anime.” The video for “Black Gold” is a visualizer and almost acts as a teaser trailer for the upcoming show. Thundercat’s vocals battle the synths for the center stage until the whole production comes to a chiming close.

April 20, 2021, Warp Records (R&B)

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H.E.R. – “Come Through (feat. Chris Brown)”

H.E.R. – “Come Through (feat. Chris Brown)”

Aside from the fact that Grammy and now Oscar-winning R&B singer H.E.R. stunted on the Academy Awards red carpet Sunday night in what can only be described as “royal purple,” the illustrious icon has delivered yet another R&B bop to add to your “bedroom jams” Spotify playlist. She duets with Chris Brown on this sultry and mysterious track, where the most distinguishable instruments are an electric guitar and a few snaps that punctuate the verses. A kick drum is occasionally dropped in to add a different percussive layer here and there but other than that, the depth of the song comes from their mixed vocals and those signature high-pitched Chris Brown harmonies.

April 23, 2021, MBK Entertainment/RCA Records (R&B)

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Jorja Smith - “Gone”

Jorja Smith - “Gone”

From the first drum beat, Jorja has got us all in our bag and in her pocket. The soft drum stumbles throughout the track and is paired with an ethereal piano loop. Synths build during the bridge and chorus and give the regretful and pained tone of the song an added layer of depth. “Gone” feels like a mix of “please come back” and “never speak to me again.” This is further explored by Smith’s lyrics, “My God I lost you at the corner / On God I lost you in a moment / Why now and not a little later / Tell me how the world seems to get along without you.”

“Gone” is set to be one of eight tracks on Smith’s newest project Be Right Back, out May 14.

April 21, 2021, FAMM (R&B)

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Kota the Friend – “Outside”

Kota the Friend – “Outside”

This right here is happy music. There are birds chirping throughout the track, for God’s sake. Kota the Friend has had a great 2021 so far, and it only continues to get better. From the release of his January 2021 project Lyrics to Go, Vol. 2 and its accompanying visuals to this most recent drop, he is sticking to his signature pattern of consistent releases. “Outside” is the first single from his third solo album (name and release date yet to be announced). But for real, “Outside” is happy music. It pulls in a bouncy synth loop and upbeat drumline, and the muted steel drums brought in during the chorus are just *chef’s kiss.*

April 20, 2021, Flytbys LLC (Hip Hop)

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Rini – “Out of the Blue (feat. Earthgang (Remix))”

Rini – “Out of the Blue (feat. Earthgang (Remix))”

We love a good animated lyric video—especially if it features a large person with a television as a head—hence referred to as “television-person”—walking across a mountainous beach. The exploration of said television-person follows them through beaches, the city and even a highway before placing them on top of the world. But I digress. This vibrant lyric video put out by Rini and Earthgang juxtaposes the acoustic guitars and loopin’, head boppin’ track in a new take on Rini’s original hit. The stretchy and bouncy R&B vocals and lyrics are accompanied by Earthgang’s fast-paced flow, which adds to the contrast between the instrumentals, video and vocal composition.

April 23, 2021, Warner Records (R&B)

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Snoop Dogg – “Look Around (feat. J Black)”

Snoop Dogg – “Look Around (feat. J Black)”

You are now being hit with one of those “gangsta ass videos.”

I honestly don’t really know what to make of Snoop’s new track. It seems to be both a walk down hip hop memory lane while also telling new rap and hip hop artists to “look around” at those who came before them and do better. But even if you don’t listen to the song, watching Snoop remake and imitate some iconic album covers in hip hop (this isn’t to be mistaken with 28 of the greatest Black album covers, which can be found here). We’ve got BDP’s By All Means Necessary, Slick Rick’s The Greatest Adventures of Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane’s Long Live The Kane and more. I mean, it’s Snoop, he’s really just doing whatever he wants at this point and to be honest, I’m here for it. He’s got a new album too! From Tha Streets 2 Tha Suites is out on all platforms now.

April 20, 2021, Doggystyle Records (Hip Hop)

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Vic Mensa – “Shelter (Acoustic Version) (feat. Chance the Rapper)”

Vic Mensa – “Shelter (Acoustic Version) (feat. Chance the Rapper)”

The acoustic version of Vic Mensa’s “Shelter” couldn’t have come at a better time. The lyrics cut deep at what we as a nation are dealing with with the constant violence against Black men and women and the pandemic that is still sweeping across the world. Mensa’s line “If your house is not a home let this song be your shelter shelter shelter” feels like an outstretched hand and you just really want to take it. The video, directed by Chance, moves between dark and bright lighting and pans between Chance—who is lounging on a velvet loveseat—and Mensa, who is standing in front of a roaring fireplace.

April 23, 2021, Roc Nation LLC (Acoustic/R&B)

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Yola – “Diamond Studded Shoes”

Yola – “Diamond Studded Shoes”

I had two main takeaways from the first minute of Yola’s “Diamond Studded Shoes.” One: I have that microwave! Two: Oh my god, is this goldfish singing? The pink, airy and bright aesthetic of the video both contrasts and compliments her very unique voice. As more and more Black women emerge onto the country music scene, it’s hard to imagine how they haven’t dominated it since well, forever. Yola’s brassy twang is both fun to listen to and resonates deeply within the soul because of the power it holds. There’s so much luxury in this video, from the gold-plated sets to the costumes and even the slightly burnt treats being pulled from the oven. The “go with the flow” message is very on-brand for the year and will hopefully carry on into the release of her new album Stand for Myself available July 30.

April 22, 2021, Easy Eye Sound (Country)

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Zsela – “Drinking (Lenky Remix)”

Zsela – “Drinking (Lenky Remix)”

The melancholy vocals of Zsela’s remixed “Drinking” is so different from the spacey synth instrumentals that it will make you do a double take. The first twenty seconds consist of a clubby bassline (fist bumping may ensue) yet it shifts to a deep vocal narrative about love, loss and addiction. In 2020, Zsela released an album Ache of Victory and celebrating the one year anniversary of the original release she put out an EP AOV (Remixes) which features six remixed songs from the original album.

April 22, 2021, Zsela (Alternative)

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