Song of The Year-Shake It by Charli XCX featuring Big Freedia, Cupcakke, Brooke Candy and Pabllo Vittar
Without question XCX is my favorite pop entity. She is as dedicated to what was considered tawdry or profane as she is dance pop. As a creator she greatly enjoys lulling you into a trance and breaking that trance whether through jarring feature, insane production, or weird hook.
Her talent is the kind that can recognize other talent and enhance it. She gave hits to Iggy Azalea, Camila Cabello, Selina Gomez and more. Her pen is restless. On top of albums she pumps out loosies that bang as hard as any lead single (See: After The Afterparty featuring Lil Yachty). No one at her level of exposure could put Freedia and Cupcakke on a track comfortably with no fear of getting owned. Big Freedia makes huge N.O. Bounce music, Cupcakke is a scientific genius of sex lyrics who is only not featured by more rappers because of straight up fear.
This song starts with jarring sounds: water swishing, reverb, heavy breathing before the finger snaps give the beat permission to drop. Charli’s heavy breathing then becomes a melody as it slips into the roar of Big Freedia. This might be a strange song for you to listen to if your not familiar with these artists. You may not be used to beats switching every few seconds, dropping out coming back in, voices sneaking up on you and whispering rap verses. At some point it sounds like a pot is being hit with something in the background. The first few listens you’re just going to be stuck in the world of this odd thing. What will endure most from Charli XCX’s new album Charli is her musical IQ and the pure effort she put into the vocals on this album. Her voice has never been better executed better than it is on this album. You can feel the focus and its contagious.
#Bandcampgold-Ephorize by Cupcakke
I feel terrible that I just recently learned of Cupcakke. She came through on Charli XCX Number 1 Angel project (one of my favorite albums of 2017) and cleared the field on the final track (Lipgloss). By the time of Cupcakke’s next album Charli had dropped another song with her featuring (off her album Pop 2) and my anticipation had built to a must-hear level.
Ephorize is beyond any expectations I could have imagined. Anyone who has heard her rap knows that her flow is other worldly, she can do the flow you are used to great rappers of this era doing but she has a few gears beyond that are just staggeringly impressive. I knew I’d get that going in. I was going to get a masterful display of breath control intonation and confidence. I was also going to be diving into a world of sexual description beyond that of which I’m used to. Cupcakke brought what she knew she could do and built on top of it.
Great albums know how important it is to open and close the show. This one is a sublime example.The first track 2 Minutes opens with piano subtle enough to open an Adele single and she matches that, ending a blistering first verse with the line “I done placed so many flowers on different graves/ I tell my dates now, don’t bring a rose.” The second verse ends with an incredibly gripping call to love your own body including one of my favorite lines in the last year “my stretch marks really itch/ my hair haven’t grown an inch/ but I’m still that bitch.” The strength of character in those verses, the surprise of how sensitive and intelligent the concepts are while being roared from a rapper of monumental ability rocks you right off top. The next song is Cartoons which is an example of what I expected going in. Her breath control on this one is like watching one of the all-time great boxers hit the speedbag. It’s mesmerizing and the beat is a perfect chariot for her to ride into that (thank you Turreekk). The chorus approaches Big Pun levels of delicate kinetic force.
Thirteen of the fifteen songs are produced by Def Starz who strike a balance between intelligent club music, post-modern rap & abandoned warehouse rave music. Def Starz are adeptly aware that the landscape needs to change with the narrator. Ephorize has 2 hardcore emotional break up songs with two very different soundscapes. Exit is about kicking your dude out because he cheats with his ex’s and the beat bounces in a Caribbean way as her anguish morphs into celebratory distaste. Single While Taken charts territory nearby in this scenario she hasn’t broken the relationship off yet they are just fighting while she hunts possibilities, ready to leapfrog to a better relationship. A tense Hitchcockian piano leads in waves of angry bass that her voice chastises over. Songs that could have easily sounded the same are fabulously different because of the key choices made by the minds involved. So thank you Def Starz.
Lyrically I could talk about how god damn refreshing the anti-materialism work on Wisdom Teeth is or how refreshing it is to have Crayons acknowledge the closeness and importance of the Trans community and in general accepting all people’s sexuality. I should warn you that Cupcakke says sexual things I didn’t even know existed but she is not a shock MC talking fellatio for your enjoyment. On the song Spoiled Milk T*****s she asks her sexual partner if she can lick his armpit, I didn’t even know that was a thing. Duck Duck Goose is another song where she goes in depth on things I am too bashful to discuss or transcribe but I will tell you she does it with the genuine joyful energy Cypress Hill had when talking about dank. Cupcakke is joyously exploring sex without any shame culling all negative participants along the way. That is why, to come back to the shape of great albums, the last song has to be Fullest where she kicks the celebration to ten. It is a bass heavy Spanish infused beat she blacks out over clinking glasses to the incredible lyrical gifts she has, the motivating possibilities her life holds now. The album is a journey and the first truly great one of 2018. Someone had to set the bar.
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