Trey Songz – Tremaine the Album
2014’s Trigga had “Touchin’ Lovin’,” one of Nicki Minaj’s most lascivious recent guest spots. Left to his own devices, Tremaine Aldon Neverson tries to abandon the soft ‘n’ wetness tradition of which he and Chris Brown represented the flickering fag ends. The replacement? The Weekend, what else: echo and stuttering percussive loops, plus self-doubt and self-recrimination as come-ons. He shall be telling this with a sigh. “Still fuckin’ but I wanna make love,” he sings in “Playboy,” and I feel as sorry for him as I do for Mike Flynn, but I bet the former national security advisor doesn’t have power abs like Trey’s.
Drake – More Life
I find Jordan Sargent’s notion that this playlist-not-album shows the artist’s “embrace of the pan-global sounds of the black diaspora” a compelling one. Its aural density – the meticulousness with which Rogues, Murda Beatz, and longtime collaborator Noah Shebib, among others, orchestrate their precise bursts of post-house kinetics or weave in chill wave beats and keyboard riffs – is unmatched anywhere in Drake’s catalog. The best forebear is Diddy Dirty Money’s Last Train to Paris, a 2010 revue, a descendant of Quincy Jones’ Back on the Block, in which Sean Combs compensated for his below average rapping by recruiting the best contemporary R&B and hip hop talent. I don’t like More Life as much because Drake’s cultural ubiquity is hell on his modest singing and rapping talents; even the gestures of humility on “Madiba Riddim” don’t convince, especially when one track later he’s warning a hapless lover/audience, “I might say how I feel.” But “God knows I’m trying,” he insists, and performing alongside Quavo, Kanye, a fantastic Young Thug (on two tracks “Ice Melts” and “Sacrifices”), and Jorja Smith he’s if not equal to the task but at least acknowledging the importance of other human beings, some of whom are more talented than he.