Personal faves of note getting me through the past month.
Chris Jeday has written for just about every current star in the reggaeton universe, so when it came time for his second single, 2017’s “Ahora Dice,” he could cash in some chips: it featured superstar J Balvin, rising star Ozuna, and up-and-comer Arcángel. And it earned over one billion-with-a-“b” views on YouTube. So, almost a year later, how do you make it even hotter? If you’re Jeday, you add on the online-huge Puerto Rican rapper Anuel AA, and then you spike the ball by bringing in the current queen of hip-hop and her crown prince, Cardi B and Offset. Like she does on Ozuna’s own “La Modelo,” Cardi sings en Español and then spits bars in English, and completely takes over the song. (Offset’s verse is fine, but it can’t compete with the fire his fiancé brings.) Not to mention that the core melody of “Ahora Dice” is sugary-sweet like a bowlful of Pixie Sticks. This can’t miss, and it doesn’t.
BBC Radio 1’s Essential Mix started the month by turning two hours over to techno genius Lone, and he gave back one of the warmest not-explicitly-deep-house mixes I’ve ever heard in my 47 years. He sprinkles his own productions, largely but not exclusively techno but heavily influenced by house and breakbeats, throughout the mix, knitting them together with the likes of Future Sound of London, DJ Haus, and Autechre (to name a few of the bigger “names” included), not to mention a jaw-on-the-floor gobsmacking re-edit of Alicia Myers’s post-disco classic “I Want to Thank You” from Earls Booom!!!. (Here’s the full tracklist.) If I hear a better mix set this year, I will sincerely be surprised.
No idea whatsoever how I’d never heard this Chicago soul classic until now, but in researching a project about 1973 hits I came across the original “Love Jones,” and holy shit, these four teenagers turn it out. Brighter Side of Darkness‘s same-titled album is worth your time, too, but nothing can come close to its magnificent title track.
This single really holds up. My review for The Singles Jukebox: Finally, a good single from Reputation. First off, I love the sentiment of the chorus: “I wanna be your end game/I wanna be your first string/I wanna be your “A team”/I wanna be your end game.” I mean, who doesn’t want that? Sheeran raps, and I’ve gotta admit, not horribly. Future of course does too, and of course is better. Weirdly they both sound right in this Max Martin/Shellback musical setting. Swift dials down the snark and sounds honest-to-goodness sincere, the synth chords behind the chorus sound gorgeous and expensive, the drums sound delightfully cheap, and both Sheeran and Future chime in later in the song on some ad-libs, not just “do a verse and leave” as is so often the case these days. On paper, this should not work — Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Future, really? — but on record, it actually does. And I’m as surprised as you are, maybe more. And it sounds better the more I play it. I’m genuinely shocked that this was a kind of flop single. Maybe Swift’s time has passed?