While I come from Hip Hop, and grew up in love with hardcore lyricists, I have always been drawn to and able to appreciate R&B as well. Growing up in the 90s, what most people view as the golden age of both genres, no-one could ignore the talent all around the industry. In particular, my older sister introduced me to many of my favorite artists growing up. Being a black woman, it was natural for her to play music from the true R&B queens all over the house. These artists included, Mariah Carey, Brandy, Monica, Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, the list goes on. Amongst these women, no-one stood out more than the queen of R&B Soul herself, Mary J Blige. Her relatability, vulnerability, tone and rawness set her apart. Today, we have many descendants of her style of music. From Jhene, to Snoh Aalegra, H.E.R. etc., we may be in a rebirth of an R&B golden era. Today, no-one encapsulates that same soul, vulnerability, honesty and passion in her music more than the one and only Summer Walker. The Atlanta, Georgia singer and songwriter is my favorite R&b artist right now, mind you this a three-way tie. Nonetheless, I have a huge amount of respect and adoration for this woman. Not only is her music amazing, her songwriting is top notch, and she’s a pretty entertaining follow on Instagram. I first learned of Summer Walker early in 2018 from a popular podcast. They played her song at the end of an episode. I can’t remember the song, but it was one of the following records, “Deep,” “Session 32,” or “CPR.” Whichever song it was, it wasn’t long enough, and I listened to it repeatedly. Going further, I immediately went and found the other songs she had released. All three of these songs are amazing, and unfortunately too short. On occasion, this would be a regular conversation about her songs. While the length of her records were bothersome to me at first, I’ve softened my stance on this at time has passed. A shorter and concise record accomplishes two things. For one, it makes me want to play it again, and again, and again. Secondly, it allows an artist to create freely and get their thoughts out without forcing emotion or lyrics. And when I thought of that, it made me appreciate and love Summer even more.
3 albums, 19 tracks
Modern dating is so weird. I feel like there were a lot of unwritten rules about courtship and dating that are now being shattered by dating apps. Everyone has a rotation of people they’re talking to, dating and fucking. Everyone wants to be transparent and cool but the truth is we’re all terrified of being alone, but we don’t wanna be tied down. So now we’re reading books like “The Ethical Slut” and calling ourselves Non-Monogamous because we really just don’t want our feelings hurt. A lot of people claim to be polyamorous but you know the minute that feelings really get involved is the minute polyamory turns into cheating. A lot of rash decisions will be made that will result in a lot of rashes being spread. STDs are spreading like the measles at Jessica Biel’s house because we just want to have fun and not be tied down. Mind you, I’m not complaining about any of this but it’s really interesting to notice. I think a big part of this is that women are reclaiming their sexual power and stating their desires. We’ve gone from “getting lucky” to women flat out telling men “lemme see that dick”. It’s a dope new world. Summer Walker is an artist who’s embraced the free spirit sexuality of the time. She dropped an album called Last Day Of Summer, so I decided to listen to it.
Last Day of Summer is the debut studio album by the American R&B singer-songwriter Summer Walker that was released in October 2018 through LoveRennaisance and Interscope Records. The twenty three year old R&B musician from Atlanta, who recently started her music career getting inspired from musicians like Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, and Erykah Badu, stuns her listeners with her extremely impressive debut album. The genre has been described as Alternative R&B. In this album, she has highlighted strong R&B driven tracks as well as charming and soulful cuts. The album has a total of twelve tracks and an overall time length of approximately twenty eight minutes. However, a remix version of one of the tracks “Girls Need Love” was added in the streaming edition of the album. The longest track in the album runs for four minutes and ten seconds, and the shortest one is just thirty nine seconds. The album is usually made up of short-lasting tracks, where only three out of twelve tracks run for more than three minutes. The album mostly received good reviews from various critics. Donna-Claire Chesman, Editor of DJBooth, claimed that this is a successful work that delivers a vast pool of emotions. Chuck Ramos for Ones To Watch praised the album saying that it showcases the musicians ability as a talented vocalist, songwriter and also said that this album is a “transparent display of her thoughts and feelings on confidence, doubt, love and womanhood”. HNHH (Hot New Hip Hop) said that the album is “a winding composition that sees Summer Walker taking on sexuality, face tats, and everything else that could possible fall in between”. However, many listeners might not like the fact that many of the songs are very short, quick and therefore lack depth. The album was more or less successful commercially, as the album peaked at number 44 on the Billboard 200 music chart and at number 25 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums. It was also featured in the Billboard Canadian Albums chart. Overall, being the debut album of a young musician like Summer Walker, this has received significant success and positive reviews.
Finally, An Artist Who Understands Real R&B, Circumventing The Stale Present By Channeling Both The Past And The Future
Maaaan, I was waiting to listen to this album just as much as I have been waiting for what I consider, and most folks my age consider – ‘real’ R&B – not what has been passing as R&B for the last several years, ya dig? No, the last years have been the era of rappers auto-crooning – where at the top of the castle I must give my utmost respect to The Weeknd – because, if you haven’t already checked it out for himself, he can sing as good as Michael Jackson just backstage warming up, and wouldn’t even need the auto-tune effects if it weren’t ‘his thing’ and in so much demand these days. I could give a damn about auto-tune though – what I truly loathe at the uncreative arrangements and melodies having come out of the R&B landscape for many years – and I should have known it was the beginning of the end the year (don’t really remember when) that Drake topped the R&B Billboard charts. I was like GTFOH. Now, you can find monotone NAV and barely singing Post Malone on the same charts, but there’s also technically good singers such as Bryson Tiller and Tory Lanez representing the wave as well, except for the fact that all these artists still stick to either a wavy Toronto mode or within a Trap heavy Atlanta urbanity. Well, someone in Atlanta intends to change all of that, quiet as a quiet storm, and he name is Summer Walker. Having already immensely dug her first album, I was looking forward to this CLEAR -EP because it was to feature way jazzier exploratory grooves in the vein of Erykah Badu from the old school and Roy Ayers from the old-er-school. Walker delivered a lot of what is missing in the scene, and of course added her own modern flourishes – because rather than just looking to the past for solutions, our Soul music must also progress somewhere new.
When I was first put on to Summer Walker’s freshman outing Last Day Of Summer, I wasn’t necessarily motivated to jump into it right away, initially expecting it to be another generic Alternative R&B experience akin to the dirge of Trap-adjacent R&B albums we’ve been overwhelmed with in the last three or four years; Whether it be the artsy, purposefully-amateurish album art meant to evoke a sense of adolescent whimsy – what with its washed-out photography & non-descript design – or the fact her name was Summer Walker, a fairly basic name without the artistic pizazz or truly captivating status to give me the impression she was an act worth remembering, nothing incited an emotional response within me powerful enough to rush into the record, resulting in me putting it in my queue for nearly three months before finally setting aside the time to scrub through it – To my surprise, not only was Last Day Of Summer a delightfully intriguing sonic experience, it’s was also evocative of all the R&B aesthetics I love, producing genuinely heartwarming storylines over incredibly relaxing beats that instantly put you in a positive mood, washing away the banalities of the mainstream Alternative R&B machine to give you nothing but auditory bliss in the best of ways, barring a few creative decisions one could easily let slide seeing as this is literally her first ever record. If you’re up for it, come along as I break down just what makes this such a compelling adventure.
While sounding like a classic singer on a smooth style arrangement, the layered synth stringed opener shows that Summer Walker could be my modern day Sade, as this initial melody whips up the butterflies with it’s cinematic stirrings, sounding like the soundtrack to either the world’s end or it’s beginning. I live for that somber mood, and as the bass beat suddenly begins to pump seductively, I can fall in love with the new singer’s voice and melodic style. I will never tire of saying that new R&B needs emotion like this – some sort of bridge between urban beats and lovely chords. Walker is a very patient singer, not in a hurry to rush her words much on any of these tracks, which is a mistake that I feel a lot of other new artists exhibit, trying to rap when they should just breath and sing. There is much to like on her cleverly named album Last Day of Summer, and my only complaint is that the downtempo motif becomes a bit of a slog after 12 songs, yet to her self-editing credit, most of the tracks are short and sweet enough to zip by using this singular, steady groove. She really is a welcome sound along with the changing face of R&B, which includes artists like Ella Mai, SZA, and Jorja Smith, all of whom have either similar vocals or similar melodies at the moment in R&B.
Official Music Videos
Static Image Video
- Mar 21, 2019Summer Walker Drops First Single Since Drake Remix, "I Need Sum Money"
- Feb 27, 2019Drake Teams Up With Summer Walker For "Girls Need Love" Remix
- Feb 27, 2019Drake Joins Summer Walker for New “Girls Need Love” Remix: Listen
- Jan 27, 2019R&B Newcomer Summer Walker Makes It 'Clear' She's Here To Stay With New EP
- Aug 31, 2018Best New Tracks: Boogie, HoodCelebrityy, Innanet James, Summer Walker and Oxymorrons
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