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  • Writer's pictureLucas Friesen

Playlist: What's Going On

This new playlist is a mix of music that has been getting me through the past six months or so. It’s largely new music, with a small selection of oldies that have been resonating with me.

I never thought of myself as a country fan, but it’s starting to seep into my rotation. I have a Kasey Musgrave song (one long-time fans may be familiar with but that is new to me; I’m giving Golden Hour the time it deserves to be enjoyed before I jump into her new album). I also have one from Miranda Lambert, which is from The Marfa Tapes, an album created by Lambert, Jack Ingram and Jon Randall. And what can be said about Johnny Cash’s “Man in Black”? It leaves me a little speechless and I can never bring myself to skip it. The “each week we lose 100 fine young men” line gives me unexplainable chills every time.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, rock became a more prevalent genre for me. A classic Bruce Springsteen song that I’ve been loving lately, “Hungry Heart,” is a unique song in the catalogue of The Boss. Springsteen pitched up his voice for this song, which has become a trendy fad lately since Frank Ocean did it on Blonde. That’s not to say they are the only two artists to ever utilize the ability. “1969” by The Stooges is on here. I’ve never listened to Iggy Pop, until recently. The first two tracks from The Stooges’ self-titled and debut album are great. I can’t really speak to the rest of the album.

As always with me, there is a large selection of rap music. 21 Savage still holds the crown as the best gangsta rapper in the game, snapping on both his feature on Pop Smoke’s latest posthumous album and the anthemic Savage Mode II with Metro Boomin, the super producer. On this playlist, you will find a couple of tracks from both Certified Lover Boy and Donda, as the debate between these two albums continues to rage in hip-hop circles (CLB is better, but that’s just me). “Get Along Better” is my favourite song from CLB. The jury is still out on my favourite song from Donda. “Believe What I Say” is awesome and highlights the Kanye that loves to take the side of celebrities (Bill Cosby and Marilyn Manson, yes, but also celebs like Lauryn Hill, who is sampled on the song and has had her own struggles with the celebrity lifestyle). There may be better songs on Donda and I am interested to find them as I dive deeper into that epic. Jack Harlow, the trendiest rapper in the game, has three songs on this playlist. Notable is his collaboration with Big Sean, “Way Out,” my favourite Harlow song so far in the young man’s career. Harlow catches a nasty flow on this song’s hook; meanwhile, Sean’s verse is ridiculous and corny but still displays his lyrical prowess. “Bellator” is a banger from my favourite U.K. rapper, Skepta. I’ve heard that Skepta is retiring after this year and, if that’s true, the rap game will sorely miss him. Hopefully, after a hiatus, the studio will beckon him to return. Playboi Carti, the most exciting young voice in hip-hop right now, has a few appearances on this playlist. Included is “Off the Grid,” a Donda track where Carti’s adlibs and verse take the song from good to great, although the beat is exceptional too and is reminiscent of the beats found on Carti’s fantastic album, Whole Lotta Red, which was executive produced by Kanye.

Representing the pop genre is Justin Bieber as well as Lorde and John Mayer. Despite the releases we’ve had this year from the likes of Drake and Kanye, Bieber still has the song of the year with “Peaches,” which features Daniel Caesar and Giveon. Maybe you’re tired of hearing the track, but I still find it catchy, bouncy and all-around vibey. “Stoned at the Nail Salon” is my favourite song from Lorde’s Solar Power, a cohesive album with a singular aesthetic. I have only listened to the album once and I liked it. I expect to give it quite a few more listens before the year’s over.

This playlist is not sequenced; it is meant to be played on shuffle; skip what you don’t vibe with and stick around for the ones you do. I hope you like these songs as much as I do.

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