Beats to beat the Winter blues

Thealbum cover of The Kid Laroi debut
Thealbum cover of The Kid Laroi debut

The Kid Laroi

Appropriately titled The First Time, the highly anticipated debut album from The Kid Laroi contains 20 tracks and features appearances from a roster of artists and notable producers. The lengthy list includes BTS’ Jungkook, Central Cee, Future, BabyDrill, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Robert Glasper, and d4vd. Production was handled by Laroi himself, FnZ, Omer Fedi, Blake Slatkin, BNYX, F1lthy, Emile Haynie, Clams Casino, Michael Uzowuru, Shellback, Cirkut, Louis Bell, and Mk.Gee.

The album has gone through multiple title changes prior to its release despite multiple singles being released since January. One of the primary reasons for the delay in release was due to growth The Kid Laroi experienced over the years and his desire to distance himself from the “immature” vibe of his mixtape, F*ck Love 3, whose reissue included the megahit “Stay” with Justin Bieber. Vocally and lyrically raw, there is a relatable vulnerability present on The First Time, which is very endearing for a listener. While The Kid Laroi is not a graceful lyricist, his direct and open delivery is what makes his music refreshing here. Nevertheless, the excessive number of collaborations nearly devalue the quality of the stronger songs, as the collaborations in part come across as strictly a marketing gimmick to drum up more numbers.

The album cover of "Alchemical: Volume 1" by Dove Cameron
The album cover of “Alchemical: Volume 1” by Dove Cameron

Dove Cameron

The Disney star to pop star transition has been going on for decades. The original batch included Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake. This new generation includes Olivia Rodrigo, Sabrina Carpenter, and Dove Cameron. Alchemical: Volume 1 marks Dove’s debut studio album. The first single, “Boyfriend,” made waves last year for its memorable bisexual lyrics coupled with its hard sound. Production-wise, the album merges pop with goth.

Defiance is the primary theme here. Lyrically, the songs are rather direct and overt. The music comes across very experimental, which is a rather bold move for a debut album. Despite polarizing reviews, such a daring decision makes the album deserving of respect by default. Once you listen, you will most likely agree with me that it is underrated. If you have a more eclectic pop palate, definitely give this album a chance. It’s worth it.

The album cover of "Pink Friday 2" by Nicki Minaj
The album cover of “Pink Friday 2” by Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj

Released in November 2010, Pink Friday was the iconic debut album by Nicki Minaj which went on to define a decade with tons of hit singles such as “Your Love,” “Check It Out,” “Right Thru Me,” “Moment 4 Life,” “Super Bass,” and “Did It On’em.” The album changed the rap genre, which up until then had not been done by females since the ‘90s days of Lil Kim and Foxy Brown. Thirteen years later, in December 2023, Pink Friday 2 was released. The album debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, instantly making Nicki Minaj the first female rapper with three No. 1 albums.

Nevertheless, if you were expecting the nostalgic sounds of the original Pink Friday, think again. But if you are looking for infectious anthems, you receive that in “Everybody,” “Super Freaky Girl,” “Just the Memories,” “RNB,” and “Needle.” While Pink Friday 2 has amazing verses and touches upon her backstory, career accolades, fans, and enemies, it starts to fall somewhat flat too early on primarily due to the production. There are excellent songs on this album but it is noticeably overproduced, which was unnecessary. When you see how many producers were involved, you wish Minaj was more hands on. Quality > Quantity.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to expectation. This is a clear example of overhype either satisfying presumptions or causing disappointment, especially if you were expecting a continuation of the vibe and sound present on her debut. Still, that will definitely be made up with the upcoming Pink Friday 2 World Tour, whose setlist everyone is anticipating.

The album cover of "Think Later" by Tate McRae
The album cover of “Think Later” by Tate McRae

Tate McRae

Think Later marks the sophomore album by Tate McRae, who has seemingly blown up overnight. While her debut album, I Used to Think I Could Fly, was a success, her sophomore era has her on track to become a household name in no time. “Greedy” was one of the biggest hits of 2023. Now, Tate has announced the Think Later Tour, which has her performing around the world throughout 2024 starting in April.

While Tate’s debut was noticeably more vulnerable and introspective, her sophomore album sees her more confident and aggressive. Tate co-wrote every song which revolves around her platonic and romantic relationships alike, healing, and chronicles of the highs and lows of love and heartache of multiple forms. Lyrically, the songs are relatable. Musically, some songs are more appealing than others. As with much of music today, production either does the lyrics justice or demotes them in an attempt to sound edgy. Nonetheless, this is a solid pop album.

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