"Heart Blanche" by CeeLo Green
I’m driving ‘round town with the girl I love, listening to "Heart Blanche" on full volume. CeeLo Green returns from a long break with his second solo studio album, which was released on Nov. 6.
My first reaction was to the immense scope of this album, as Green sings all over epic instrumentals with pulsating strings, driving basslines and attention-grabbing synth leads. Immediately following my response to that, I was reminded of why CeeLo Green was a judge on "The Voice" for so long. His soulful vocals cascade over every track with an ease that cannot be reproduced—Green’s rich vibrato appears so naturally that it almost tickles your ear on its way out the door.
"Heart Blanche" presents an assortment of sing-along choruses accompanied by poetic verses that build themselves nicely into the song structure. The album’s lead single shines out front like a star—the song "Robin Williams" reflects on the loss of the great actor and figure, and asks the questions, "Do we know really know what the next guy is going through?"
Although there are some melancholic songs on the record, the overall feeling of "Heart Blanche" is positive and groovy. The ninth track "Music To My Soul" carries an infectious melody that resonates with anyone who loves music as an art, and I think it can be said that Green’s whole album represents this same idea.
"Purpose" by Justin Bieber
The comeback of Justin Bieber has officially been executed, and it’s safe to say many people are pleased. Bieber reclaimed old fans and gained a plethora of new listeners as he presented his maturing sound on "Purpose," the fourth studio album from the Canadian singer and his first since 2013.
The album was released on Friday, Nov. 13, finalizing Bieber’s epic return to music and the stage. "Purpose" had been highly anticipated since its existence was revealed over the summer, during the build-up to the release of his first single. Now that it is here, Bieber can revel in the fact that his music has already become beloved by global youth.
The album is composed of very structured compositions, both electronic and instrumental, that focus on melody with direction and also distinct rhythms that trap themselves in your head upon entrance. A variety of synths, keyboards, guitars and vocal samples are blended expertly to create a landscape in which Bieber can vocally thrive and also leave room for live performance.
The best part about the album is it’s fluidity within ever-changing scenery. In songs like "Sorry," we hear relaxed drops built by Skrillex, but on the other hand, we have songs like "Love Yourself," which is almost completely made up of guitar and singing from both Bieber and Ed Sheeran.
"Purpose" is fundamentally a mix of pop and R&B, with some well-needed features from hip-hop artists Big Sean and Travis Scott. If this is the new Justin Bieber, I think we may all be able to get along with him.
"Free TC" by Ty Dolla $ign
"Free TC," for the most part, struck me as a hit—with an assortment of talented features, a wide variety of instrumental and musical direction and a full effort from Dolla Sign that actually shows on his debut studio album.
The record’s title is a tribute to Dolla $ign’s brother, TC, who is currently serving time in prison. Ranging from club bangers to surprisingly introspective ballads, the album is full of some of the catchiest choruses in the poppy subgenre of hip-hop. After all, enduring choruses are what brought Ty Dolla Sign out of the woodwork with singles like "Or Nah," and he sticks to this method on "Free TC."
The instrumentals usually base themselves around a looped lead or a powerful sample—the songs follow whatever direction the beat takes them in, from smooth rhythm and blues to hood anthems like "Blasé" featuring Future and Rae Sremmurd. Other collaborations are "Guard Down" with Kanye and Diddy, "Sitting Pretty" with Wiz Khalifa and the opening track "LA" which features vocals from James Fauntelroy, Brandy and a guest verse from Compton’s finest Kendrick Lamar.
The album is so diverse and creative that it has a place in a lot of 2015 music conversations that it would normally be considered exempt. Dolla $ign’s vocals are actually quite impressive, and full of heart and soul on songs like "Horses in the Stable." Ty Dolla $ign, if anything, has shown that his place in the future of hip-hop is a bit more exclusive than may have first been imagined.