Every now and then, the unfortunate reality of today’s current world sinks in, causing me to detach myself from all things negative and sulk in the positivity of the things and people that bring me good vibes. It allows me to prioritize my mental health and my sense of self. It allows me to reclaim my sanity and my time or how I manage and choose to spend that time.
In this week’s self care session, I turned to music to calm my nerves, listening to three recently released albums on rotation. As I nursed myself back to a healthy mindframe, A Boogie’s “The Bigger Artist,” Tamar Braxton’s “Bluebird of Happiness,” and Tank’s “Savage,” played in the background.
The Bigger Artist, is the debut album for A. Boogie and the sequel to his self titled mixtape, Artist, which also happens to be his real name. If you’re keen on the leading single “Drowning,” a melodious, yet captivating song flaunting the material benefits of success, then chances are you’d find the rest of the album quite pleasing. A. Boogie’s level of vulnerability in this album takes you on a ride through his emotions which vary from an arrogance that comes with more money and results in the mental elimination of competition, humility that stems from overcoming hardships in Highbridge (Bronx), paranoia as he questions the people around him, and a lust and/or regret when singing to females, depending on the situation.
A Boogie isn’t the typical R&B artist, but in the hip hop/trap world, can be viewed as an example of the marriage between the two. He is the continuation of the trend in which hip hop artists sing melodies over beats, the modern day Ja Rule or Nelly, a younger version of Drake, and this album is a great start to his career.
After the surprise announcement that this was her last and FINAL album, the cover work for Tamar Braxton’s Bluebird of Happiness, which features her, clad in periwinkle sparkled body paint and wings, is the visual representation of her soul. It was this part of her, she told Wendy Williams, she was left to rediscover after a period of darkness that followed her departure from “The Real” and amid rumors that she and husband Vincent Herbert were going through marital problems. The actual music is the verbal expression of such feelings, an inside look on how she bared her soul into tracks about how great her love is, how dope the sex is, and unfortunately, the feelings that accompany the realization that your partner is cheating.
In a variety of songs about the risings and pitfalls of love, songs like hit singles “My Man” and “Blind” mimic her famous “Love and War” ballad with an opposing message. The album, however, is nothing short of up tempos, such as “Pick Me Up” a song that mentally places me in a roller skating rink with a group of friends, much like Beyonce’s “Blow,” video and “Run Run,” yet another Tamar song (after Demons & Angels from her previous album) that proves she has some good taste in old school reggae.
Having grown up singing in the church and background to her older sister Toni Braxton, Tamar Braxton’s voice, its range and her passion, are reminiscent of the R&B voices of the 90s love songs most often missing in today’s mainstream. Her voice captivates the audience, and in turn controls the narrative.
Tank has a similar approach to Tamar. As my favorite male R&B vocalist, the strength and beauty of his falsettos equally match that of his head voice and vibratos, and as does Tamar’s voice, his voice controls the music. On his latest project Savage, Tank explores various facets of love including the confessions, apologies, memories, and love professions, all while providing the baby making soundtrack we often wait for sex symbols to release. Perhaps a reflection of his happiness with girlfriend Zena, Tank has traded his “Maybe I Deserves” and “Please Don’t Gos,” with more of an assertive approach which desires to expose the savage in the woman he desires. With numerous uses of the word “savage” throughout the album and a cosign from fellow sexy men, Ludacris and Trey Songz, this album is a turn on in the bedroom and on the airwaves.
Tank continues to broadcast his ability to maintain the essence of R&B while bringing to his music a youthful feel that can still resonate with a younger generation. In a sense, his album is somewhat of a blend of the two aforementioned albums. He “sangs” with as much passion as Tamar, bringing to the album slightly infused trap beats and faster paced melodies.
Regardless of which, my self care sessions were blessed with three solid albums that I’d not only recommend, but that helped me to realize even more now than before that R&B is still alive. It is has just evolved into various forms that are equally tasteful and that bring to the genre more of a variety of topics and musical sound than we may have once been used to.