Minus The Bear



The Internet is an undeniably influential modern R & B group that is composed of highly talented individuals. Early on in the year, fellow band mates Syd and Matt Martians released solo projects before the groups guitarist and youngest member, Steve Lacy, dropped news of his first solo project Steve Lacy’s Demo debuting “Dark Red” as his first single.

What makes this song especially remarkable is the way in which (at age 18) Lacy has been able to reinvent old soul and funk sounds that sounds both timeless and modernly fresh with its inclusion and twist of lo-fi rock.

The raw lyricism adds heavy emotional depth of a lovers’ plea to not be abandoned like pages being read from a heartbroken diary. If this song alone is not a testament to Lacy’s musical genius and bright future, the fact that the 18 year old recorded this song, and his entire debut solo album, using solely an iPhone and GarageBand definitely should be.



I added “The Thaw” to my Spotify playlist immediately after Woodes performed it at SXSW’s Aussie BBQ. From her self-titled EP, the track compels the listener right from the start. It’s perfectly atmospheric, a multilayered masterpiece combining soft yet solid lead vocals, subtle accompanying melodies, gentle guitar riffs, and a delicate beat. I’d wish for a few more weeks of winter just to listen to this song as the snow melts away.



Last month I wrote about Joey Bada$$ making America Great Again with “Land of the Free.” I wrote that he is the voice of a generation and of a movement. In many ways he is answering the question that many have been asking: Can music save us?

Yes, “Land of the Free” lays the groundwork for the resistance movement, “Sorry America, but I will not be your solider/Obama just wasn’t enough. I just need some more closure/And Donald Trump is not equipped to take this country over/Let’s face facts ’cause we know what’s the real motives”.

However, “Land of the Free” cuts much deeper. The extremely catchy but uncomfortable pre-hook digs deep and does not shy away from the struggle, “In the land of the free, it’s full of free loaders/Leave us dead in the street to be the organ donors/They disorganized my people, made us all loners/Still got the last names of our slave owners.”

Joey Bada$$’ “Land of the Free” is reminiscent to songs of the Underground Railroad like “Wade in the Water,” “Follow the drinking ground” and “Sweet Chariot”. We are living in a time with too much noise. People are listening to respond, instead of listening to understand.

I encourage you to listen to “Land of Free” to understand. To hear the struggle. To listen to the history. Then to feel the fight, the drive and the optimism when Joey Bada$$ raps “We can’t change the world unless we change ourselves/Die from the sickness if we don’t seek the health…And everything I do is and say today is worthwhile/Will for sure inspire action, hold up, yeah, uh.”



R&B newcomer Alina Baraz, recently dropped a new single appropriately titled “Electric.” After her last phenomenal debut album Urban Flora in 2015 in collaboration with Danish producer Galimatias, the single marks the songstress’ first solo released track.

A mellow, soul-driven sounding track that echoes the tunes of her last record, Electric also introduces an edgier, electronic component to the melody that builds as the track goes on. The song highlights Baraz’s staple sensual croons while also enlisting a feature by another sultry R & B up-and-comer, Khalid.

Both talents fuse together seamlessly to create an affectionate escape through soothing lyricism and rhythms that radiate all the feel good vibes.



I have always insisted that I walk faster than the bus. As a New Yorker you always want to get from point A to point B the quickest way possible. Often times you are running through the streets with your head down oblivious to your surroundings.

Jay Som’s “The Bus Song” is a reminder that it’s not always about getting somewhere fast. On the surface  Melina Duterte’s “The Bus Song” is about two friends figuring out their relationship and deciding if there is something more there.

With her playful but engaging voice and with the help of the rest of Jay Som, Duterte asserts herself in this budding relationship: “Why don’t we take the bus?/You say you don’t like the smell/But I like the bus/I can be whoever I want to be”. However, it appears “The Bus Song” is more of an internal conversation that Duterte is having with herself. We so often jump into something too early – whether it is a relationship, a career, a debate –and loose a bit of ourselves in the process.

The song’s chorus is the pause button in life, “Take time to figure it out/I’ll be the one who sticks around.” Jay Som has been receiving remarkable praise for “Everybody Works.” They were one of the most talked about artists out of SXSW this year. I think I know why. They took time to figure it out. We can all afford to slow down, take the bus and take some time to figure it all out.



Following the release of his collaboration with Calvin Harris and Migos with “Slide,” Frank Ocean put out his own single with much heavier lyrics and ideas weaved between a sad march and singing that repetitively wanes in and out of deep focus.

The consistent call and response style throughout the song almost mimics possible thoughts and comments within Frank Ocean’s mind. He not only produced a killer track with dreamy melodies but also gives listeners the chance to learn more about him.



The Seattle-based super-group, Minus The Bear, close their 2017 release Voids with the transcending “Lighthouse.” It’s a song with so many layers and turns into something pretty crazy. The first couple of minutes of Lighthouse feel like a relaxing indie pop track.

You get some synth, soothing guitar licks and a nice beat. “Am I listening to the same song?” is a question you’ll ask yourself around the 4:12 mark. It’s an incredibly pleasant surprise as the song breaks into a fast paced finale. Lighthouse is a song for everyone, it’s both slow and upbeat and a perfect way to wrap up a great album.



We have all been there, questioning why we were relegated to the friend zone, “Is it cause I wear my hair out, in or because I like to play Diablo.” However, I am not sure anyone has made the friend zone sound so…awesome.

Thundercat’s “Friend Zone” is petty, hilarious, and colorful. He juxtaposes a broken heart with an array of upbeat synthesizers that force you to get up and groove. The irony in it all is that I envision guys in bars across this country – who also “rather play Mortal Combat” dancing to “Friend Zone” with the girl that already regulated them to the friend zone.

Once they realize the situation they are in is exactly what Thundercat is signing about they, too, will sing “You stuck me in the friend zone/That’s that bullshit”. In the meantime, get off your ass and dance to this relatable, funny and honest song. There are a lot worse places to be than in the Friend Zone.



For the entire month of March, “Green Light” by Lorde has been the go-to song for any situation. Staring out the car window on a night drive, or screaming the chorus at the top of my lungs with my friends at a party, it’s always playing.

The video encompasses that young and free life that we all aspire towards – and what Lorde is the queen of. The world has watched her grow from “Royals” at 17, and now at 20, her new sound is so fresh and reminiscent of her youth. Even throughout her long break, the anticipation never died, and the wait was well worth it.  “I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it” – and after patiently waiting, we are finally getting it.



Drake has allowed foreign influence like dancehall and UK grime to envelop some of the songs on his latest album, More Life. One song that sticks out is Passionfruit. Drake tackles another failing relationship with frank truth, it isn’t working.

The sad themes of the song are paired off with happy tones coming from Drake, who’s probably realized there is nothing wrong with reality and they both need to just move on. The bouncy chorus drives the lighthearted track about an unfortunate circumstance between Drake and his new ex-lover.



Name for you is the opening track of The Shins’ new album Heartworms. Behind the fun, classic Shins guitar and upbeat sound are some very striking lyrics. The lyrics, written by frontman James Mercer, create a clash between his own critique and disapproval of misogynistic name calling which he believes to be “stupid” against his own belief that one’s pure investment in their physical appearance (and the subsequent eating disorders that go along with that) to be a “bland kind of torture.”

Name For You blends the fun, beachy, classic Indie Rock The Shins are known for with a thoughtful and pointed argument about misogynistic, derogatory terms.



I will be the first to admit that I don’t get Young Thug. I am what you would call a hip-hop traditionalist, meaning image means nothing if your skills on the mic are not up to par (#teamRemy). Young Thug’s mumble flows have always left me scratching my head and clinging to my Biggie CDs. However, I think I may be slowly coming around.

Inexplicably, Young Thug is my favorite thing about “Trap Trap Trap,” Rick Ross’s boisterous single from his new album Rather You Than Me. On this song, Thug still injects weird boasts that exist in some parallel universe where he has a higher net worth than Tom Cruise.

Still, everything that usually annoys me about Thugger works well on this track. I like the carefree ad-libs throughout the song because I understood every word he said. That’s right – he actually says words from the English lexicon that rhyme and stuff. Thugger also rides this Yung Coke beat with a precision that made my ears prick up and notice he’s got skills.

I begrudgingly admit I was wrong to think he was a solely a gimmick. However, he is still a little hit or miss. On “Trap Trap Trap” Thugger gets enough right that I am interested in seeing how he will evolve as an artist.

Rick Ross was smart to pick “Trap Trap Trap” as a single.  I’m sure most people will think strip club when they hear the song, but it’s really a stunt-at-a-red-light car song, which makes it unique. Rick Ross is at the top of his game here, sounding like an invigorated elder statesman, as he does throughout Rather You Than Me, which is in my opinion his best album to date.

The intro to the song where he talks about his ankle monitor is hilarious and a reminder that Ross is a funny dude. Wale is solid here as well, closing out the song with a bit of self-awareness that works to great effect. He knows he has no business on a song called “Trap, Trap, Trap” so he uses his verse to remind us all why he is the dark horse in this rap game. So, overall, good tune, great album by Rick Ross.


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