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THE FRIDAY FIVE: SUMMER ALONE, PALAYE ROYALE, KID CUDI, A$AP ROCKY, EKKSTACY


It's finally Friday, so toss these five on shuffle and enjoy the long weekend ahead!


Crash & Burn - SUMMER ALONE



Hailing from North-West London, Summer Alone (stylized as SUMMER ALONE) is a complete enigma in every sense of the word. Growing up in a household where he was surrounded by various genres of music heavily influenced his progressive sound which he began experimenting with at only 8 years old. Music being such a significant part of his life led SUMMER ALONE to begin teaching himself to produce, he is noted on the production of big names in the industry such as Trippie Redd and Famous Dex. In 2017, ALONE officially decided to jump on the mic himself and record his own vocals. After spending years discovering his sound and establishing his individuality, SUMMER ALONE took a leap of faith on a journey to Los Angeles, California to connect with some other musicians he met online and try to further push his music career. This proved to be one of the best decisions in SUMMER ALONE's musical endeavors as he scored performance slots at multiple shows, associated with some of his idols, and expanded his audience enormously in North America. SUMMER ALONE, stylistically, does not fit into a specific genre box, the artist is constantly pushing boundaries by incorporating refreshing elements of other genres into his music which is heavily inspired from the DNB, Drill, Alt Rock, and Grunge scenes.


"Crash & Burn" comes in with a punchy ambiance supported by grunge-rock guitar-driven sampling. This song is hands-down more melodic than most of SUMMER ALONE's previous rap, nu-metal inspired tracks, taking similar vocal arrangements to "Rosemary" by legendary rock band Deftones. The song opens with essentially the same guitar riff exhibited in the chorus of "Rosemary" mixed with a similar vocal composition to Chino Moreno, with even a close-sounding autotuned element to the arrangement. Similar artists in the industry have frequently sampled rock hits for their trap tracks, however, this single specifically was honestly disappointing. We have heard fantastic hits from the scene of sample artists, even in SUMMER ALONE's discography, but his artistic vision and creativity, unfortunately, gets drowned out by someone else's phenomenal musicality in "Crash & Burn," thus his individuality, simply, doesn't shine through. Beyond this, the production of "Crash & Burn" professes a clear advancement and progression in SUMMER ALONE's techniques. The overall mix is polished and experienced, notably his vocals stand out and captivate listeners, even through the autotuned effects which are atmospheric and engaging. We wish this single contained more authenticity but we love the more melodic approach SUMMER ALONE pursued and we looked forward to hearing his growth over the next year.


n.h.i.e - 21 SAVAGE, DOJA CAT



21 Savage has officially dropped his latest, highly-anticipated release, American Dream, today, January 12, 2024, which will serve as the soundtrack for 21 Savage's debut film American Dream: The 21 Savage Story. The announcement of the Atlanta, Georgia rapper's third studio album came only three days prior on January 9, 2024 via Slaughter Gang and Epic Records following a trailer release for the official screenplay a day prior showcasing three generations of 21 Savage. American Dream enters six years after 21 Savage's last solo album in 2018, I Am > I Was, which received a number 1 debut placement on Billboard 200. Since I Am > I Was, 21 Savage has been featured on countless albums including Drake and Metro Boomin but also was arrested in 2019 due to his immigration status. Considering the circumstances 21 Savage has undergone since recording his last album, American Dream is deeply personal and introspective, depicting the life struggles 21 Savage has overcome thus far.


"n.h.i.e" was one of the first tracks released off the album earlier this week on January 10, 2024 has already harbored almost 200,000 views on YouTube in only the last twelve hours of being accessible. The track features megastar female rapper Doja Cat who adds an additional depth to the music through her transcending harmonies and atmospheric support vocals. Doja Cat's verse comes in, adding an entirely new aspect to the music through her playful yet witty lyrics, consistent with her catchy flows and confident delivery, additionally attracting a broader audience to American Dream. Lyrically, 21 Savage delves into a personal narrative, depicting his own experiences and growth over time. This album is unquestionably the most personal to the rapper and n.h.i.e builds on that foundation, painting the picture of 21 Savage's journey to fame from growing up on the east side of Atlanta, dealing with street life, to having plaques on the wall and excess money to sit comfortably on. Production wise, 21 Savage has always been a stand-out in the scene, sensationalized for his distinctive and often dark production style, which is further established throughout American Dream. The overall somber, authentic production style of American Dream ties the whole album together, and specifically this track, as it complements his gritty and raw lyricism.


umakemenotwannadie - PALAYE ROYALE



Palaye Royale is a Las Vegas art rock band formed in 2009 by brothers Remington Leith Sebastian Danzig, and Emerson Barrett. The name "Palaye Royale" is personal to the band, representing a state of mind while reflecting their desire to create a dreamscape reality through their music. In true translation, the name derives from a dancehall in Toronto where their grandparents met in the 1950s, connecting their family history and an appreciation for history and culture to the music. Under this name, the band has released four full length albums through Sumerian Records and countless EPs as well as singles. In December of 2024, the band released the single "Dead To Me" alongside an announcement of their latest EP, Sextape. This followed today with the release of "umakemenotwannadie" accompanied by the announcement of another EP, Songs For Sadness, set to release on January 19.


"umakemenotwannadie" is an acoustic ballad reflecting themes of love and an ideal relationship. The song is ethereal and atmospheric in all the most satisfying ways, if you can't relate to the love story being told throughout the lyricism, you can definitely fall in love with Palaye Royale's unique sonic textures. The relatability and vulnerability of this song shines through over the relatively simplistic instrumentation, asking the listener "will you love me forever? Will we always be together?" strategically incorporating the song name to close out the chorus with, "you make me not wanna die." The evolution of Palaye Royale truly shines through in "umakemenotwannadie," showcasing Remington Leith's powerful, edgy vocals while mixing in dreamy elements to the production as a whole. Instrumentally, the acoustic guitar drives this track, although relatively straight-forward, the guitar lets Leith's voice have the spotlight while settling on a catchy yet alluring progression. Piano and keyboard elements add another dimension to the music through spacey synths and classical performances. "umakemenotwannadie" is a beautiful ballad to end your week with, especially as the rain comes down across the United States.


bella - EKKSTACY



20-year-old EKKSTACY is a Canadian singer-songwriter based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. EKKSTACY initially became engrossed with music in sixth grade when he learned guitar, however he didn't officially start recording music until a few years later. The artist truly began focusing on his art during high school, where he would sing over YouTube beats. Eventually, he released his debut EP NEGATIVE in November 2021, with the single "i walk this earth all by myself," becoming what is considered to be his most popular song with over 137 million streams on Spotify alone. The artist has been outspoken about mental health, openly discussing his own struggles with mental illness and further drug abuse. The content of EKKSTACY's music largely addresses these adversities and learning to grow from them while sticking to a fusion of indie, post-punk, and synth-wave genres.


"bella" depicts the beginning of a love story between the narrator and his muse, bella, who is seemingly uninterested, or at least not concerned about, their relationship. The lyrics visualize this budding love affair throughout the verses with lines such as, "You should just look past her, I had to do the same," and "There she goes, far but close, does she know that I'm here?" The chorus goes on to repeat the girl's name continuously under the pretense the narrator has forgotten it, but really, they're just calling out for her attention and adoration. The production is a mix of early-80s post-punk and more mainstream alternative rock components, creating a unique and atmospheric sonic experience with a focus on guitar and trap-orientated beats.


WOW - KID CUDI ft A$AP ROCKY



Kid Cudi returned to the music scene today, January 12, 2024, with his anxiously-awaited, 21-track full-length INSANO, celebrating his ninth album release. The album has countless features from megastars in the rap industry including Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky, Lil Yachty, XXXTentacion, and many more. Once again, Cudi elevates the culture of music with an unpredictable and enticing body of work, refusing to be complacent within all 21 tracks that further cement his legacy as one of the most innovative and artistic rappers of this generation. Cudi debuted the album with an exclusive, sold out listening event at the famed Hollywood Palladium earlier this week with big names in appearance to confess their support.


Kid Cudi's artistry stands out especially in "WOW" which is filled with puganious, groovy beats, complementing the flow of both Cudi and, the featured artist, A$AP Rocky. Cudi is heavily involved in the production process of all his tracks, especially within ISANO, "WOW" is smooth and cohesive, proving his overall professionalism and progression in producing and mastering. "WOW" is a catchy comeback hit that'll definitely be a favorite of the year for us. The song contains polished, club friendly production alongside memorable lyrical moments that flow seamlessly. INSANO is a must listen if you have not heard it yet, there are so many great tracks on it, I can't pick a favorite. however "WOW" is definitely up there for me.

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