In the final week of June, we received Freddie Gibbs and Madlib's long-awaited sophomore album Bandana, a surprise release from Grammy winner Daniel Caesar, and Thom Yorke's ANIMA, the solo record accompanying his short film of the same name. We also have YUNG $IMON and Cheenee Gonzalez who both dropped collaborative tracks fresh off their 2019 Fête de la Musique stints.
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib's eccentric rapper-producer dynamic proved to be a success with 2014's Piñata, but the duo is at their current best with Bandana. In between the five-year gap, they've learned to iron out the already-minor kinks of their debut record to offer an even stronger followup. Gibbs' technical brand of gangsta rap remains sharp and in sync to create the perfect synergy alongside Madlib's experimental groundwork. Pusha T, Killer Mike, Anderson .Paak, Yasiin Bey and The Roots' Black Thought also make appearances.
After making an appearance on the Cypher Stage of Fête de la Musique 2019, YUNG $IMON tagged Arianne Winter to drop the single "Need You to Change." A back-and-forth exchange of irrationalities between two lovers, the concept can be summed up in one of $IMON's lines: "Weirdly enough, you still have my love." The two make it hard to decipher whether or not it's meant be an anthem of persevering with a relationship, but the track's beauty lies in that unanswered question.
Daniel Caesar caught his listeners off-guard as he unexpectedly released his sophomore album, CASE STUDY 01. The R&B wonderboy enlists his personal heroes Brandy, Pharrell Williams, and John Mayer to evoke his messages of spirituality, life and death, and love and loss in such a way that has turned those tracks into artistic exchanges rather than musical collaborations. As he's given the space to explore, Caesar doesn't hold back in reflecting a soundscape that he can find himself growing in.
Seeing Cheenee Gonzalez without her acoustic guitar is a rare sight, but she and the multifaceted Asch make it work in "So It Seems." Her newest single is a complete 180 from the sound we're all familiar with, as Asch electronically manipulates her raw vocals over his flawless and eclectic bossa nova production. Exhibiting the flexibility of her artistry, Gonzalez proves that she's more than just a one-trick pony. There's something up her sleeve and as she continues to traverse sonic points where she finds herself comfortable in, "So It Seems" acts as her jump-off point for a more innovative sound.
Thom Yorke dropped off his third solo studio album ANIMA alongside a Paul Thomas Anderson-directed short film on Netflix. The Radiohead frontman's electronic influences shine throughout the nine-track record, and is honestly enough to tell a story itself without the use of visual aid. Utilizing minimal synthesizers and pulsing drum beats, Yorke's haunting vocals — differently processed on each track — transforms into the album's foundation.