Undoubtedly, this stressful time has impacted our mental health. Whether that impact has been for better or for worse, listening to music can be a healthy way to stay sane. This time has also given us an opportunity to relive some of the most iconic moments in music that may have defined our lives at one point, or discover new music that you’ll be listening to way after quarantine. Either way, here are some albums to uplift your mood.
Chloe x Halle - The Two of Us (2017)
Described as “not an album, not quite a mixtape” by the duo discovered by Beyonce, this cohesive body of work was released on March 16, 2017, initially only on the streaming platform Soundcloud free of charge. It was eventually added to other major streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. Although this record was a stepping stone for their most definitive album (The Kids are Alright) released the following year, it was important in establishing their reverberating sound. The themes of love, contentment and being level-headed with dreams are prominent throughout the record while being accented with their distinct harmonies and euphonious vocals.
Noname - Telefone (2016)
Fatimah Walker, who goes by Noname, gained traction on the music scene via Chance the Rapper on his 2013 “Acid Rap” mixtape and has been unstoppable in honing her craft ever since. Although the Chicago native’s debut album faced several setbacks before its release, it was received well with critics for its jazzy production quality and the artist’s spoken word rap delivery. Despite its fuzzy, soulful and happy-go-lucky production, the album hosts crucial internal discussions of self-discovery and awareness in the futility of her existence. However, it doesn’t forget to shed a light upon the unproportionate targeting of black individuals and deciphering the allure of fame and fortune.
Hive Mind - The Internet (2018)
This neo-soul California-based collective of five boasts of having multiple talented artists that are both established in their own right but create masterpieces when in collaboration. “Hive Mind,” their latest project, showcases the group’s versatility that proves that they are the true epitome of rhythm and blues. With silky vocals from Syd (former member of Odd Future), bass guitar credits from Steve Lacy and Patrick Paige (with additional vocals from Lacy), jazz-infused keyboard credits from Matt Martians and hypnotic drum beats from Christopher Smith, this album will be sure to keep you vibing with its funk and soul ladened production.
Isolation - Kali Uchis (2018)
As the most aptly titled piece on this list, this project exudes infectious vibes that transcend the listener to another sonically pleasing dimension. Described by critics as being in “a world of her own,” Kali Uchis, a woman of Columbian-American descent, displays her soft and feathery, yet powerful and compelling vocal technique adorned with pleasurable neo-soul, reggaeton and samba jazz production in her debut album. Complete with features including the aforementioned Steve Lacy, Tyler the Creator and Jorja Smith, this project also displays Uchis’s range in acknowledging the various personalities of her collaborating colleagues and effectively and sonically reflecting their personalities onto each of their prospective records. Reverberating around the album are themes of grappling with feelings of love and indifference, coping with the trials of life and recovering after heartbreak while summating a “forward-looking, but vintage-feeling” message.
Although this is only a brief list of the myriad of musical projects that can be a source of nostalgia or a newfound obsession, these albums could also be a source of temperance during this unprecedented time. Each of these projects presented has been, and still are, a highlight of my experience during quarantine and could be part of yours too.