Imagine Dragons - "Believer"
A common theme in this week's #SpotifyNMF is perseverance, with the important and necessary reminder not to give up the good fight carefully woven into a generous handful of today's new releases. With Imagine Dragons seeing beauty through the pain on their track "Believer," the underlying theme of not giving up takes on many inspiring forms, with the quartet's powerful new song beautifully soundtracking that very sentiment. Lead vocalist Dan Reynolds reflects on the power that exists behind having the ability of being able to turn pain into power, something he sings he has done since being "broken from a young age." With marching drums, electric timbres and Reynolds behind the wheel, the track is a whimsical-yet-authoritative anthem sure to turn even the most hesitant of optimists into a believer. Adding to the charm of the group's victorious underdog mentality, those tuning into the Super Bowl this weekend may also catch their new song as featured in a commercial for Nintendo Switch. With the song doubling as a presumed teaser off of Imagine Dragons' forthcoming third studio album, it's evident that while good things come to those who wait, epic things come to those who believe.
Sampha - Process
With the release of Sampha’s debut album, Process, many are quick to call him London's best kept secret. However, after lending his talents to Drake, Solange, Kanye West, SBTRKT and Frank Ocean, it's arguable that while the secret has been out he's an artist wise to keep an eye on, his own story remained untold. With his first solo project, Sampha lets listeners in for the first time, but masterfully manages not to give too much away or put only his tragedies in front of his handshake. As we get to know Sampha, it's revealed that while he's been through devastating heartbreak and tragic loss throughout his life, with both of his parents passing away after battling cancer years apart, he still hasn't let go of hope. Perhaps it's only natural that the 28-year-old's music holds a healing power, with his lush voice delicately navigating themes of detachment, strength, self-discovery, sorrow and vulnerability in a way that, despite frequent travels into the unknown, carries the comforting reminder, "You can always come home." As exemplified through tracks such as "Reverse Faults," "Kora Sings" and "Under," Sampha's dynamic, quiet world is best explored with eyes closed, transporting listeners into a meditative state with his falsetto guiding the way, showing that there is solace to be found throughout the process.
Skip Marley - "Lions"
Carrying the legacy his family name stands for is something that a now 20-year-old Skip Marley is ready to fully embrace. Considering he is the maternal grandson of the revolutionary Bob Marley, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Skip feels as though his desire to pursue music was engrained in his destiny. However, he also is wise beyond his years, fully aware that he has much to learn and discover about his own identity, as well as knows he has his own path to carve. With the invaluable guidance of his uncles, Stephen, Damian and Ziggy, as well as his mother, Cedella, Skip is poised for greatness but not entitled to it, exemplifying on his new single "Lions" that he has much of a fight brewing in him as ever and that he was born to lead the way. Simultaneously, his new track acts as a modern-day protest song that would without a doubt make his grandfather proud, singing with conviction, "We are the lions / We are the chosen / We gonna shine out the dark / We are the movement / This generation / You better know who we are." With a determined Skip Marley finally being handed the torch, it's exciting to see just how ready he is to carry it next.
Syd - FIN
Vocalist Sydney Bennett, best known as Syd (and once known as Syd Da Kyd,) carries within her multiple identities, and on her debut solo album, has stripped down to occupy a space all her own. The Internet’s frontwoman previously referred to her new project as "an in-between thing," an album she casually wanted to make, stating that, "This album is not that deep, but I feel like this is my descent into the depth I want the band to get to." Now that it's been released to the world, one can't help but want to celebrate those "in-between" spaces, where what can happen next feels limitless. From Odd Future to The Internet to FIN, Syd's strengths remain consistent, with her voice commanding the spotlight with ease and in a way those unfamiliar wouldn’t expect. As each track strengthens the case that she's a star, Syd's chilled-out nature allows for a playfulness to find a happy home, all without compromising the fact that with this album, she's not only going to be taken more seriously than ever before, but she's ready to be. The album reflects growth, owning one's sexuality and giving a subtle middle finger to the world, doing so without coming off as corny, braggadocios or overly trendy. Syd's self-determination to stay true to herself and compromise nothing makes for an inspiring takeaway that even if her intention wasn't to create a "deep" album, this collection of 12 songs is anything but shallow.
Big Sean - I Decided.
Big Sean has infamously made some bold statements through his music over the years. From once demanding Kanye West listen to him freestyle in the hallway of a radio station to dominating the charts with the fiery message found in "IDFWU," Big Sean has been building up to the moment of claiming his destiny and pushing all his chips out onto the table. With his new album, I Decided., he does exactly that. Throughout the album's narrative, he showcases how he's not only been chosen for this life, but he chose it right back. His third sophomore album is full of clarity and conviction for the rapper, declaring how not only does he intend to live life to the fullest from this point forward but this project also represents a rebirth of sorts, one that is taking no prisoners without abandoning or discrediting his past. With lead singles such as "Bounce Back," "Moves" and "Halfway Off The Balcony" helping to build anticipation, Big Sean's latest offering is already being thrown into the ring of debate as his best work to date, with many also cheering on his manifested collaboration with Eminem, "No Favors," as one of the strongest songs in the multifaceted, skit-laden 14-track collection. With I Decided., Big Sean is sure to win over a new assortment of lifelong fans, refreshingly including himself in that category as well. In regards to taking what’s rightfully his and inspiring others to do the same, Big Sean not only finds success, he finds meaning. It’s been a long time coming, too.