February has already been a fantastic month for music. Rich Brian’s debut album, “Amen,” has already set records and is one of the more pronounced personal releases of the year. Justin Timberlake has released a well-executed, experimental mix of folk, soul and hip-hop in his album, “Man of the Woods.” Kendrick Lamar has released the second single for his curated soundtrack of Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther,” titled, “Pray For Me.” The track features rapper The Weeknd and contains exceptional performances, which increase the anticipation for both the film and its soundtrack greatly.
Over half the month of February still remains, which means there is much more music to come. Excluding the reissues of classic albums by Bon Iver, David Bowie, Digable Planets and Porcupine Tree, here are five new albums to look forward to for the remainder of February.
1. Black Milk – “Fever”
Longtime rapper and producer Black Milk has one of the most respectable catalogues of any hip-hop artist today. He has solely produced all six of his albums and collaborated with esteemed acts like Slum Village, Sean Price, Black Thought of The Roots, KRS-One and Danny Brown, among many others. Black Milk remains one of hip-hop’s most prominent artists.
With his seventh studio album, “Fever,” Black Milk proves he still has a lot left to offer. The album’s lead single, “Laugh Now Cry Later,” is a social commentary on gang violence, insincere acts of virtue signalling and self-love, all packed within four minutes. The track’s groovy bassline, simplistic drums and Afro-Latin congas create a dark atmosphere that accentuates the rapper’s lyrical prowess and conscious message.
If the political tones of the single are carried on throughout the album, then “Fever” has the potential to be culturally significant beyond music. If not, however, Black Milk’s production and lyricism are always something to look forward to, and never disappointing. “Fever” will be released everywhere on Feb. 23 and is available for pre-order now.
2. Femi Kuti – “One People One World”
Femi Kuti is a four-time Grammy-nominated afrobeat, jazz multi-instrumentalist. As the son of Fela Kuti — an activist, afrobeat icon and pioneer — Femi Kuti is carrying the torch of socially aware messages imbued in his layered yet accessible music.
“One People One World” will be the seventh studio album from Kuti. The album’s lead single of the same name is an endearing call for peace and acceptance between people everywhere, regardless of cultural identity or background. As Kuti says in the opening verse, “Let’s settle the differences / It’s best to live in peace / Exchange cultural experiences, that’s the way it should be.” It’s a beautiful message that’s embodied in the music itself, as the track is filled with a multitude of instruments, textures and emotions.
The afrobeat, jazz elements Kuti and company bring are easily heard but not overbearing. “One People One World” will be an album all fans of music can appreciate. “One People One World” will be released everywhere on Feb. 23 and is available for pre-order now.
3. Insecure Men – “Insecure Men”
Insecure Men are an indie pop band based out of South London. Despite forming in 2015, they have yet to release an EP or studio album. They have, however, released three singles in promotion of their self-titled debut album: “Subaru Nights,” “Teenage Toy” and “I Don’t Wanna Dance (with My Baby).” Drawing from the troubled past of lead singer Saul Adamczewski, Insecure Men’s music is dreamy, bubbly, nostalgic and in that feeling of nostalgia, melancholic.
“Insecure Men” will be released everywhere on Feb. 23, and is available for pre-order now.
4. Towkio – “WWW. (World Wide.Wav)”
Towkio is a Chicago born rapper and member of the loose hip-hop collective SaveMoney, which includes fellow Chicagoan artists Vic Mensa, Chance the Rapper, Nico Segal and Joey Purp.
He first drew the attention of critics in 2015 with his mixtape, “.wav Theory.” The mixtape was a refreshing twist for hip-hop and showcased his versatility as an artist. Rapping and singing over electronic and house beats by Kaytranada, FKJ and The Social Experiment, Tokwio proved he had a definitively distinct sound to offer audiences.
Since then he has been featured on a number of songs, including Chance the Rapper’s 2016 hit, “Juke Jam,” and even more significantly, he signed onto esteemed producer Rick Rubin’s label, American Recordings.
Four singles have been released in promotion of his new album, “WWW.,” and they each provide a different experience. “Drift” is a boastful, hard-hitting record that lets listeners know he is here to make a long-lasting impact on the current state of music. “Hot Shit” contains a suave performance by Towkio over a smooth, bouncy beat. “Swim” is an intimate track with powerful backup vocals and a dramatic symphony that slowly builds into an upbeat burst. “Symphony” is a plea for love with an undeniably energetic and moving production from Lido.
With Towkio’s catalogue thus far, the involvement of Rick Rubin on his new record and the quality of the singles released, “WWW.” remains one of the most anticipated projects of the year. “WWW. (World Wide .Wav)” will be released everywhere on Feb. 16.
5. Vance Joy – “Nation of Two”
Australian folk singer Vance Joy quickly saw success with his worldwide hit, “Riptide,” in 2013. His following debut album, “Dream Your Life Away,” became certified Platinum and gave him the opportunity to tour several countries with Taylor Swift. It’s been a few years since Joy’s debut album, and aside from a single he released for the soundtrack of the film “Paper Towns,” he’s been relatively quiet, working on his next project undisturbed.
Joy’s slow, careful process of songwriting seems to have paid off with the release of his latest four singles over the past several months. “Lay It On Me” is one of his strongest releases yet and will undoubtedly become an anthem for 2018. “We’re Going Home” is a cheerful, melodic tune that could make anyone’s day better. Joy’s authentic songwriting and overall indie folk style will be a refreshing listen in the current trend of mainstream music. Vance Joy’s new album “Nation of Two” will be released everywhere on Feb. 23 and is available for pre-order now.