Eastside

Calvin Harris brings the summer heat

The+cover+art+for+Harris%27+new+album+sets+the+summer+scene.
The cover art for Harris' new album sets the summer scene.

The cover art for Harris' new album sets the summer scene.

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The cover art for Harris' new album sets the summer scene.

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Apple Music describes it as a “soulful forecast for where music is headed next” and it couldn’t be more right. Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 is the culmination of hip-hop, R&B and pop’s top artists currently running the game. Calvin Harris brings together artists like Lil Yachty, Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Big Sean, Frank Ocean and as Childish Gambino described them… “The Beatles of our generation”, Migos. On his fifth studio album, Harris took a step towards rap culture, separating himself from electronic dance music (EDM), house music, disco or whatever you want to call it. Harris phoned in some of rap’s greatest, flavoring their lyrics with funky beats that can be played at the beach, in the car or at your backyard barbecue. Harris has come a long way from his EDM past. He is coming close to a DJ Khaled-like producing level to where he can count on big name features to jump on his beats.

The first track on the album was in fact the first single released off of it. “Slide” features the biggest rap group in the game, Migos. The song opens with the enlightening sound of piano keys accompanied by Frank Ocean’s voice. Ocean opens with, “I might/Empty my bank account/And buy that boy with a pipe” referring to the “Garçon à la pipe” painted in 1905 by Pablo Picasso. The painting sold in 2004 for 104.2 million dollars. The song delves into the world of meaningless intimacy. The chorus rings out, “ Do you slide on all your nights like this?” The term “slide” referring to sex with no strings attached. The song kicks off the album with a funky, yet meaningful rhythm.

The next song, “Cash Out” takes you back to the 80’s with its beat. Schoolboy Q even opens his verse with, “Uh, party like it’s 1980.” This song is nothing but fun. Schoolboy Q, D.R.A.M. and PARTYNEXTDOOR flaunt their lavish lifestyles, talking about “buggy-eyed ‘Cedes or a dopeboy Caddy” while still recalling “all them nights we used to trap out,” with “trap” referring to dealing drugs.

The third track, “Heatstroke” was the second single released off of the album and draws the listener in with Young Thug calling out, “Won’t you please/Slow it down?/I’m tryna talk to you, darlin’/Tryna walk with you, darlin’/Do you hear me?” The song conceptualizes the warm feeling one gets from being loved. Young Thug raps about spoiling his significant other with “yellow diamonds,” an “80 thousand dollar Birkin bag in the Porsche” and of course “every red bottom like a baboon,” referring to the red bottoms of Christian Louboutin’s.

“Rollin,” the fourth track on the album and third single released prior to the complete drop. The song’s meaning can be summed up in Khalid’s final verse, “I feel like I should be giving up/You can leave if it’s too much/But I’m tired of you leading me on, oh no/I don’t like where this [expletive] is going/I’ve been stuck in all your apologies/Gave my all but you want more from me/Keep your love, it doesn’t feel the same/I hope it hurts you when you’re hearin’ my name.” Clearly, Khalid is heartbroken and tired of putting in the effort for a relationship and getting none in return. This feeling is eminent in the opening lines of the song where Khalid is wrapped in confusion and emotion along with the possibility that he is under the influence, he sings, “I’ve been rollin’ on the freeway/I’ve been riding 85/I’ve been thinking way too much/And I’m way too gone to drive/I’ve got anger in my chest/I’ve got millions on my mind/And you didn’t fit the picture/So I guess you weren’t the vibe.” Khalid is hot right now, coming off of the recent release of his first studio album, American Teen. He adds a bit of that heat to this song and receives the help from Future’s fire lines to bring “Rollin” to just the right temperature.

If you’re a Travis Scott fan you might want to listen up. Halfway through the album we stroll across my favorite song, “Prayers Up.” The song is Scott’s way of thanking God or whatever almighty power there may be or at least those around him for his success. Travis’ signature autotune can be found in the chorus where he exclaims, “Prayers up/Whole squad sending prayers up/Purple drank in my prayer cup/Whole squad sending prayers up/Purple drank in my prayer cup/Whole squad sending prayers up/My God, I know what a blessing is/Thank God, I know what a blessing is (yah).”

As I listen to the wavy intro to “Holiday” and stare blankly at the cover art on my phone, I can’t help but imagine being drawn into the rays of the sun as I sit on a chair at the beach. The psychedelic sound is perfect for Snoop Dogg to jump right on. The songs’ funkadelic, old California styled rap makes this song a perfect summer song…it’s one you can listen to just about anywhere the sun is shining.

Now onto my least favorite song of the album, one I skip over every time it pops up. “Skrt on Me” starts off with the awful distorted guitar sound similar to that found in “Wild Thoughts” on DJ Khaled’s new album. The shrieking sound is not pleasant to my ears and was a huge turnoff considering “Skrt On me” opened with it. Not to mention, I’m not a fan of Nicki Minaj, so her feature on the track didn’t help.

“Feels” is a lighthearted song that dabbles with the topic of love. Katy Perry sings, “Don’t be afraid to catch feels,” “feels” being short for feelings. “Catching feels” has become a popular term meaning “falling for someone.” The song is fun and upbeat, one that definitely sticks out with its massive lineup comprised of Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean. The three flow cohesively making this song one of my favorites.

The second to last song on the album, “Faking It,” is much slower than those previous. Kehlani takes majority of the song singing about how she’s in a relationship where they both act like they don’t care about one another but deep down they truly do…hence the song title. Lil Yachty digs deep to add even more emotion to this song with lines like, “I’m not gonna act like I don’t love ya baby/’Cause deep in my mind, girl, I know I do (true)” and “I done made millions of dollars/But I’m still alone until I come home back to you (yah!).” Overall, the slow pace gradually brings you to the last song… “Hard to Love.”

The track opens with the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar. Jessie Reyez enters with a raspy, Amy Winehouse-like tone in which she sings, “Baby, I’d rather be hard to love/Than easy to leave, you should believe me.” Here, she sends a message stating that she values someone who truly loves her for who she is.

Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 hits every end of the spectrum. It goes from weird (but good) backyard barbecue vibes on the Fourth of July to speeding down the highway crying about your past relationship. The album is a masterpiece and in my mind is easily the soundtrack for the summer of 2017. Give Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 a listen by clicking below:

Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1

Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1, an album by Calvin Harris on Spotify

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Calvin Harris brings the summer heat