Here's what Rāwiri is jamming to this month...
The Weeknd - Save Your Tears
Fresh from a Superbowl halftime show that divided critics and audience alike, this, the fourth
single from the After Hours album is a solid, Max Martin-produced good time, despite the song's kiss-off themes.
It's not the deeply, darkly, introspective Weeknd that had me putting Trilogy on repeat back in the day, but there is an easy charm to this, with its 80s synths and catchy refrain.
Not quite as immediate as other Abel x Max collabos like Can't Feel My Face, but one that holds up even after mass media exposure and repeated listens.
SZA - Good Days
Fresh from storming the charts with Hit Different, SZA channels the ethereal composition and the sharp wordplay of the best that Ctrl had to offer 4 years ago.
Reminiscing on another love gone by, she riffs openly about the vulnerability of being in the relationship, singing "Tell me I'm not my fears, my limitations / I disappear if you let me..."
And despite the admissions, the mood she's going for is optimism. "I still wanna try, still believe in good days, good days, always..." she opines in the chorus, as guitar loops hum behind her.
It's dreamy, it's damn good, and it's going to be the post-break-up anthem of a generation.
Brent Faiyaz - Eden
In a stark change of pace from his recent Chance the Rapper collaboration, (and his 2020
album Fuck the World), the Maryland born singer/songwriter/producer Brent Faiyaz's latest release is his contribution to the Black History Always/Music for the Movement, Vol. 2 EP.
A soul/R&B ballad that opens with stunning guitar strings, Faiyaz contemplates the societal ills of police brutality and asks God why it is He didn't intervene in the garden of Eden to avoid such pain and suffering.
It's a pensive and provoking track; one where Brent's earnest vocal performance is matched only by the swirling violin and that takes on the song's crescendo.
Natti Natasha x Prince Royce - Antes Que Salga El Sol
Prince Royce, already a Latin pop/R&B music superstar finds a superb match in Natti Natasha, the Dominican beauty whose blend of pop, soul and bachata forms the basis of this duet.
The beat is a beachy, dreamy mid-tempo Reggaeton-lite affair, with its two leads professing their love for one another, and instructions to take the party to the bedroom - as the translation says - before the sun rises.
Sweet, sexy, and with a lavish video that will have you booking your first holiday out of lockdown, even non-Spanish speakers will be smiling to this one.
Victoria Monét - F.U.C.K.
If you don't know her by name, there's a good chance you'd know some of the countless songs she's penned for Ariana Grande, T.I., Fifth Harmony and Chloe x Halle.
Victoria Monét has released a slew of EPs and singles but mainstream success has so far eluded her. That might just change with this latest release, a moody midtempo with a hell of a hook.
"I wanna be a Friend U Can Keep," she purrs up front, while her background vocals make the point a little clearer, just in case you didn't catch it.
Truthfully, we'd expect nothing less for the woman who wrote some of Ari's dirtiest diatribes.
Chris Brown ft. Young Thug, Lil' Durk, Future & Mulatto - Go Crazy (Remix)
The art of the remix has undergone some changes over the past 20 years. In the early 00s, a remix meant an almost complete do-over, resulting in a song that often shared only a title in common with the original.
The 2010s saw that trend die off and get back to basics, using the same beat from the original and pasting in some new verses from one or two (or three, in this case) new collaborators.
This is the case on Chris Brown & Young Thug's Part II of Go Crazy. Easily one of his most distinguishable tracks of the past few years, Chris is content here to ride the hell out of that hook while Lil Durk, Future and Mulatto spit some rhymes after Young Thug's intro.
Hardly inventive, but it gets the job done, and the all rappers have brought their A-Game. Go crazy all over again.
Russ - Misunderstood
One of the most prolific artists of the past 10 years, and one who can ride the line of critical and commercial plaudits, Atlanta native Russ's latest offering is, as always, written, sung, rapped, produced, mixed and mastered by the man himself.
His laid back drawl is ever-present, as he sings in the chorus, "Misunderstood, you only see/ Pieces that fit your view of me..." with a tired weariness that fully encapsulates his experience of incorrect assumption.
Electric guitar takes centre stage towards the end of the song and perfectly supports the sonic landscape. Fans of Russ will be happy for another hit to add to the collection, but new listeners will find more than enough to connect to here.
Mariah Carey - We Belong Together (Valentine's Day Late Night Mix)
Mariah Carey cemented her 2005 comeback with We Belong Together: a hearty hood ballad that won over old fans, new fans and a slew of critics who'd written her off. Seriously... the only thing longer than the sustained belt at the song's climax was it's reign on Billboard: 14 weeks spent at the top of the Hot 100 and then going on to claim the Song of the Decade title.
This new version trades Jermaine Dupri's slick programming for a more intimate feel as keyboards, guitars and drums move the song closer to jazz/soul territory. It's a move that works, partly because of Mimi's new vocal choices (that voice has developed in 16 years but its every bit as powerful) but also partly because few artists have ever sung so committedly about love as Mariah did here, and it's just cool hearing the Diva Supreme remind us of this.
Even better, there's a 7-minute extended version with more scene-setting instrumentation and vocal riffs. Enough to steer your next romantic encounter in all the right directions.
Check out all of this month's tracks on the RāViewz Spotify playlist!