by Ryan, contributing writer
Spring’s here, so it’s the beginning of my second favorite time of year. The first is fall (minus the tourists), but that’s a whole different story. Spring means that we can whip around in our friend’s nice car, drop the windows, and crank the tunes. As a single adult male who’s fresh out of college, I can’t help but be an absolute douchebag when it comes to driving around town. The worst part of this season is that I’m in Rhode Island without my friend’s VW GTI to roll around in. Instead, I’ll be blasting my spring tunes out of my stock Honda Civic. Yep.
Disclaimer: The majority of my music collection (which was amassed during my college years) consists of really bad rap mixtapes. As a result, the majority of the artists/albums are bass-heavy dance-oriented affairs, but there are a few out-of-genre gems tucked in my list.
Collie Buddz – Collie Buddz
Collie Buddz is a Bermudan dancehall/reggae artist who had a decently large hit in 2007 with his self-titled album’s single “Come Around”. This album has a great mix of “oh-man-I-feel-like-a-badass” tunes and some nice slow tunes that my former sous-chef would call a “baby-maker”. The heart of the album is rooted firmly in the warm weather street styles of Bermuda (which I can’t personally attest to). Bass-heavy tracks with some flashy synth-work along with the magical vocal work of Collie Buddz come together to create an album appropriate for when you’re rolling into your local dancehall scene.
Favorite Tracks: Come Around, Defend Your Own (feat. Krayzie Bone), Wild Out, My Everything
Foals – Antidotes
I’ve been in love with Foals’ work since I heard their track on Skins (the original British run, not this American re-make bs). I think I once heard them described as “experimental British pop”. I’d stand by that statement. Most of the tracks on this album are poppy and upbeat. One thing that throws a lot of people off is the lack of lyrical density. Most of their tracks (especially on this album) consist of about five different lines that they repeat. Somehow, it does it for me. Don’t try to figure out what the lyrics mean (but, if you do figure out what the hell is going on, tell me). This album is much more upbeat than their sophomore album Total Life Forever. Think of Antidotes as the excitable puppy on drugs frolicking through a field of daisies to the brooding, sighing, angsty college kid of the 90s.
Favorite Tracks: The French Open, Cassius, Balloons, Hummer, Mathletics
He Is Legend – I Am Hollywood
This is a great rock album with great stories tucked in the lyrics. The whole album, as lead singer Schuylar Croom noted, is about the darker side of Hollywood and how it makes your dreams come true. It’s got a really dark and creepy vibe to it, but that’s why I love it. The music is heavy hitting, the vocals are clean when Schuylar sings and gritty when he screams, and the lyrics… Oh, man, the lyrics. Imagine a dark, modern fantasy story being told through multiple voices. Croom knows how to belt out the multiple voices and really bring a depth to the stories that blooms in your imagination. Not necessarily an album that I’d listen to while driving during the day, but I highly recommend this one for night driving when you’re going through creepy woods, along the beach, or generally any uninhabited places.
Favorite Tracks: The Seduction, Dinner With a Gypsy, The Creature Walks
(Side Note: I also highly recommend their other albums, Suck Out the Poison and It Hates You for the same reasons.)
Lil’ Wayne – No Ceilings
This is some mostly pre-Drake Lil’ Wayne which I think is way better than this swag-heavy, wear ridiculous neon outfits, and spit garbage Wayne that we know now. Lyrically, he is far superior on this mixtape/album than he is now. Musically, it’s a mixtape. The tracks aren’t dance tunes, plain and simple. It’s what a rap album should be. Repetitive, catchy cuts that form a backbone that lets the lyrics shine. The music should be something to nod to, but it should be something new and easily recognizable so people know exactly what they’re listening to after they hear it for the first time. You hear the first two notes of that track again and you should know exactly which track you’re listening to. This is one for walking around. Throw this on some headphones and walk around like a champ and take the time to pick apart all of his lines. Lots of funny punchlines in this one.
Favorite Tracks: D.O.A., Throw It In The Bag (Remix), Run This Town, I Gotta Feeling
Weerd Science – Friends and Nervous Breakdowns
Another lyrically dense album for you, folks. Absolutely in love with Josh Eppard’s (Weerd Science) style. It’s gritty. It’s angry. Most of all, his flow is killer. Did I mention that he’s also the drummer of one of my other favorite bands Coheed & Cambria. Anyway, as a multi-talented musical artist, he’s got a lot of things to say. I think everyone should sit in their bedrooms late at night and give this album a listen.
Favorite Tracks: My War, Your Problem; Girl, Your Baby’s Worm Food; In a City With No Name; God Bless Pepsi
2 Chainz – T.R.U. REALigion
Yes, I’m like everyone else. We all love 2 Chainz. Why is that? I think it’s because he’s got those catchy backtracks (Yeah! TRUE!). He’s got that dirty street music that makes you wish you had a ’70s Caddy on dubs with the hydraulic kit. Honestly, playing this music makes you feel like a badass. It’s empowering (in all the wrong ways), but we can’t help but love it. Like I said, it’s nasty, bass-heavy rap that you don’t want to play anywhere near your grandma, but if you’re out with your friends in the car, blast away.
Favorite Tracks: Riot, Stunt (feat. Meek Mill), Spend It (feat. TIP), Slangin Birds (feat. Young Jeezy, Yo Gotti, Birdman)
Kanye West – The College Dropout
Oh, yes. Gotta love old ‘Ye. This album just screams spring/summer. I really can’t say anything about this except that Yeezy got crazy (but, we all knew this). I think it’s the fame. It really gets to rappers, but I think Kanye dealt with it better than Wayne. Regardless, listen to this old ‘Ye and ring in the spring with some feel-good tunes.
Favorite Tracks: Jesus Walks, The New Workout Plan, School Spirit
Rick Ross – The Green Files
Ricky Rozay. The Boss. He comes out hard in his latest mixtape which features a song that was in Django Unchained (100 Coffins). This album makes me seriously consider buying that 1970s Caddy that I mentioned in the 2 Chainz recommendation. If you thought that T.R.U. REALigion was bass-heavy, you haven’t heard anything yet. The big boss needs big bass. Lyrically, it’s nothing really new. Drugs, money, women, gangs, but the tracks are solid.
Favorite Tracks: Box Chevy, 100 Coffins, Made Men (feat. Drake)
Sean Paul – Imperial Blaze
I’ll always remember when I first heard Sean Paul. I was 12 years old on a British Airways flight. I heard “Get Busy” and I was hooked. This album’s got that same dancehall/reggae vibe that you’d expect from Sean Paul, but there are way more dance tunes on this one. You could pull almost any track from this album and have a high-rated single. As always, his lyrics are all about gettin’ down and dirty and praising the women. Crank this album when you’re on the way to the beach at night.
Favorite Tracks: So Fine, Now That I’ve Got Your Love, Press It Up, Evening Ride, Lately
t.A.T.u. – Dangerous And Moving
This is another one of those groups that I found when I was younger and stuck with. This is an album that’s good for throwing on later in the night at a party. There’s a good mix of upbeat tunes and slower pop songs to offer a decent variety to mix into your playlist. This album makes me think of a party in someone’s basement, for some reason. I think it’s the image of the girls performing in a dirty Russian club (which would probably also be in a basement) that’s in my head. Lyrically speaking, this album still relies heavily on the love-hate relationship dynamic. Specifically, the record company wanted you to focus on the fake-lesbian relationship between the singers, but you can still apply it to any relationship.
Favorite Tracks: All About Us, Cosmos (Outer Space), Loves Me Not, Friend Or Foe, Perfect Enemy
Zomboy – The Dead Symphonic – EP
Zomboy’s created some hard-hitting dubstep in the past two years. I think this is one of his best EPs and I gladly drive around to all of the tracks on it. It’s fast paced and hectic, but it’s still very well put together and not nearly as disjointed as many dubstep critics would have you believe is the norm for the genre. This is a good set of tracks to listen to when you want to drive around really, really fast. I’ve caught myself going about 30 over the speed limit before when I listen to Zomboy’s music. You. Have. Been. Warned.
Favorite Tracks: Hoedown, Vancouver Beatdown, Deadweight, Gorilla March
Remember, kids: Windows down, tunes up.