This is an indie music blog, which means that I shy away from artists who are backed by big RIAA labels to help them get hype. There’s a lot of reasons for that, and it’s my ethic. I know a lot of other people don’t see a difference, and if you’re one of them, you should start your own blog. I’m into indie music.

But the majors get it right sometimes, and I was blown away by a few new releases…

First, it’s A$AP Rocky, whose first album is one of my favorites from the newest guard of rappers. This latest effort seems to be intentionally trying to break boundaries, with guest spots from the likes of Moby and FKA twigs to pull in the indie and electronic crowd, R&B contributions from Frank Ocean and the legendary Lauryn Hill, and, of course, plenty of rappers show up too: Kid Cudi, Playboi Carti, Kodak Black, etc. The album plays quite a bit with slowed down tracks and internal ruminations–much more so than his past work–and as a result it feels like a much more balanced affair. It’s also not overstuffed–each track has a reason to be there, all meat, no filler. A$AP Rocky is moving in a more “grown up” direction, and it works. This is a very, very good album.

And speaking of albums that aren’t overstuffed: Pusha T’s new album, Daytona, is over in seven tracks. And that’s a good thing. I know most artists want to pull in tons of streams on Spotify, and to do that you need volume, but I feel like artists are sacrificing quality when they push out so much quantity. Give us your best, not your best plus a bunch of not-as-good stuff, because it dilutes your message! Pusha T’s album is exactly what you’d expect: Bragging, street tales, well-written and well-constructed, with excellent beats (produced by Kanye West) and his trademark attention-getting controversy. This time, it’s using as a cover photo a picture of Whitney Houston’s bathroom.

Pusha T is in my top 10 rappers of all time, and I love this album. And of course we all know what a much more popular, much less talented rapper named Drake had to say about it (look below the stream).

And for my last review on this post, we’re moving away from hip hop and moving towards…Prog rock? Metal? Prog Metal? I don’t know, but Ling Tosite Sigure are extraordinary. No, I have no idea what they’re saying or what their songs are about. It’s almost all in Japanese, even if some of the songs have English titles. These guys are not amateurs. They’ve been around a long time. This is their sixth album, but it’s the first I’ve heard. It moves from traditional (but well done_ rock songs like Who’s Who FO and sets them neatly alongside whirlwinds of hard-edged experimental tracks like Ultra Overcorrection and High Energy Vacuum.

Truly, truly amazing. You have got to listen to this.

Unfortunately, I can’t find legal streams anywhere. And that’s the problem with the major labels.

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