The new Kendrick Lamar, the merger of Rocío Márquez and Bronquio and other albums | Babelia

Kendrick’s Ghosts

By Iker Seisdedos

Kendrick Lamar

Mr Morale & The Big Steppers

A lot has happened since Kendrick Lamar’s previous album, damn (2017): Three years of Donald Trump in the White House, MeToo, the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, the storming of the Capitol and the penultimate plague of gun violence. Lamar won a Pulitzer Prize and an Oscar, and performed in the Super Bowl. Also, apparently, in those 1,835 days (the account is his, and he drops it in the opening bars of the opening track of his new album, ‘United in Grief’) he suffered a devastating creative block and the crown of most relevant rap artist. of his time weighed heavily on him. Maybe that’s why on the cover of Mr Morale & The Big Steppers, in which he appears with his family, that crown is made of thorns. A gesture that supports an idea, so widespread in today’s popular culture, of the famous creator as a suffering martyr and messiah of a society finally determined to come out of the closet of suffering.

The album is a superb treatise on the anxiety of the experience of being a young black man in America who woke up from Obama’s broken dream. And Lamar spares almost nothing: adultery, therapy, individual and collective traumas, homophobia, religion, wounded masculinity, violence, toxic relationships, rape or trans discrimination. Besides fame, of course.

In ‘Count Me Out’, the poor kid from Compton asks himself, as if he hadn’t since the beginning of his brilliant career: “Can I open up? Is it safe or not? Before, on ‘We Cry Together’, in which he aspires to beat the disputed record of fuckyous in a rap song, he offers a chilling snapshot of a toxic relationship with the help of Taylour Paige, who embarks on an interesting path, from performance to hip hop, contrary to the usual. Although the song that perhaps best sums up the general tone is ‘Mother I Sober’, along with Beth Gibbons, from Portishead. In it, he dwells on his history of family violence, which includes, among other episodes, the rape of his mother, and ends with the redeeming words of his wife, Whitney Alford, an intermittent presence in more than 70 minutes. of the disk. “You did. You broke a generational curse, ”he tells him, and then their daughter is heard saying:“ Thank you, dad ”. And right after: “Thank you, mom.”

With so many sour ingredients, it is inevitable that Lamar will test the listener’s patience at times, like that character in Ghostbusters who played the highest keys of the piano to piss off the ghosts. Bursts of dissonant keyboards are everywhere in a production brimming with finds. But in this case the ghosts exist and they are those of the rapper himself.

Lamar’s fifth album is his most experimental effort to date, it is too long and suffers from excess intensity at times. It also falls into other traps typical of the ambitious-and-important album (in which Stevie Wonder, Smashing Pumpkins or Kanye West, to name three examples, stumbled before). But it is also an extraordinarily relevant work, as well as a necessary and difficult work to exhaust.

freedom and beauty

By Fermin Lobaton

Rocío Márquez and Bronquio

Third heaven

“How great is freedom!” The proclamation, taken from a well-known lyric by Antonio Mairena, closes the recording and, after an hour of listening, you feel like joining it, because it sums up the meaning of a work that can only be understood from the most incorruptible independence. Leaving aside their respective comfort zones, Rocío Márquez and Bronquio cross the barriers that could separate them to enter a two-way journey: she towards his world (electronic music) and he towards hers (flamenco). . And they meet, let’s say happily, with the same brilliance as forcefulness. An endless number of sensations and emotions crowd behind the great variety of styles and resources brought together on this record, and yet, the multitude of jumps and turns that determine the cantes and their accompaniments do not affect a perception of coherence and fluidity, of a continuity that unifies them in their diversity.

Detached from the whole, there are themes that, due to their different vital tone, come to life more than others: verdiales festivals are not the same as the laconic seguiriya, sequenced in three cuts. The two bulerías conserve the force of the compás that is their own: the first begins by recalling La Paquera; the second, to the blow, refers to Jerez. The rumba is presented very urban with the rapping of 41V1L. But nothing is what it seems and words cannot describe all the effects that the accompaniment has on the cantes and the voice of Rocío Márquez: she accentuates, frames, distorts or decomposes them, as happens in the debla, with startling ruptures. The rhythmic and melodic structures of flamenco styles remain, but in a new state, a different reality that cannot be left indifferent. The chosen texts are current or by classic authors, but in any case they underline the modernity of a work that makes us turn to the also groundbreaking Ornette Coleman, who bequeathed us that famous composition entitled Beauty is a rare thing.

Effervescent and appetizing pop

By Laura Fernandez
'Harry's House' album cover, Harry Styles (Columbia)

Harry Styles

Harry’s House

True to his effervescent and mouthwatering pop, increasingly self-referential, Harry Styles turns inward on his third album, toward the contemplative and critical self-awareness that the single ‘As It Was’ anticipated. the atmospheres synth they’re playful (‘Music for a Sushi Restaurant’), but tend to get darker (‘Little Freak’) and, at times, approach Metronomy (‘Late at Night’). Contains Harry’s House —the title is not a tribute to Joni Mitchell, but to the album Hosono House, by Haruomi Hosono—a small collection of ballads headed by the curious ‘Boyfriends’ and by ‘Matilda’, which gives Roald Dahl’s character a better life, as well as cuts of funky sad (‘Cinema’) that delve into that other Harry who returns to take an enjoyable step forward here.

Aaliyah’s heiress returns

By Beatriz G. Aranda
'Hypnos' album cover, Ravyn Lenae (Atlantic-Warner).

ravyn lenae


After a time of silence and after being crowned as the heiress of Aaliyah, the new Ravyn Lenae does not disappoint. Quite the contrary, she represents another step in what seems like an innate ability to correlate influences, from Timbaland to Destiny’s Child, and bring a contemporary vision in voices and lyrics. Among her 16 songs, varied in genres and moods, ‘Skin Tight’ stands out, together with the extremely intelligent Steve Lacy, always fine in creating textures; the dynamism afro beat of me’; ‘XTasy’, dark and with a dance profile, or ‘Mercury’, which combines a mixture of whispers and falsettos with abrupt verses and a particular tribute to ‘Say My Name’ by Beyoncé’s ex-group: “If you dare to pronounce my name, I’ll rip your tongue out.” sweeping.

Poetry in the midst of rigor

By Luis Gago
album cover 'The complete works for keyboard, BACH', vol.6.  Benjamin Alard.

Benjamin Alard

Bach: Complete Works for Keyboard. Vol 6
World Harmony. 3 CDs

This year we celebrate the third centenary of the manuscript of the first book of The well-tempered harpsichord, one of the pinnacles of Bach’s art. Benjamin Alard continues his complete recording of the German’s keyboard works and has made the appearance of the sixth volume coincide with this anniversary, completing his proposal with the Little book for keyboard for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, a didactic work written for his eldest son. Alard uses two historical instruments (harpsichord and harpsichord: plucked or plucked strings) from Johann Adolph and his father Hieronymus Albrecht Hass. At this point, the Frenchman has already established himself as one of the best current Bachians and his systematic journey through all the major and minor keys is a paragon of rigor, clarity and, transcending the theoretical components, poetry.

beyond africa

By Javier Losilla
album cover 'Maliba', FATOUMATA DIAWARA.

Fatoumata Diawara

Wagram / 3ème Bureau

‘Save It’, the piece that opens Fatoumata Diawara’s new album, is a suite room African whose string arrangements refer to Kronos Quartet. The song that gives the album its title travels through wah-wah guitar rock, features rapper Master Soumy and calls for help so that Mali “begins to be a developed country.” In ‘Kalan’ tradition sounds in all its splendor, and the beautiful ‘One Day’ and ‘Sini’ exceed the African to approach a spicy and sinuous contemporary pop. Thus, up to seven splendid compositions that make up Malibasoundtrack for the presentation, on the Google Arts & Culture platform, of the Timbuktu manuscripts, a collection of texts from the 12th century that was about to be destroyed by the Ansar Dine Islamists.

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