As the seasons change and school picks up speed, September yields plenty of new musical projects to take your mind off of that upcoming midterm. From Lil Nas X’s much-anticipated debut album Montero to the long-awaited release of Kanye West’s incredibly personal Donda to the highly contentious Certified Lover Boy from Drake, September has left no shortage of music to (pretend to) study to. While homework and Kanye may have been at the forefront of your mind this month, music beat reporters Nurcan Sumbul and Ian Fredrickson are here to catch you up on the music that may have slid under your radar.
“Come Through,” Priyanka feat. Lemon
Priyanka, the crowned queen of the first season of “Drag Race Canada,” has made a splash into the pop music scene with her impressive vocal ability and a keen eye for aesthetics. Releasing an outstanding music video anthology over the past three months, she has captured the eyes and ears of hundreds of thousands of viewers, and her newly released single “Come Through” proves why.
Featuring her season one co-star Lemon, the single’s music video mixes masterful visual and audio production with hilarious lyrics. Chock-full of references, the duo pays homage to Lady Gaga and Beyoncé’s 2009 hit “Telephone,” “The Addams Family” and “The Hunger Games” (to name a few). Paired in a fight against a dystopian government, Priyanka and Lemon prep for battle all while sounding incredible and looking gorgeous.
In addition to the spectacular video, Lemon’s addictive verse has gained a notable cult following on TikTok, with hysterical lyrics such as “Don’t even have to ask for it for me to get it/ When you see my ass in this I charge credit.” Filled with unquestionably strong vocals and lyricism galore, “Come Through” is an imaginative venture that is hard to dislike.
– Ian Fredrickson
Twenty years after the death of one of R&B’s most beloved entertainers, Blackground Records (also the label for artists Jojo, Tank, Toni Braxton and others) has reemerged from the shadows. While their reasons for finally doing so are unclear (though Aaliyah’s uncle and manager Barry Hankerson claimed in an official press statement that the wait was meant to protect her legacy from “shadowy tactics of deception”), fans can opt to look past the behind-the-scenes chaos and channel their energies into streaming her music religiously — no more YouTube bootlegging necessary.
As part of the re-release, albums One in a Million and self-titled Aaliyah, arguably her most innovative works, have become available again for an entirely new generation to hear. The move from Blackground Records to bring these albums back to public attention may be unbelievably late, but it’s also incredibly timely. With the recent resurgence of the Y2K aesthetic, Aaliyah’s experimental tracks by producers Timbaland and Missy Elliot might hit just right in 2021.
— Nurcan Sumbul
“The Nowhere Inn,” St. Vincent
With the release of Annie Clark’s (better known as St. Vincent) autobiographical mockumentary “The Nowhere Inn,” along came an unsurprisingly wonderful soundtrack. Filled with impressive guitar performances, engulfing soundscapes and clear, melancholic intent, the original songs encapsulate the listener deep within the poignant energy of the film. While the album is a mostly instrumental compilation (and a wonderful listen), the title track shines most brightly, highlighting why so many have come to love Clark’s musical stylings in the first place.
Paired with an entrancing music video — featuring a faceless body double of Clark and fabulously stylish costuming — are heart-wrenching vocals and lyrics discussing fatigue and substance abuse. Grievously singing “Oh, drop me by the burnout sign/ Where hell is near and heaven hides within paradise,” Clark fully displays her genius songwriting abilities and somber creative vision.
Clark performed the single on the late-night show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and her magnificent live interpretation of the track was just as brilliant — if not better than — the original recording. With her entire band wearing wigs to match her iconic black bob and Clark herself in a striking feather-embroidered suit, the performance was eye-catching, to say the least.
A quintessentially St. Vincent-stamped track, Clark will have every listener wanting to make a stop at The Nowhere Inn.
– Ian Fredrickson
“Over,” Lucky Daye
Keeping in stride with his nascent and exponential career path, young R&B artist Lucky Daye made September a lucky month to listen to music with his single “Over,” which he debuted in a live performance at Concord’s Lights On festival and released for streaming on Sept. 22. Laid over a smooth sample of Musiq Soulchild’s “Halfcrazy,” a 2002 song about relationship dilemmas, “Over” adds a trap element to the oozing “la la la”s that elegantly modernize the neo-soul classic for his younger audience, who will likely relate to his lyrics about “mixed signals” and “fiendin’” for a toxic love.
A lavish music video also accompanies the single, both flaunting Lucky Daye’s coordinated and vibrant aesthetic. Featuring model Jordyn Woods as the receiver of Lucky Daye’s serenading, the music video successfully articulates the woes of a relationship without losing color or joy in its videography.
— Nurcan Sumbul
Other notable releases: “Angel on My Shoulder,” Sega Bodega; “Pressure,” Ari Lennox; “Big Energy,” Latto