Listen: DMX soul lives on posthumous debut album, and Juanes translates The Boss

DMX, pictured in 2019 at the Barclays Center in New York City, recently died of a heart attack. Photo credit: Theo Wargo / Getty Images

The Chronicle guide to remarkable new music.


DMX, “Exodus” (Def Jam)

At the turn of the millennium, no rapper stood out like DMX. His mic sound style, signature bark, and his five consecutive No.1 albums made him one of the most successful and impactful rappers of the time. Songs like “Ruff Ryders Anthem” from 1998 and “X Gon ‘Give It to Ya” from 2003 are undisputed cultural touchstones of hip-hop, and his role in the visually stunning Hype Williams film “Belly” has showed its versatility.

Today, less than two months after his death of a heart attack at the age of 50, his first posthumous music album is released, produced by his longtime friend Swizz Beatz. “Exodus” features a sparkling roster of collaborators in Jay-Z, Nas, Alicia Keys, Bono, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne and Usher, to name a few.

Juanes, “Origen” (Universal)

With 25 Grammys to his name – including 23 Latin Grammy wins, a solid second of all time – to accompany a dozen No.1 singles, the sensational Latin pop singer asked himself, “Where am I? go from here? ”

His answer: a tribute album of reinterpretations of songs that have influenced Juanes’ career at every step. Everything comes together on “Origen” – from songs by Colombian singers from his childhood like Joe Arroyo and Carlos Gardel and rock and reggae he soaked up in his teens from Bruce Springsteen and Bob Marley, to salsa by Juan Luis Guerra and La Familia André prevails in his current South Florida home. But none showcase the versatility and panache that made Juanes a world star, as does the Spanish pedal and organ performance of Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” which also stars Pete Thomas of Dancing in the Dark. ‘Elvis Costello and attractions on the drums. .

Baccalaureate, “Doomin ‘Sun” (polyvinyl)

The indie rock superduo debut album of Melina Duterte of Jay Som and Ellen Kempner of Palehound was recorded in the middle of the Santa Monica Mountains in Topanga (Los Angeles County). Its many twists go way beyond the pop bliss in the bedroom that made Bay Area-born Jay Som such a successful project and adds new layers to Boston alt-jangles that Palehound manufactures so well. The first single “Anything at All” is a playful number filled with unpredictable licks, while “Sick of Spiraling” is a twangy, Americana jam, perhaps inspired by the bucolic landscapes in which it was recorded.

Along with the album’s release, the ambitious couple plan to host a live / digi-telethon festival called Doomin ‘Sun Fest on June 10, featuring performances by Tegan & Sara, Ben Gibbard, Sylvan Esso, Thao Nguyen, Jeff Tweedy, Japanese Breakfast, Tune-Yards and Tank and the Bangas, among others. Doomin ‘Fest is a perk for Seeding Sovereignty, an Indigenous-led collective that “works to radicalize and disrupt colonized spaces through the work of sovereignty over land, body and food, community building and preservation. cultural.

Kd lang, “Makeover” (Nonesuch)

Ahead of Pride Month in June, lang’s new album is a compilation of dance remixes of a number of the queer icon’s songs from 1992 to 2000. Some of lang’s remixed tracks even reached number 1. from the Billboard dance charts. Highlights include “If I Were You (Main Mix)” by Junior Vazquez in 1995 and “Sexuality (Full Mix)” by DJ Krush from 1996.

“I got the idea to create a dance remix compilation, as I was thinking about how we built a community in the days before the internet, mobile devices and dating apps,” Lang said. in a statement, citing the power of dance music in forging queer communities at the turn of the millennium. “These dance clubs were the key to a world, which was still called ‘underground’ in the 90s.”


Elder Island, “Swimming Static” (self-published)

Bristol’s electro-pop trio provides all the elements you’d want to listen to to emerge from pandemic darkness and into summer: gorgeous vocals from singer and cellist Katy Sargent, groovy basslines from Luke Maestro, refined synths from David Harvard and an incredibly dancing overall aesthetic. Merging trip-hop and electro, “Sacred” feels true to its Bristol roots, while the beating pulse and gradual build-up of “Small Plastic Heart” is a moment of exhilaration. It’s music that’s just plain fun to listen to, and the limited but stellar back catalog is solid gold as well.


Curtis Harding, “Hope” (Anti-)

The evocative Atlanta soul singer has been largely dormant since the 2017 modern soul masterpiece album “Face Your Fear” (co-produced by Danger Mouse and Sam Cohen; I can’t recommend enough this album). But now he returns with that poignant look at the civic unrest and the racial and social justice efforts around him, reminding us that the Black Lives Matter movement is underway.

Co-produced with Cohen, the song’s arrangement features gospel singers, elegant strings, an energetic brass section and a scintillating guitar as Harding sings, “With doubts and fear, jealousy, all things that cause losses / To your soul, let it go, above all have hope. “

Disclaimer: The following video contains explicit language.


Emily Afton with Mahawam, “Fractions” (self-published)

If you’ve been around independent Bay Area venues for the past five years, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered Afton’s booming voice and jubilant character on stage. She’s an unforgettable performer and just released her EP “Consideration” a week before the lockout orders were announced.

As with many performing artists, the pandemic has made Afton turn in on herself and think about how her creativity could help her through an uncertain time. Over a year of self-reflection and experimentation will be showcased when his EP “Reconsideration” of reinterpretations of songs from last year’s release is released on July 16. It’s a very cool concept (these tracks certainly deserve a new rollout) and the debut single, “Fractions,” is a stripped-down take on the original, now starring fellow queer artist and rapper Bay Area Mahawam. Afton’s incredible vocals are complemented by Mahawam’s lyrics that exude lifelong fervor and gratitude as they float to a hazy beat and atmospheric melody.

“I need a moment for myself to make these whole fractions, I know you know that but it’s not what you hoped for,” Mahawam confesses on the song, which is about learning how to love yourself before you share that love with someone else. This will give you the best kind of thrills.


About Dawn Valle

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