TEST SPIN | AWOLNATION — Here Come the Runts

I was fortunate enough to discover AWOLNATION early, and I continued to listen until their first album, Megalithic Symphony, caught the attention of the masses. With this, I abandoned them out of pretentious spite. Years later, I am happy to say that Aaron Bruno and company haven’t lost their ability to create unique, genre-noncomforming music. If AWOLNATION was a lesser band, they may have simply tried to recreate the sound and success of their smash-hit “Sail.” However, Here Come the Runts sees Bruno dramatically shift his instrumentation, following in the footsteps of ’80s-era rockers. This is echoed in the album’s thematic focus — Bruno’s “runts” are the successors to Springsteen’s working-class Americans, those that are pushing on despite the stress and struggle of modern America.



For a generation who practically grew up on the internet, the age-old American adage of “Do It Yourself” has never loomed so tantalizingly close overhead. Want to make a music video for Youtube? Do it yourself.  Want to organize a rally on Facebook? Do it yourself.


TEST SPIN | Migos — Culture II

In January of 2017 Donald Glover, better known as Childish Gambino, gave a shout out to three of music’s hottest on-the-rise M.C.s: Quavo, Offset and Takeoff. Together they formed the group Migos.  A few days after Glover’s mention of the trio, Migos dropped the album Culture, which quickly reached critical acclaim. From there, Migos saw a successful summer, playing on a massive tour with Future and making several festival appearances. In the midst of their busy summer, Offset dropped a major bomb: the announcement of Culture II.


Test Spin: CupcakKe — Ephorize

Ephorize, CupcakKe’s newest album, does not deliver a message or follow a theme based on the tracklist alone. It requires listening, but does not make a chore out of it, as the album is filled with fun and clever bars. CupcakKe, a female rapper from Chicago, has been in the spotlight since her 2016 mixtape, Cum Cake. After that, her 2017 album, Queen Elizabitch kept her momentum with its consistency and uniqueness. CupcakKe is nothing like Cardi B, Nicki Minaj or any other highly popular female rappers.

From left to right: Kitty's Miami Garden Club, Kendrick Lamar's DAMN., Tyler, The Creator's Flower Boy.

The Sun’s Top 15 Albums of 2017

Damn. — Kendrick Lamar

On his fourth studio album, Kendrick Lamar brings us back to the golden age of hip-hop with smooth flows and incredible musicianship. Over the course of fifty-five minutes, Lamar explores his struggles with sin and society and his place in a nation that often seems to be against him. Damn. dazzles and will soon prove to be a generation defining masterpiece.

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Test Spin: Paranoid Void — Literary Math

When I first listened to all-female Japanese trio Paranoid Void, I learned of the existence of math rock. At first, it did not sound fun, as anything having to do with math is just not fun to me. Math rock, though, is a genre holding some similarities to post-rock that utilizes unconventional time signatures, rhythms and dissonance. Paranoid Void, composed of members Meguri, Yu-Ki and Mipow, is unlike most music I have listened to, and it became evident that the trio put endless effort into their first full-length album, Literary Math. On Paranoid Void’s website, the band describes Literary Math as a “three-dimensional composition of the sound and words that the female sensibility unique to women creates.” Additionally, on the album’s release date, the band published a blog entry explaining what they wanted the album to convey.


Test Spin | Col3trane — Tsarina

Cole Basta, known as Col3trane is a London native already starting to make a name for himself in the English hip hop scene at age 18. He released his first single “New Chain” on May 19 of this year. The vibe of this song set the stage for his entire debut album. It is slower than most rap songs we hear in the states, and has more of an R&B vibe to it. The beats, while very rhythmic, are relaxed and subtle, leaving room for his lyrics to come through.


TEST SPIN — Without Warning: Offset x 21 Savage x Metro Boomin

Over the recent years, Atlanta has become a cultural hearth for hip hop. The movement really began in the mid 90’s with the rise of Outkast, whose smooth rhythms and melodic hooks captured the attention of the masses and put Atlanta on the map. From this point on, there was no stopping the area from booming into what is, in my opinion, music’s most exciting city.

From the late 2000’s to present day, a new genre of hip hop has emerged from the underground of Atlanta to grow into a world phenomenon, trap. Some of the world’s biggest artists (Gucci Mane, Future, Migos, 21 Savage, Travis Scott and many others) fall into this genre.

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TEST SPIN: Kyra Skye — Summer Nights

Kyra Skye is a student in Ithaca College, bassist for the band Izzy True and, now, a solo artist. Her EP, Summer Nights, represents memories, dedication and affection. Skye worked on Summer Nights for a month, recording, producing and mastering all five songs on her own. Skye plays and sings everything on the EP, excluding the drums on the tracks “Room 217” and “Suffocate.” Not only is her music touching and personal, but the music is well-arranged and coherent. The first track, “Room 217,” introduces the theme of the EP.


TEST SPIN: Wu-Tang Clan — The Saga Continues

If you’re not a huge hip hop oldhead, it’s easy to overlook a lot of new releases from 90s rap groups these days. Most think that their music usually sounds pretty dated, and that many once ferocious MC’s have understandably lost a little bit of steam on the mic. However, people skeptical about the reemergence of 90s hip hop have really been proved wrong over the last year or so, after the impressive 2016 releases of A Tribe Called Quest’s Thank u 4 Your Service and De La Soul’s And the Anonymous Nobody. While Tribe and De La Soul (two New York rap groups who are members of the hip hop collective the Native Tongues) have shown that they can still bring it in 2017, many oldheads have been itching for a similar resurgence from another New York hip hop group, the Wu-Tang Clan. Wu-Tang’s most recent album release, The Saga Continues, is once again a reminder that not only does Wu-Tang’s saga continue, but so does the vintage 90s hip hop sound that has been so overshadowed in recent years.