From the return of our Lorde and Saviour to surprise drops from Grammy-winning faves, June was filled with a smorgasbord of summer vibes and captivating comebacks. We’re talking Black coming-of-age movie themes, classic rock festival anthems, and electropop to cast spells to with your witch-bitch besties.
- Solar Power X Lorde
If you told 2017 me that Lorde would drop a laid back classic rock summer song in 2021, I would’ve laughed in your face and went back to streaming Melodrama (2017) on loop. After a four-year hiatus absent from any and all forms of media, the prolific singer-songwriter makes her return, and the timing couldn’t have been better. “Solar Power” features rhythmic guitars, festive percussion, and serenely content yet excitedly hopeful lyrics. Lorde’s vocals are blissful, intimate, as if hearing from a dear friend after too long apart. It’s the first step on blazing sand, the first lick of vanilla ice cream, the first sip of a Long Island iced tea. With the return of Lorde, it’s the start of summer.
- Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land X MARINA
Before, Welsh singer-songwriter Marina teased themes of social commentary, often wrapping her songs in extended metaphors and cheeky, blonde-haired personas. Not so on the latest addition to her multicolored discography. If Froot (2015) and The Family Jewels (2010) got hitched in Vegas and had a baby shortly after, that baby would be Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land (ADiaML). Marina’s fifth studio album wastes no time on circling around topics for the sake of a glossy veneer. The tone throughout the ten tracks is direct and urgent, while still serving disco, pop-rock, and electropop bangers with sticky refrains and outspoken lyrics. While uncompromisingly critical of the structures that can lead to our extinction, ADiaML is not without hope that we are capable of preventing the end.
- Planet Her X Doja Cat
Pop-rap pixie Doja Cat invites listeners to Planet Her on her most cohesive project to date, reviving the dreamy, tropical R&B vibes of her debut EP Purrr! (2014). The release of lead single “Kiss Me More” featuring the crude charisma of SZA’s vocals drummed up the anticipation for an album that would drown the ear in a cosmic, jewel-toned ocean. Where Hot Pink (2019) was a drunken dartboard of hits that each flaunted their own identity, Planet Her acts more as a constellation. Some tracks shine bright as solar flares, while the shy twinkle of others can easily be glanced over. Doja’s dynamic presence demands attention, so it’s a shame that the same energy isn’t reflected in all the tracks regardless of the genre.
- CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST X Tyler, the Creator
After winning a Grammy for Best Rap album in 2020 for an album that featured one rap track, it was anyone’s guess what Tyler’s next project would sound like. The only aspect Call Me If You Get Lost (CMIYGL) shares with Igor (2019) is how rich the world it exists in is. Yes, this is more of a return to form, drawing on the slick beats and smack-the-wall cadences of earlier projects such as Cherry Bomb (2015) and Goblin (2013). However, it sands down the rugged wooden framework of those ideas, showcasing his growth and maturity. For Tyler, the album is an ode to earned braggadocio, the fruits of labor harvested after a decade-long career. For me, the razor-sharp trumpets, gritty lo-fi synths, and sunset-warm piano progressions make me want to go on a drive and live the coming-of-age film a Black kid like me never got.
- Thot Shit X Megan Thee Stallion
If June was the month of anticipated comebacks, the keenest of all has to be Megan Thee Stallion’s “Thot Shit.” After she and Cardi B received major backlash, as all women in rap do, for their provocatively sex-positive lyrics in “WAP” and several personal fall-outs, Megan retreated from the spotlight and found solace in the booth. Along with its bold-faced bars and effortless flow-switching, the visual that dropped with “Thot Shit” confirmed that Megan would not be deterred by the hypocritical and shallow, misinformed critique of her work. During the final bar of the track, Megan ends the discussion: “And I’ma keep talkin’ all the shit that I want/ And I dare one of these hoes come tell me I can’t.” It’s definitely the energy I want to take into this Hot Girl summer.