We all have different tastes in music, but it is important for us to always give an album a chance before we write it off. Here are my top five favorite albums to listen to while quarantined.
- “2014 Forest Hills Drive” by J. Cole
Arguably J. Cole’s best album ever released, “2014 Forest Hills Drive” contains thirteen songs that all pay a very personal homage to his city, Fayetteville, North Carolina. The album’s title even originates from his old home’s address. Containing songs, like “Love Yourz,” “No Role Modelz” and so many more of the same caliber, this album was the first rap album I had ever listened to. The combination of J. Cole’s lyrical genius and melodic beats caused me to love this album. Either the songs tell a significant story of J. Cole’s younger life and experiences while in Fayetteville, or his realization that fame and money did not bring him the happiness he hoped it would. “2014 Forest Hills Drive” is a reflection of J. Cole’s character and the rare ability to paint a vivid story in his listener’s mind.
- “Blonde” by Frank Ocean
Released in 2016, “Blonde” is Frank Ocean’s most recent album and it contains seventeen songs. From beginning to end, the album takes its listeners on an intimate and emotional journey that is incredibly relaxing. Frank Ocean’s rich wordplay and fluid beats capture any listeners attention. This album is very calming and perfect for getting through some of the slow quarantined days. “Blonde” provides us with the perfect combination of R&B and pop music, especially in “Nikes,” “Ivy” and “Pink + White,” some of the more popular songs on the album. I recommend to anyone who wants to decompress and enjoy attention-grabbing melodies that they give “Blonde” a listen.
- “4 Your Eyez Only” by J. Cole
“4 Your Eyez Only” is J. Cole’s second album, after “2014 Forest Hills Drive,” to go platinum without any features. This album dives deep into J. Cole’s soul and confronts his personal struggles and social struggles as well. Although the album is only ten songs long, it addresses issues such as racism, love and doing the right thing in a world of wrong. In every song the listener can hear and feel the emotion coming from J. Cole’s voice as he raps. Possibly the most memorable song on the album, “4 Your Eyez Only,” lasts 8 minutes and 50 seconds, and the song’s perspective is J. Cole telling the story of his friend James McMillan, who died at the age of 22, to McMillan’s daughter. There is no other album that reveals a person’s inner conflicts and deep thoughts in an equally musically genius way.
- “American IV: The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash
Whether you enjoy country/folk music or not, you have to at least appreciate Johnny Cash and his unmatched, unique voice. “The Man Comes Around” provides its listeners with Cash’s view of the American west as being filled with rugged land and bible-loving outlaws. One of the more popular songs on the album, “Hurt,” was originally written and sung by Nine Inch Nails. But Cash covered the song, changing it from an electric song to a more acoustic one, and was really able to capture the song’s elegance through his hushed, angered voice. This album does an exceptional job of depicting Johnny Cash as a mysterious man that has seen too much. That, along with his gravelly voice make the album’s sensational storytelling that much more interesting.
- “Continuum” by John Mayer
John Mayer may be the most timeless pop artist ever, and his songs certainly reflect that. Although “Continuum” was released in 2006, the songs like “Waiting On the World to Change,” “Gravity” and “Slow Dancing In a Burning Room” are all absolute classics. John Mayer managed to perfectly combine old-school blues with R&B on this album to create “soul music.” “Continuum” sold 300,000 copies within the first ten days of its release and at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards it won Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album, rightly so. I strongly recommend that everyone listens to this album, especially if you are looking for catchy blues.
Hopefully one or all of these albums will have some songs you enjoy, and help you appreciate music in this time of difficulty.