Sure, you want the funk. You need the funk. You gotta have the funk. But some rap, R&B and soul never hurt either. Here are August’s finest, freakiest and funkiest releases in alphabetical order. Just click on the cover picture to read the full review (and listen to the album in full):
WHO ARE THEY? The diverse rap collective and self-described boy band who became overnight sensations after bursting onto the scene in 2017 — and promptly experienced the downside of fame over sexual misconduct allegations against one member who has since left.
WHAT IS THIS? The prolific and distinctive crew’s fifth album in less than three years, their first release as part of a multi-disc, multi-million-dollar major label deal — and a so-called “summertime” disc reportedly inspired by their friendship with Shia LaBeouf, who supposedly holds informal weekly group therapy sessions at leader Kevin Absract’s L.A. home. Seriously.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Amazingly, like a therapeutic summertime album. The beats and backing tracks are generally warm, relaxed and flowing, while the existential lyrics deal with dejection, rejection and dysfunction. As you might expect, it doesn’t always feel like the most cohesive affair — especially not with seven vocalists jockeying for mic time. But it’s surely one of the more unusual and idiosyncratic hip-hop releases of the summer.
WHO ARE THEY? A retro-minded, horn-fuelled instrumental septet from New York City.
WHAT IS THIS? Their fourth full-length, full-strength fusion of vintage soul, cut with everything from psychedelia and Afrobeat to blaxploitation funk and spaghetti-western twang.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? The score to some great lost B-movie.
WHO ARE THEY? Actually, they’re a him: British indie singer-songwriter David Brewis, who may be better known as a member of Field Music, the long-running, Mercury Prize-nominated pop-rock duo that co-stars his brother Peter.
WHAT IS THIS? His third School of Language album and — as its numerical title might suggest to the more politically minded listeners in the crowd — a darkly witty and wonderfully weird concept album about the current U.S. president.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Funkier than its subject could ever be, thanks to grooves, licks and a general vibe lovingly influenced by the likes of The Meters, James Brown, Talking Heads and Prince. But it’s also spot-on lyrically, thanks to incidents, themes and quotes ripped from the headlines, cribbed from Hillary Clinton, borrowed from assorted swamp dwellers and nicked from the colluder-in-chief himself — all delivered via Brewis’s tenderly soulful tones and soaring falsetto.
WHO IS HE? The rapper formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg, Snoop Lion, Snoopzilla, The Doggfather, The Top Dogg, the head nizzle fo shizzle, the D.O. Double-G, Martha Stewart”s coolest cooking partner and — last but not least — Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr.
WHAT IS THIS? His umpteenth self-assured, laid-back platter of old-school rhymes, low-riding G-funk grooves, countless VIP cameos and between-song skits (remember them?). Bonus points for the best cover art of his career. (It’s Doggs playing poker!)
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Pretty much the same as he always has — except that some of these songs eschew some of the stereotypical rap bravado, bluster and bragging for slightly more uplifting and inspirational lyrics.