We are back with the second half of recommendations from our members! Don’t forget to follow us on Spotify @hopeconcerts!

Alex: My favorite project from last semester: Circles, by Mac Miller. Mac Miller unfortunately passed away in September of 2018, but he was recording material for this album, Circles, up until his death.

Posthumous albums can sometimes be rush-jobs that are only released for the money, so some fans were nervous for this release. But Circles doesn’t feel like that at all, and for me, it was released at the perfect time. It came out right at the beginning of last semester, which was great for me because the semester we’d just finished had been a little bit of a rough one for me, and this album felt like a warm blanket on a cold, gloomy day. And then, when quarantine started, and we all had to uproot our lives at a moment’s notice, Circles was still there to keep me grounded.

The music features a mix of Mac rapping and singing, although he sings much more than usual. The production is jazzy and smooth and bright in a subdued way, and the hooks and verses on pretty much all of the songs are just infectious and amazing, including the two deluxe tracks. Mac’s lyrics on here are also really great and at times really bittersweet, especially on the title track and the closer Floating, which gives this album an insane amount of heart and emotion. I can’t recommend this album enough to everyone, but especially people who like jazz rap and/or more melodic hip-hop. It’s the best album I’ve heard this year. I’d especially recommend the songs Complicated, Good News, and Floating from the deluxe version.

Eliseo: My favorite artist from last semester was Christian Nodal. I listen to different music from Beethoven to Dan & Shay to Drake. But my favorite artist for most of last semester has to be Christian Nodal. He has made his own sound in Spanish music that brings a norteño and a corrido together that just brings a unique sound to the music. His album, Me Dejé Llevar released in 2018, and AYAYAY! released in May 2020, are two of my favorite albums he released.

They each have their own songs that just get you to your feelings. There is just something about the emotion in his face that pulls you into his reality and makes you feel the passion towards that someone special. I also really enjoy how he uses ensemble to play in the background and even have solos, bringing a whole idea of musicianship to another level. Not going to lie, it is in Spanish and not everyone can understand, but music is music. One key aspect of learning languages is by speaking it, watching a video/movie, and listening to music. With that being said I would recommend De los Besos Que te Di, Aquí Abajo, and the whole album of Me Dejé Llevar. His music is just incredibly emotional and brings such charisma. 

Camryn: My favorite album for the past few months has been the Receive EP by Sure Sure. This short set of songs are all super funky and while they are not drastically different from Sure Sure’s other music, these 3 songs have a distinctly 70s disco and funk influence. “Funky Galileo” was released as a single first back at the beginning of 2020 which was an instant hit while doing the dishes or other household chores. It just makes me want to dance! “What Were We Doing If We Weren’t In Love” and “Receive” have both been released during quarantine and have injected some spice into my otherwise solemn songs I have been playing over the past few months. 

Additionally, Sure Sure performed a week-long virtual tour from their home called “The Sure Sure Home Home Tour” to raise money for the homeless population in LA. It was so encouraging to see one of my favorite bands step into a place of need and help others! 

Molly: I’ll be talking about the only person keeping me sane by the end of last semester: Nina Simone. She seemed to be one of the few people able to encapsulate the proper amount of wisdom in her words to match the depth of confusion and chaos going on at the time, even though her work is decades old. The more I listened to her music, the more I researched her story and watched her speak in interviews — and inevitably my respect and reverence for Nina grew. Her album Forever Young, Gifted and Black is filled to the brim with strength and unforgiving grief, and fits all too well with the narrative we have all watched develop this year. [I recommend the short Radiolab podcast episode called “Nina” about this very topic] Nina Simone has so much to teach us, all we gotta do is start listening. 

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