The first six months of the year went by exceptionally fast for me. From walking in cold snow-covered streets to hanging out at C2 Montreal, it all felt like it happened in a blink. For those who are reading my work for the first time, I’ll keep it short, my name is Brian Holidae. I started in radio at 17, was a hip-hop music director for ten, and I’ve repped Canada on an international level as a delegate at the annual International Radio Festival. Wild thing is, as much as all of that was, the biggest part of the first six months of 2019 came down to my interview with Spike Lee for C2 Montreal on behalf of FranklinArmstong.com.
What does this all have to do with music? A lot, actually. Music affects your frame of mind, can make you happy, anxious, and bring about any other emotion. So as the year started and opportunities presented themselves, some tracks helped my frame of mind get clearer. In January, while getting over the holiday season hype, we got “Shine,” from Tobe Nwigwe. Known for some deep inspirational R&B mixed with rap, Tobe dropped the track Shine just in time to fight seasonal post-holiday depression that comes with Blue Monday. This track is more R&B than anything, with smooth lyrics that delivered a somewhat solemn message but delivered in such a beautiful way, you don’t even realize it’s uplifting you. This was the first year that I got hit with the seasonal blues, not that it showed. I tend to play it off and a track like Shine def helped during those pensive “what’s next” moments. Also helped to have Lizzo’s “Juice” spinning to add that much needed energy.
February is always difficult for music, I find, as it isn’t the easiest month to release anything. Short month, cold as cold can get if you’re along the US/Canada border on the East Coast. We all commiserate together by often staying indoors. Which is exactly what I did while listening to the Sean Price & Small Professor project “86 Witness.” For Sean Price, the album is a posthumous release, coming almost four years after he passed. I was a huge fan of Sean Price, and I consider him one of the most underrated rappers ever. What made this album so much fun to listen to was although Sean P passed in 2015, his raps are timeless. No shade aimed at Lil Wayne, but his recent album had verses that sounded like they were recorded a few years ago. On the other hand, Sean P drops lines like “Slugs Move Everything Around Me/S.C.R.E.A.M. what that mean?” and it is such a Sean line that it’s an ageless line. His lyric delivery was both classic and ahead of its time.
Do we really need to discuss why March was a good month for music? Solange dropped “When I Get Home” with the track “Dream,” Tierra Whack dropped “Wasteland” and that’s just from TWO of the amazing artists who dropped tracks that month. Anyone who said 2019 started slow didn’t actually pay attention to music. 2 Chainz dropped the track “Rule the World” with Ariana Grande and I don’t even like either artists all that much. Are they talented? Yes. Was using the “Why Don’t We Fall in Love” sample from Amerie a cheatcode move? 100%. But no one else was using the sample, so if you want to put two current pop artists (yes, I consider 2 Chainz pop) on the track, do it.
Tayla Parx, Connie Diiamond, Lizzo, Tee Grizzley… and those are dropped in the span of two weeks. In TWO weeks we got the lines “If a n***a wrote your s**t you a f***n catfish” off “Put Ya Hands Up by Connie Diiamond and “Money make your whole team vanish / That's a paper trick, Origami” off “God’s Warrior,” by Tee Grizzley. Both those lines give me hope that there is more to rap than what is in the mainstream or main timeline these days. Artist like Lizzo have been working on their craft and are now getting the level of recognition they deserved from jump. Tayla has been writing your favorite artists’ song lyrics for them. The talent that came out in April was amazing and helped the days pass quickly. Snow melting, great vibes, and the end of the Infinity Saga from Marvel Studios, it was a heavy month for a blerd like myself, but every track made making moves around the city more fun.
Which brings us to my birth month, May. I like to think that Megan Thee Stallion & Ari Lennox spoke at some point and decided to both drop their albums in the same month just for me. Yes, when it’s my birth month I legit turn into a narcissistic kid who thinks every good thing that happens in the world is a gift that was aimed for him. You should all feel that when it’s your respective birth month. “Up Late” by Ari is so damn smooth and just gives you those good frisson (aka aesthetic chills) like a good track does. Meanwhile, the Anime-loving blerd Megan Thee Stallion put out an album of dope tracks leaving her name on the lips of every hip-hop fan. We also have to give huge props to Tyler, The Creator ‘cause “Igor” is a monster of an album. The best part is I don’t know if Tyler can just pop an album out or if he works like a beast. Either way, the final product is such a great album and I’ve had "Gone, Gone / Thank You" on repeat since the album drop. Add on the Flying Lotus album I need more time with and the new BJ The Chicago Kid & Offset track “Worryin’ ‘Bout Me” and you end May in possibly a perfect way.
All this to say the bar has been set by every artist I mentioned. 2019 started off strong, although I hear rumbling and naysayers who were looking for a new Rihanna (word is before year’s end), but I’m happy with the music that's been put out in the early ‘19. Honourable mentions to Tech N9ne, Lil Nas X and DJ Khaled, who don’t need the mentions but I liked their tracks or projects. From cold days to sunny May, go listen to every track or album mentioned in this post, you will not regret it. If you do, hit me in my mentions @BrianHolidae, I’m down to discuss.