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Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

The 5 most memorable albums of the summer

Courtesy of Annie Tumang and Sam Dababneh
Courtesy of Annie Tumang and Sam Dababneh

Most Disappointing: ‘Pink Tape’

On Jun. 30, Lil Uzi Vert’s highly anticipated album, Pink Tape was dropped. This marks Uzi’s third studio album, following his previous, ‘Eternal Atake’. ‘Pink Tape’ was released through Generation NOW and Atlantic Records. Many of Uzi’s fans were looking forward to this album, but most weren’t satisfied with the outcome. 

Starting with the first few tracks, ‘Flooded The Face’ featuring upcoming audio engineer Kesha Lee, and ‘Suicide Doors’ leads us to believe that ‘Pink Tape’ would be off to a decent start, at the least, which leads us into the third song, ‘Aye (feat. Travis Scott)’. is where the quality of the album begins to decline. Although there were many respectable artists featured on the album, such as Nicki Minaj, Don Toliver, and Travis Scott, somehow their appearances did not make the album any better, which was surprising to me, which is something I believed could turn the album around. 

Overall, this album was not a good representation of the potential that Uzi possesses, it felt like multiple different albums forced into one, with some songs being good content and others, not so much. 

-Annie Tumang


Best Newcomer: ‘Sunburn’

Up and coming artist Dominic Fike’s second album, ‘Sunburn’ sounds just a bit different and more mature from its prior and debut studio album, ‘What Could Possibly Go Wrong’, which mostly felt like we were experiencing the pains of growing up. ‘Sunburn’ is Fike trying to understand how and why he got to where he is now, from jail to a newly discovered musical superstar. 

The very first song on this album, ‘How Much Is Weed’ already has listeners thinking hard about nostalgia, regret, and Fike’s past. This was a very deep way to start the album, but it was a good one, keeping listeners intrigued to hear even more about Fike’s history, which throughout the album we learn includes drug dealing, addiction, and how his family struggled with money. Although this steers us to believe that he wants to be seen as a pop star who climbed the social ladder in order to keep his head above water, Fike really just wants listeners to understand how much all of his memories, good and bad, have taught him. 

With only one feature from ‘Weezer’, ‘Sunburn’ was impressive, breaking Fike’s two year album hiatus, the seventh track, ‘Mona Lisa’ even made it to the ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ soundtrack. Fike truly outdid himself with his sophomore album, and despite the fact that the album’s overall meaning was a bit depressing to say the least, it sounded so good that we just had to have it on loop since its release date on Jul. 7, making it the perfect addition to our summer soundtrack.

Annie Tumang


Most Surprising: ‘A Gift & A Curse’

In May of last year, Gunna and his fellow rapper, close friend, and mentor Young Thug were arrested and indicted on an onslaught of federal RICO charges. Over their heads hung the possibility of hefty jail time that could put them away until their old age. A black cloud hung over rap fans nationwide. 7 months later, and in a turn of events Gunna was miraculously released from prison with only a slap on the wrist of required community service. While it was initially met with celebration, something didn’t add up. As Gunna walked away from the charges relatively scot free, Young Thug’s ongoing case worsened. As the news behind his release began to spill, it was revealed that while Gunna didn’t explicitly snitch, he took a plea-deal. To many fans and rappers alike, it was a closed case: he was a snitch.

While I am not qualified to speak on rap label YSL’s ongoing court-case, nor am I qualified to speak on any kind of street-code, I can attest to the impact this has on Gunna’s music. You cannot tell the tale of Gunna’s career without Lil Baby and Young Thug, they are intertwined with countless hit songs and collaborations. Now, he has lost both. Lil Baby dissociated with Gunna after his plea deal and Young Thug is locked away. Blackballed by his industry peers and with his back to the wall, ‘A Gift & a Curse’ stood as a test for what Gunna could do on his own. He knocked it out of the park.

All in all, ‘A Gift & a Curse’, released June 16th, is Gunna’s best work to date. Songs like ‘bottom’, ‘rodeo dr’, and ‘back to the moon’ mix unique trap production with catchy hooks and flows, earning endless replayability. Most notably, Gunna scored the hottest rap song of the summer with ‘fukumean’. Blending his infectious trap sound with moments of genuine reflection, A Gift & A Curse is constantly engaging even when it isn’t perfect. With one of the biggest rap albums of the summer amongst an all-time-high doubt, Gunna has solidified himself as a key voice in rap.

-Sam Dababneh

Best EP: ‘Slide’ 

With his latest LP ‘Let’s Start Here’, Yachty made shockwaves around the music world. It marked a sharp change in sound, from his signature mumbly and autotuned trap to a full-blown psychedelic rock album. It was an exciting change of pace, but it was a mediocre album, and a generic one at that. It was Yachty at his dullest. Since 2015, Yachty has carved a one-of-a-kind sound and presence in the world of rap. Hits like ‘Broccoli’, ‘One Night’ and ‘Minnesota’ could only have been made by himself, and that’s what has kept him around longer than any of his old-headed detractors and critics ever thought he would. But with ‘Let’s Start Here’, Yachty abandoned that speciality to make an alternative rock album. While it was an admirable attempt, it wound up sounding like a diet Tame Impala.

So to my delight, his late-game summer EP, ‘Slide’, released on August 4th, sees Yachty go back to the basics while still reinventing the wheel and renewing his sound. The three-song EP bunches together ‘Strike (Holster)’, a loose single from April, alongside two new songs ‘Slide’ and ‘SOLO STEPPIN CRETE BOY’. Yachty’s exuberant flows, hooks, and lyricism shine as bright as ever on some of his best and most vibrant beats in years. The two new tracks, ‘Slide’ and ‘SOLO STEPPIN CRETE BOY’ are perfectly complemented by the subsequential ‘Strike (Holster)’ in what is an excellent three-track EP. It appears Yachty is building towards a full album soon, and it is shaping up to be one of his best yet.

-Sam Dababneh


Best Overall: ‘Utopia’

Travis Scott walked into the summer with the most anticipated album of the season and he walked out with the best. Riding off of his last full-length album ‘Astroworld’, Travis was faced with massive expectations. With ‘Astroworld’, Travis had officially crossed over into a higher plane of music. He could no longer release a loose collection of trap songs at will like he did with ‘Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight’. Now, when he did release he had to release something that was much bigger and thematic, loaded with A-list features and high-level production. Travis would spend the next 1,820 days crafting the highly-anticipated Utopia in hopes of meeting the nearly unrealistic expectations. He did.

The album opens with ‘HYAENA’ which is a very strong way to start off the album that many fans were looking forward to. Travis was kept from flying solo on most of ‘Utopia’, having featured more than fifteen big name artists distributed between the nineteen tracks, of these nineteen, the most memorable ones include ‘TELEKINESIS ft. SZA’, ‘FE!N ft. Playboi Carti’ and ‘LOST FOREVER ft. Westside Gunn’. These songs helped build the album to its fullest potential, and it really tied together Travis’ fourth studio album, which includes some of his best work. After five long years of work, it was worth the wait.

-Sam Dababneh and Annie Tumang

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About the Contributors
Annie Tumang
Annie Tumang, Review Editor & Social Media Editor

Annie Tumang is a sophomore at Niles North. This is her second year writing for NSN, and she is the reviews editor. She is interested in music and writing reviews

Sam Dababneh
Sam Dababneh, Review Editor & Asst. Sports Editor
Sam Dababneh is a Sophmore at Niles North High school. This is his second year on North Star News.

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    Courtney HansonSep 4, 2023 at 6:38 pm

    Your reviews are fantastic! Keep up the good work.