“Tombstone” from Rod Wave’s new album “SoulFly” is an amazing soul hymn about unbearable weight. The 21-year-old Wave is a gentle singer who uses the rhythm of a rapper, and in this song he finds a way to sing gospel—about the burdens of fame, and how they’re just high-priced replacements for what preceded them. burden. – Like uplifting and melancholic contemplation.
Last week, just after Wave’s third album, SoulFly, debuted on the Billboard Albums Chart, Wave performed “Tombstone” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Wave sings on the porch by the river, exuding an air of christening and funeral:
I put my gun in my draw to sidestep this sad news
My phone shows seven missed calls and I know it’s bad news
This life scars me so much, I know it’s true
Remember how hard times got, I got it tattooed
A week after SoulFly’s release, 19-year-old Lil Tjay’s second album, Destined 2 Win, debuted at No. 5. If Wave is the blues of this generation of rappers, Tjay is the sweet singer. Both deal with the same themes – more money, more problems; untrustworthy partners and loyal partners who make up for it; doubts about how stable their habitat is. But Wave extracts the greatest melancholy from these themes, while Tjay’s approach is thinner and more fragile, rarely biting the bullet on solid feel.
Possibly the most prominent hip-hop emoter of the past few years, Wave chooses patterns that allow his sound to ooze freely: guitar-led arrangements reminiscent of 1980s radio rock, or basic drum patterns. Many songs are short – a few choruses and a verse, sometimes just verses. Wave has a special way of handling some of his line-ending syllables, breaking them into three descending steps, as if submitting himself to gravity.
Mostly, he tends to lament, as in “Gone T1 November” and “How the Game Go,” plangent overcame adversity. In “Don’t Forget”, between clips of an interview with aggrieved pimp C, Wave offers at least a brief brag: “Rod crashed ‘Vette, but he’s back in a better way /’Rod Fixed ‘Witter? No, dog, this is the second one.”
On paper, Tjay is dealing with a similar emotional realm. “I just rap about my pain because I know other people can understand,” he insisted “slow down.” Going back to his earliest singles, like “Brothers,” Tjay has used a microscope to observe the conditions in which he was raised. On “Nuf Said,” he points to a particularly inexplicable grief related to his friend’s plight: “Browsky is on the phone, he just wants another chance at life/But he’s alone in a cell For so long, he said ‘Crib.'”
Tjay’s voice is high-pitched—he’s one of the few sweet-talking singers out there, including Lil Mosey—and his approach is melodic, but not particularly soothing. His expressions can feel choppy, as do his lyrics, which tend to have illogical, rhyming syllables attached to jumbled thoughts on songs like “Part of the Plan.”
On the album’s latest single, “Headshot,” he follows two of his guests, Polo G and Fivio Foreign, who are both harder to land than him. In this way, it’s reminiscent of Tjay’s “Mood Swings” with Pop Smoke last year, which was a hit on TikTok, mostly as a soundtrack to comedy sketches about inappropriate older family members.
They start with a star-eyed kid talking sweetly to Tjay about their love interest: “Shawty’s a little badass, she’s my little badass.” Then an older person joins them, lip-syncing to Pop Smoke: “Shawty Got fat.” The young man agreed, Tjay agreed, “Shawty got fat,” before changing his personality and staring at the flirtatious intruder.
The interactions in these skits and songs are almost raw – Pop Smoke, the gruff alpha, comes out to tame Tjay and possibly walk away with his women. It’s about power, but it’s also about authority. Tjay is still wandering around looking for a firm grip when the people around him are demanding emotional and everything else.
“Doomed 2 win”