My Dear Melancholy,

By Andrew Lambert

Six songs. That’s all there is on The Weeknd’s newest release, My Dear Melancholy.. Six songs is short, but six songs is all that is needed. The Weeknd uses a peacefully tragic array of muffled synths, slow riding bass lines, and smooth R&B style percussion to accompany his exceptional voice. You can hear the pain, struggle, and reality of The Weeknd’s stories in his voice, and he does not leave a single space in those six songs undone. Every little aspect of this project has been touched on, tweaked, and mastered.

Aside from the grand slam production and breathtaking vocal performance, it is the lyrics that really set this project apart. It is the pain we can all relate to. The Weeknd has never been a stranger to singing about being in a bad situation regarding relationships, and he has always been honest with his shortcomings when it comes to commitment, as well as his struggled with the abuse of substances. Being someone that has struggled with the same situations in relationships as well as using substances to cope with these things, I personally can relate to a lot of what The Weeknd is so passionately serenading listeners about, especially the last track, “Privilege”.

The first track offers initial emotions after a relationship goes south. This epic piece has listeners feeling angry for The Weeknd as well, as he belts out “I want you to stay, even though you don’t want me”. The Weeknd is evidently feeling destroyed by whatever he had just lost with this girl, and even feeling regret as he states, “I said I didn’t feel nothing, but baby I lied, I almost cut a piece of of myself for your life. Guess I was just another pit stop til you made up your mind, you wasted my time”. The Weeknd then uses the bridge to build up that intense emotion, explaining how he put her on top, prioritizing her, but she eventually left him anyway, which then leads right into the explosion of a hook where The Weeknd has her calling out his name. For many, this is the most relatable track, as there is always these emotions in a split.

The second track, “Try Me”, has The Weeknd dipping back into a girl who is taken. For some, these actions, which aren’t ones to be proud of, are unfortunately another way to cope. The Weeknd’s lyricism on this track have him smooth talking an old fling to sneak away from her significant other to go and, simply put, try out The Weeknd. He brings up their history, gently says how he kissed her scars, and closes out the track with “Don’t you miss me baby?”. The Weeknd is clearly unable to accept she is with another man, and is doing his best to remind her of what they had.

The Weeknd rebounds from this track with “Wasted Times”, which is a ballad to his ex. He brushes on how he wasted time with someone else, and was never truly happy with her, using her to pass the time and cope with losing who he really wants. He sings about how even though she put him through hell, he can’t forget about her. He asks her where she is now, who she’s with, and even shows a side of his craziness, claiming he will blow up the spot of whoever she’s with now. As extreme as these emotions are, we all at one point or another have felt almost addicted to a person who did us wrong, and are willing to forgive almost anything. He clearly wants her back and is putting it all on the table, even stating that he has no business catching feelings due to his past experiences gone wrong with love, and most likely his drug fueled, fast lane lifestyle. Nonetheless, The Weeknd wants it, and cannot fight these feelings no matter how screwed up he is.

The next track, The Weeknd fully realizes how numb he is to emotions, and comes to grips with the fact that he is not capable of being the man she deserves. The song, appropriately titled “I Was Never There For You”, has The Weeknd addressing how mindless and poisonous he is to her, and is then followed with “Hurt You”, where The Weeknd is being blunt, honest, and raw when addressing his flaws. “If it’s love you want again don’t waste your time, but if you call me up I’m fucking you on sight”. The Weeknd now accepts that relationships are his “enemy” as he puts it, and comes clean about how every night she was crying, depressed, and feeling broken, was all because of him. He is owning the fact that he is no good for her, and causes her more pain than joy. He then states how he doesn’t want to hurt her, and does not want her to waste her time if she expects him to be capable of love, but further exemplifies how numb he is because he is still more than willing to have sex with her. The Weeknd really admits to a lot of his shortcomings here, and is remarkably honest with the fact that he is in no shape to be taking anyone’s heart into his hands. A broken, untamable, and high flying soul, The Weeknd refused to hurt her any longer, showing he cares and possibly still loves her, but will not deny himself the pleasures of her body. This is such a complicated struggle in his head, and I personally have been there. One side of you is pulling you away, knowing you’re only going to cause pain, but the other side of you, and you don’t know where from, is almost addicted to it.

At the end of The Weeknd’s emotional journey, we come to “Privilege”. This is easily the slowest track, the saddest track, the most mellowed out track, and in my opinion the most beautiful track. Swallowed in his melancholy, finally accepting of who he inevitably is, The Weeknd. He opens with telling his love to enjoy her life, for she has much to look forward to, because he is not going to be the one to “hold her through the night”, or be there for her. He is telling her to go on, and forget about him and all of the negative things he brings along. Aware of the fact the woman he loves is better off without him. It breaks his heart to let her go, but he is doing so regardless, intentionally putting himself through pain to ensure that she will suffer no longer. The Weeknd’s voice then is muffled, saturated, and distorted, illustrating through sound how sedated he is as he slivers out the words, “I got two red pills to take the blues away”. The red pill is referring to OxyContin, a prescription painkiller that he is going to abuse until he is so high, his emotional pain is dulled out. He then follows with his crystal clear, gentle, and melancholy voice as he expresses how he will “fuck the pain away”, hoping that the pleasures of sex will eventually help fill the void, and that he’ll “Drink the pain away”, and be “back to his old ways”, referring to who he was back in 2012 where he spent virtually every second on some sort of substance. He then closes out his epic journey through melancholy with those words once again, “I got two red pills to take the blues away”.

This really hits home for me. The Weeknd goes through all stages of heartbreak, from anger and denial, to depression and helplessness. He blames it on her, addresses using women and drugs to numb the pain, accepts his shortcomings, and tragically pulls our heart strings as he eventually ends his journey by letting her go, recognizing the pain he brings her, and goes back into his dear melancholy, alone, and going day by day trying to numb the pain. A sad ending to the story, but ultimately the best one for who he loves, so in a way, is not so sad. I personally have struggled with the same things that The Weeknd addresses on this project. I am by no means a saint, and I would be lying if I said I never numbed myself emotionally and physically to the point that nothing around me mattered in order to escape some sort of pain. Love is a dangerous game, and sometimes, as people, we need to recognize where we are as people. The Weeknd got it, I eventually got it, and although the damage left in our path is not reversible, the future is limitless, and without the pain we bring, the ones on our minds are in a much better place. We will watch from afar, watch the ones who have our hearts prosper, smile, and live, and with a faint smile, I have two red pill to take the blues away.

Thank you Abel Tesfaye, known as The Weeknd, for beautifully illustrating some of the most complex and dark emotions, and being able to put them in a project for those who are wallowing in the same melancholy as you are.

By Nick Roy

Photo By Matt Dutra

I was scrolling through my old Soundcloud and Spotify playlist’s the other day and came to one conclusion: Music can be a story.

Hear me out.

I found old playlists about when I was sad, happy, tailgate playlists, pregame playlists, and much more. I came to realize that the music you listen to sometimes is based on your mood. It’s crazy to think that I used to listening to Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede before football games. I totally forgot that part of my life. I used to take a lot of flak from people in high school because I loved Mumford and Sons more than Drake or whatever rapper was hot in 2014. (Shout out J. Cole for 2014 Forrest Hills Drive, double platinum no features!!) Don’t let people discourage you from music. Whatever vibe you’re feeling, music can help. It doesn’t always have to be happy either. Use music in your life for what you want to use it for.

That’s what makes music so f****** awesome. It has a genre for all moods and walks of life. Listen to your mind, let it tell you what you need, and plug those headphones in and just get lost. And if you don’t want to just listen, you can dance around and really be that artist. (I’ve done that countless times.)

I always try to be open to any kind of genre, mostly because I like so many genres I don’t even have a favorite. I can hop into a Migos song, and then quickly switch and listen to Harry Styles or Ed Sheeran. I have no shame. You shouldn’t either.

Love music. Appreciate music. Use music the way you want. Have a happy Thursday everybody!

As always, send me any songs or playlists, I always could use more to add to my arsenal.

By Andrew Lambert

New Jersey has had its fair share of artists. The “armpit” of America has produced legends from Bon Jovi to Frank Sinatra, My Chemical Romance to Fetty Wap, SZA to Gaslight Anthem, Redman to The Misfits, and even A$AP Rocky is technically from the Garden State. All of these artists have made amazing contributions to music, but none are from our home, our area, our stomping grounds… the shore. There is one artist, however, who reigns from these parts, and he is arguably king of them all, and he goes by the name Bruce Springsteen, or “The Boss”.

Bruce’s humble beginnings began in my hometown, and went to high school practically in my backyard. The Freehold native’s childhood house, which lies on 39 Institute Street in Freehold, can still be seen today, but it just looks like any other house on that street. When his mother took out a $60 loan to buy Bruce a guitar, he never looked back. He was a loner in high school, attending Freehold Borough, and was often described by teachers as an outsider who wanted nothing more than to play his guitar. He felt so out of place, he didn’t even attend his own high school graduation.

Making his music career known by doing gigs at Upstage Club, Bruce Springsteen firmly marked his territory in the Jersey Shore when he released his debut album in 1973, appropriately titled “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.”. Bruce has also performed at the Stone Pony over 100 times in his career, making Asbury Park know who he is.

People like to think our area is all fist bumping and guidos, but we are the complete opposite. Yes, there is a strong Italian presence in Monmouth County, but same goes for Irish, Middle-Eastern, Hispanic, and African-Americans. We have more farms than one could imagine, some of the nicest suburbs around, some pretty competitive football, lots of horses, mansions and ghettos, and the most beautiful beaches in the country. Whether you’re listening to country, rap, rock, or just surfing to some mellow tunes, you can identify with MoCo, and Bruce Springsteen took that to heart.

Bruce’s signature sound is classic rock, mixed with some folk, mixed with some laid back vibes, which most accurately depict the area. Ordinary life in beach towns like Belmar, Asbury Park, and Long Branch are the inspiration for a bunch of his tracks, but so is the tough economic struggle seen in those times in areas like Freehold, Red Bank, and Neptune. Bruce also let his country roots shine in some songs, which came from areas like Howell, Colts Neck, and 1970’s Manalapan, which were mainly just open fields and farms. The fusion of these three vastly different lifestyles made for a completely original sound that the world had never heard before, and made Bruce not only a legend worldwide, but also a legend among people from his area, because instead of picking just one of those things to make music about, he hit every corner of what made Monmouth County what it was. His truly unique style is all because of the unique and diverse area we live in.

Bruce since then has become one of the most legendary musicians of all time, and in 1999, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. His famous E Street Band was also inducted, and if you’re ever in Belmar, you should go on over to 1107 E Street, where the band rehearsed. The house belonged to the mother of David Sancious, who played the keyboard for the band. Tourists from all over come by the house to take pictures.

Bruce Springsteen may have been born to run, but his roots will forever be laid right here at the shore, with Freehold, Asbury Park, and Belmar holding special places in his heart. When he is not in his mansion in Colts Neck, he is often seen walking around Red Bank, or shopping at Tuscany Italian Specialties, which lies on the border of Freehold and Marlboro.

Allow The Boss to inspire you to take the thunder road, join the rising, dance in the dark, and grow some love for your hometown. We live in a special area here which often gets taken for granted. Bruce never lost sight of the beauty in this area, and neither should we.

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Street view of the Sancious house, origin of the E Street Band, 1107 E Street, Belmar, NJ, 07719

By: Justin Noah

If you’ve ever not been able to nap or fall asleep easily, or just want some calming tunes for that napping mood, listen to Daily Shuteye.

Daily Shuteye starts out by lifting up your mood and bringing out the good vibes with “Blessings” by Chance The Rapper.   A few tracks down the list your will get to hear the lesser known Bennett, but no less talent with Taylor Bennett (Chance’s brother) on the calming track “Broad Shoulders” accompanied by Chance himself.  Lower down the list we slowly start to make you dose off with Cam Meekins, a versatile Boston native, with a tranquil soft-beat song in “Inhale”.  Lastly, we have two tracks by Kid Cudi that are lesser known, but the same Cudi groovy sound.  “SATELLITE FLIGHT” is a track that sort of makes you feel as if you are traveling through space with its futuristic sound.  You won’t get to the last Cudi track because you will already be knocked on your couch, but it deserves a listen.  Throughout the whole song is a continuous soothing feel lyrically and instrumentally.

Now go get that nap you so well deserve.

 

By Shayne McNally

I first heard Chance when I was a freshman in high school. His first mixtape, 10 Day was what grabbed the attention of the hip hop industry, and of course my own. It’s one of my favorite mixtapes because I like the story behind it. In this mixtape he explains how he got suspended from high school for ten days for smoking marijuana on campus. So, what did your average Chicagoan, senior in high school, wanna’ be rapper, do for ten days? He wrote the mixtape, which would later be his portal to fame.

Next up, Acid Rap. This second mixtape was released one year after 10 Day. Acid Rap is my favorite mixtape/album until the day I die; write it on my grave. This mixtape is a huge reflection on his best friend’s murder and Southside Chicago. Everything he raps about in this mixtape is just honest and real. Pusha Man is definitely in my top three favorite Chance songs. Every lyric in this song is introspective. My favorite part is after the long pause; most people will just hit next to another song. But, in part two of Pusha Man, Chance further expresses life in Southside Chicago. “Down here, it’s easier to find a gun than it is to find a f***ing parking spot.” I mean, c’mon, shookith? Probably only me.

At this point in Chance’s career, every label was banging on his door. I read once, that he met with a couple of different huge labels, but something told him not to settle for one; never to settle for one. Instead, Chance worked with Nico Segal, AKA Donnie Trumpet. (He’s back to being called Nico Segal, don’t get it twisted.) This is when Surf was released. This album has a special sound, full of iconic trumpet solos by the talented, Nico Segal, jazzy sounds, and soulful lyrics.

In the begging of 2016, Chance started collaborating with the biggest and the baddest, Kanye West, on the album Life of Pablo. Chance has a solo rap on Ultralight Beam, saying, “He said let’s do a good a** job with Chance three. I hear you gotta sell it to snatch the Grammy. Let’s make it so free and the bars so hard. That there ain’t one gosh darn part you can’t tweet.” (Yeah, there’s definitely some foreshadowing here.)

Soon after, Chance started to become an activist on top of being a rapper. He met with powerful political figures like Barack Obama and the Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In 2017, he pledged his own, one million dollars to Chicago public schools to fix the broken school system. He also donated special coats that turn into sleeping bags for the homeless people on the Chicago streets.

May 2016, Coloring Book drops; Chance’s third free mixtape. “You don’t want zero problems, big fella.” Heard of it? No Problem was an instant hit, throughout the summer of 2016 and continues to BUMP. This album was very different from the first two. His iconic 3 hat represents his third album, his family (him, Kirsten, and Kensli), and the Holy Spirit (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) At this point in his life, Chance had left the drugs, bad habits, and became a loving father. Kirsten Corley and Chance had a daughter, Kensli Bennett, born in September of 2015. Later in 2017, Coloring Book was nominated for SEVEN Grammys. Chance received three, making him the first ever streaming-only artist to win a Grammy.

I first saw Chance when I was a junior in high school, at Terminal 5 in New York City. I bought VIP tickets for around 100 bucks; they included a meet & greet with Chance, a picture, a signed poster, early merch access, and early entry. I am not joking when I say this was the best day of my young life. Even though I only met him for about a minute, you could tell right away that he’s just down to earth, and appreciated the love from his fans. Towkio and D.R.A.M. opened and in the VIP balcony were Beyonce and Jay-Z; Ja Rule also came out and did a couple of songs. I’ve now seen Chance four times and I’m waiting for the next album to drop with another tour. I think Chance wants to be a dad for a little, which is cool, but I think we’re all ready for some new music.

Chance the Rapper inspires me everyday as a role model, not only because of his music and accomplishments, but because he loves the Lord too. If I could give one piece of advice about Chance, it would be to listen to his first two mixtapes; you will not regret. I made the playlist, “Chance Bennett, a Peculiar Name” because it has all of my favorite Chance the Rapper songs and his featured songs all in one place. I listen to this album all of the time, and I hope you enjoy!

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 2.14.41 PM

“You deserve a warm towel, you deserve a soda

You deserve a quiet room, you deserve a sofa

You deserve a Ferrari and a matching tiara

And a hand to wipe away all that running mascara” (Prom Night- Chance the Rapper, 10 Day)

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Chancelor Bennett, AKA Chance the Rapper, Zaddy.

By Shayne McNally

I first heard Chance when I was a freshman in high school. His first mixtape, 10 Day was what grabbed the attention of the hip hop industry, and of course mine. It’s one of my favorite mixtapes because I like the story behind it. In this mixtape he explains how he got suspended from high school for ten days for smoking marijuana on campus. So, what did your average Chicagoan, senior in high school, wanna’ be rapper, do for ten days? He wrote the mixtape, which would later be his portal to fame.

Next up, Acid Rap. This second mixtape was released one year after 10 Day. Acid Rap is my favorite mixtape/album until the day I die; write it on my grave. This mixtape is a huge reflection on his best friend’s murder and Southside Chicago. Everything he raps about in this mixtape is just honest and real. Pusha Man is definitely in my top three favorite Chance songs. Every lyric in this song is introspective. My favorite part is after the long pause; most people will just hit next to another song. But, in part two of Pusha Man, Chance further expresses life in Southside Chicago. “Down here, it’s easier to find a gun than it is to find a f***ing parking spot.” I mean, c’mon, shookith? Probably only me.

At this point in Chance’s career, every label was banging on his door. I read once, that he met with a couple of different huge labels, but something told him not to settle for one; never to settle for one. Instead, Chance worked with Nico Segal, AKA Donnie Trumpet. (He’s back to being called Nico Segal, don’t get it twisted.) This is when Surf was released. This album has a special sound, full of iconic trumpet solos by the talented, Nico Segal, jazzy sounds, and soulful lyrics.

In the begging of 2016, Chance started collaborating with the biggest and the baddest, Kanye West, on the album Life of Pablo. Chance has a solo rap on Ultralight Beam, saying, “He said let’s do a good a** job with Chance three. I hear you gotta sell it to snatch the Grammy. Let’s make it so free and the bars so hard. That there ain’t one gosh darn part you can’t tweet.” (Yeah, there’s definitely some foreshadowing here.)

Soon after, Chance started to become an activist on top of being a rapper. He met with powerful political figures like Barack Obama and the Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In 2017, he pledged his own, one million dollars to Chicago public schools to fix the broken school system. He also donated special coats that turn into sleeping bags for the homeless people on the Chicago streets.

May 2016, Coloring Book drops; Chance’s third free mixtape. “You don’t want zero problems, big fella.” Heard of it? No Problem was an instant hit, throughout the summer of 2016 and continues to BUMP. This album was very different from the first two. His iconic 3 hat represents his third album, his family (him, Kirsten, and Kensli), and the Holy Spirit (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) At this point in his life, Chance had left the drugs, bad habits, and became a loving father. Kirsten Corley and Chance had a daughter, Kensli Bennett, born in September of 2015. Later in 2017, Coloring Book was nominated for SEVEN Grammys. Chance received three, making him the first ever streaming-only artist to win a Grammy.

I first saw Chance when I was a junior in high school, at Terminal 5 in New York City. I bought VIP tickets for around 100 bucks; they included a meet & greet with Chance, a picture, a signed poster, early merch access, and early entry. I am not joking when I say this was the best day of my young life. Even though I only met him for about a minute, you could tell right away that he’s just down to earth, and appreciated the love from his fans. Towkio and D.R.A.M. opened and in the VIP balcony were Beyonce and Jay-Z; Ja Rule also came out and did a couple of songs. I’ve now seen Chance four times and I’m waiting for the next album to drop with another tour. I think Chance wants to be a dad for a little, which is cool, but I think we’re all ready for some new music.

Chance the Rapper inspires me everyday as a role model, not only because of his music and accomplishments, but because he loves the Lord too. If I could give one piece of advice about Chance, it would be to listen to his first two mixtapes; you will not regret. I made the playlist, “Chance Bennett, a Peculiar Name” because it has all of my favorite Chance the Rapper songs and his featured songs all in one place. I listen to this album all of the time, and I hope you enjoy!