Music Review: Pandemic Projects


Images Courtesy of Interscope Records, ESGN Records and Brainfeeder

Thundercat, Freddie Gibbs and Juice WRLD released albums during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the spread of COVID-19 causing the nation to go into quarantine, people are consuming more content than ever before. With such high demand, artists have taken the opportunity to release new projects. This has yielded some great records and in my opinion, possible album of the year contenders.

It Is What It Is – Thundercat 

On bass extraordinaire Thundercat’s fourth studio album, “It Is What It Is,” he creates a spacey, jazz-inspired RnB world for us to explore. With flying bass licks paired with a new focus on his vocals, Thundercat has found a new way to express his ideas like never before. “It Is What It Is” features a great list of guest artists, most notably Childish Gambino, Steve Lacy, and Ty Dolla $ign. As always, Thundercat incorporates humor in his projects, like on his ode to his beloved headscarf, “Dragonball Durag.” Producer Flying Lotus did an excellent job on this project with the drum tracks. We see this impact in full force on “Interstellar Love” where the drums propel the track forward as well as complimenting a saxophone solo from Kamashi Washington. With only a 37 minute runtime, “It Is What It Is” is a fun and quick listen and provides a refreshing break from the norm.

Alfredo – Freddie Gibbs

Veteran rapper Freddie Gibbs gives an amazing performance on this album. He shows his ability to rap effortlessly in the pocket of his beats made by legendary producer The Alchemist. 

“Alfredo” taps into hip-hop’s fascination with the Italian mafia and the hustle of climbing the ladders of society in these criminal communities. The Alchemist caters to Gibbs intentions with the album flawlessly and creates a brash yet luxurious texture to his beats and mixes. We also get a really nice feature verse from Tyler the Creator on the track “Something to Rap About,” which I really enjoyed. Tyler found a way to form his style into a rougher aesthetic and I think it shows his true versatility as an artist. The album flows seamlessly in and out of each track. I credit this to the caliber of production from The Alchemist paired with the brilliant lyricism from Gibbs. Hopefully, this duo collaborates again in the future because this album was definitely a success.

 Legends Never Die – Juice WRLD

On Juice WRLD’s first posthumous release, we get a window into his mental state towards the end of his life. Juice elaborates on his complicated life littered with drug abuse, depression, and anxiety. Listening to this album top to bottom is truly an experience. There is a wide range of tracks on this record, from a maximal hard rock style on “Come and Go” to a more intimate traditional rap style on “Life’s A Mess.” I do not think there is a bad song on this album. Each song has its place and plays a role in the overall impact of the album. The producers did a phenomenal job on this project, and you can tell this album meant a lot to those who worked on it. “Legends Never Die” does not just feel like a goodbye, but rather a showcase of the young talent that Juice WRLD had.