Album Review – Sebastian Mikael, Speechless

I wanted to emphasize the two songs I have already written about, Forever and Made Me, before writing about the whole album. Now that I have broken those down thoroughly, I can go through the whole Speechless album by Sebastian Mikael. It sticks to pure RnB and resembles a smooth combination of Chris Brown and Usher while staying strictly original and unique. I think highly of Sebastian Mikael’s music, and any other RnB fan usually does. Of course I will be as neutral as possible while examining the music.

So let us break down this album track-by-track:

1. Last Night ft. Wale – Last Night was the most successful individual song on Speechless, with rightful cause. The song has a catchy sound and adds a solid rap verse for good measure. I have felt that Wale has been in decline since his Ambition album, but I was impressed by his work on Last Night. Sebastian Mikael’s vocals sound beautiful and compliment the beat well. It is truly hard to find a flaw in this song, and I am glad that this became such a hit. I cannot lie either, this song is excellent. 9.75/10

2. 4 U ft. Rick Ross –  5 U (typo was intended for sarcastic purposes) adds another good feature for an up-and-coming artist with Rick Ross. I thought the verse was impressive, if slightly off-focus here and there. Rick Ross did a better job than usual of staying on topic and using better rhymes. Sebastian Mikael still sounds incredible, though his voice is dominated a bit too much by the beat. The upbeat pace is catchy and this is another excellent song on the album. 9/10

3. Forever – Already broke this song down here. I consider this the best song on the album, right above Last Night. I can still say I love this song and hope everyone who reads this can hear it.

4. Made For Me – Literally just broke this down here for emphasis purposes. I had a lot to say about the song and could not contain it in one album review.

5. Speechless – We finally get a song that truly focuses on the vocal talent of Sebastian Mikael. I loved the guitar behind his mellow voice and wish this track was longer. The lyrics feel a bit rushed at times, and slowing down would probably not only fulfill my first wish of length, but also emphasize his talent even more and be able to provide Sebastian Mikael with an extra ego boost. I find this a huge showcase of talent though regardless. 9/10

6. Thinkin About You Girl – The instant throwback Hip-Hop sound of Thinkin About You Girl was right away reeling. His voice sounds more like Chris Brown’s pure vocals on this track than any other. The RnB/Soul vibe of this song is prominent and makes it quite enjoyable. It tends to appeal to more RnB lovers than anyone else, so most likely if you are not into that thing, this may not be the song for you. 9/10

7. Kiss Me – This song, while staying on pace with the rest of the album’s sound, is probably my least favorite on the album. The echo on the vocals throughout is disappointing and the song as a whole just feels too over-edited. The problem is how concealed and hidden Sebastian Mikael’s voice feels when it should be the emphasis of the whole LP. The overall song still has a mellow and relaxing sound to it, and the fact that a song this good is my least favorite means the album is one of the best this year. 7.75/10

8. Lose It – Now that we are back to the incredible pure gift of Sebastian Mikael’s voice, we get Lose It, which shows off his vocal range and talent. The beat follows the vocals while standing out and making the song the beautiful melody it should be. This comes close to being one of the best songs on the album, and is very-well placed in the titles as well. The muffled follow-out is slightly early, but that is honestly the only complaint I have, and we had a similar issue with Forever, my favorite song on Speechless. 9.5/10

9. Crash – The harmonizing on this song resembles Chris Brown’s Forever but with my favorite RnB sound. The beat goes well with the song and the song continues to give listeners the beautiful vocals of Sebastian Mikael. It is closer to Pop than most of the other songs, and I do like the change up. Another close call for personal favorite on the album, though the repetition throws off the appeal slightly. 9.25/10

10. Beautiful Life – Produced by Sebastian Mikael himself is Beautiful Life. Ending an album well is a difficult feat, and I was curious to see how he would finish off an incredible album like Speechless. I believe that Sebastian Mikael knew to add more of his own pure vocals by the end of the album, and I loved hearing it at the end of the album while the quiet acoustic and drums in the back supported him. The song has a catchy hook and excellent vocals, with focus on his sound. An amazing way to close out the album. 9.75/10

So that averages out to a little over 9.25/10, which is appropriate for a nearly-perfect album like Speechless. I consider this one of the best RnB albums of the year and can only hope to hear more soon. My only desire is more emphasis on his own voice and perhaps less on the music behind it.

In essence, this whole album is an RnB fan’s dream. I recommend a listen to the whole album, but if you cannot hear all of it, I would recommend everything at 9/10 and above.

Go ahead and head over to DJBooth.net to stream the whole album, and you can buy it on iTunes here. Check it out:

http://www.djbooth.net/index/albums/review/sebastian-mikael-speechless#stream

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Sebastian Mikael ft. Teyana Taylor, Made For Me

I have gone on about my love for Sebastian Mikeal’s voice before, so it goes without saying that I usually am on the lookout for any new music by the RnB crooner. Meanwhile, Teyana Taylor has returned go all-out Rihanna and adds her vocals to the song. Here we get a passionate combination of two excellent RnB voices.

Sebastian Mikael’s voice is drowned out a bit by the guitar and percussion, but Teyana Taylor uses her opportunity to stand out. Both voices lean towards the deeper side and perform a slow love duet. The song as a whole has a bit of a psychedelic feel that provides the relaxing RnB vibes that the genre specializes in.

Together, the artists sound incredible together. The synth-work at the end reminds me of The Weeknd, and I find it a shame that both artists had to have their own separate verses before combing together to make a beautiful duet.

Overall, I would rate the song at 8.75/10. You can listen to the song below and see what you think of it:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Teyana Taylor ft. Chris Brown, Do Not Disturb

This song came out a week or two ago, and therefore I recognize I am a bit late with writing about this. But regardless, if you have yet to hear it, I figure I should boost its listener count.

I have missed Teyana a lot in her hiatus, and adding Chris Brown to this song only makes it better. Then again everyone who reads this know that Chris Brown receives extra bias from me. The harmonizing on the hook goes off pace from the song, but otherwise it is an excellent RnB return by a talented Teyana Taylor.

Chris Brown’s verse is timed well and sounds good, if a bit too edited. The song overall is an interesting track and enjoyable for the most part.

If I had to rate it, I would give the song a 8.5/10. While a solid return for Teyana Taylor, I am hoping to hear some more of her vocal range and consistency on pace. It is still a catchy and pleasurable song, and I recommend a full listen below:

-Austin Heath

Album Review – Eric Bellinger, Choose Up Season

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Eric Bellinger brings us his new mixtape, Choose Up Season, to explain the process of going from single life to a relationship and then back to being single. However, what I love about this is that he numbers the songs chronologically to make a story. Here is his comment on the story of Choose Up Season:

“The single life in LA is wild. And the ‘CHOOSE UP’ can get very real. After you choose up, it’s time to leave the club and get your car from ‘VALET’ before continuing the turn up with a ‘HOUSE PARTY’ at the crib. If things go right, you know she’ll pulling out the ‘NIGHT BAG’ and talking to ‘THE PILLOW’ while the two of you become ‘NIGHT OWLS.’ However, it’s usually agreed upon in the beginning that the two of you will ‘NEVER BE TOGETHER’ and that things are just ‘CASUAL’ until one of them catches feeling and things instantly get ‘AWKWARD.’”

I think this is a cool concept, you get to experience the journey with the artist. Statement courtesy of ThisIsRnB.com. Choose Up Season is only a preview for Cuffin Season, Bellinger’s next project due for release early next year. Did we mention the mixtape was mixed by Swift, member of MIDI Mafia (featuring 50 Cent and Frank Ocean). Now let’s break this mixtape down track by track:

1. Choose Up – Eric Bellinger starts of his mixtape with some a great song featuring a solid beat produced by John $K and A-Major. The introduction is only a couple of minutes but has some sick bars from Bellinger’s singing. The end samples a conversation, not sure from where though. Still a decent track except for the odd finale. 9/10.

2. Valet ft. Pleasure P and Teeflii – Valet is the first real song on the track, and it makes an immediate impression. Bellinger’s vocals are impressive and Pleasure P also sings nicely. Unfortunately his verse seems a little misplaced with the beat. Definitely one of the better songs on the tape, has a lot of catchy parts to it, including the hook. 9.25/10.

3. House Party – While the beginning statement is a bit uncalled for, this song reminds me of a single released by Trey Songz. Sounds very similar to his RnB sound, and I mean that as a huge compliment. The hook is excellent and the voice-overs are beautiful. Probably my favorite song on the mixtape, seriously recommend a listen. Though the end is a bit annoying and vocals can sound a bit auto-tuned, but still great. 9.5/10.

4. Night Bag – This song is a bit fast for me, the lyrics seem crammed into the track. However it is still catchy and the beat is pretty original. Bellinger brought an all-star group of producers to help with the whole mixtape, which is evident on this one. The hook is a little weak but the song is still interesting. 8.25/10.

5. The Pillow – The start is oddly similar to Frank Ocean’s Thinking Bout You, but this song is the climax (no pun intended) of the night, as obvious from the lyrics. While the song is decent, it has an annoyingly repetitive hook and some over-editing. The beat is actually really nice though, and the bridge is definitely enjoyable. I still definitely like the song as a whole. 7.75/10.

6. Night Owls – Night Owls is a bit slower and smoother than the others, and features superb vocals from Bellinger. Has a very sick RnB flow and sound to it. The beat really goes with the mood of the song, and his voice is, though slightly over-edited, solid overall. 8.75/10.

7. Never Be Together – I really enjoy this song, except for the “Aye” every couple of seconds on the hook. Has a serious Chris Brown vibe to it. Good song overall except for some small nitpicking, such as the crammed lyrics (again) in the stanzas. Still a decent track. 9.25/10.

8. Casual ft. Teyana Taylor – I really love this song. No seriously, this is an incredible song. The impressive combination of his voice and the acoustic beat is pretty sick. Teyana Taylor sounds good with Bellinger, and though the repetitive hook can get to you, his sound can easily be compared to Usher. The phone call at the bridge and finale is a little annoying, but does not ruin the song. There is some serious talent provided throughout. 9.5/10.

9. Awkward – Already wrote about it.

So that averages to approximately 9/10, which is very good for a whole album. A mixtape no less! I seriously recommend a listen, time flies by when you’re enjoying quality work like this. All I can say is that I am pumped for Cuffin Season. Get a taste of Eric Bellinger below:

-Austin Heath