Brendan Whitt

WHEN BRENDAN WHITT THINKS...

Blought #21: The Beauty of the 'Surf'



In life some of the things we enjoy the most are the ones that are best aged. We all love trends because they're fun and in this day and age we can quickly share them with others. For me the music that I enjoy most is the music that stays with me for a long period of time. Now I didn't listen to Surf by Donnie Trumpet (Chicago trumpeter Nico Segal) & The Social Experiment right away. Music to me is best enjoyed when all of the hype has died down. When all of the biased critics can subside and the internet fan boys can latch onto the next release.

With Chance the Rapper's name attached to Surf I knew that the Jazz infused Indie\Hip-Hop album would attract a bunch of hype. Once Sunday Candy dropped It still felt like Surf was only Chance‘s project, but it was more than that. Phil Hebblethwaite of NME stated Surf sounds "infectious, light and upbeat, but never inane. It begs you to feel included, and wide-awake", and I completely agree. All of the instruments, arrangements and guest spots reassure you that this was something that everyone involved clearly enjoyed.

Here is my brief track by track analysis of Surf:

  1. Miracle - The project’s opening track was very soft and angelic. The strings and keys are very light while Danny Trumpet hangs around in the background with his own tune. Chance appears later in the track with his usual poetic flow. Did the artists see Surf as a miracle that so many minds could come together and contribute to this project?
  2. Slip Slide - The drums and trumpet give the feeling of watching a black high school or HBCU band play during half time. Busta Rhymes sounds like a band director preparing Chance and B.O.B. for their verses as they lead their sections around the field.
  3. Warm Enough - The song is very laid back with a calm and soothing voice melodically asking “Who are you to say I’m not warm enough in the summertime, I know that I can decide myself…”. This was easily the best paring of artists on the entire project. Chance and Noname Gypsy ALWAYS compliment each other when they appear together. J. Cole, while not poetically doing so, aesthetically offers a deep perspective on love.
  4. Nothing Came to Me - The first song with Trumpet appearing on his own, I immediately thought “This sounds like Ornette Coleman.” The beginning is very “ugly” as it smooths it’s self out towards the end. I imagined a sad and lonely trumpet looking for happiness.
  5. Wanna Be Cool - This song was very light hearted and “pop-py”. The piano and Jeremih's back vocals for Chance are beautiful. Big Sean’s verse built on his previous work of the year (His highly successful Dark Sky Paradise). The song shuns “cool” and promotes happiness and acceptance of individuality. “I don’t wann be you\I just wanna be me. I don’t wanna be cool\I just wanna be me…”
  6. Windows - Don’t like it, I have nothing to say…
  7. Caretaker - A very short warm, romantic Neo-Soul melody.
  8. Just Wait - Indie style Pop\Hip-Hop track. My personal favorite trumpet arrangement on the entire project. The beat is very high tempo. I got the feeling of an interlude ubtil Chance made his way onto the song. The sound bytes in the background offer a 70’s feel (Play that muthafuckin' horn!"). The message is simple in saying “Wait your turn, great things will come.”
  9. Familiar - Wasn’t a good song vocally or lyrically. King Louie was useless and my favorite Migo Quavo, was terribly misplaced. The music was just meh…
  10. SmthnthtIwnt (Something That I Want) - Aesthetically pointless and simple lyrics. The trumpet was phenomenal.
  11. Go - Very fun and upbeat. Neo-Soul\Pop mix with Jessee Boykin lending vocals. In my opinion he was the best featured singer on the entire project. I loved the background strings as well.
  12. Questions - Jamilia Woods melodically asks "why?" with her beautiful Neo-Soul voice before transitioning into a poetic and almost monotone singing voice. The music gives it an Indie-Pop feel. The song is fairly short but offers some of the best mixing and engineering on the project.
  13. Something Came To Me - The lonely trumpet from Nothing Came To Me returns and this time he sounds happy. His happieness isn’t immediate but it is sufficient. He appears more versatile and skilled than he was before. I still feel like Ornette Coleman could have been the trumpet.
  14. Memory - Chance’s second best poetic styled rap on the album. Typical Chance as usual with deep and insightful stanzas\lyrics. The background vocals sound like an old Outkast song. Towards the end Ms. Erykah Badu asks Chance about his day as he rests his head in her lap. “Young man you’re on your way”.
  15. Sunday Candy - This song has plenty of Trumpet with short moments of Afro-Caribbean influenced percussion. This one sounds like an Indie\Hip-Hop ode to Gospel music. Anyone with a loving grandparent can appreciate this song. Chance tells us about his grandmother and how much she loves her family. She pays the blls and gives him his Sunday candy in church.
  16. Pass the Vibes - Indie-Pop song about smoking weed and sharing thoughts with a groovy chick. The instrumentation is easy going with a simple drum pattern and some accompanying strings.

If you enjoy eclectic music I'd say expect this project to receive Grammy considerations in the Hip-Hop, Jazz and Urban Contemporary categories.

Sites Used:
http://www.livemixtapes.com/mixtapes/34461/donnie-trumpet-the-social-experiment-surf.html

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/20664-surf/

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/donnie-trumpet-and-the-social-experiment-surf-20150616

http://www.nme.com/reviews/various-artists/16149

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surf_(Donnie_Trumpet_%26_The_Social_Experiment_album)