I realize it’s the summer of excess. Maybe it’s not the summer of excess. Maybe every summer is just chocked full of excess. But this summer in particular seems full to bursting with excessive music. Think Calvin Harris’ post-disco moody ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1‘ bringing you every Travis Scott-style rapper this side of Los Angeles on the same album, and then adding Katy Perry and Ariana Grande into the mix for the fun of it. Or DJ Khaled who, despite having a job title which evades easy definition, has effectively won the northern hot months of 2017 with Santana-cribbing, Drake-featuring, “another one”-shouting overindulgence. Which is not to mention the fact that Khaled and Calvin appear side-by-side on the same track; pretty much foie gras for the ear canals. Given that we’ve been assaulted from all sides by lavish production, guest combinations nobody could have ever predicted, and the kind of melange of sounds we might otherwise have had to wait a couple of years to be presented with, there is something to be said for artists bringing a more mellow approach to July.
On “Drama“, the last time I properly listened to Roy Woods, he appeared basically as a foil to his label owner, Drake. The track was ostensibly an opportunity for Woods to demonstrate his talent while piggybacking off the Drake name to get some spins, but it struck me instead as yet another shot across the bow from October’s Very Own, highlighting his skills rather than showcasing Woods’. Moreover, it kind of went nowhere. Something about Woods’ listless pace, barely hanging on to the beat loping ahead of him, made “Drama” a bit of a chore to listen to. Now, however, in the context of the Summer 2017 Assault, a bit of contemplation doesn’t hurt anybody. More importantly, on “Dangerous” (as you’d hope the title would inspire; say nothing of the redundant trills “la da di da da”), Woods has finally learned to keep up with the beat. On the bridge, he sounds like he’s positively galloping.
I may or may not cop flak from Brother J offline for posting this one. Boring songs and popular songs are typically fodder for smiling attacks on my curatorial discretion. But there is something to admire in an artist who shirks the conventions and expectations of the day to stay true to the mood that he wants to plug. Sure, there’s nothing relevatory about ‘Dangerous’ but occasionally, revelation is not what I’m after. I anticipate a time in the not too distant future when, exhausted by the barrage of experimentalism and genre-bending on offer, the music listening masses retreat to an aural comfort zone. And when they do, they’ll be happy to find Roy Woods, nonchalantly sensuous, noncommittally sultry, pretty determinedly middle-of-the-road RnB, waiting for them. Woods shouldn’t expect a call from Khaled or Calvin any time soon but then, that might be his biggest endorsement yet.
Roy Woods – Dangerous