Title: Spider-Man: Into The Spider Verse (Soundtrack from & Inspired by the Motion Picture)
Genre: kid-friendly hip-hop
I almost didn't include this in the list because it's too new to me. I only discovered it in the last few months. And now that I have, I wish I'd gotten to it sooner so I could put it higher on the list. Oh well.
I don't have much to say about this album other than that it--like the younger audience it's targeting--is relatively short, full of energy, and tons of fun. The lyrics are free of cursing or adult themes, which means I can listen to it with my four-year-old without worrying he's going to pick up something he can't repeat at school. And it's generally optimistic and inspirational--these are songs about fighting for what you believe, defending your family, and being heroic. The movie that it's tied to is one shockingly good as both a family film and a superhero film, and about half of the tracks are just monster ear-worms. After a listen, I find myself singing Whats Up Danger, Way Up, Familia, and Start A Riot all more or less at once. Once those wear off, I find myself singing Home, Elevate, Invincible, and Sunflower. The whole damn thing just lodges itself in my skull. I seriously lost sleep the first day or so after I got it because it was so stuck in my head.
I can't help remarking at just how much hip-hop has changed in the last thirty years. In the early 90s, when it came to dominate Top-40 and club music, it was more of a slow groovy that was dense with lyrics. Modern hip-hop is faster but also slower, with thicker beats and lyrics that come in quick bursts. Put on a gangsta-era classic like Gin and Juice and then listen to Jaden Smith's Way Up and you'll see what I mean. This isn't music you sit back and bob your head to; it's music you stand up and dance to.
Further Listening: I don't really know who any of these artists are because I'm an old dinosaur. I mean, I've at least heard of Post Malone, but I couldn't tell you another song of his. I'm familiar with Jaden Smith, insofar as I've seen him in movies and I remember when his dad released Parents Just Don't Understand as The Fresh Prince. There was a similar album that accompanied Black Panther that is mostly dominated by Kendrick Lamar. It's an album I admire but don't actually like all that much. Like Prince, Lamar is an undeniably talented artist that I have a hard time getting into because I just don't like how his voice sounds. My loss, I suppose.