Last April, Vince Staples divulged a conversation he had with SAINt JHN where he “learned that the listener is coming to you because they want you to give them a break away from normality.” Vince says SAINt JHN also told him: “‘[Music consumers] don’t have time to try to figure out what you’re trying to tell them. You’re just supposed to make them feel better and make them feel good. Put them in a specific space.’”
That advice might be permeating the industry like a game of telephone right now, because several of music’s biggest acts have rolled out uptempo music that’s setting the tone for a summer of dancing away the pain. To name a few: Drake went all the way house on Honestly, Nevermind, Beyonce’s “Break My Soul” is an affirming house track that’s an intriguing harbinger for her Renaissance Act 1 album, and IDK linked up with Kaytranda for Simple., an electronic-influenced EP. Before that, the year kicked off with The Weeknd’s Dawn FM is an ’80s pop redux. These acts culled from a lively scene of unheralded dance music creators, and they’re primed to take the sound to the top of the charts.
Those in the know have already been in tune with artists like Kaytranada, Azealia Banks, Black Coffee, and many others who have been fusing house, electronic and hip-hop in intriguing ways. But now, multi-platinum artists are joining those playlists, making house music a hot-button discussion among mainstream audiences. Artists are adhering to the social zeitgeist, offering a danceable soundtrack to the world’s reopening while speaking to our collective social ordeal via Drake’s lovelorn lyrics and Beyoncé’s “you won’t break my soul” mantra. We’ve long clamored for artists to speak to the times, and while most of these insulated millionaires are unable to channel a Public Enemy and condemn the powers that be, their current messaging is the best they can do: “I hear your pain, I feel it in some ways, but let’s dance it away for now.” Many of us are eager to accept that, as there are plenty of things for us to be seeking a release from.
Last Friday, the Supreme Court repealed Roe vs. Wade, giving states the option to ban abortion. That decision came just a day after they loosened gun laws in the midst of a mass shooting epidemic. We’re in a two-year-long COVID-19 pandemic that looks like it’s going to spur a recession, with inflation that former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers theorized could only be quelled by a five-percent jobless rate, which would mean “devastating joblessness for millions.” Tl;dr version: things are rough out here. We all need some kind of escape from the tumult.