MUSIC

Notables: Beyoncé, Brent Faiyaz, FKA Twigs, SSGKobe

Welcome to this week’s Notables, Boardroom’s overview of the buzziest bits circulating in the music industry.

The dog days of summer are upon us, but the music industry didn’t get the memo.

Last Thursday alone, Beyoncé assembled the Beyhive and announced her seventh studio album Renaissance will drop July 29. Drake let that simmer for all of 15 hours before tossing out a surprise seventh album unveiling of his own. By midnight, the 14-track Honestly, Nevermind was in the discourse driver’s seat — and breaking records. But Beyoncé always gets the last laugh, and she dropped the song of the summer with “Break My Soul,” the bounce/dance bop kicking off her Renaissance era. (All hail Big Freedia.)

Notables is here to dig beyond the top-line topics, though. Below, Boardroom’s Megan Armstrong and Nate Louis make sure you don’t miss anything worth hitting your group chat(s) about. 

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Justin Bieber Prioritizes Health

Justin Bieber broke the internet on June 10 with an Instagram video explaining he’d been forced to postpone North American dates on his Justice World Tour due to a recent diagnosis of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, causing partial paralysis of his face. It was later announced that all scheduled June and early July shows are postponed as he continues to heal.

More importantly, Bieber broke the fourth wall often surrounding tours. Idols are human, too, and every human has to grapple with the fragility of health.

The tour industry is a machine. Bieber netted $53.3 million for his debut My World Tour and $69.9 million in support of Believe, per Forbes, which was chump change compared to the $250 million in ticket sales for the Purpose World Tour. As Bieber reminded everyone, though, musicians aren’t robots. — Megan Armstrong

FKA Twigs x Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

FKA twigs is the latest artist to take over NPR’s popular “Tiny Desk (Home) Concert” series — in celebration of Black Music Month and Juneteenth.

Accompanied by cellist Lucinda Chua, pianist Kelly Moran, and double bassist Damsel Elysium, FKA twigs proved a practitioner of true art.

The Cheltenham-born artist was surrounded by dripping candles in a picturesque church. The three-track performance included “Home With You,” 2019’s MAGDALENE song “Cellophane,” and of course, “Killer” — her newest track for “the baddies with a tear in their eye.” — Nate Louis

Brent Faiyaz Returns

Brent Faiyaz permeated last summer with the smooth ode “Wasting Time” featuring Drake, and produced by The Neptunes. But the Maryland-bred, Platinum-certified artist has been taking his time to craft his third studio album. Last week, Faiyaz unveiled the film noir trailer for Wasteland. Executive produced by Jonathan “Freeze” Wells, the LP is the followup to February 2020’s prophetically titled Fuck the World, which cracked the top 20 on the Billboard 200.

Faiyaz has blossomed into an influential R&B voice — and sought-after featured artist, producer, and songwriter — all his own. But Wasteland‘s list of collaborators is impressive: Drake, Tyler, the Creator, Alicia Keys, Mike Dean, No. I.D., Jorja Smith, Nascent, The Neptunes, The-Dream, Steve Lacy, and more. See the Wasteland track list below. — MA

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Steve Lacy Meets Rubberband For Experimental Video “Mercury”

Steve Lacy linked up with New York directorial duo Rubberband, comprised of Jason Sondock and Simon Davis, to deliver a music video for “Mercury,” his first new single since 2019 and since officially signing to Sony’s RCA Records.

Off of his forthcoming sophomore album Gemini Rights, due this summer, “Mercury” is written, performed, and produced by Lacy. The track is a tribute to his eclectic roots, inspired by the sound and flare of ’60s Brazilian bossanova and ’70s funk jams.

The “Mercury” video, aesthetically pleasing and provocative, is a signature style for Rubberband, who often utilizes emerging technologies, custom-built sets, and archaic camera equipment to deliver on technicality, emotional visual language, and innovative methods of production.

Rubberband famously shot Heron Preston’s “Manifesto” lookbook for Calvin Klein, featuring Nas and Lil Uzi Vert.

To cement the “Mercury” drop, Lacy sat down with Apple Music 1’s Zane Lowe. — NL

SSGKobe Joins PULSE

PULSE Music Group has had a big June. Ashley Calhoun was promoted to president and head of creative, while producers and songwriters signed to PULSE have their fingerprints all over the top three of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. So, last week was the perfect time for SSGKobe to sign with PULSE on a worldwide music publishing deal.

And over the weekend, the Louisiana phenom took the stage at the Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash in Chicago:

SSGKobe has collaborated with Lyrical Lemonade’s Cole Bennett on record-breaking music videos such as March 2021’s “Calabasas” featuring $NOt and last July’s “MIA.” He also signed with Columbia Records in July 2021. — MA

Pharrell Takes Over D.C.

Last fall, Pharrell pulled the 2022 Something in the Water festival from his hometown of Virginia Beach. Donovan Lynch, his 25-year-old cousin, had been shot and killed by a police officer, and Pharrell wrote a letter citing “toxic energy” from city leadership in the aftermath. So, the iconic multi-hyphenate brought his star-studded SITW to DC last weekend — staging a Clipse reunion during Saturday night’s Pharrell & Phriends set.

What’s more, Pharrell and SITW surprised NCAAP youth leaders during a DC event Friday discussing America’s Black student debt crisis. The acclaimed artist promised to pay off the six panelists’ debts. — MA

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