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ART & SOUND || WILDHEART by Miguel [5]

I’m no music scholar nor sound engineer, but I am a creative who believes music can be one of the most transparent forms of communication. And though our practice varies in medium, musicians are artists after all. These are my thoughts on music. 

I wouldn't say I grew up around a shared sense of value for good music. I didn't have parents who counterintuitively taught me to respect legendary sounds or a brother who respected music outside of mainstream. I guess the only thing I have to thank them for in regards to music is Michael Jackson, and of course, gospel. Gospel music was the standard sound in my house and in a sense, despite my lack of well-rounded exposure to music, it was where I first got my sense of satisfaction through music as feeling. I often have a very spiritual connection to a song, despite genre. I'd say not much has changed, even when it comes on to music of "immorality."

In Wildheart, Miguel's third album released, he plays with the idea of being an immoral, a sinner. With tiles like "...goingtohell" "FLESH", and even "leaves" there is an obvious nod to immorality and faith. It's deliberate nature might not be enough to get typically moral folks to entertain the idea, but it's "a beautiful exit" from the norm when you dig a bit deeper. There is a time and space for everything, even immorality. 

This album seems set in death. Only here, hell isn't a nightmare, we are simply in his "dreams" (Pitchfork). The cloudy visuals, an opening track titled "a beautiful exit" spouting lyrics such as "We're going to die young" aren't unintentional. This album seems set in Miguel's fantasy of what it would be like to live unholy with no impunity. This album wastes no time, from the very beginning, we are already deep in Miguel's imagination, an imagination that flows from one song to the next, even in their titles. 

LA was a muse for Miguel in the construction of this album which is most obvious in tunes such as "waves" or "Hollywood Dreams:" 

"Man, L.A. is the perfect symbol for the conversation of Wildheart, in that everywhere you go in L.A., there's a juxtaposition of hope and depression. So the journey of any wild heart is riddled with those two dynamics. And in the desperation, you reaffirm what you stand for, and then you have hope, faith, belief, and more finite sense of direction. So as you move in that direction, you change, and then a new advirsity becomes your desperation. It's like a pendulum that swings from one end to the other. That's life" (Pitchfork). 

Miguel takes us into a space that gives room for broader topics and sentiments on the everyday, all while unapologetically channeling sexual innuendos (He is a Scorpio after all). His ability to transcend genre, is also wrapped in his ability to transcend sexuality as a one-dimensional entity. 

Of course, he has now earned a rock n roll seal of approval via the collaborative piece, 'face the sun' featuring Lenny Kravitz. Let's hope the next seal of approval comes from Prince in the form of an epic and soulful collaboration. And just for the record, my favorite tune is "the valley, " That is of course after "gfg" and "waves." Yes, I have entered full throttle in this immoral album, and un-regretably so. To play the moral card, the tune that will resonate the most with me is probably "what's normal anyway:"

"In reality we all feel like an outsider in some way at some point in time. That song is an anchor in the album because even if people listen to my music and are like, "OK cool, this is like some sex shit," that song will bring everyone back to what the real purpose is. It's a harness for myself, too- a reminder of why we do this shit" (Pitchfork). 

I met and briefly chatted with Miguel last December 2014 at Art Basel in Miami. I must say, his presence is equally as captivating and genuine. Whether or not, you agree with the immorality, sound, or overall feel of the album, Miguel is an artist committed to what he's committed to and one of the things that constantly shines through in his music is his respect for the craft. Despite the question of genre, that is what will always pull me in as a listener. He puts himself on the line by way of careful exploration. I'm here for this exploration. His ability to balance reality and fantasy drives this album. I'm excited to see Miguel continue to meticulously channel specificity and freedom in music. He is obviously a sex god, but there's more to his music. 

"So in that sense, even when I'm singing, "I wanna fuck you like we're filming in the Valley," it is a little vulnerable. Because when you're talking about your dreams, what else can you be but vulnerable?" (Pitchfork).

If I haven't convinced you enough already, check out Pitchfork's awesome review here and interview hereAnd yes, indeed, he is running with woes such as Leon Bridges and Frank Ocean to run laps around conventional R&B that exploits pleasure instead of owning it and making it into something intangibly beautiful.


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