Last night, at midnight, Yonas dropped his latest album, The Transition (Deluxe Edition). It’s a fantastic effort, bringing a much needed depth to today’s pop music scene, and Yonas is at the top of his game.
The Transition is as much a singer-songwriter album as a pop or hip-hop album. It is lyrically introspective and confessional in a way that many of Yonas’ leading contemporaries have flirted with but not achieved. He resists a lot of the distracting, one-dimensional ego tripping that plays so exhaustingly trite on pop radio’s hit singles. Instead, Yonas speaks honestly about his background, his art, his dreams, and most thoroughly, his struggle with the world. Does this all include some healthy self-aggrandizement? Sure it does, because that’s a true and universal part of the human experience. To eschew that part of himself would be dishonest and thus not in keeping with the tone of The Transition.
And that tone is both real and dark. The album kicks off with “Set It Off,” which is both a mission statement and a harbinger of the stormy record ahead. Yonas is ready for whatever comes: “The heat is over, it’s cold now / The people coming for your soul now / Everybody ’round me got a gun / You’d be stupid as a motherfucker walkin’ round without one.” Is he being literal? Is it a comment on the reality of urban life? It doesn’t matter, because we get the sense of the dangers, both apparent and hidden, that are seemingly innate to the world. “Have you ever felt like you’re wrong even when you’re dead right? / Cause everyone else [who was] dead right end up dead when they pull up at a red light,” he muses, before invoking JFK, Malcolm X, Tupac, and MLK.
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