Miguel | ‘War & Leisure’ | Kontrol Album Review

Miguel | ‘War & Leisure’ album cover

After dropping a few singles, videos, and making his promo run, Miguel released his new album ‘War & Leisure’ through RCA. The album has 12 tracks on Apple Music and features, Rick Ross, Travis Scott, QUIÑ, Kali Uchis, J. Cole and, Salaam Remi.

Album Title |

In a recent interview with Steve Baltin of Forbes, Miguel explains why he named the album, ’War & Leisure,’ saying

“That’s why I titled it War & Leisure, that’s the energy, that’s 2017, it just feels like at every point we’re being pulled in these two different directions and being in the middle and looking out and wanting to be aware. But, at the same time, be in the moment.”

With everything going on in the world today you can see how he came up with that. War is becoming such a normal thing today that we’re unbothered by it if it doesn’t directly affect us. Only odd thing is Miguel has never been the most socially conscious through his music but with him getting older and maturing this sounds like growth.

Tracklist |

  1. Criminal | ft. Rick Ross
  2. Pineapple Skies *
  3. Sky Walker | ft. Travis Scott *
  4. Banana Clip
  5. Wolf | ft. QUIÑ
  6. Harem
  7. Told You So *
  8. City of Angels
  9. Caramelo Duro | ft. Kali Uchis
  10. Come Through and Chill | ft. J. Cole
  11. Anointed
  12. Now

 

‘War & Leisure’ Tracklist

 

Singles |

The album is carried by his singles and a Rick Ross verse, which we’ll get too. Miguel dropped,

“Told You So,” | 7

last month and it came with a visual that let you know where Miguel was at mentally with this album. The video shows protest, war, global warming, and more politically woke visuals as well. Miguel said this was purposely done in a recent interview saying, “I have to say something about something. There’s just too much going on.” His second release was,

“Pineapple Skies.” | 2

Familiar Sound |

The melody is somewhat recognizable as Miguel says he was inspired by Marvin Gaye’s, ‘Sexual Healing.’ It’s definitely one of the albums standout tracks and I feel is strategically placed at the front of the album. This track also reminds me of another Miguel track, “Adorn.” With a very similar sound and tempo, these two tracks are eerily similar and almost identical. I’ve definitely heard this sound from Miguel before but I’m not complaining, yet.

Marvin Gaye | Influence | Law Suit

When asked about it Miguel said, “to be influenced is an amazing, amazing part of the music and to have it in your DNA. It only felt right to obviously reach out and say, ‘Hey, this is like completely inspired, you know it’s inspired [by “Sexual Healing.”]’ It’s something that we pull from, you know, and out of respect. It’s just a respect thing.” While it could be “just a respect thing,” it’s probably a “lawsuit” thing too since Marvin Gaye’s legal team has been hard at work in the courtroom lately as Robin Thicke had to pay millions for “Blurred Lines.” Ed Sheeran was sued as well for his song “Thinking Out Loud.” With Miguel promising “everything’s going to be alright” as he sings on this soulful energetic track, he speaks on the thought process of the song, saying,

“that helped inform the overall energy because I felt that song was completely opposite of what I felt was important. But now, looking back it’s perfect because it’s who I am. It really is, “Hey, man, smoke some weed, it’s gonna be alright, we’re gonna figure s**t out. Smoke some weed, think about this s**t, but not in a stressed way, in a let’s figure it out way. And I think deep down in my core that’s who I am, I’m a dreamer in that way.”

“Sky Walker” | ft. Travis Scott | 3

“Sky Walker” is one of the albums stand out tracks and features Travis Scott. Travis Scott has been everywhere lately assisting on several hits this year and does the same here. My only knock is that everybody who gets on a track with Travis Scott ends up sounding just like Travis Scott. For some reason, even artist who are as great as Miguel, take on Travis Scotts sound whenever he’s featured. Nonetheless, this is a dope track, and a great single to drop for this album.

“Come Through and Chill” | ft. J. Cole | 10

J. Cole and Miguel performing live

Back in September, Miguel debuted this track on “Colbert” along with “Sky Walker.” In the debut of this track J. Cole wasn’t originally featured. These two have collaborated in the past on hit tracks like, “Power Trip,” off J. Cole’s second album, ‘Born Sinner’ and “All I Want Is You” off Miguel’s album ‘All I Want Is You.’ Keeping the same producer from “All I Want Is You” Miguel teamed up with Salaam Remi to produce “Come Through and Chill” too. You can tell they reached for the same formula and succes of the past two collaborations but this one falls just short. While it’s still a good song and they went for the same sound it just doesn’t hit like the first two collaborations.

Standout Track |

Rick Ross | Miguel

Criminal | ft. Rick Ross | 1

To me, the best track on the album, Criminal featuring Rick Ross. Produced by David Andrew Sitek this is a stand out track for more than the feature but the production as well. Miguel sings,

“Got a mind full of TNT
I need a lunatic just like me
Paint the sky with a brush fire, yeah”

it sounds like a track that was left off the Suicide Squad Soundtrack. It has that feel, the painful and dangerous love Miguel sings about, sounds like a relationship between the Joker and Harley Quin. The drums and guitar make for a smooth yet edgy sound, with the tempo almost like an alley-oop for Rick Ross as he flows effortlessly on the track.

Back End |

After going through the album a few times it’s definitely one that grows on you. It has more of a mixtape/playlist vibe than an actual album but the title could suggest why. ‘War & Leisure’ seems to be less about actual war and politics but more about a war on love. As the album plays out he used war and guns as analogies for his love with songs like “Criminal” and “Banana Clip.” With the “Leisure” aspect referring to more upbeat and faster tempo songs such as “Pineapple Skies” and “Sky Walker.”

“City of Angels” |

“City of Angles” is a little confusing as he tries to mix a political message with another war analogy for love and relationships. As he sings

“Fighter jets over my city, uh
Cool contrails in the sky, yeah
It’s breaking news all over TV
We were hit by surprise”

speaking on the recent discovery of chem trails in the skies that look like cool designs left by fighter jets on a more “socially woke” topic he then sings

“I was busy letting you down, woman
When the City of Angels fell
When the City of Angels fell
And I was nowhere to be found”

“Harem” follows the same tempo and sound as “City of Angles” as they both call for a more vocal performance over a slower, drawn out guitar. “Caramelo Duro” which features Kali Uchis actually means “hard candy” when translated into English, follows the same blues and rock tempo as “Wolf” featuring QUIÑ.

Album Conclusion |

As a whole the album gets messy as far as arrangement goes and almost feels like a mixtape or playlist as far as the vast array of content on this album. Using war to describe his love, but mixing in a political and woke message will have you confused on some tracks as to what exactly he’s referencing.

With the latter half of the album not keeping up with the first quarter makes this album feel not as complete as his previous projects. He sprinkles in a single “Told You So” in the middle and a J. Cole feature at the end to try and balance it out. Overall this is a dope project. More of a playlist or mixtape than an album as the content and references are all over the place but a project that grows on you the more you listen. Miguel’s ‘War & Leisure’ is available on all streaming services today.

Tour |

And with the release of his new album Miguel has already announced the tour and dates for his album ‘War & Leisure’ posted below:

Miguel | ‘War & Leisure’ | Tour Dates

 

 

Brandon Lucas

Twitter & IG | @takeyourcooloff
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Kontrol Mag Writer
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