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TChandra - Transportation EPs Music Album Reviews

Perhaps familiar from being sampled by the Avalanches, this New York tween was an inspiring underground star in the early 1980s, a reputation confirmed by this archival collection.
When the Avalanches returned in 2016 after an absence of nearly two decades, a sampled koan lurked at the heart of “Subways,” their swooning comeback: “You walk on the subway/It moves around.” The voice belongs to Chandra Oppenheim, a veteran of the New York downtown scene who attended New York Dolls shows, rubbed elbows with Madonna, opened for Laurie Anderson, played the Mudd Club, staged performance art pieces at the Kitchen, and performed with her band on “Captain Kangaroo.” Not bad for a tween: Chandra was just 12 when she and her band of the same name cut “Subways” and three other songs for a now-coveted 1980 EP.

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Tommy Genesis - Tommy Genesis Music Album Reviews

On her debut album, the playful Canadian rapper is bossed up, horny, or lonely as she searches for a sound to match her shrugged-off swagger.

Vancouver rapper Tommy Genesis refers to her music as “fetish rap,” a pat description that doesn’t make it any less accurate. Genesis’ bars are almost exclusively hypersexual flexes on both men and women, as when she bragged of having to “take my mind off your dick” with “some yogurt covered pretzels and a pound of a clit,” from 2015’s “Angelina.” Her matching music videos often find her clad in Britney-riffing schoolgirl uniforms. As she told an interviewer in 2016 about the sort-of-joking tag, “I didn’t know how else to say, ‘You think I’m rapping, but I just sex talk.’”

Despite her charmingly bawdy personality, Genesis has never found a style strong enough to match her shrugged-off raps. As if in search of one, she has worked her way through several niche hip-hop scenes during the past few years, including Father’s delightfully crude Awful Records crew and a gothy underground rap trio called baby.daddi. With her self-titled debut album, she aims to fix that. Bolstered by seamless transitions and a handful of stomping pop-trap highlights, Tommy Genesis is a focused, brief, occasionally heavy-handed record packed with self-empowered bangers and ballads that define her musical persona more clearly than ever.

Genesis cycles through four moods here: She’s bossed up, horny, lonely, or some hellbent combination thereof. On the pugnacious “Tommy,” Genesis shoots off cocky one-liners with ease: “She drive a Ford, Tommy/She can’t afford Tommy.” The dance-oriented energizers “Bad Boy” and “Play With It” adopt a similarly aggro-yet-playful tone. With its elastic electro-pop backdrop and hard-hitting drums via producers Charlie Heat and Darnell Got It, “Play With It” has Top 40 flair and a deliciously in-your-face chorus: “Play wit’ the pussy, wanna play wit’ the pussy/Come get a hooky, baby, come get a hooky.” The same applies to the Charli XCX remix of “100 Bad,” another Heat production that finds Charli trying on a Genesis-like flow to invoke pool houses and purple Lambos.

The album’s early momentum comes from snappy transitions. Most of these songs are clipped at the end, so they flow into each other, giving the sequence a thrilling sense of speed. This trick spurs the rap-oriented songs along; sliding from minute-long opener “God Sent” into the twinkling pop-rap of “Rainbow” feels like moving from one raucous room at a party to the next. When Tommy Genesis tapers into guitar-driven, trap-lite ballads, that momentum falters. You forget the fingerpicked “Drive” as soon as the sing-song cadences of “It’s Ok” arrive. With diaphanous background vocals from Empress Of, “Naughty” laments a fuckboy catch-22: “I like this boy/He’s full of shit.” But with its repetitive “naughty/not enough” wordplay, the song hits a holding pattern long before its three minutes are up. Several of these tunes feel like sketches stretched to fill space.

Genesis has clearly grown into her strengths, though, dialing in a murmuring flow perfectly suited to bass-heavy beats and a brash persona unafraid of boasts. Tommy Genesis is a fun, wisely brief ride. You can now imagine Genesis landing one well-placed feature on a big-ticket song and tipping over into the mainstream. More concerned with the here and now, that’s not what she seems to want. Her invitation on the breezy, poppy closer “Miami” renders that mission plainly: “I’m living my best life/Come inside.”


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