2017’s cup runneth over with good music, of all kinds.
From fun to enlightening. From singing to rapping.
From our hometown to yours and everywhere in between, we are dedicating the month of December to reviewing and reflecting on the music that helped make this year so important.
While 2017 was an eventful year as a whole, it should be specifically mentioned that my city has shown an unmatched level of talent and vision; Izzar Thomas's "Somewhere New" is yet another shining example of such. Izzar himself is a shining example of such. Remembering when I first met or heard Izzar Thomas escapes me at first, maybe because his energy can turn any stranger into a lifelong friend. Then it comes back to me, in May of 2015, Izzar's birthday to be exact, he afforded me the opportunity to cover the official premiere for his album "Distinct Vibe" via dayandadream.com. Since then, Izzar has only grown and evolved as an artist. Multiple stellar live performances and his standout album "Somewhere New" have established Izzar Thomas as an artist not only to take note of but to appreciate every chance you get.
One of the best albums of 2017 "Somewhere New" is exactly what the name implies. Even the production allows for a previously unknown musical experience thanks to Izzar himself and a host of ridiculously dope Houston talent including Treson Jamar, Tazer, NWM, Mccld and Nate Coop. Every sound, every note, every subject is new and will transport you to wherever you may be headed. Much like Izzar himself, "Somewhere New" speaks a bright future into existence. With one listen to the 15 tracks found on the project, anyone in ear shot will experience the always forward, always upward attitude that I have come to love, appreciate and respect about Izzar as an artist and peer.
It is impossible not to instantly fall in love when the soft, comforting harmony of the title track builds up to Izzar singing. When I say singing, I mean sangin. Up until "Somewhere New" I heard Izzar sing on portions of songs, in background vocals, etc but as Somewhere New gains momentum, his singing voice lights up like a firework and provides a feeling of absolute comfort. Such a short opening track set the mood for the entire album and as a fan, gave me a bit more insight into Izzar’s vision as he moves forward in his career. Somewhere New.
After almost 6 months of sitting with “Somewhere New” a few tracks continue to stand out, Blank Trip is one of those. Blank Trip has honestly become one of my favorite tracks of the year. Not only is it just a really fun, really jammin track, it has a distinct Houston feel to it and displays Izzar’s one-of-kind style at the same time. Another impressive quality is how Blank Trip appeals to the best parts of my ratchet side without being unnecessarily profane. It is one of many songs on the album that perfectly showcase the smooth flow I came to know Izzar for as well as the new found confidence he seems to have found in singing. Often when artists are responsible for multiple aspects of their albums one or all of those aspects falls short, this is definitely not the case during any point of “Somewhere New”.
No Games is another standout; the funky, upbeat production (from Izzar and Treson Jamar) complements an almost cocky side of Izzar for a special kind of “look, I like you but quit playing” song. As hard as it is to choose, No Games is a top three pick from the album and I promise the more you listen, the more you’ll love it. Not to mention, it is immaculately placed between Blank Trip and Wav. Wav, also a standout, is one of the singles from “Somewhere New” and I can personally attest to how it can make any crowd come together and enjoy themselves, no matter when or where. The following three tracks are all standouts as well, yet another testament to the greatness of “Somewhere New”. Soon and Got It are guaranteed to take you to a new place in your life. An amazing place full of confidence. If you need affirmation that you’re headed in the right direction, Got It has quickly become something like an anthem for anybody who’s had the pleasure of hearing it. If you want to get to know Izzar this is the track you should listen to. Everything about his spirit comes through on Got It; he’s uplifting and appreciating his friends while making sure they understand they have a purpose to fulfill, just as he does. A specific line from Got It became a statement that I hold very close to me and make sure to repeat whenever possible: "shout out to the ones who always showing love. shout out to the ones who always showing up." Following Got It is Doubted, a track that slows things down a bit and does the most humble flexing I have ever witnessed. Izzar stakes his claim, asserts his belief in his talent and at the same time let’s everyone who doubted him know they can kiss his ass. Another side of Doubted is shown on the hook, a soft and ethereal display of want; want for love and support.
Closing the album is Somewhere New by Donte Newman which starts with a spoken word kick to the chest for damn near any and everyone. Whether the words he is speaking apply to you or not, they unearth some of the insecurities we all tend to come across. The idea that we may be holding ourselves back or not fulfilling our entire potential because of the status quo is brought front and center before Izzar blesses the track with his best rapping through the entire album.
To start and end the album with title tracks that occupy opposite ends of the spectrum is nothing short of perfect. It says to me, wherever your somewhere new is, find it. Whatever it looks like and however you need to get there, do it. Plus it lends more hope to the world by asserting that you are always going somewhere new, you are always progressing and growing. "Somewhere New" is a beacon of light in what has been a crazy time for the world. Izzar Thomas utilizes every one of his talents - singing, rapping and producing - to share an idea that too often gets forgotten; you are capable. Period. There is no part of "Somewhere New" that gives country to negativity or hate. From the first second of track one to the final moment of the last, Izzar exudes confidence. Confidence in himself and his peers just the same. If you get a chance to catch Izzar in concert please do, his message is multiplied ten fold when he’s on stage ministering it to you himself. “Somewhere New” is one of my favorite and one of the best albums released in 2017. Not only is the product top notch, everything about it feels good. Personally, I listen to “Somewhere New” when life gets to an unsure place. When I start wondering about myself or my purpose Izzar Thomas talks me through it, providing perspective and a breath of fresh air in a world that gets hard to breathe in sometimes.
Listen to "Somewhere New", below.