Gotta listen to these

Photo by Mark Angelo Sampan on

Luis Mendez ’23

As the certified music expert of Strake Jesuit, I get people I don’t even know coming up to me left and right asking for album recommendations. Here I’ve set out my four primary album recommendations to anyone my age of 16 (give or take a few years). I could talk about these albums for hours, but for this article I briefly detail why each one matters to me and why you should listen to it.

#1 Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo (TLOP) is a modern masterpiece of maximalist production, strategic features, and a banger-after-banger mindset that Ye has been able to perfect after an almost 20-year career. It’s also my generation’s Kanye album, the one that everyone knows, everyone likes, and seemingly everyone wishes could happen all over again. There’s not a weak point here. Odds are, you know the songs, everyone you know knows the songs. That’s why it’s the Kanye West album everyone in high school needs to hear from start to finish.

#2 Frank Ocean – Blonde

Where TLOP is likely the album you want everyone to know you’ve listened to. Blonde is not quite the same. Some people will say it’s lame to listen to an album like this, that it makes you a weird indie kid, and while, yes, a lot of weird indie kids like this album, Frank Ocean’s ability to express an immediately relatable image of emotion through every facet of the album’s production and songwriting makes this one of the best albums since Ok Computer and my favorite album of all time. It’s not weird to feel things, it’s not weird to care about people, and this album makes you feel more comfortable than ever before, even when dealing with some of the most uncomfortable feelings of guilt and regret you can at this age. Blonde is brilliant in a plethora of ways, and all it takes is one listen to know why.

#3 Nirvana – Nevermind

Sticking to the theme of weird indie kids, Nirvana’s Nevermind is hands-down the most important album of the 1990s. No question about it, Kurt Cobain’s legacy and his establishment of what I call the teenage-angst-side of punk rock live on and are shrouded in this 50 minute noise-rock masterpiece. Although it’s not their best work (In Utero is and it’s not close) Nevermind is still Nevermind, and no matter how hard major labels try, this album will never be made again. It’s a product of the era and it lives on as one of the most iconic albums of all time.

#4 c418 – Minecraft: Volume Alpha

Every kid my age has played Minecraft. We all did. Minecraft is a great game, sure, but the music makes it an unforgettable experience, a feeling more than just a game. The electronic environmental soundtrack done by c418 is emblematic of everything that Minecraft means to millions of people, an emotion more than a set of 1s and 0s. This soundtrack will stick with you. No matter how long I go without hearing it, I always know every song without fail. This soundtrack is remarkable, striking the perfect balance between technology and nature, much like the game itself. I’ve been playing Minecraft for nearly nine years and I will be for much longer, but I can say with great confidence that the soundtrack will last me even longer.