A more-mature Wayne Watts (even though he’ll always be DK [aka Wayne Watts] to me; Terpness and all that) returns to SOTBMusic with his newest project. He describes Nowadays as a raw social commentary on the state of America that allows for members of various generations to have a “seat at the table.” Through its meshing of styles and sounds, Wayne gives us a Cole-esque look into society, the disenfranchised and the ideal.
The album, for me, plays as a double project, akin to something of a mix between 4 Your Eyez Only and Baltimore hip-hop in general. One side is the ideal, what we want/need in our lives (a lack of hatred, lots of love, chill vibes throughout). The other, however, paints a darker picture of our climate, featuring MVP Mikey’s “9 Lives” as a commentary on the general bleakness many of our young men and women wade through on a daily basis. There’s no glorification of the darkness, just a presentation and a commentary that “this isn’t all we’re destined to be, even if we’re living through it now.”
What really made me stand up and say “aight, this is a different Wayne” happened around the construct of “Life Ain’t Sweet.” I featured a shortened version of that track on the site a few months back. But the full version incorporates boombap vibes with Baltimore Club breaks and beats. My ears immediately perked up and continued to vibe with one of the most-ingenious, recent uses of B’more Club in hip-hop this side of Tate Kobang’s “Bank Rolls.” It’s a conscious rap track that still wants you to vibe with it.
That’s the allure of Nowadays. It knows what it wants to accomplish and it does it with force and hunger that I haven’t seen from Wayne in years. Now, again, that’s not to mean that Wayne’s been sitting on his ass for the past few years. However, there’s a sense of urgency and fire that I haven’t seen in Wayne in a minute. Every bar, every flow, every track…there’s more definition and hunger to it. So, check it out below and remember to support dope music in all its forms.