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How The Carters used West Indian influence to create a masterpiece

June was a blessing from the hip-hop gods.

We got a Yé album, Cudi, Jay Rock, Nas, Teyana Taylor, Freddie Gibbs and even had Drake drop a double album to help us forget about Adidon close out the month.

Still, sitting at the top of the most anticipated drops of the month was the joint album dropped by musical royalty Beyoncé and Jay Z.

EVERYTHING IS LOVE was the surprise drop we all saw coming but didn’t know what to expect. How do you follow up the marital flaws highlighted by Lemonade? What could you say to match the raw nature of self-reflection we heard throughout 4:44?

From the opening seconds of the “Apeshit” video, from the Migos ad libs to the artistic shots in the Louvre, we were presented with the quintessential form of elegant trap.

The Carters presented a musical feature reminiscent of what 2 Chainz had done with the “Most Expensivest Shit” video series — but bounds ahead.

Although the track was a banger and the video deserved to be in The Louvre itself, it provided us with the overall theme of the album: the chemistry is back and the love was there to stay.

But it wasn’t until you hear the first 5 seconds that we were presented with the elements of the record that would truly elevate the warmth and regality of the album: the influence of reggae.

The first words that grace our ears are from reggae legend Rory from the Stone Love Movement. Stone Love was a type of sound produced in 80s Jamaica that spread throughout the world. From Japan to the UK and then the US, Stone Love’s sound has influenced many genres throughout the years that they are rarely credited for.

According to Rory, his section for “Summer” were recorded just a week prior to the album’s release and he’s extremely honored to have made it on the project.

When you hear the snares, the mellow guitar chords, and the slow horns come in on that song, the warmth it creates is so reminiscent of Jamaica. It is too dope. If you close your eyes and get lost you really can feel the breeze and sun hit you throughout the record.

Then to top it all off we get Damien Marley, the reggae royalty, talking about his definition of love, once again connecting the vibe to the theme of the record (Jay and B actually filmed a video in Kingston earlier this year and I’d bet money that it was for Summer).

The producer asks the woman at the beginning of “Black Effect” for her definition of love, and she presented such a thorough definition that even she hopes she can say that again.

“It’s about sensitivity, it’s about passion. It’s about unconditional giving of self to another person.”

And the two syllable laugh at the end is so reminiscent of my own grandmother’s that it makes my heart smile every time I hear it.

Music has always been a doorway to escape our harsh realities, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

The tone and vibes of West Indian voices carries with it a presence of strength, wisdom, and pride that is often imitated but rarely authentically duplicated (see horrendous examples of fake accents in season 2 of Luke Cage).

Combine the two, musical doorways and West Indian elements, and you get the best form of free therapy that any of us will ever receive.

The artists that go down as legends are those that make a connection to their fans that is deeper than music. They say things that help us revisit moments in our lives and help us envision the places where we aspire to be.

Hip-hop doesn’t exist without the influence of the West Indies, and it’s truly heartwarming to see the evolution of that relationship blossom throughout the years.

If last month was a blessing from the hip-hop gods, then there was definitely a mesh-tank wearing angel with guitar in hand that guided it to our ears.