2017 has been the year of the debut studio album.
With full-length releases in hip-hop from the likes of Uzi, G Herbo, and A Boogie; and in R&B from Daniel Caesar, SZA, and Brent Faiyaz, the biggest names of this current generation of artists gave their fans what they’ve been begging for since their careers first took off.
The main difference between mixtapes/EPs and albums is that with albums most artists look to achieve a true and effective sound throughout the project; a sound that is unequivocally them. The album should more often than not be a more polished work, as you’d expect artists to devote more of their time and efforts to produce as high quality music as they can.
The most recent debut album we’ve seen comes from OVO’s own Roy Woods, whose Say Less LP arrived to the delight of his fans just a few weeks ago. Woods has come a long way since he first arrived onto the scene with his debut EP Exis, which featured his now Gold-certified record “Drama” with OVO head honcho Drake.
Woods’ next two efforts, Waking at Dawn and Nocturnal, were solid projects indeed yet the problem is that they just were not all that memorable. The Exis EP saw Woods with a true hunger for stardom but that hunger just wasn’t there in his following projects. Flashes of potential were definitely present thoughout in songs like “Magic” from Nocturnal and “Down Girl” from Waking at Dawn, Woods sparked hope inside the hearts of his fans that he would not only be able to mix the Michael Jackson/The Weeknd vibes, which they loved, but also be able to create his own signature sound that would truly stick out as Roy Woods.
With the arrival of Say Less, Woods has proven that he has truly grown and matured as an artist, as his lyrical content is far more substantial throughout. Unlike his previous EPs, every track on Say Less is distinctive and truly stands out on its own: from the groovy Jackson-esque vibes of “Little Bit Of Lovin”, to the moody yet bound to get stuck in your head “Bb“, to the ballad-like closing track “Undivided”. The latter two see production coming from FrancisGotHeat, who not only seems to have great chemistry with Woods, but also looks to be quickly making a name for himself as one of Toronto’s top go-to producers.
Say Less is truly a testament to the time Woods has spent perfecting his artistry over the past few months. It’s easily his best project he’s released in his career thus far, which is only fitting as he was able to truly save his best for an album. It also doesn’t hurt that Woods happens to be equally wavy outside of the music as well; if you’ve seen him on Instagram you’d know that he happens to be OVO’s resident fly guy, Nike band-aids and all.
And while they may just be pictures, it’s almost as if Woods is universally-liked by fellow artists, which is something that is now reflective in his music. None of the features on Say Less sound at all forced; as oftentimes poor collaborations have doomed the albums of some artists. Woods however flows smoothly with 24hrs on the Murda Beatz+Charlie Handsome-produced “Take Time“, as well as with PARTYNEXTDOOR in the almost mentor/mentee-esque, UTU/Ferina collab that is “Back It Up”.
Although the vocal range we have grown accustomed to hearing from Woods doesn’t necessarily play as big a role in Say Less, his voice remains strong nevertheless, as he leans towards crafting great songs overall rather than exhibiting a vocal prowess on tracks that as a whole are just…decent. The line between singing your ass off and making great music is parallel to the line between being an amazingly talented artist and being an amazing artist, and with Say Less, Roy Woods has finally found the latter line.
Woods delivered an excellent body of work with Say Less, rounding up yet another superb year for the OVO camp. And when you consider the fact that Woods is still only 21 years old, seeing him just now beginning to scratch the surface of his potential will definitely keep fans excited about what he’s capable of doing in years to come.