By Brittany Hoskins
Hey, y’all! Welcome back to the 3rd installment of “Britt’s Bop Breakdowns”. This week we’re breaking down an album from 070 Shake, a Dominican-American artist born in New Jersey! Born Danielle Balbuena, this artist has made a name for herself in the genre of Alternative Hip-Hop and Ambient Pop. She has been endorsed by artists such as Kanye West, Nas, and Pusha T, and has been featured on some well-known tracks! Santeria by Pusha T and Ghost Towns by Kanye West to name a few. If you’re like me and just now finding this out, then godspeed as you re-enter your “Ye” phase just to hear her iconic voice at the end.
070 Shake is not your average artist and her album that we are reviewing today, Modus Vivendi, is so above average you could even call it exceptional.
This work has been described as genre-less by some but if I had to describe it, I would describe it as– bear with me now– a sort of Buoyant Pop floating on a deep, meditative sea of electronica, hip/hop, and soft rock. It's just really good.
For those who are here for a quick read! Here is my visual album review with my short commentary on each song!
Now for the part where I attempt to interpret the story of this album, you can tell 070 Shake was intentional with the song order and lyricism from start to finish. If you can… feel free to scroll to the bottom of this article and click play on the album so you can hear clips of the song while you read! I promise you won't regret it.
At the start of the album, with Dont Break The Silence, we are met with eerie, calm, yet melodic vocals that lift you as you prepare for the wave of sounds throughout the album. The drop from the introduction lands you in an airy, electronic pop space in the song Come Around. The song is very short but still introduces you quickly to the range of sounds 070 Shake is capable of controlling.
The next song, Morrow, is actually the song I was introduced to 070 Shake with. It took some getting used to but the catchy hook and chorus in the background had me obsessed. It is one of the longer songs on the album and the message is about not knowing if you will be here tomorrow. It very successfully portrays a YOLO type mood and could easily be the soundtrack to a moment where you want to feel alive and powerful.
The feeling of strength that you should be left with after listening to Morrow translates immediately into The Pines with its march-like rhythm. I won't lie, this is one of my favorite songs on this album and I love the intensity of the orchestra at the end. Guilty Conscience is the most popular song on the album and I would say its because of its versatility. The vocals and hook are perfect for a pop moment but with the synth and rhythm it could be perfect for a late night drive as well.
Now Divorce… is music. It incorporates a Caribbean cadence with a whining guitar that is just so beautiful. The song is about separation and you can hear the emotion from not only her voice but the SOUND of the music as well, especially at the end. No words, just vibes.
The first 3 seconds of Rocketship reminds me of Playboi Carti. I can’t quite put my finger on why but regardless, this song is a safe aux choice. This song sort of transitions from the deeper sounds that we heard in Divorce and carries us into the next 3 songs, Microdosing, Nice To Have, and Under the Moon. Each of which, while having a different characterizing vibe, they are all marked by the use of they synth that either encourages an out of body experience for the listener or makes them want to dance, no in between.
070 Shake takes the opportunity to show you that she can rap too in Daydreamin but doesn’t go too hard because she is maintaining her genre-less vibe.
I could go on forever about the final songs of the album, Terminal B and Flight319, but I’ll spare you the essay! Terminal B, as the title implies, is about someone she loves, about to leave. Similar to the message in Divorce, she is clearly very emotional about this person being on the verge of leaving her life. The whole song perfectly encapsulates the feeling you get when dropping someone off that you love at the airport or watching them prepare to leave. It is almost more painful because you can’t do anything about it and this emotion paired with the resonant strings throughout the end make this song very sad.
We end the album with Flight319, a song even more emotional than the last, but in a different way. The previous song is emotional because of the pain of someone leaving, but this song takes those feelings and reflects a sense of acceptance. The music and vocals are perfect for this song and there is a switch-up toward the end which further implies that while she is not over the feelings, she still can accept that it may be over.
As is this album review.
Overall, I give this album an 8.5/10. The production was amazing, but what can you expect when you have producers like Kanye in your corner. And to top it off, the vocals match the vibe of the album impeccably. The instrumentals for this album would sell on its own to be honest. Modus Vivendi is a Latin phrase for “way of life” or “mode of living” and with that in mind, this album makes ME want to look more introspectively into my life. When you think about the flow of this album, and if you take the time to look at the lyrics in the songs, 070 Shake is being vulnerable about her own way of living and dealing with what seems to be the loss of a lover. The music feels personal and the use of intense orchestral backgrounds, rhythmic drums, and auto-tuned vocals really brings this album together.