Proudly independent rapper Lauren Sanderson finally released her debut album as a record label-free artist titled, Midwest Kids Can Make It Big, this past week on her 24th birthday (January 13th). A new chapter in her career and life has started from now, going forward with freedom to express herself in any way she wants as an artist and human being. Her album showcases her struggles, regrets, vulnerability and even some happy times that led her to this point. After giving it a listen, it's evident that she became an open book shamelessly.
"Begin" is the intro to the album. Cleverly titling the first song "Begin" as if the door of Lauren's world in the form of an album is opening. The lyrics talk about falling in love with someone that is rare and fascinating in Lauren's life. The vocals are haunting with a dreamy instrumental. The vibe of the song is soft, innocent and angelic, which makes it easy to relax to and get comfortable for the musical journey.
"Hotel Room," the first single before the album was announced, starting the new era of Lauren's career. The song has a romantic, summer vibe that tells a story of love with no strings attached. With a music video to accompany the song, it discusses getting drunk in hotel rooms, making out in pools and being afraid of commitment to that person, despite having feelings for them. The music video consists of Lauren doing everything she discusses in the song with singer, Sizzy Rocket. The catchy melody and optimistic vocals demonstrate her ambitions to make her partner happy for one night. Lauren admits her flaws in this song pertaining to relationships, adding depth to the song.
This is a more scandalous track on the album. "But I Like It" tells the story of Lauren being in love and in lust with a girl she is undeniably into. However, this is about the thrill of the chase and letting the girl try to figure out how Lauren truly mutually feels. In the chorus, she sings, "She wanna be my baby, I wanna drive her crazy." It adds variety to the album in every way from the production to the lyrics. The drums are prominent with groovy guitar riffs that passes as a chill, yet, upbeat song.
"Bathroom Stall In Seattle" is a slow, deep song about a complicated relationship. The lyrics provide closure to the muse. She does this in the form of storytelling and reminiscing. This track is relaxing and easy to fall asleep when it's needed. The chorus is haunting and reflective. The beat change from the verses and the chorus gives the song dimension. The lyric, "I wrote my down feelings up on the ceiling, well that's if you wanna know everything," is captivating, honest and ever so brilliant. The use of rhyming in the lyric is fluid as well.
"Upset" is the second single, also accompanied by a music video, leading to the release of the album. This song discusses how people are unable to be themselves due to discrimination, judgement or painful experiences. "I be upset when I see the news," is the first lyric in the chorus-- discussing how distraught she feels over what she is exposed to in the world she lives in. The song is bold, honest and Lauren even acknowledges how lucky she feels knowing she has grown from everything she has gone through and has received acceptance for who she is now. It can be argued the song can be somewhat political, about heartbreak or simply just Lauren's feelings that stem from what she has gone through growing up. The song is slow and personal. Her vocals are raspy yet soft, adding emotional depth.
"Thirsty," a more fun and free spirited song on the album adds contrast to the vibe of each track. Many of Lauren's fans have been anticipating since Lauren teased it a couple times on Instagram and The Phases Tour. Lauren uses vocoder in the outro of the song, which adds character to the number. The lyrics discuss Lauren enjoying the pain of being with people lustfully and not feeling fulfilled inside. From "driving in circles" to "girls kissing girls and girls sending nudes" and enjoying the thrill of it. The song is soft and upbeat.
"To the People I Hurt" is a sad, heartbreaking confessional about her hurting those that she cares about. This is an apology in the form of a song admitting her wrongs, flaws, acknowledging where she was hurting in life, what she went through and how she is reacting to everyone she hurt, but did not want to. This ballad highlights her negative thoughts and accountabilities. The music video is a montage of home videos and memories on camera, and her singing into a microphone, edited in the order of the lyrics to bring a visual component to the song. The video also has videos of her smiling from ear to ear with fans.
"Goodnight" is the outro of the album, also a fan favorite. The purpose of the song sums up all of her ups and downs she discussed in previous songs in the form of a melodic goodbye to end the album. She treated the album as a conversation with the listener about her life story. The smooth and chill guitar roofs and glitches in the chorus give a feel of a movie ending with closure, effortlessly giving chills down one's spine. Lauren says, "this is the time to prioritize myself," for the future going forward after growing from all of her hardships. This ends the album beautifully and easily can transition to her upcoming album, talking about the next chapter of her life, taking everything she already learned and discussed in her debut album.
Midwest Kids Can Make It Big is out now on all streaming platforms. Catch Lauren Sanderson on her upcoming tour.