Todrick Hall is an American singer, actor, dancer, director, drag queen, choreographer, songwriter and YouTuber from Texas. He gained popularity from his Youtube channel and from being on the ninth season of American Idol where he made it to the semi-finals. He started his career with musicals like “Straight Outta Oz” and then to went to Broadway to be the lead in “Kinky Boots.” Later in his career, Hall explored the genres of rhythm and blues, pop, and neo-soul with his 2014 album “Pop Star High.” His third and most recent solo studio album “Forbidden” was the first time that the artist dipped his toes into the hip-hop genre with elements of R&B and neo-soul.
“I think the best way for me as an artist to show how I feel [is through my music],” Hall said this in an interview with Hornet in relation to his newest album. “I want to have a message that is somehow going to change the world even in the smallest of capacities and put it into my music. That’s what I have consistently tried to do.”
Hall’s music touches a variety of subjects that most artists are afraid to talk about in their music such as abuse and police brutality. His music is a platform that he uses to change the world song by song. These traits are no exception when it comes to “Forbidden.”
This album has 30 songs on it and most of them are only a minute long. That being said, I won’t be covering every song on the album. This review will cover the album generally, as I highlight some high and low points.
The different emotions expressed throughout each of these songs is by far the best thing about this album. Hall goes from a somber sweet song about love to a song about abuse, and then a song about confidence. Just like I mentioned earlier, this album covers a plethora of different topics, making each song feel and sound unique.
Songs such as “Heaven” encapsulate how much emotion and power Hall can put into a song. These songs make you feel the pain Hall is feeling. For example, at one point towards the end of “Heaven” Hall can be heard quivering through his words. This song is about Hall disobeying his beliefs since his beliefs say he can’t love someone of the same gender as him. In the music video, Hall is sent to prison for loving the person he does and is eventually executed for that. This image sends an even more powerful message about LGBT discrimination.
Hall completely changes the mood when he introduces songs like “T.H.U.G.” This song heavily uses aspects of Hall’s R&B background. “T.H.U.G.” is typically compared to “Soldier” by Destiny’s Child due to the fact that both songs describe how the artists change the type of people they’re interested in. This song completely changes the mood of the album. Until this point, most of the songs are slow ballad-like songs. In this song, Hall says screw all of his past relationships and all of the past people he’s been with because they don’t treat him right. This change is shown in the lyrics “I’m looking for a gangsta who keeps a pretty stack. Now he ain’t moving, but he packin’ in the front and back,” Hall sings.
My absolute favorite part of this album was the song “Dem Beats” which is somewhat of an anthem for the gay community. This song has a great club beat. I imagine a DJ playing this in a club and a room full of people raving to it. This song is referring to how society isn’t like it used to be with accepting the LGBT community. “Dem Beats” also features RuPaul from the TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, which was a great addition.
While listening to this album I recommend that you imagine a re-written Romeo and Juliet love story. It is clear in most of the songs that Hall takes heavy inspirations from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This album embodies heartbreak, love, and betrayal in some of the best and most creative ways possible. Even though these highlights might outweigh the bad, that does not mean that this is a masterpiece.
This album is really long! Out of the 30 songs, 11 of them are songs that are less than two minutes and they are all just filler tracks. The only thing these filler songs add to the album is time. This, unfortunately, causes the album to feel like it’s dragging on.
For example, the song “What’s Going On” doesn’t make any sense in the context of the album as a whole. The song is bland and basically repeats the hook over and over again. This might just be my own ignorance and not understanding the deeper meaning, but this song seems like it’s just there to fulfill the requirements of his record label.
“Lullaby” is a great song for about the first three minutes and then the song just feels like it’s dragging the rest of the time. This song is so slow! There aren’t many dynamic changes so it’s mainly just either soft and then really loud for no apparent reason. The last minute of this song isn’t filled with that much singing, which is a let down because Hall’s voice is a huge standout on the album.
Without the filler songs, I feel like this album would easily be a five star. Hall took the Romeo and Juliet story and developed it around his own life in an interesting and extremely impressive way. This album is a perfect example that shows that modern music can deal with controversial subjects and attempt to make societal change.