One new song a week, every week. Peep below for the full playlist, as well as a quick breakdown of each track:
June 25, 2018: “Whatever Comes to Mind” by MorMor
Seth Nyquist doesn’t like to smile. The Toronto artist, who records music as MorMor, fronts an expressionless stare everywhere a photographer might catch him—in the bio image for his Facebook page, in the press images he sends media outlets and on the cover of his debut EP, which came out last Friday.
You wouldn’t know that from listening to the five-song record though, which is full of bubbling, melodic choruses and tons of emotional depth. It’s atmospheric and deeply peaceful music, yet somehow also feels the sort of risky science experiment that can push a newborn career straight into adulthood. It’s already gotten Pharrell’s stamp of approval, and it feels like it’s only a matter of time before MorMor is infiltrating Spotify “Discover” playlists for months to come.
June 18, 2018: “APES**T” by The Carters
If trap drums existed in 30 B.C., then Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s mixtape would probably have sounded something like “EVERYTHING IS LOVE.” The new album, released by music’s (and arguably America’s) first couple Saturday evening, is pure, opulent celebration. There’s no subtlety here for Bey and Jay: their power is unprecedented, their talents undeniable, their marriage unshakeable.
This message is clear seconds into the record’s second track, a victorious, inescapable black hole of swagger called “APES**T.” There’s so much to say about this song—which shrugs at the Grammys, says “nah” to the Super Bowl halftime show and takes a victory lap through the world’s most prestigious art museum—but the ultimate takeaway is simple. You can’t stop The Carters, so seriously, don’t even bother trying.
June 11, 2018: “Reborn” by KIDS SEE GHOSTS
With everything Kanye’s been going through during the past few months, it’s easy to forget just how tough the last few years have been for Kid Cudi. First, the singer-rapper cancelled his “Especial” tour due to personal issues, then after a pretty ugly feud with none other than Kanye himself, he checked himself into a rehab facility, saying he needed time to work on his depression.
On “Rebirth,” probably the best track from the duo’s very excellent new joint album, Cudi assures us he’s moving forward. For Cudi, who’s spoken out about his own mental health for years, the declaration feels genuine and inspiring in a way that ye didn’t always come across as being. Everything isn’t perfect, the song’s lyrics tell us, but slowly, surely, he’s working on it—and that’s completely alright.
June 4, 2018: “Oh My” by Natalie Prass
Sorry Kanye, but the weekend’s best new album didn’t come from a ranch in Wyoming. While ye makes listeners work hard to reach some not-so-profound revelations, Prass’ latest does the exact opposite: it makes finding wisdom easy, or better yet, really, really groovy.
The record, called The Future and the Past, was poised as a response to the Trump election, an event that caused the Virginia-based singer to rewrite her entire album. Over the course of twelve songs, Prass delivers on this promise, but not in the way you’d expect: instead of screaming in rage, she funks, jams and jubilates her way into protest, demanding you dance along with each and every one of her rebellious challenges.
May 28, 2018: “The Games We Play” by Pusha-T
New hyphen, same hustle. Pusha-T may have added the dash back to his name, but otherwise not much has changed. On his latest record, DAYTONA, the Virginia Beach rapper still reminisces on his cocaine-dealing days; he still bemoans the lyrical shortcomings of modern rappers; and, most importantly, he still spits absolute bars.
It’s amazing how little Pusha-T has changed since 2013’s My Name is My Name. The crazy thing? He hasn’t had to: Push has cemented himself as the hip-hop Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—no matter how old he gets, or how predictable his signature move may be, he can still always, always, score in isolation. Pusha-T gets his iso on this track. Give him a stripped-down Kanye West beat, clear the lane and let the ageless, changeless wonder go to work.
May 21, 2018: “Bubblin” by Anderson .Paak
This week’s blog post is all about the frightening, Sith lord-esque power of Anderson .Paak, so I’ll keep this one short. The Oxnard, California artist’s latest track is a balls-to-the-wall banger, and possibly the best brag-rap song of the year. It’s full of Jackie Chan references, impressive one-liners and some very impolite words about your mom.
May 14, 2018: “Sunday Roast” by Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett has a knack for finding wisdom in the mundane. On 2016’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, the Australian songwriter’s most profound revelations came from stories about house hunting, produce shopping and awkward elevator conversations.
Sunday Roast, the fourth and final single from Barnett’s second full-length album, strays from this formula. Instead of pulling epiphanies out of tongue-in-cheek digressions, the track is an unadulterated, uber-honest ballad. Like everything Barnett makes, it’s simple, it’s relatable and it’s lyrically gripping, but it’s also emotionally straightforward in a way that’s unlike anything she’s ever done before.
May 7, 2018: “This Is America” by Childish Gambino
I’ve already devoted about 700 words (which you could? should? read here) to saying why this song is so important to Donald Glover’s career and legacy, so there’s not much else to say here.
Actually, there is though. The new track, released just hours after Glover had finished his night as SNL’s host and featured performer, is a leviathan of symbology, easter eggs (look, it’s SZA!), technical mastery and cultural commentary. It might be the best song Childish Gambino has released to date, and it’s certainly his most important.
Photo: Rennett Stowe/Flickr