This week’s best new songs were punctuated by some serious heavy-hitters in the rap department. Jay Rock (with hilarious Kendrick ad-libs), Lil Baby (with a flawless Drake verse), and Kevin Gates all served up singles with that did not come here to play around.
That said, the biggest rap treat of the week comes courtesy of Anderson .Paak. “Bubblin” is a much-needed reminder that the polymath can count spitting bars among his talents; it’s a track that already serves as one of the year’s best.
Find all those and more in this edition of Best Tracks of the Week.
In which Anderson .Paak reminds us “oh yeah, Paak spits actual fire when he wants to.” Where first official release of the year “‘Til It’s Over” was all feather-light harp and smooth as silk future R&B, follow-up “Bubblin” is glorious bombast. It finds him skewering aesthetic and thematic troops of radio-ready rap and plugging it full of the highly-tuned instrumentation only he can concoct so fluidly. His command to “look at me, baby” is unnecessary; it’s clear all eyes are on him this year.
Anyone who is expecting joyous, “Hey Ya!”-levels of danceable goodness from André 3000’s surprise return singles need a content warning: that is exactly what you’re not going to get it. With mournful Autotune that wouldn’t sound out of place on 808s & Heartbreak bolstered by rich piano, André’s heart-on-his-sleeve lament for his parents is beautifully evocative. Have some tissues nearby when listening.
Chromatics have somehow found their way out of the vortex of Twin Peaks and back into our shared reality, just in time to save us from completely giving up hope on their long-promised new album Dear Tommy seeing the light of the day. Which of course it won’t, Chromatics are strictly for night-time listening. “Black Walls” is an exemplary trip through their nocturnal-Italo world, though it is one far more ominous than last year’s lead single “Shadow”. Not that it matters, we’ll be on board no matter what.
Not only are Disclosure back, but they’ve returned with their most electric, accessible singles in a minute. “Ultimatum” finds the Lawrence brothers collaborating with Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara on an odyssey of groove. The pairing is one that keeps your feet firmly on the dancefloor while your mind transcends entirely; in other words, a perfect dance track.
Even more goodies have emerged from from DJDS’ freshly-released album Big Wave More Fire. This time out, The-Dream and Vory add vocal flourishes to a track that is equal-parts gospel-tinged hymnal and urgent air raid siren. The contrast would be too severe to carry a song in any other hands, but the producers prove they are more than capable of keeping it all together.
Has there been a more clear statement of purpose in a rap track this year than “Fuck everything else, win, win, win, win”? After headlining what was unquestionably the stand-out from the TDE-produced Black Panther soundtrack, Jay Rock delivers more excellence on “Win”, a welcome show of force from a rapper who has been waiting in the wings far too long. Come for his bars, stay for Kendrick whining “mommy!” in the background.
Unsurprisingly, the first singles from Kevin Gates since his release from prison earlier this year are dark. But like any great artist, Gates has forged this darkness into his art; the result is rap with some serious potency. The lead track from his new EP is bulletproof – riddled with tightly-wound bars that are button-pushing and deep with emotional resonance.
Did Drake casually drop the strongest guest-opening verse of the year? Perhaps, but what is even less up for debate is that “Yes Indeed” is one of the filthiest beats of the year – in a good way. Lil Baby is in now way flexing when he spits “Me and Drake ’bout to drop man, this shit gon’ go crazy”; that’s just simple facts.
One of the newest members of the 88rising family, NIKI is a huge breath of fresh air. Hailing from Jakarta, Indonesia, her sound is one that bridges murky trap with Ariana Grande-level of pop diva stylings. New single “Dancing with the Devil” showcases the allure of both sides, along with the visceral image of strapping on her “high heels” for a slow dance with Lucifer. We’re expecting greatness from this one.
Is this the most amazing or innovative song? Hardly. But sometimes, particularly when it’s getting warmer outside, you just need a song featuring Pharrell about drinking sangria with some Spanish bars thrown in by Camilla Cabello. Because let’s be real, who doesn’t want to get on that vibe at some point this summer?
Be sure to check out last week’s edition of Best Tracks of the Week right here.