We may not have seen the crowd or the stage going apeshit, but we saw firsthand the Highsnobiety Music HQ going bananas over The Carters’ earth-quaking new single. It may simply be the best marriage counseling money can buy for Bey and Jay, but for us mere mortals, their big flex is the bass-heavy summer jam we’ve been sorely lacking.
But “APESHIT” is far from the only sonic blessing we received this week. We also got the Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj collab we were promised from Grande’s upcoming album Sweetener, a ravishing new single from 6LACK, and huge standouts from recent albums by Nas and SOPHIE.
All those and more make this edition of Best Tracks of the Week:
Sometimes in life, you simply have to change things up, and 6LACK has created a new anthem for that. Co-written and co-produced by none other than Ty Dolla $ign, who also comes through with heavenly, harmonic backing vocals, “Switch” is equal parts hopeful and melancholic, but 100% a jam we won’t soon forget.
From the title alone, we initially thought “the light is coming” was a power ballad when it was first announced, but oh, how we were pleasantly mistaken! Ariana Grande finally revealed the first Pharrell Williams-produced track from her upcoming album Sweetener, and naturally it’s a banger. With plinkering synths skittering across Pharrell’s signature off-kilter beats, Nicki Minaj opens things up with some hard-as-nails bars before Ariana Grande sing-raps lyrics espousing getting through the dark times with positivity, and does so without appealing to an obvious, saccharine-sweet kind of optimism.
Everybody loves a good come up story, and nobody tells the tale better than Buddy right now. The 24-year-old rapper is a product of Compton and he’s been an artist to watch ever since he caught Pharrell’s attention back in the 2000s. His latest collaboration with Ty Dolla $ign captures the mindset of staying focused on the rise to success, something we all need to be reminded of on the regular. As he says in the second verse, “Can’t tell me nothing/ We out here struggling/ This why we hustling.”
It’s 2018 and Beyonce is saying “skrrt!” while Jay ad-libs airplane noises in the background. The Carters’ foray into trap is not just the standout of their collaborative album EVERYTHING IS LOVE, it’s essentially the reason it exists. “APESHIT” is a monumental track; the couple’s best collab since at least “Drunk in Love” goes unbelievably hard. This is largely thanks to Beyonce stepping up and spitting straight fire while Jay is relegated to the role of the third Migos in Takeoff’s stead. And of course this doesn’t even touch on the visual, a clip that is instantly iconic and among the most important pieces of visual art of the year. The moral of the story being: if you roll with Bey, you better damn well put some respeck on that check.
For their latest The Now Now single, Gorillaz recruited none other than Chicago house legend Jamie Principle and Snoop Dogg, who requires no prefix at this point. Over a laid back, acid-tinged house beat, the crew wax poetic on the multitudes of the Hollywood mythology. Principle’s vocals sound right at home beside Damon Albarn’s, it’s a wonder this collab didn’t happen sooner, and Snoop Dogg’s bars bring an extra layer of California haze to the the track.
The latest addition to the 88rising roster is Lexie – already a star in her native China. On “Like a Mercedes”, she mesmerizes, switching between a gently oozing rap flow and singing, between English and Mandarin, like it ain’t no thing. The cyberpunk love story visuals are an added bonus on a track that manages to remain ethereal while borrowing the sonic palette of tougher trap music.
It’s not easy to make electronic music sound ‘real;’ to have the digital world come alive with the lush textures of organic matter. Lotic joins the rare company of artists like Björk or Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith who make this infusion sound effortless. Lead single from their debut album “Hunted” brought the clobbering dancefloor vibe, but “Solace” is like a dip into a lush, enchanted pool. Lotic’s honeyed vocals are powerful, yet fragile, in their careful delivery, exposing an intimacy not yet heard from the forthcoming full-length Power.
Nas may be the featured artist here, but let’s have some real talk: this is the best Kanye West song of the year, perhaps, in many years. “everything” is heartachingly-gorgeous, with Kanye and The-Dreams’ hook laced with raw emotion that comes close to bubbling over the surface. Hey may not outright say it, but this track serves as the ‘answer’ or ‘statement’ explaining his behavior that was noticeably absent on ye. But Nas isn’t entirely on the sidelines – bars like “inclusion is a hell of a drug” cut just as deep as Kanye’s lamentations.
All of the tracks on the Nasty mixtape are all certified bangers, but this single perfectly bonds punk and trap with an assortment of punchy lyrics that fully embody the spirit of youth culture. The energy on “Countin’ Up” is contagious as Rico Nasty a.k.a. Trap Lavigne rightfully gasses herself up. Hold your haterade ’cause she’s not going anywhere.
Has there been a harder dance track released this year? We think not. Initially rumored to be the title of SOPHIE’s glorious debut album, “Whole New World/Pretend World” appears as the jackhammer finale. Unleashing pulverizing beats straight out of a ’90s Eurodance track, SOPHIE effectively provides the thesis statement of her moment in the spotlight with chants, cheers, sirens, whines, blares, and general cacophony that fades out into a sea of blissed-out ambience. If this is what her new world sounds like, sign us the hell up.
Be sure to check out the previous edition of Best Tracks of the Week right here.