Lil Uzi Vert
"XO Tour Llif3"
While on tour with the Weeknd, the Philadelphian has dropped a couple of loosies to tie his fans over until his hotly anticipated Luv is Rage 2 mixtape drops later this year. The strongest of the bunch is "XO Tour Llif3" — an emotional Read more
“Loyalty Over Love”
Loyalty Over Love (out TBD on Sick Wid It)
The Sacramento-via-Mobile rapper has been one of the shooting stars of 2017, rising on the back of two of the strongest rap tracks of the year so far: “Lay Down” and “When I Was Down.” Like Read more
"Let it Ring"
The North Londoner's glorious and airy banger has been on heavy rotation for me all month. And while you might be sick of the Island vibes meet trap drums combo, "Let it Ring" is more magnetic than just about anything else of its type. MoStack is an spark Read more
We just said goodbye to an incredible month of music. One with the strongest slate of releases that I can remember in a really long time. Of all the interesting releases that dropped this month, ten stood out above the rest. Here's my round-up of them.
Gang Signs & Prayer
In Read more
“Big For Your Boots”
Gang Signs & Prayer (out 02.24 on #Merky)
About halfway through my first listen of the lead single from Stormzy’s debut LP, I got the feeling that I was listening to a future classic. Maybe it’s the way the beat shifts gears — how the hi-hats accelerate then Read more
“Advent” Insurgence (out 04.12 on Fade to Mind)
Though he is currently based in Atlanta, Leonce’s sound has deep roots in his home city of New Orleans. Late last year, the producer dropped the excellent mixtape Heatwave, one of the strongest dance efforts of the year. The disc featured eight inch-perfect edits that seamlessly fused New Orleans bounce and house with the sound of modern R&B, giving cuts by artists like Beyoncé, Tory Lanez, Jeremih, and Tinashe a dancefloor-ready sheen.
Now, Leonce is ready for his close-up, with a seven-track, debut project for the ever-reliable Fade to Mind. Lead single, “Advent,” pairs characteristically banging percussion with a pair of slithering synth riffs that wind together and unravel over the course of six minutes. Though you can feel the bounce and house influences, it’s far from a throwback track and confirms that the talented young producer is focused on crafting a sound that defies labels.
Kareem Lotfy “Fr3sh” mono no aware (out now on PAN)
I don’t know much about the man behind the first track from the new PAN Records compilation. But “Fr3sh” is a gorgeous, delicate piece of ambient music, that matches deep synths with a swelling string arrangement. Lotfy is a graphic designer and artist from Cairo who has a handful of affecting, experimental tracks on his SoundCloud that should appeal to anybody who is feeling this single.
Lil Uzi Vert “XO Tour Llif3” Digital Single
While on tour with the Weeknd, the Philadelphian has dropped a couple of loosies to tie his fans over until his hotly anticipated Luv is Rage 2 mixtape drops later this year. The strongest of the bunch is “XO Tour Llif3” — an emotional track that also bops in vivid color.
Over a keyboard riff that swings like a pendulum, Uzi chronicles life as one of the biggest rising stars on the planet, surrounded by mobs of obsessive, overwhelming fans and feeling further from his real friends than ever. And though there’s sadness there, it’s an Uzi track, so there’s plenty of joy seeping out. That ecstasy is captured beautifully by the electric, lyrical steps of Atlanta dancers SheLovesMeechie, TheRealYvngQuan, Ayo, and Tayo.
OMB Peezy “Loyalty Over Love” Loyalty Over Love (out TBD on Sick Wid It)
The Sacramento-via-Mobile rapper has been one of the shooting stars of 2017, rising on the back of two of the strongest rap tracks of the year so far: “Lay Down” and “When I Was Down.” Like the aforementioned tracks, “Loyalty Over Love” highlights the 20 year-old’s potent sound, which recalls 90’s New Orleans without sacrificing an ounce of modernity. Peezy has the rare flow that is hyperactive and unpredictable, but also smooth and catchy. And his verses are laden with hooks that will dig themselves into your brain. In short, he is just a massive talent, and the stage is set for Loyalty Over Love to be a monster debut mixtape.
Charli XCX “Drugs” (f/ Abra) Number 1 Angel
The trouble with shapeshifters is that as soon as you find a form that appeals to you, they’ve already moved on. That’s been my experience with the hard-to-pin down Brit, who has dabbled in more trends than H&M. So while I was ready roll my eyes at her new ‘mixtape’ (lol), I was immediately grabbed by this track’s intoxicating, slow-mo baseline and its undeniable hooks. Sure, the second verse completely jacks the melody from Dream’s classic, “He Loves You Not,” and it has a grating, totally unnecessary drop tacked on at the end. But it’s also a mean, strong pop record that will get stuck in your brain. It’s a good look for Charli, but she’s unlikely to wear it for long.
Julien Baker “Distant Solar Systems” Funeral Pyre / Distant Solar Systems (out now on Matador)
The Tennessee songwriter returns with another haunting lament. Her vocals hang like stars over reverb-soaked open strings, as she considers the insignificance of her life. It may be a very middle school topic, but it’s executed with real mastery. And if you aren’t careful, it will leave you staring up at the sky (or the ceiling) right along with her.
Mabel “Finders Keepers” (f/ Kojo Funds) Bedroom EP (out 05.26 on Polydor)
Valentine’s Day was last month, but two English rising stars want to keep the love flowing on this gooey, sweet duet. I’m getting serious early Jessie Ware vibes from the London vocalist, and her cohort Kojo comes through with a characteristically slick verse of his own. “Finders Keepers” is a solid follow-up to Mabel’s buzzy, seductive 2016 single, “Thinking of You,” and should do nothing to slow her rapidly accelerating career trajectory.
MoStack “Let it Ring” Digital Single The North Londoner’s glorious and airy banger has been on heavy rotation for me all month. And while you might be sick of the Island vibes meet trap drums combo, “Let it Ring” is more magnetic than just about anything else of its type. MoStack is an spark plug of charisma and swagger, slaloming between the beat and driving it forward like a seasoned vet. While it’s blowing up in the UK, it is still just crackling stateside. If we’re lucky, that fire will keep building and will be blazing by this summer.
“Sad For You” Sad For You (out 04/07 on Remember) The Chicago vocalist has been threatening to break out for the last couple of years, and we might be finally getting a taste of the record that does it. On the seductive “Sad For You,” Njomza picks through the bones of a relationship that has lost its spark, admitting that she must move on, no matter how difficult it will be for the one she leaves behind.
“Wild Indifference” Joan Shelley (out 05.05 on No Quarter)
Though the Louisville native is perhaps best known for having one of the most beautiful voices in folk, the lead single from her fifth LP highlights her impressive writing chops as well. Over a tasteful, gentle guitars, Shelley opens up about the frustration of dealing with a particularly self-centered person. However, instead of lashing out, she offers empathy, seeing through the facade and centering on the loneliness and sorrow that such behavior often tries to hide. And though she offers her thoughts, she stops there. Admitting that she’s grown tired of chasing lost causes.