Lana Del Rey, "Doin' Time"


Lana Del Rey"Doin' Time"Sublime OST (out soon on Universal)If you grew up in California in the early 2000's, it was just about impossible to get in someone's car or go to a party that wasn't playing one of those two Sublime albums. Evidently, the same was true in wherever Read more

Images & Words: Stormzy, "Vossi Bop"


Stormzy"Vossi Bop"Digital SingleAfter a little while away, the London kingpin looks to be getting back in the game. "Vossi Bop" is a perfect comeback track because it is such a pure distillation of what makes Stormzy a true-one off. Over a tasty, yet simple beat, Big Mike goes in Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019 (1st Quarter)


Even though we're a solid week into the second quarter, better late than never right? Here's a quick round-up of some of my favorite songs of the last three months. To keep numbers manageable, I didn't include anything from any of my favorite albums list and prioritized songs I Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of 2019 (First Quarter)


Gah, I can't believe we're already 25% through 2019. That said, Spring is in the air, and we've enjoyed an excellent, diverse crop of music during these first three months. Have a look at some of my favorite LPs of the year so far in no particular order. Dawn Richard
 “New Read more

Chief Keef, "Ain't Gonna Happen"


Chief Keef "Ain't Gonna Happen" GloToven (Glo Gang / RBC) The Chicago stalwart's new project with the legendary Zaytoven is unsurprisingly full of weird and wacky sounds, moving in innumerable unexpected and exciting ways. Its most powerful moment is its starkest, as a heartbroken Keef floats freely over Zay's gorgeous piano. "Face dried Read more

Images & Words

Images & Words: Anna Leone, “My Soul I”

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Anna Leone
“My Soul I”

Wandered Away (out now on Half Awake)
Though this stirring ballad has been out since last year, it bears re-consideration, as it leads off the Swedish folk singer’s excellent, recently-released debut EP. Though the instrumentation is delicate, Leone’s voice has main-stage power that recalls her compatriot Lykke Li. That extra touch of drama elevates the five tracks on “Wandered Away” from simple, direct love songs to something rare and difficult to shake off.

Images & Words: Quando Rondo, “Project Kid”

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Quando Rondo
“Project Kid”

Life B4 Fame (out now, self-released)
One of the standouts from the rising Savanah rapper’s excellent new mixtape, “Project Kid” is an open-hearted slab of melodic Southern rap. In his tuneful, yet raspy delivery, Rondo unleashes evocative, insightful lyrics with a weariness that belies his youth. In a scene that is overflowing with young talent, this guy is one to keep an eye on.

Images & Words: Real Lies, “The Checks”

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Real Lies
“The Checks”

Digital Single
Longtime TP favorite and the trio behind my favorite song of 2014, London’s Real Lies are back with their first new music in a couple years. Few artists are as good at capturing the mood of being young and on your own in a big city like Real Lies, and “The Checks” is another intoxicating, nostalgic journey through the neon lights and rain-soaked streets of their (or, your) hometown. Recalling prime Pet Shop Boys and Underworld, this may not be what the DJs are playing on a night out anymore (at least, not in New York), but it definitely feels like the perfect soundtrack to the long ride home. Welcome back, guys. I’ve missed you.

Images & Words: Yxng Bane, “Vroom”

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Yxng Bane
“Vroom”
Digital Single
When I first wrote about the East Londoner back in July 2016, he didn’t even have CDQ versions of his tracks on SoundCloud. In less than two years, Bane’s career has grown like wildfire with multiple videos doing crazy numbers.

The hot streak looks set to continue with this hyper-catchy, wobbly heater. “Vroom” is a microcosm of how Bane’s sound has developed from the retro, Craig David-ish two-step of “Honest” to the essential Afro-swing/Afrobeats sound that has infiltrated the pop charts. Though we’re still waiting for a debut full-length project, Bane is proving to be an even move vital voice with every successive single.

Images & Words: slowthai, “North Nights”

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slowthai
“North Nights”

The Bottom / North Nights (out now on TOYITOYI)
Though this video’s been out for a while, I wanted to write it up anyway because I’m realizing that I’ve barely written about one of my favorite artists of the year so far. The Northampton rapper (né Tyrone Williams) is a thrilling, relentless grime MC who harkens back to the roots of the sound — where busy, unexpected flows trumped sticky vocal melodies. “North Nights” is a perfect example of this, as it completely eschews a chorus. Instead, ‘Thai cleverly hides a couple of repetitive hooks in his magnetic bars, which will leave you knowing all the words in no time.

Images & Words: Drake, “Nice For What”

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Drake
“Nice For What”
Digital Single
At his heart, Drake is an actor. In recent years, he’s played convincing roles as artists from London, Kingston, The Bay, Santo Domingo, and of course, Houstalantavegas. For his next gig, Drizzy returns to the Big Easy to soak up the New Orleans sound we already know he loves. Just like many of his past blockbusters, the performance is electric, and he sounds incredibly comfortable over a bounce beat that is actually pretty faithful to the regional sound. Though being an “actor” used to be a dirty word in hip-hop (ask Jay-Z), Drake has turned his rare skill into a weapon and used it to build a body of work that is versatile and full of surprises.

Images & Words: Jamie Issac, “Wings”

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Jamie Isaac
“Wings”

(04:30) IDLER (out 04.30 on Marathon Artists)
It’s nice to see the talented South Londoner start to get the press he deserves in the build-up to his second LP. Judging by its first two singles, the disc is set to follow in the footsteps of his wonderful debut, “Couch Baby.” In many ways, “Wings” is a classic Issac tune — pairing his sleepy, restless vocals with inch-perfect, jazzy instrumentation. Best of all, he’s never been a singles artist, so I’m sure it’ll sound even better in its proper context.

Images & Words: Future, “Absolutely Going Brazy”

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Future
“Absolutely Going Brazy”
Digital Single
The first rapper of ThungerPenguin is quietly having an impressive year, and this atmospheric new single is the best of the bunch. Low-BPM Future tends to be the best Future, and he’s on top form here, smearing his melodic, pained vocals over late-night keys and skittering percussion. The track beautifully walks the line between glory and anguish, simultaneously celebrating getting fucked up in fancy foreign countries and admitting that “xans (are) taking over all (his) thoughts.” That dichotomy is essential to the Future experience and highlights the kind of moral ambiguity in all of us that only the best storytellers can illustrate.

Images & Words: BlocBoy J, “Rover 2.0”

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BlocBoy JB
“Rover 2.0” (f/ 21 Savage)
Digital Single
An early Drake feature can go one of two ways for a young artist. For every Migos and the Weeknd, there’s a Ramriddlz and Makonnen. The next test case is hyperactive Memphis rapper BlocBoy JB, who is currently riding the wave of an Aubrey-assisted Top 10 single, the electric “Look Alive.” For his crucial follow-up, he revisited an older track and recruited 21 Savage. And though the low-key Atlanta native may seem an odd choice, the two balance each other perfectly, combining on a catchy, solid second single that bodes well for BlocBoy’s longevity and should keep his voice blasting out of speakers all summer long.

Images & Words: serpentwithfeet, “bless ur heart”

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serpentwithfeet
“bless ur heart”
soil (out 06.08 on Secretly Canadian)
After fawning pretty heavily over his debut EP, you can imagine my excitement about Josiah Wise’s forthcoming debut LP. Its lead single, “bless ur heart,” beautifully balances his ultra-intimate early work with lusher instrumentation, resulting in a sound that feels evolved without sacrificing an inch of what made it so special in the first place. For four spellbinding minutes, Wise ecstatically extols the way loved ones can help us level up, smearing his spectacular, trembling vocals over a waltzing piano and subtle percussion.