Images & Words: Jamie Isaac, "Doing Better"


Jamie Isaac "Doing Better" Digital Single After a year or so away, the low-key Croydon singer-songwriter returns with the first song from his forthcoming sophomore LP. "Doing Better" is another tasty slab of the bleary-eyed, late-night soul that made his debut, "Couch Baby," my 14th favorite album of 2016. Isaac is blessed Read more

Images & Words: Mabel x Not3s, "Fine Line"


Mabel x Not3s "Fine Line" Digital Single Mabel and Not3s both appeared on my "Best Songs of 2017" list as solo artists, so it's not surprising that their second single together is an absolute heater. "Fine Line" has more crossover potential than anything either artist has released before, bringing an anthemic, radio-ready chorus to go with their signature, lithe, Read more

Images & Words: 03 Greedo, "Never Bend"


O3 Greedo "Never Bend" Money Changes Everything (out now on Golden Grenade Empire) Not gonna lie, I slept on 03 Greedo last year, but I'm not going to make the same mistake twice. The Watts rapper is one of the most unique, exciting new voices rising today, pairing soulful crooning and sticky bars for a Read more

Best of '17: The Best Songs of 2017


So that's it. 6 years of ThunderPenguin are in the books. As always, here's a round-up of my favorite songs of the year. This was one of the toughest lists I've ever made, and I hope something on this list brings you the light it brought me. Thanks so Read more

Hot Jam of the Day: T-Pain, "Textin' My Ex" (f/ Tiffany Evans)


T-Pain “Textin’ My Ex” (f/ Tiffany Evans) Oblivion Tomorrow, T-Pain drops his long-awaited fifth LP, the culmination of the most trying era of the R&B innovator’s career. Through no real fault of his own, Pain (né Faheem Najm) went from the jolly ringmaster of a multi-million dollar radio empire to a Read more

Images & Words

Images & Words: Vince Staples, “Big Fish”

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custom299be6c8b27b518485fb5c4544625af6Vince Staples
“Big Fish”

Big Fish Theory (out 06.23 on Def Jam)
A couple of years ago, the 23 year-old Long Beach rapper caught a bunch of (mostly unfair) shit for calling 90’s music overrated. If you’d never heard a Vince Staples track before that, you’d be surprised when you first heard his music, as much of shares the spirit and aesthetic of 90’s West Coast rap without sacrificing any modernity. “Big Fish” is a perfect example of that fine line Staples walks, as he flows over a beat that wouldn’t sound out of place on a classic Too $hort album. That said, his flexible flow and impressive storytelling guarantees his music remains contemporary and vital.

Hot Jam of the Day: MoStack, “Ussy Ussy”

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Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 5.06.47 PMMoStack
“Ussy Ussy”

Digital Single
After dropping one of the songs of the year, the Londoner returns with another winning, Afrobeats-influenced cut. Like “Let it Ring,” the buoyant, undeniable “Ussy Ussy” features both memorable bars and hooky vocals that help cement MoStack in the class of rising stars like J Hus, Abra Cadabra, and Kojo Funds. If the summer sounds anything like this, we’re in for a great one.

Images & Words: Burna Boy, “Hallelujah”

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Burna-Boy-1-600x400Burna Boy
“Hallelujah”

Digital Single
Friday is always a great day to give thanks, and the 25 year-old’s new single is here to inspire you to do just that. Hailing from Nigeria’s poverty-stricken south coast, Burna Boy has spent the better part of seven years crafting electric afrobeat with touches of R&B and dancehall. Like many stateside, he first popped on my radar with his gorgeous, low-key 2016 EP, Redemption. Now, Burna has his sights set on world domination, and if he keeps dropping songs like this airy, lithe charmer, he’ll get there soon enough.

Images & Words: Rostam, “Gwan”

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Rostam
“Gwan”

Digital Single
Anybody who has ever lived in New York knows the restorative power of an aimless stroll through the city. On the clip for his new string-driven, chamber pop single, the former Vampire Weekend man enjoys one of those long meanders, heading toward a destination that is unclear both for the viewer and the walker. Though we still don’t have details, it’s starting to feel like his long-awaited album is just around the corner, and if it sounds anything like the rest of the pre-release singles, it should be a classic.

Images & Words: DJ Khaled, “I’m The One” (f/ Quavo, Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne)

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dj-khaled-lil-wayne-justin-bieber-chance-the-rapper-quavo-shoot-music-video-for-im-the-one-malibu2DJ Khaled
“I’m The One” (f/ Quavo, Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne)

Digital Single
At this point, DJ Khaled’s tracks are basically musical text chains between the biggest artists on the planet. It’s kinda like he just puts out late-night mass “U Up?” text to his entire contact list, and the first four that respond get a verse. It’s a high variance strategy. But it works for him, because as easy as it is to discard the songs that don’t pop, it’s impossible to avoid the ones that do.

This airy, trop-housey summer tune is one of the latter, evidenced by its 42 fucking million views in four days. And those numbers are no surprise, because it’s got all the hallmarks of a Khaled classic. Intoxicating, catchy chorus? Check. Tuneful, sticky verses? Check. Khaled ad libs? Obvi. Most importantly, it got the green light from the greatest young A&R man in the business, Asahd Khaled. Bless up.

Images & Words: HEAVEN, “It’s Not Enough”

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Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.57.52 AMHEAVEN
“It’s Not Enough

Digital Single 
It doesn’t take a musicologist to hear producer Johnny Jewel’s fingerprints on this romantic, slow-burning new single from the newest signing to his label, Italians Do It Better. Though details about the artist remain scarce, this luxurious, stylish ballad is a strong enough statement to stand on its own and hints that we may be hearing a lot more about her (them?) in the future.

Images & Words: Nite Jewel, “The Answer”

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nite-jewel-nathanael-turner-the-hundredsNite Jewel
“The Answer”

Real High (out 05.05 on Gloriette)
Despite releasing a pair of interesting albums just last year, longtime TP fave Ramona “Nite Jewel” Gonzalez is gracing us with another project in May. Though the disc’s second pre-release track, “The Answer,” is the kind of glossy, dreamy pop that she’s cranked out for years, it’s far from a retread. And it’s fantastic to listen to an artist who has stayed true to an aesthetic, while constantly developing her sound and songwriting chops.

Images & Words: KWAYE, “Cool Kids”

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Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 12.12.32 PMKWAYE
“Cool Kids”
Digital Single
The clip for the 22 year-old Londoner’s lead single is the rare example of a video that captures and enhances exactly what is special about a track. “Cool Kids” is an addictive, airy slice of pop that is inspired by the 80s but still feels ultra-modern. Director Billy Boyd Cape turns London tower blocks into moving art pieces, gliding around kids as their feet glide beautifully across the concrete. One of the most striking debuts of the year.

Images & Words: Teengirl Fantasy, “Seeds” (f/ Khalif Jones)

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teengirl-fantasy-music-to-search-to-1415975295-840x472Teengirl Fantasy
“Seeds” (f/ Khalif Jones)

8AM (out now on Planet Mu)
On the standout from their third LP, the Brooklyn electronic duo links up with Khalif Jones (aka Le1f) for a gorgeous, seductive ode to the end of the night. Though they rarely collaborate with vocalists, nearly all of their best tracks feature them, and “Seeds” is no exception. Producers Logan Takashi and Nick Weiss give Jones a deep, sparse arrangement to play with. And though he is known for his up-tempo bars, Jones changes gears and takes on an alluring, slow-winding croon that guides us from the club back to the bedroom.

Images & Words: Lil Uzi Vert, “XO Tour Llif3”

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091316-shows-hha-performers-the-full-review-lil-uzi-vert-5Lil 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.