The Round-Up: The Best Tracks of January and February

I’ve been a little slow to get cranked back up in 2018, but I quickly realized that a shitload of great music has dropped in January and February. Here’s a quick wrap-up of a few of my favorites.

Bad Gyal
“Internationally”
Worldwide Angel (out now on Puro)
It sounds hyperbolic, but I could have picked almost any song from the Catalan reggaeton alchemist’s recent mixtape. So I’ll go with the one that banged hardest when I saw her in Brooklyn last week. Bad Gyal is a huge star in the making, and I can’t wait to see how far she goes.

Mabel
“Fine Line” (f/ Not3s)
Digital Single
Jorja Smith isn’t the only young, hugely talented British singer who’s poised to take over the world. After a super promising 2017, the Londoner went to the next level with the breezy, intoxicating “Fine Line,” a legit smash that has made waves on both sides of the Atlantic.

Creek Boyz
“Trap Digits” / “Loco”
Digital Single
Baltimore’s most inspirational group are back with a pair of sticky sing-alongs. Though they haven’t quite blown up like “With My Team” did, both cuts deliver the same electric elements, bursting with melodic gang vocals and emotional bars. 2018 needs a Creek Boyz album so bad.

Slowthai
“T N Biscuits”
Digital Single
Though UK rap has never been bigger, there’s a bit of a dearth of promising, traditional-ish grime MCs. Enter, Northampton’s Slowthai. More interested in tounge-twisting wordplay and rhythmic versatility than catchy melodies, this cut highlights why Thai is buzzing so much right now.

Sevdaliza
“Human Nature”
Digital Single
It’s been under a year since the Iranian-Dutch vocalist released her gorgeous, labyrinthine debut LP. But she’s back at it with this bewitching, trip-hop ballad. Her voice is slathered in effects, but her humanity bleeds through, forming one of the most arresting songs of 2018.

Dave
“Hangman”
Digital Single
Not a lot of artists can speak to the youth quite like Santan Dave. Whether he’s talking city politics (“Question Time”) or mental health (“Panic Attack”), Dave has that rare ability to craft conscious, thought-provoking music that isn’t preachy or contrived (sup, Logic).

03 Greedo
“Substance”

The Wolf of Grape Street (out now on Alamo)
Addiction is everywhere in 2018. It’s in every community — in our families, friend groups, offices, and increasingly, our art. 03 Greedo’s yearning “Substance” is a visceral, affecting view into the insidious ways drugs invade users’ psyches and dominate their thoughts.

Kacey Musgraves
“Space Cowboy”
Golden Hour (out 03.30 on Mercury)
If the Texan megastar’s inch-perfect farewell ballad doesn’t break your heart, you haven’t got anything in there. Musgraves is an incisive, insightful writer with a pristine, spotless voice. At her best, she’s capable of timeless tracks like this.

Tink
“Breakin’ Me”
Digital Single
The most important part of “Breakin’ Me” isn’t the music. It’s the fact that it coincides with her release from Timbaland’s dastardly clutches. Now that Tink is finally free, she can get back to being one of the most vital, unique voices in music today. Ay fuckin’ men.

Lauren Auder
“These Broken Limbs Again Into One Body”
Who Carry’s You (out 03.16 on True Panther)
The 19 year-old French goth-pop miserablist turns up the drama on his breakthrough single. His evocative baritone mopes through dense layers of guitars and synths, dripping with the kind of existential, teenage angst that hurts so good.

BlocBoy JB & Drake
“Look Alive”
Digital Single
Youthful energy is contagious, and Drake sounds revitalized on this electric collab with rising Memphis rapper, BlocBoy JB. 10 years his junior, JB is half man, half spark-plug, bouncing off the walls and inspiring Drake to drop the tough-guy facade, let his hair down, and just have some fucking fun.

SOB x RBE
“Carpoolin'”
Gangin (Empire)
The first few times I heard the Vallejo crew’s “Carpoolin’,” it felt like it was stuck on 1.5 speed. That said, once my brain caught up with the beat, I fell in love. It reminds me of when your first friend got their license, and you’d just mob around the city with all your boys. *single tear*

Soccer Mommy
“Blossom (Wasting All My Time)”
Clean (out now on Fat Possum)
The best moment from Sophie Allison’s excellent new LP is about seeing your future with somebody who can’t see theirs with you. And then, once you step back from them, you have the sweet realization that they were never right for you from the start. Lucky you.

Gunna
“Almighty” (f/ Hoodrich Pablo Juan)
Drip Season 3 (out now on YSL)
The Young Thug protégé dropped one of the strongest rap records of the first few months. And this slithering slow-burner is a good indication of the hazy delights on the disc. Gunna is a tuneful, charismatic rapper, and he tip-toes through the beat like a young Thugger here.

Camp Cope
“Last One”
How To Socialise & Make Friends (out now on Run for Cover)
I wrote a ton about the Melbourne trio’s beautiful 2016 debut, and their follow-up is more of the same. Its final track, “Last One,” is a beautiful farewell to songwriter Georgia Maq’s late father that is full of insight and emotion. Just an unreal talent.

YBN Nahmir
“Bounce Out With That”
Digital Single
The Birmingham native’s tracks are over so quickly, it’s impossible to only listen to them once. Similar to his break-out single, “Rubbin Off The Paint,” this track is two minutes of pure, lean ear candy. It’s easy to see why he’s one of the hottest young rappers in America.

Haley Heynderickx
“The Bug Collector”
I Need To Start A Garden (out now on Mama Bird)
The Portland folkie’s debut LP is one of the best of the year, and “The Bug Collector” is a perfect example of her nimble guitarwork, warm voice, and unique songwriting. Over descending, arpeggiated guitars, she sings about protecting a loved one from dangers, real and imagined.

Migos
“Supastars”
Culture II (out now on QC)
Though the Internet mostly decided that “Culture II” was a letdown, I beg to differ. Sure, it’s inconsistent. Find me a Migos project that isn’t. It’s still full of that special sauce that only they can cook up.

Off-kilter, intoxicating melody
Glorious wordplay
Inch-perfect percussion

Jens Lekman
“Who Really Needs Who”
Correspondence (With Annika Norlin)
On the first of the Swedish sweeties once-monthly singles series, Lekman writes about friendship and loneliness with the deft touch that only he has. The other two tracks are also worth checking out. So much more to come from this one.

Listen to the whole project, here.

Payroll Giovanni & Cardo Got Wings
“Thing Or 2”(f/ Jade Djones)
Big Bossin Vol. 2 (Def Jam)
Payroll & Cardo bring the 90’s back with this air-tight collection of throwback bangers. Though the whole album is worth your time, this lithe, easy hustler’s anthem is indicative of the potent sound this duo always seems to cook up together.

Yxng Bane
“Corner” (f/ Maleek Berry)
Digital Single
Very few artists have paired the sound of Africa with the UK more seamlessly than the East Londoner with Congolese and Angolan roots. “The Corner” is his strongest cut yet, boasting a floaty hook and melodic verses that will stick in your head. The sky’s the limit for Yxng Bane.

Mount Eerie
“Distortion”
Now Only (out 03.16 on P.W. Elverum & Sun)
A key, rarely discussed element of grief is the confusion that it brings. That feeling is highlighted by this rambling, freeform track that sees Phil Elverum remembering his late wife by touching on everything from a youthful pregnancy scare to the first time he saw a dead body.

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