In the land of new music, this week has been one to remember. Kendrick Lamar has dropped a brand new song with only a few hours warning. Gorillaz are officially back with a vengeance after dropping not one not two but three tracks from their forthcoming album Humanz. Drake finally unveiled More Life and it is a masterful return to form. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Believe us, it was not easy to sift through it all. But somehow, we made it through the wilderness. Here are the Highsnobiety Music Staff’s definitive picks for the best new songs of the week:
Afro B–“Touch Right” ft. Lil Keish
Afro B and Lil Keish’s “Touch Right” is a truly wavy mashup of the best elements of Afrobeat and dancehall. Crooning over a sun-splashed, tropical beat, Keish and B exchange lyrical rounds of banter full of sexual intent and best you ever had level promises. “Ya ever fuck with a yard girl?” Keish asks. “Me a bad African real bedroom bully,” responds Afro B in kind. We can already picture this playing at a summertime rooftop party.
Drake–“Portland” ft. Travis Scott & Quavo
“The history of rap songs employing the panpipe is woefully short. Few would dare to use such an instrument, and even fewer would dare to use it as the backbone of a track. Because the fact of the matter is that it is an absurd instrument. Memes have already sprung up pointing out just how goofy “Portland” is. But it sells, and sells wonderfully, because Drake’s savvy self-awareness has rarely been as exceptionally honed as it is here.”
Read our full track review.
Gorillaz–“Ascension” ft. Vince Staples
Deep in the depths of the Highsnobiety Music lair, we’ve been pouring over the insane tracklist of Gorillaz’s upcoming album Humanz incessantly. And since Gorillaz co-creator Damon Albarn dropped three tracks on BBC Radio 1 last night, in addition to the surprise video for “Saturnz Barz,” we’ve been spinning them nonstop. Our personal favorite so far is “Ascension,” featuring Vince Staples, with the best lyrics we’ve heard in a while – “The sky’s falling, baby, drop that ass ‘fore it crash.” It’s the perfect blend of triumphant yet dark, danceable yet apocalyptic goodness; a mood that will definitely be present on the rest of the album.
“The project is a triumphant return to the New York club scene, a place that built, broke and rebuilt the artist time and time again. A brash mix of distorted rhythms rooted in ballroom, trance, house and techno, it is Joey’s reclamation of the club as a place of moshing, madness and letting go.”
Read our track review.
Kendrick Lamar–“The Heart Part 4”
We all knew something was cooking in Kendrick’s world after an extremely covert Instagram takeover yesterday, but it’s doubtful any of us were ready for the sheer blunt attack of this song. Kendrick’s work has always been political, but he addresses the state of our disjointed union with a ferocity and directness (“Donald Trump is a chump, know how we feel punk”) that feels shocking for the rapper whose past forays have been laced with a bit more poetry. Not to mention his outright claim that he’s “the greatest rapper alive.” On that point, no one is disputing him.
Mike WiLL Made-It–“Razzle Dazzle” ft. Future
Mike WiLL Made-It’s much hyped Ransom 2 mixtape just dropped today and it is one hour of straight fire. Featuring the likes of 2 Chainz, YG, Lil Yachty, and many, many more, it’s truly a who’s who of who’s running shit in the rap game. A highlight is most definitely “Razzle Dazzle,” with none other than Fire Marshall Future spitting verses. The wavy synths, that bass line, the drum pattern that goes hard and most certainly does not go home; production perfection yet again from Mike WiLL.
Mist is putting Brum on the map. Along with his music, the Birmingham MC is becoming renowned for his legendarily extravagant music videos like “Ain’t The Same.” This is no different – just watch him slug back a bottle of Vodka as an Icelandic geyser pops off in the background.
Mr. Mitch–“VPN” ft. Palmistry
One of Mixpak’s most forward thinking artists links up with one of the most idiosyncratic producers out of the UK. Both forward-thinking club producers indebted to digitalism, “VPN” finds Palmistry unleashing IRL feelings of intimacy via the medium of a Virtual Private Network on this feeling-inducer.
Nite Jewel–“2 Good 2 Be True”
After perfecting her sound last year, in one of 2016’s most underrated albums, the time is ripe for Nite Jewel to have a reinvention. It’s just something of a shock to see how quickly this reinvention is taking place. Just months after the excellent Liquid Cool, the electro-chanteuse is back, bolder and brassier than she’s ever been before. Where before she evoked comparisons to peers like Grimes or Chairlift, now she is going full-on Janet Jackson.
South London-born grime rapper NoLay’s single “P.U.S.S.Y” is one of the lead singles on her new album This Woman. The project as a whole is an unapologetic celebration of women’s strength and ability to endure the circumstances of life in male dominated spaces. “P.U.S.S.Y” sees the rapper dropping her usual rapid fire bars with clear-eyed intent and uncompromising honesty.
R&B is having a moment, and South East London duo Nula is taking full advantage with their electronica-tinged debut single “Us.” Informed by dreamy, atmospheric production and singer Diane N Adu-Gyamfi’s yearning vocals, Nula’s first major effort is a return to the heyday of mercurial ’90s love songs, but this time with an enticing dollop of trippy, indie quirk.
Objekt–“Theme From Q”
If you need a trippy start to your weekend, look no further than Berlin DJ/producer extraordinaire Objekt’s latest. Inspired by the now-shuttered Basement Q, a club in Berlin underneath a glue factory, it’s a reinterpretation of a mysterious, unreleased early morning anthem at the institution. Breakbeat, a bizarre vocal sample, and crazy plucked strings that sonically appear out of nowhere, what’s not to love? You can preorder the digital release which will drop on Monday, March 27 right here.
Perfume Genius–“Slip Away”
Whatever Perfume Genius (alias Mike Hadreas) has been up to in the years following his massive critical-breakthrough Too Bright, it has clearly been something amazing, beautiful and transcendent. “Slip Away,” the first taste of his forthcoming follow-up album No Shape, is colossal, in every sense of the word. He has lost none of his ability to convey intimate, personal heartbreaks, but in both songcraft and production these feelings are being transplanted onto the largest scale possible. It is, from start to finish and everywhere in between, triumphant.
Yves Tumor’s name is instantly striking, yet his music is inherently more subtle. “Limerence” manages to capture an awful lot of atmosphere and emotion for something so ambulatory – a deft feat from the PAN artist with a meteoric future ahead of him.
ZAYN–“Still Got Time” ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR
Two of our fave soft power boys team up for the lowkey song of the summer (we’re calling it now). ZAYN continues to prove he’s fine on his own, in every sense of the word, but having PARTYNYEXTDOOR around almost too much sonic sense. Summery afrobeats? Check. Sultry harmonies? Check. Gentle autotune? Check. The lyric video is cute, but we’re in need of IRL ZAYN x PARTYNEXTDOOR frolicking on a beach or something.
Check out our picks for last week’s best tracks of the week right here.
- Cover Image: Paola Kudacki for 'GQ'
- Text: Jake Boyer, Jacob Davey, Bianca Giulione, Stephanie Smith-Strickland