With April’s plentiful sonic showers, May managed to bring forth bouquets of bangers from some of our faves in the game. After much resistance, we decided that Selena Gomez is allowed to sample Talking Heads, as “Bad Liar” is easily one of the best tracks of the month. Novelist is on a “New Path” that we’re seriously into, A$AP Rocky professes his love for Raf Simons with Playboi Carti, Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert, and Frank Ocean, and we think we may have found our song of the summer courtesy of Vince Staples’ “Big Fish.”
As for albums, everything from Jlin’s futuristic footwork on Black Origami to Lil Yachty’s pop-hop on Teenage Emotions made the cut. Bliss out to Khotin’s ambient jams on New Tab, or thrash around in dystopia with Chino Amobi’s Paradiso. Check out Highsnobiety Music’s top 10 albums and tracks of the month below.
While experimental music can often seem grating and tedious, Chino Amobi’s Paradiso is a reminder of its necessity, especially in a post-truth world where almost nothing makes sense. The NON Worldwide label co-founder takes you on a beat-up motorcycle ride through a “post-American wasteland” with voices interjecting between free form explorations of industrial, noise, musique concrete, Nigerian rhythmic percussion, hip-hop, and more.
Forest Swords’ work continually manages to defy expectation. In theory he is an electronic artist, but you could be fooled into thinking you were listening to anything but on numerous tracks on Compassion. “Panic” for instance is nearly all bell chimes for half of its runtime, while “Raw Language” deftly balances choral samples with the sounds of a train signal. The end result is mystifying to say the least, but a testament to his ability to inhabit a sonic space that is entirely his own.
Easily his best album since his release from prison, Gucci’s Droptopwop is just as much a celebration of freedom as it is a masterfully polished collection of tracks that see the ATL rapper linking up with Metro Boomin for a thoroughly enjoyable 12 tracks. It’s the sort of album Gucci has always promised – and definitely his best project in a hot minute. It’s the perfect lenngth too, despite Wizop saying “the only reason (we) didn’t do more is cause Metro fell asleep!”
J Hus—‘Common Sense’
One of the most exciting rappers emerging out of the UK at present (with one of the most invigorating LP’s), J Hus’ “Common Sense” blends UK garage, dancehall, basement and straight up pop moments with a stern dosage of sparkling hooks courtesy of the genius that is Jae 5. Along with that, he brings bars. We often here “That ting looking like a hippo / I’m a creep and a sicko” echoing in our head most days when the suns out and we’re not even playing the album (despite it largely being on repeat.) Utterly infectious.
As soon as the overlapping strings emerge on the opening title track, one can sense the initial tremblings of an eruption about to lowkey shift some sonic paradigms. Jlin has been shaking things up in footwork for years now, and it’s clear on her latest full length she’s still the reigning queen. Instead of sticking to crowd-pleasing patterns on her sophomore album, she folds up expectations and presents us with an impossibly intricate folded piece of sleek black origami.
If you need a healthy dose of West Coast chill, Vancouver’s Khotin has got you covered. New Tab is nothing short of sublime, making use of incredible vocal samples – an automated train announcer on “Canada Line,” an adorable old lady’s voicemail on “Dotty” and a calm Slavic man on “Always Glad.” In case beatlessness isn’t your thing, New Tab’s got laid-back bubbly breaks on “Fever Loop” and even ambient electro on closing track “New Window.” The perfect soundtrack for watching the clouds go by on a lazy summer day.
Lil Yachty—‘Teenage Emotions’
“If measured against the standard dialogue around American adolescence, Lil Yachty’s debut album Teenage Emotions is not nearly as flimsy as the title might suggest. In fact, the Sailing Team captain’s inaugural effort is a commendable, unselfconscious introduction to his technicolor world of non-conformist pop-hop… Yet even with lyrical mishaps such as the much-discussed cello reference in “Peek a Boo,” Teenage Emotions still occasionally reveals nuggets of self-awareness that are ultimately quite likable.”
Read our full review right here.
Nite Jewel—‘Real High’
Less than a year after releasing her last full-length, the excellent Liquid Cool, Nite Jewel has managed to strike gold yet again. Real High is another masterfully composed collection of sleek electro-pop that feels fitting for both sun-dappled days by the beach and neon-lit nightscapes. In case you weren’t quite feeling the summer vibe yet, a few seconds of this album should do just the trick.
Perfume Genius—‘No Shape’
“To live an openly queer life is an act that requires imagination. You need it to envision a life that is explicitly outside (if not openly condemned by) what society has dictated for you. You need it to create a space in which you can thrive, be it as simple as a stable home or as dramatic as a dancefloor. And most of all, you need it to preserve hope that things will indeed get better some day. On his new album No Shape, Perfume Genius creates—both literally and figuratively—a metaphysical space in which the queer lifestyle fully blossoms through the power of imagination.”
Read our full review.
2 Chainz—“4 AM” ft. Travis Scott
Yet another banger from 2 Chainz’s upcoming Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, “4 AM” has got La Flame on the chorus, asking us to “please believe the hype.” How can we refuse it with this melancholic Murda-produced jam with two of the finest in the game?
A$AP Mob—“Raf” ft. A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert & Frank Ocean
A$AP finally dropped his eagerly-anticipated track “Raf” – and it didn’t disappoint. Not only featuring Playboi Carti as anticipated, the track featured Lil Uzi Vert, Quavo and none other than Frank Ocean rapping over a spacey, Dun-Deal produced beat.
Baba Stiltz—“Can’t Help It”
Having jumped on sounds incorporating Sad Boy-esque hip-hop through to Popcaan-esuqe reggae ton, Baba Stiltz has dropped a distinctly more dance floor-friendly track on “Can’t Help It.” It’s just a damn cool track – whirring along hazily over a rolling house beat and some top-notch, evocative crooning from the Swede. Emotional content to the max.
Calvin Harris—“Rollin” ft. Future & Khalid
Calvin Harris’s reinvention from cheesy pop connoisseur into enlisting “the greatest artists of this generation” (his words) on his tracks has been a rampant success in all honesty. Whilst still undoubtedly pop-heavy, Harris has delivered three standout singles from his upcoming album – but we think “Rollin” is our favorite, namely because it fuses Future’s drug-infused reflections on Khalid’s more wholesome – and more silky – vocals. Lethal summer hit.
Kali Uchis—“Tyrant” ft. Jorja Smith
Rapidly rising artist Kali Uchis had this to say of her new single with the equally rapidly rising Jorja Smith: “[it’s about] wanting to stay in the haze of puppy love forever and never face the power struggles, because that’s your only real escape from the cold realities of life.” In their capable hands, this feeling has never been given such carefully crafted nuance.
LCD Soundsystem—“call the police” / “american dream”
There was little room to doubt that the return of LCD Soundsystem would be anything but spectacular, but a little hesitance in anticipating the 2017 version of one of the most important bands of the new millennium was healthy. But even that small bit of caution proved entirely unwarranted. The boys are back in town, bitches. “call the police” is pure LCD goodness, while “american dream” is a step in a dark new direction. Both are splendid, and their upcoming full-length is shaping up to be one of the year’s best.
Read our full review right here.
Can Migos do any wrong this year? Musically speaking, it doesn’t seem likely. The Atlanta trio who are the embodiment of this ubiquity strike gold once again with this little number, technically a B-side, but one that is every bit as captivating as their full-length work.
Novelist’s ability to keep everyone firmly on their toes despite not having an album to his name is somewhat unprecedented for a grime MC. If “New Path” if anything to go by – it’s going to be worth the wait. Hazy summer musings from an MC whose lyrical calibre and punchy delivery far surpasses his tender age.
Selena Gomez—“Bad Liar”
The fact that Selena Gomez’ latest was built around a sample of Talking Heads’s “Psycho Killer,” specifically around it’s bass riff (one of the most iconic in the history of rock n’ roll) was ballsy, to say the least. It was also reason enough for us to dismiss it outright. But then we listened, and lo and behold, we have a pop masterpiece on our hands. No wonder David Byrne himself gave it his approval; this is true lightning in a bottle, and it is handily the best track of Gomez’ career.
Vince Staples—“Big Fish”
As we draw nearer to the release of Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples’ fourth major project in four years, it becomes ever-clearer that Staples is one of the most talented rappers in the game, full stop. Look no further than the awe-inducing dexterity on display here, wherein he unleashes a flow that toys with rhythm and rhyme like a cat with their prey. There is indeed a big fish on the horizon.
Be sure to check out our picks for the Best Music of April right here.