Though February may be the shortest month of the year, there was no shortage whatsoever of excellent music that was launched into our headphones over the past four weeks. From a wildly imaginative reinvention from indie stalwarts Dirty Projectors to a haunting opus from Sampha to underground electronic to the biggest hip-hop beef in recent memory, here are the Highsnobiety Music Staff’s picks for the best songs of the month.
Arca – “Anoche”
We had been heavily anticipating the upcoming self-titled album from Arca since the beginning of the year, but nothing could have prepared us for this. The mastermind-producer behind some of the most avant-garde beats in Kanye West and Björk’s recent work, not to mention his own enigmatic solo material, is suddenly at the forefront. No longer is he hiding behind his production; he is here, singing with more vulnerability and fragility then we thought possible.
Byrell The Great x Uniiqu3 – “Werk Ya Bawdy”
Jersey Club Kween Uniiqu3 teamed up with New York’s ballroom maestro Byrell The Great for “Werk Ya Bawdy,” blending the two genres with a dash of techno for a high energy anthem. Uniiqu3 performed it live at Chromat’s FW17 presentation last month, opening one of our favorite runway soundtracks of the most recent edition of NYFW.
Cadence Weapon – “My Crew (Woooo)” Prod. By Kaytranada
In which two Canadian hip-hop champions put their heads together for an ode to the city of Montréal. Cadence Weapon now calls Toronto home, but he is clearly still inspired by his former 514 area code, along with the hoods and people that make the city what it is. Kaytranada still kicks it in the capital of La Belle Province and managed to lay down the perfect beat for Cadence Weapon to spit over.
Calvin Harris – “Slide” ft. Frank Ocean & Migos
Producer extraordinaire Calvin Harris delivers the ideal summery piano jam with the help of none other than Frank Ocean and Migos. Highlights include Frank’s casual reference to emptying his bank account for a very specific Picasso painting, autotuned goodness from Quavo, and a killer verse from Offset.
Dirty Projectors – “Cool Your Heart” ft. D∆WN
Dirty Projectors went through a drastic reinvention for their self-titled break-up opus that dropped last week. It is an intriguing listen to say the least, but the album’s most intriguing moment comes courtesy of this stand-out jam, one that sees frontman Dave Longstreth link up with dance queen D∆WN for what might be the bounciest, most jovial song about dealing with heartbreak ever.
Future – “Incredible”
February was many things, but it was first and foremost an embarrassment of riches in the Future department. And though there are two albums worth of excellent songs, something about “Incredible” has it leap to the head of the pack. Perhaps its the bouncing, elastic beat, or the woozy electronics that manage to recreate the smell of summer in sonic form, or that it so delicately balances the joy and the melancholy that reside within Future at all times. Or perhaps its all of these at once and more.
Jacques Greene – “To Say”
Jacques Greene’s highly anticipated debut album, Feel Infinite, is out next week and we couldn’t be more stoked. He’s graciously shared a few dancefloor-ready tracks earlier this year, but we’re really feeling the uplifting house vibes on “To Say.”
Kodak Black – “Tunnel Vision”
Leaked versions of Kodak Black’s “Tunnel Vision” had been popping up around the internet for some time before the official version finally hit us. But even the multiple preview opportunities did little to anticipate the glory that is the finished product. Even if he spends the rest of his days in jail, this track alone will solidify Kodak’s reputation as more than just a ne’er do well.
M.I.A. – “P.O.W.A.”
M.I.A. made it very clear last year that she intended her album AIM to be her last, which was, frankly, an underwhelming end to a legendary career. So the last thing we expected was for her to drop a track that is truly one of the best she’s ever made. The beat is spine-tinglingly good, made even better by a colossal bass line and fiercely political lyrics. We’d say this would make for a more proper end to her career if we didn’t want her to drop more tunes like this immediately.
Remy Ma – “Shether”
Goodness gracious Remy, what have ye done? To invoke the wrath of Nicki Minaj is not something one should do without being prepared for the fire and brimstone that is sure to follow. The track itself pales in comparison to the cultural earthquake which it has wrought, and the motives behind it remain foggy. But in the words of the immortal Missy Elliott, “this is hip-hop man, this is hip-hop.”
Sampha – “Reverse Faults”
We had been anxiously (perhaps too anxiously) waiting for Sampha’s debut album Process, and when the British singer/songwriter’s full-length finally arrived, he more than delivered the goods. “Reverse Faults” is our pick amongst a host of potential mini-masterpieces to choose from. Here, Sampha laments his tendency to blame others for his own faults over a cascading beat and clever reversed instrumental samples, lending an air of both emotion and restraint.
Shanti Celeste – “Selector”
Berlin by way of Bristol selector and producer Shanti Celeste has been in the DJ game for a while, but only recently launched her own label Peach Discs. The first release is a two-track EP from Celeste herself, featuring “Selector” – a deep thumper of a house anthem with swirling, sunny melodies to help you shake off your winter blues.
Stormzy – “Big For Your Boots”
If the opening moments of this track don’t give you chills, then you may want to check your pulse to make sure you’re still alive. A key component of a rap persona is one’s bombast, and Stormzy proves in every single second of his debut album’s best song that he’s got more in his little finger than most get in a lifetime. Bottom line? You will never come close to fitting into these boots.
Terror Jr – “Come First” ft. Father & Lil B
The joy we feel in listening to this track is inseparable from the idea that it might be Kylie Jenner in disguise, but that merely scratches the surface of this immaculate piece of confectionary bubble-gum pop. Is is appropriate to make an ISIS shout-out? Is this the best Based God joke on record? And perhaps the most profound question of all, WTF even is this?
Thundercat – “Friend Zone”
Though it is tempting to pick the absurdity of Drunk’s debut single “Show You the Way” featuring yacht-rock gods Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald as the album standout, the quiet control of “Friend Zone” ultimately has more to say. Featuring one of the most lush funkadelic arrangements of Thundercat’s career, it is an ode to all of those who understand the sweet pain of having a crush not quite become your lover. And, naturally, it arrived on and subsequently soundtracked our Valentine’s Day.
In other music news, we were able to get a sneak peek at an art exhibition dedicated to Pusha T. Take a look inside the gallery right here.
- Text: Jake Boyer, Bianca Giulione, Jacob Davey