They may have only been with us a few hours, but this week's round up of the best new songs can't go without mentioning the one-two punch of blockbuster releases from A$AP Rocky and Pusha-T. Both rappers have casually turned in career-defining records, and somehow we boiled down the tracklists of both Testing and Daytona, respectively, to pick a favorite. It was not easy.
But it wasn't all Rockys and Pushas. This week gifted us with another sublime single from Jorja Smith (whose own album is just around the corner), a third offering from the inimitable Death Grips' upcoming Year of the Snitch, and a surprise new gem from James Blake.
Find all those and more in this edition of Best Tracks of the Week.
A$AP Rocky - "Buck Shots"
Just to be clear - A$AP Rocky's Testing is all killer no filler; there isn't a weak track of the bunch. But we're compelled to throw extra love to "Buck Shots", which is essentially the closest to soundtracking a John Hughes '80s-teen movie that Flacko will ever get. The synths are downright triumphant, heralding that Rocky's level is "Fort Knox this ain't Fortnite". Testing as a whole more than vouches for such a flex.
Death Grips - "Flies"
As the third song released ahead of Death Grips' upcoming Year of the Snitch, "Flies" continues to point toward this album being an incredibly strong offering from the world's preeminent experimental hip-hop act. Over bars depicting flies vomiting frontman MC Ride, they offer their usual potent blend of visceral hardcore electro with a heart of utter darkness.
Denzel Curry - "Percs"
Don't let the title fool you - Denzel Curry's latest is a fiery condemnation against the dangerously popular prescription med, along with just about everything else that pisses Denzel the hell off. Far more effective than a D.A.R.E. campaign, he makes the case for entering the world of screamo in this no-holds barred, fireworks display of a rap cut. Saying no to drugs never sounded this hard.
Gyles Bartle - "Medium"
We know next to nothing about this London-based newcomer which, really, only adds to our infatuation. After wowing us with his lead single "You" a couple weeks ago, Gyles Bartle's debut EP 96 builds up on the promise of its lead single. The project's closing track "Medium" is a haunting bit of electro-soul, hovering in suspended animation where melancholy would normally hit - leaving you with a mere memory of yearning. We cannot wait to see where this one goes next.
James Blake - "Don't Miss It"
In which James Blake manages to present new sides to his voice that we haven't heard in his near-decade career in the spotlight. With each element of instrumentation rolling in like calm waves upon the shore, Blake's voice - more angular, sharper than usual - lulls us into a false sense of security before it subtly warps into a frightening digital rendering. Your spooky and sad summer jam has arrived.
Jorja Smith - “February 3rd”
Our girl Jorja continues to stun, and at this point, we’re convinced she’s incapable of putting out a lackluster song. “February 3rd” is a prime example - her incredibly soothing voice over a gentle R&B beat is the protective salve against everyday bullshit we needed this week, and it’s getting us even more hyped for the release of her debut album Lost & Found on June 8.
Lykke Li - “hard rain”
Lykke Li’s latest single “hard rain” begins acapella, progressing with some Imogen Heap-esque layered vocals, and we are extremely here for it. The opener is a strong move and the Swedish singer-songwriter keeps up the momentum throughout with hip-hop percussion, dreamy harmonies, autotuned and pitched down voices, and the sound of actual rain.
Moses Sumney - "Make Out in My Car - Sufjan Version"
Because occasionally you can indeed improve on a good thing, Moses Sumney released an extended version of his song “Make Out in My Car”, with remixes from Alex Isley, James Blake, and Sufjan Stevens. Although clocking in at a mere two minutes, 46 seconds, the “Sufjan version” of Sumney’s simply sublime love-type beat is our pick, with Stevens himself taking over vocal duties on an acoustic version that’s a certified heart-wrencher.
Pusha-T - "If You Know You Know"
Fans of Pusha have waited a long time for this record. Years, in fact. And through a mountain of delays, title changes, and the knowledge that Kanye was overseeing production amid the most controversial, unpredictable phase of his career, it has arrived. "If You Know You Know", Daytona's opening statement, is the glorious sound of having all our doubts erased in one fell swoop. Pusha's still got it, Kanye's still got it, and it's all been worth it.
YG - "Big Bank" ft. 2 Chainz, Big Sean & Nicki Minaj
Talk about the posse cut we never knew we needed; YG has dropped out of no where an ice-cold slice of rap excellence. Built on a minimal beat of plinking xylophones, "Big Bank" is a simple exercise in A-list rappers spitting an A-plus verse. The VIP is unquestionably 2 Chainz, thanks to such golden nuggets as "Big shit like a dinosaur did it".
Be sure to check out last week's round up of our Best Tracks series right here.