Love him or hate him, no discussion of this week’s best new songs can begin until we address Childish Gambino’s latest. His single “This Is America” dominated the conversation in this week’s pop culture, thanks in no small part to its devastating accompanying music video. Musically it holds up too, but that’s far from the only point of discussion in new tunes.
This week our headphones were filled with fresh tasters from upcoming albums we’re seriously hyped on; Death Grips gave us a surprisingly melodic offering from their impending doomsday-LP Year of the Snitch while Buddy brought forth a healthy bit of neo-funk, in sharp contrast to the darker, trap-oriented vibes we’ve heard so far. And bringing it all home is a pop-rap hybrid from Rita Ora, who managed to pull together an all-star roster including Charli XCX and Cardi B for the banger extolling bisexuality, “Girls”.
All those and more make this edition of Best Tracks of the Week:
Buddy – “Trouble on Central”
Thus far, the tasters we’ve gotten from Buddy’s impending breakthrough full-length have showed off his rap chops, particularly on the stinging “Black” with A$AP Ferg. But it seems that’s far from the only side of himself the Compton MC is ready to show off to the world. “Trouble on Central” is a radiant, bubbling bit of neo-funk, a track where the marriage of real-world struggles with ebullient sonic joy makes it worthy of peak-Stevie Wonder comparisons.
Childish Gambino – “This Is America”
Juxtaposing as many styles behind the booth as visual references in front of the camera, Childish Gambino’s internet-breaking new single is a smorgasbord of genre, all of it tightly-wrapped in one of the most expertly-produced tracks Glover has offered us under his musical moniker yet. That voices like 21 Savage and Young Thug can be stitched into the sonic patchwork quilt without calling attention to themselves are one of the numerous bits of subtlety that make this song so successfully tick.
Death Grips – “Streaky”
You just can’t predict what Death Grips are going to do next, it’s a pointless endeavor. So it’s a pleasant surprise to find the hype surrounding their upcoming album Year of the Snitch (one that has found them in the studio with the director of Shrek) has produced “Streaky”, a streamlined version of the trip-hop oriented work they started laying down on 2016’s Bottomless Pit. In other words, it’s far more of a club-oriented jam we can groove to than a machine gun assault on the ear drums; with Death Grips it’s always a 50/50 chance between the two.
Future – “My Peak” ft. Chance the Rapper & King Louie
“My Peak” would basically be a heartfelt ballad if it weren’t for the trunk-rattling percussion courtesy of DJ Esco. The piano-led theme is a worthy soundtrack to Future, Chance the Rapper, and King Louie claiming they’re still not even at the top of their game. Bonus points for Chano opening his verse by congratulating his baby mama on getting her Master’s degree.
Kojey Radical – “Water” ft. Mahalia
We’re extremely vibing with Kojey Radical’s “Water”, from it’s oozing funk to Mahalia’s angelic, effortless vocals that waft in like a much-needed summer breeze. With Swindle on production duties, the track infuses his reggae and jazz sensibilities, resulting in a low-key, infectious jam.
Playboi Carti – “Poke It Out” ft. Nicki Minaj
Playboi Carti has – once again – seriously delivered; his surprise new album Die Lit is currently soundtracking the Highsnobiety Music HQ and providing unadulterated faded bliss. The project has a few choice cuts, but this cheeky Nicki Minaj collab is the most immediate standout. That Carti can turn “poke it out” into a single syllable is impressive enough, but the effervescent production and Nicki’s subtle re-working of “Magnolia” makes this a cheeky, self-referential bop that counts this among Playboi’s best.
Popcaan – “Body So Good”
It’s basically summer, which means dancehall season is upon us. Thanks to Popcaan, we have a fresh jam to add to our rotation with everything we love about the genre – affirming compliments, breezy melodies, and syncopated beats to get low to. If you can’t get enough Popcaan, stayed tuned for his upcoming sophomore album Forever.
Rita Ora – “Girls” ft. Cardi B, Bebe Rexha & Charli XCX
Rita Ora, Charli XCX, Cardi B, and Bebe Rexha have linked up for the casual bisexual anthem we didn’t know we needed. Over a bangin’ summer-ready beat, the girls wax poetic about their desire to kiss girls – often under the influence of red wine. There’s really not much more to say about this except that it’s everything one needs from a pop song, and we are always here for a collab between pop and rap’s finest.
Skepta – “Pure Water”
Is there anything new here that you wouldn’t expect to find from a Skepta-banger at this stage in his career? No, but that doesn’t mean “Pure Water” is anything less than a certified trunk-rattler. Over haunting synths that evoke the yearning of Vangelis’ iconic Blade Runner score, Skepta inserts a small arsenal of snares and snaps – some of which lyrical, evidenced best when he spits inspired kiss-offs like “I had to chat to Cupid, said, ‘little man you know I ain’t stupid.'”
Uffie – “Drugs”
It’s been eight years since Uffie’s explosive debut album Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans, and the French-American artist has more or less been on hiatus, save for her appearance on “Babygirl” from Charli XCX’s Number 1 Angel mixtape last year. Now, she’s officially back in action with “Drugs”, singing into a vocoder as twinkling synths and a laid-back beat creeps in. Our serotonin is officially restored, and we can’t wait to hear more from the queen of blog house.
Be sure to check out last week’s edition of Best Tracks right here.