Chika – “High Rises”
If there was ever any doubt that the rapper behind that viral Kanye West freestyle would not hold up in the studio, “High Rises” has squashed it. The Lauryn Hill influence is evident (even without the cheeky name-drop), and Chika’s feel-good bars are the perfect Instagram caption fodder. This song is sure to brighten up your summer.
duendita – “pray”
duendita brings us to a church of soft affirmation in her rich and airy tenor. Her EP direct line to My Creator unfolds in lowercase sounds. Even in its loudest moments, she seems to be whispering. In that vein, “pray” is a subdued celebration, a quiet party, a hesitant hoorah with lush harmonies and a trap beat.
Kelly Lee Owens – “More Than A Woman”
Kelly Lee Owens revisits the princess of R&B, Aaliyah, in a track that could not sound any less R&B. Owens’ cover of “More Than a Woman” removes all the nostalgic early 2000s production in favor of a much colder, more electronic soundscape.
Michael Brun – “Kale (Ooh La La)”
DJ/producer Michael Brun flexes his Haitian roots in this upbeat, EDM-infused summer jam. The track features dancehall trio Major Lazer as well as Haitian artists TonyMix and Steves J Bryan. “Kale (Ooh La La)” seamlessly integrates American and Caribbean influences and is undeniably danceable.
Flohio – “Hell Bent”
Flohio barely stops to breathe in her new single “Hell Bent.” You can hear her “mind always racing” through the relentless tempo and hard-hitting lyrics. And if Flohio’s flow doesn’t have you seeing red, the music video surely will.
Ama Lou – “Wire”
The minimalist bass line in the intro of “Wire” leaves Ama Lou incredibly vulnerable as she cracks and wails through the start of this confessional. So it is quite a surprise when the song explodes into cacophony by the final chorus. And it’s somehow more surprising when this chorus fades into a sultry saxophone solo–and even more so when that sax solo becomes a trickling piano outro. As Lou’s EP DDD concludes, “Wire” takes just as many twists and turns as it takes to showcase the artist’s sprawling range.
Channel Tres – “Glide”
It’s a bit counterintuitive for a song called “Glide” to open with such a heavy four-on-the-floor beat and a deep, monotonous hook. But perhaps that is the point. Channel Tres takes flight as the song opens up into soaring vocal harmonies and reverberating synths.
Undoubtedly, Pretty Face is one of those albums meant to be listened to from start to finish. As such, it’s hard to pick any of Deem Spencer’s bedroom raps out of the bunch. Still, Spencer’s hush and lo-fi spirit seem most at home on “how beautiful.” It sounds exactly like the kind of song you’d send your crush, which is precisely how Deem Spencer got his start in the first place.
MIKE – “Prayers”
MIKE is perhaps best known for the type of “heady-ass verses” Andre 3000 referenced earlier this year in his James Blake feature. “Prayers” is no exception. Much like duendita’s “prayer,” this sample-heavy song is full of hesitation but also full of hope.
Shigeto – “Detroit Part II”
“Detroit Part II” is a dance party in the front and a jazz club in the back. It’s almost as if, by some happy accident, two songs are playing at once in perfect syncopation.
LAUNDRY DAY – “Harvard”
LAUNDRY DAY is on the come-up, and they know it. They’re “outta the basement” and into some new fantasy. And while “Harvard” is, in part, a breakup song, it’s also a party for the rockstars they’re becoming. So, as the song suggests, “go bump this with ya mom.”
The Marías – “Only In My Dreams”
There is undoubtedly something dreamy about The Marías “Only in My Dreams.” It is unclear whether it’s the Tame Impala-esque psychedelia, María’s seductive vocals, or something else altogether. But you’ll be begging The Marías to “stay” as this song fades out too soon.