Must Listen, New Music: Week 12

My must-listen list of music containing songs, EPs, and a LP all released between July 11th and July 17th, some of which empower the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.


Jidenna, Bullish- “Black Magic Hour”

"I'm from the long line of chiefs, I was made in their image
Grandfather married seven wives in the village
Never sold a slave, and the British couldn't kill him 
And they called it 'Black Magic' when they baffled by the physics
Smart ni***s are the white mans villain 
I rocked these linens 'for Wakanda looked appealing'"
"Cannot kill it, man, it's still in me
I can feel it
I can feel it in me
And the spirits is revealing me
Black Magic Hour"

[ ℗ 2020 Bullish Artists Group / EMPIRE. ]

Aluna, Princess Nokia, Jada Kingdom- “Get Paid”

“Get Paid” is a complete BOP. It’s a feel-good dance vibe for female empowerment jammed packed with “bad girl” energy. Aluna told OutNow that it’s “an aspirational celebration about black women and women of color getting paid, in opposition of the reality that we are consistently undervalued for our work”.

Aluna, one half and the front-woman of the dance duo AlunaGeorge, is stepping into her own and taking back ownership of the dance genre. She demands that the global dance community address the unequal positioning of Black artists in the dance genre. Her open letter to the community via AlunaGeorge’s Twitter begins with the caption “I want all black people to know that the genre of Dance is their heritage and they should feel included and encouraged to create under that banner by expanding the genre to be culturally and racially inclusive.” The open letter itself begins with her personal dedication to the cause and her demands from the community: “as a member of the Black Music Action Coalition and a Black woman in dance music, I need to challenge the ‘dance music industry’ on its long standing racial inequalities…we not only need to give credit to the artists that created the genre, we also need to establish a long-term plan to secure a healthy future for dance music that is culturally and racially inclusive.”

[ 2020 Mad Decent. ]


Peter Manos- Do You Turn Red?

Do You Turn Red? is 23 year old Peter Manos’ debut EP; and in my opinion, a sign of great things to come. The EP was initially set for a June release date, but Manos announced the pushback to July 15th via his Instagram with the caption stating: “I’m taking the extra time to learn and educate myself on racial injustice and challenge you to do the same.”

The EP as a whole shares intimate details of Manos’ relationships in a unique blend of R&B and electronic sounds. “In My Head”, the last track on the EP, was Manos’ viral debut back in 2017. The mournful ballad currently has almost 120 million plays on Spotify. Following “In My Head”, Manos released “Tennessee” and “You Don’t Know Me”, both just as personally intimate as the last. The sheer level of intimacy paired with the unique blend of production in an EP, which features a viral track, makes for an impressive debut showing for Manos.

[ ℗ Capitol Records; ℗ 2020 7777777, LLC, under exclusive license to UMG Recordings, Inc. ]

renforshort- “fuck i luv my friends”

“fuck i luv my friends” is exactly how the title reads…it’s the ultimate, unconditional love letter to your friends. In the love letter, renforshort addresses how the current pandemic has her anxiously awaiting their reunion. But despite some distance between them, the deep friendship is unconditional. She reminisces their everlasting memories together and thanks them for loving her unconditionally. If she ran away, she knows they’d run with her. And she’d quite frankly be dead without them. I’m sending this song to my unconditional friends as I type this, and you should too.

[ ℗ 2020 Renwasn’there Inc, under exclusive license to Interscope Records. ]

Koffee- “Lockdown”

Jamaican Grammy winner (and, may I add, the youngest to ever win the Grammy award for Best Reggae Album) Koffee’s “Lockdown” is the ultimate banger for the chaotic summer of 2020. The reggae dancehall blend addresses the next steps in a modern love story after the quarantine lockdown ends. The big question: when the lockdown ends and FaceTime chats become in-person dates, will the love stay on lockdown? Koffee puts her passion and love on lockdown, but needs to know if the feelings are reciprocated. It’s an extremely valid and timely question in the midst all of this summer’s uncertainties.

[ ℗ 2020 Promised Land Recordings Limited. ]

The Aces- Under My Influence

Under My Influence is the beginning of “a new era”, according to The Aces’ Instagram, as they wiped their feed to announce the new project on March 2nd. The band’s drummer Alisa Ramirez told Billboard that the band felt like despite their success, something was still missing from their music. The band made a mission statement for the new album: “More than anything, we are trying to chase an energy and attitude of being as authentic and soul-baring as possible”, as she recalls in the interview. The band’s slick merge of indie pop and alternative sounds is prevalent in this album of modern longing, as they bare their authentic souls from start to finish.

In the same interview, all 4 band members (drummer Alisa Ramirez, lead singer Cristal Ramirez, guitarist Katie Henderson, and bassist Mckenna Petty) break down the album track-by-track for those interested in learning more. “Daydream” was dropped in March, “Los Angeles” in April, “My Phone Is Trying To Kill Me” in May (as included in Must Listen, New Music: Week 2), and “Kelly” in June before the ultimate album drop on July 17th.

The album’s initial release date was set for June 12th. However, on June 7th, The Aces announced on their official Instagram that they would be postponing the initial album release in order to keep all attention on the BLM movement, and instead used their platform to push for social justice. They released a “Let’s Do Better” Digital Tour on their Instagram on June 20th, where they invited individuals fighting for social justice onto their Instagram Live to speak about reform and equality. And, on June 11th, they announced an exclusive Pride pre-order merch line on their Instagram, dedicating a portion of the proceeds to the National Black Justice Coalition. The Aces are an incredible example of recording artists using their platform to not only amplify great music, but also great social causes.

[ ℗ 2020 Red Bull Records Inc. ]

Grace Carter, Jacob Banks- “Blame”

The collaboration of UK’s Grace Carter and Jacob Banks is quite simply magical. Their individually perfect voices and tones placed together in a powerfully heart-wrenching ballad like “Blame” is absolutely stunning. And I promise you, I’m not being dramatic or biased…this soulful collaboration is everything you could want in a heartbreaking love song and more. The 23 year-old explained the meaning behind the heart-wrenching lyrics on her Instagram: “I wrote this song at the start of lockdown about my bad luck in relationships. Whether that be romantic or not, I would always blame myself for things not going to plan. Throughout my life, I have often found myself questioning where I went wrong. This song is about a specific situation where I realised it’s not always my fault and sometimes things just don’t work, it’s not meant to be.”

[ ℗ 2020 Grace Carter. ]

Wingtip- “Demons”

Singer, songwriter, and producer Nick Perloff-Giles, known by stage name Wingtip, explores earnest feelings of vulnerability, insecurity, and uncertainty in “Demons”. The song’s hook and upbeat pop production are welcoming, matching the track’s theme. “Demons” looks to encourage open communication and trust within a relationship, whether romantic or otherwise. In the first verse, he can sense the pain and hesitance toward open honesty. And though he understands the hesitance (as we learn in the chorus), he offers a give-and-take compromise, “just show me your demons and I’ll show you mine.”

[ ℗ 2020 Wingtip under exclusive license to independent. ]

Jake Scott, Josie Dunne- “CWJBHN”

The song’s title “CWJBHN” abbreviates the song’s chorus and theme “Can We Just Be Happy Now”. The theme of the song is putting your fears and doubt aside in order to appreciate the good times while you’re in them. Jake Scott and Josie Dunne are letting go of the doubt and second-guessing that comes with a new relationship, and instead living in the blissful present for as long as they can. As someone who deals with her own fair share of doubt and commitment issues, this simple and sweet song bears some heavy, yet optimistic weight.

[ ℗ 2020 Jake Scott. ]


“Girl” is a liberating track of self-acceptance, which reassures personal identity and breaks gender-normative stereotypes. SAYGRACE is taking back her sense of personal expression from her romantic partner, who tries to dress her into the stereotypical definition of a girl. Her partner prefers her hair long and worn down instead of pulled back; prefers skirts over baggy jeans; and buys her heals instead of her preferred Jordan’s. Her partner claims that she’s one in a million, but can’t accept her for who she is. This is a classic, and unfortunately common, case of controlling and abusive behavior from a partner; and though she’s scared to be lonely, SAYGRACE is done tolerating it. She’s not like other girls, and will no longer tolerate her partner’s need to make her into someone she’s not.

[ ℗ 2020 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. ]

Pink Sweat$- The Prelude

Singer-songwriter known as Pink Sweat$, who made his debut in 2018, released his most recent EP full of emotionally-charged R&B sounds. He first released “17” off the EP, rendering over 21 plays on Spotify. “17”, as well as “At My Worst” (which precedes “17”) and “Lows” (which follows “17”), are soulful and smooth R&B love songs, proclaiming an unconditional and never-ending romantic connection. Along with his soulful R&B romance, Pink Sweat$ also showcases his slick confidence (“Icy”), smooth flirtatious advances (“Give It To Me”), and honest personal vulnerability (“Not Alright”).

[ ℗ 2020 Atlantic Recording Corporation. ]

Honorable Mentions:

joan- “brokenhearted” (single)

flor- reimagined (EP)

Joey Bada$$- The Light Pack (EP)

Shaylen- “Forgive Myself” (single)

THEY. (with Tinashe)- “Play Fight” (single)

CXLOE- “12 Steps” (single)

Lunay- “Relaciones” (single)

Alfie Templeman- Happiness in Liquid Form (EP)

Joy Oladokun- in defense of my own happiness (vol. 1) (album)

Gracie Abrams- minor (EP)

Troye Sivan- “Easy” (single)

BENEE (feat Kenny Beats & Bakar)- “Night Garden” (single)

** Deluxe Editions of Jhené Aiko’s Chilombo and Meghan Trainor’s TREAT MYSELF are also available **

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