Must Listen, New Music: Week 14

My must-listen list of music containing singles, EPs, and LPs all released between July 25th and July 31st, some of which empower the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.


Jorja Smith- “By Any Means”

"So go ahead and fix your crown
Then watch it all burn in smoke 
Go ahead and stand your ground
We're on the long road to freedom"
"Too much time tryna figure out why
Too much time to be patient 
All this time you be feeding us lies 
Ain't no truth in your statements
Too much pain in these little white lies 
You left here 
All this time tryna figure out how 
We still here 
I take pride in the things that we've done
Side by side in the revolution
Won't stay silent for things that I love 
'Cause we know dem nuh care about us 
White men can't jump but at least they can run
Broke these chains just to put our hands up 
They can never see the kingdom coming 
You wanna see us all amount to nothing, no"
"I've spent too many days in my head now 
Did you think we would forget, how?
Too many destinies, too many sentences 
Read now, read now
See all this pain in the headlines 
But I have cried for the last time 
But know what happens, see 
You would be blind if it was just an eye for an eye"
"Would you be grateful if you took my place?
Say my name (Say my name)
There is redemption in the steps we take 
Say, one life and I'm gonna use it 
Innocent 'til I am proven 
One last chance and you blew it 
One last dance in the ruins 
So much hate in your movements"

According to Pitchfork, “By Any Means” is the lead single from Roc Nation’s upcoming Reprise project, which will be a collection of songs under the label. The proceeds of the project will be given to charity partners: the Gathering For Justice, NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice, Equal Justice Initiative Mission, and the Cop Accountability Project. Smith also noted her personal intentions for the track: “the inspiration behind ‘By Any Means’ really came from going to the Black Lives Matter protest and leaving thinking, ‘what can I do to keep this conversation going?’ It’s not just a post on social media, it’s life.”

[ ℗ 2020 FAMM. ]

E-40 (with Big K.R.I.T.)- “Black is Beautiful”

"Social injustice and racial profile
Forty acres and a mule 
Black history should be a mandatory class in school
Strong-minded, solid like granite
We the most forgiving human beings on the planet 
They raped the men in our family in front of wives
Tried to make us look weak in front of our kids, dehumanize
And our leadership hella devil-sent 
Got in the White House by trolling our only Black president 
Evil, evil, evil 
Brainwashed our people, say, 'What Obama do for Black people?'
Me personally, I wanna fade
Fell out with so-called friends 'cause they drunk the Kool-Aid
They whipped us and hung us up on a tree
Lit us on the fire so the community could see

Black is beautiful 
Set our warriors free
Black is beautiful 
Set us free"
[Big K.R.I.T.]
"It's crazy how my beautiful skin
Could get me strapped up, strung up, swung in the wind
Tasered, maced, and cuffed, arm under my chin
Kneeled on, wheeled on, call for mama again
Dragged from the back of a pick-up for people to see
K-9 that bite down, now there's flesh in their teeth
Douse me in gas, burn the ash and left in the streets
And even then, some white folk'll take a picture with me
My beautiful skin could also get me thrown on a boat
Live by the flow, my name, chain, culture revolt 
Pray to the heavens 'cause hell on earth is all that I know
My skin made it where I got nowhere to go
When my people were trying to escape, they either killed or they capture us
And now they got the nerve to tell me 'Go back to Africa'
African-American, my ancestors died for it
So fuck them racist motherfuckers, I'ma ride for it 
Black is beautiful"

[ ℗ 2020 Heavy On The Grind Entertainment. ]


Disclosure, Fatoumata Diawara- “Douha (Mali Mali)”

“Douha (Mali Mali)” is the latest track off of their upcoming album Energy, set to release on August 28th. The album will be the UK duo’s first album together in five years. For “Douha”, they recruited the sensuous vocals, lyrics, and culture of Grammy-nominated artist Fatoumata Diawara. The song itself is a celebratory ode to her native homeland featuring lyrics of pride over distinctly African flairs of production. Born in Côte d’Ivoire, a country in West Africa, Diawara primarily sings in Bambara, which is the national language of Mali, which is located just north of Côte d’Ivoire.

[ ℗ 2020 Island Records, a division of Universal Music Operations Limited. ]

NLE Choppa (feat Lil Baby)- “Narrow Road”

Rising rapping phenom NLE Choppa raps about his troubling upbringing in “Narrow Road” alongside esteemed rapper Lil Baby. By the maturity of his lyrics and sounds, you wouldn’t guess the phenom is just 17 years old. The latest hard-hitting track explores the young rapper’s story of endurance down the ‘narrow road’ that was his upbringing, mentioning his early drug use and his broken family home. Choppa details his upbringing to explain why he is the way he is today and his “it’s kill or be killed” mindset. The single comes in anticipation of his major-label debut album, Top Shotta.

[ ℗ 2020 NLE Choppa Entertainment Inc., under exclusive license to Warner Records Inc. ]

Ant Clemons- “Freak”

Following his debut EP HAPPY 2 BE HERE earlier this year, Ant Clemons is serving us a new side to his sound with an upbeat, sexy club anthem in “Freak”. As served up by the track’s title, “Freak” confidently describes a rather promiscuous love interest at a club party scene with a recurring “Freak” audio echo in the background. Compared to the lower-key music featured on his EP, “Freak” has an upbeat summery island vibe over a more electronic production. Rightfully so, I can already hear this track being played at all of the clubs and after-parties in the months following the pandemic.

[ ℗ 2020 Legion / Human Re Sources. ]

The Band CAMINO, Chelsea Cutler- “Crying Over You”

The Band CAMINO, a captivating indie pop band, paired up with rising singer-songwriter Chelsea Cutler for their latest single “Crying Over You”. I’ve been following The Band CAMINO since their 2016 heartfelt track “The Black and White” and Chelsea Cutler since her 2017 longing track “Your Shirt”, and hearing about this particular pairing had me feeling both extremely excited and emotionally nervous. Both The Band CAMINO and Chelsea Cutler have very distinctly unique ways of beautifully breaking my heart. I know ‘beautiful heartbreak’ seems like a ridiculous oxymoron…just take a listen to “Crying Over You” (along with basically both of these artists entire discographies) and you’ll understand what I mean.

[ ℗ 2020 Elektra Records, A Warner Music Group Company. ]

Y2K, JoJo- “Damage is Done”

Grammy-winning R&B lifetime artist JoJo paired up with rising record producer Y2K for the tasteful break-up vibe “Damage is Done”. JoJo’s effortless and gorgeous vocals paired with Y2K’s lowkey and smooth production make it painlessly clear to her partner that it’s too late to reconcile whatever damage was done in their relationship.

I’ve been obsessed with JoJo since the start of her career in her mid-teens and this track reassures every inch of that obsession. Hearing her signature range simplified to its richly smooth quality on a lowkey EDM track is everything I never even knew I needed. Thanks to Y2K’s equally smooth production and heartbreakingly accepting lyricism, my love for JoJo simply grows.

[ ℗ 2020 Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment. ]

Khamari- “The Heat”

“The Heat” is rising newcomer Khamari’s second release following “Jealous” in June. With the two tracks, Khamari is already proving his innate ability to blend lyrical vulnerability and smooth production with an addictively engaging value. The two tracks have been released in anticipation of his upcoming EP, set to release in the fall.

Paired with producer Trackside, Khamari debuts “Jealous” with a simplified acoustic vulnerability that slowly builds. The building exceedingly continues on “The Heat”, as Khamari manages to maintain that personal vulnerability in his writing over a groovy and lowkey sound. For the opening verse, Khamari is beginning to give up on his failing relationship (“Waiting for some light but it keep on raining” / “Just kind of feel like my time getting wasted”). For the chorus and second verse, he self-reflects on his personal tendency in relationships to run away from difficult situations inherently making it worse (“I been running running ‘way from the heat”, “I don’t wanna yell can we talk about it later / Always find a way of making nothing something major”) but this time, he’s done running (“Before it all goes south, we could figure this out”).

[ ℗ 2020 Khamari. ]

Murda Beatz (feat Ty Dolla $ign, Polo G)- “DOORS UNLOCKED”

Canadian producer and songwriter Murda Beatz paired up with Ty Dolla $ign and phenom Polo G for hitmaker’s latest vibe “DOORS UNLOCKED”. With Ty Dolla $ign’s signature attention-grabbing vocals on the first verse and chorus and Polo G’s alluring second verse, “DOORS UNLOCKED” is the latest sensually catchy track to enter the hip-hop genre. The song is expected to land on Murda Beatz’s upcoming project Keep God First 2, a sequel for his breakout mixtape from 2016.

[ ℗ A Murda Beatz Recordings/Interscope Records Release; ℗ 2020 Interscope Records. ]

BabyJake- Don’t give me problems, give me wine

Following the releases of “Confidant”, “MadHappySad” (as announced in Must Listen, New Music: Week 4), and “Head In The Clouds”, BabyJake has released his highly anticipated debut EP project Don’t give me problems, give me wine. The singer-songwriter’s distinct vocals and blurred genre lines are addictive gifts that keeps on giving. And with each song and the ultimate EP release, he continued to share a new, vulnerable detail about his life.

For the EP’s first half, he confronts his less-appealing tendencies. He details his desperate need to escape his pain (“Blue Cellophane”), his romantic efforts not being reciprocated (“MadHappySad”), and his tendency to avoid his problems by getting high (“Head In The Clouds”), his reliance on consumption and addiction to distract himself from his problems (“(Consumption)(Addiction)”). After the addiction-confronting interlude, the lyrical themes in the second half begin to flip while BabyJake’s attitude changes. He cuts ties with a problematic and toxic ex (“Confidant”), beams about a unique new relationship (“Bread & Butter”), and refuses to give up on a relationship even though it’d be the easier thing to do (“Anywhere”).

[ ℗ 2020 SRV LabelCo, LLC. ]

GASHI- “Lies”

To add to GASHI’s seemingly never-ending 2020 releases, he dropped “Lies”. The Libya-born and Brooklyn-based writer, rapper, singer, producer continues to do it all. For his latest “Lies”, he sees through the lies as his partner claims to love him. Even though he knows it’s all lies, he doesn’t want to let it go as he vulnerably admits “My pretty life is upside down” and “I’m afraid to die alone”. With vulnerably-written and beautifully-produced tracks like “Lies”, and previously released “Upset” and “Paranoid”, now we’re left to patiently await rising GASHI’s sophomore album set to release next week.

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

Travis Barker (with Run The Jewels)- “Forever”

As of late, legendary drummer, songwriter, and producer Travis Barker has been keeping extremely busy. Along with his recent solo projects like “Forever” with Run The Jewels, he’s also finishing the newest Blink-182 EP along with a collaboration album with Machine Gun Kelly titled Tickets To My Downfall (one of its tracks was featured in Must Listen, New Music: Week 1), and also signed the first artist (jxdn) to his new record label.

Before his most recent collaboration with Run The Jewels, Barker has also released solo collaboration singles with Wiz Khalifa (“Drums Drums Drums”), Jasiah and nascar aloe (“Dogshit”), and Lil Wayne and Rick Ross (“Gimme Brain”). Barker’s heavy rock production vibes mixed with hard-hitting rap lyrics– delivered by artists like Run The Jewels, Weezy, and Wiz– is a combination I can’t seem to get enough of.

[ ℗ under exclusive license to Elektra Entertainment Group, Inc. for the world., ℗ 2020 Clarence Worley, Inc. ]

Beyoncé- The Lion King: The Gift [Deluxe Edition]

Beyoncé ~the queen~ released the deluxe edition of her original album, known as The Gift, curated for the photorealistic animated remake of Disney’s The Lion King. The deluxe edition was released on the same day as her monumental visual album release Black is King via Disney+, which is based on the music from the film.

The deluxe edition of The Gift features the same tracks from the original album, but is stripped of the spoken interludes from film. Additionally, you will find Beyoncé’s original and an extended version of “BLACK PARADE” (which was also featured in Must Listen, New Music: Week 8 #BLM), as well as Melo-X’s remix of the original “FIND YOUR WAY BACK”. As far as an artistic and conceptual summary goes, I will let the original and deluxe albums, the film remake, and the visual album speak for themselves. Put simply, Beyoncé is forever changing music and visual art…and for that, I bow down.

[ ℗ Compilation (P) 2020 Parkwood Entertainment LLC, under exclusive license to Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment. ]

Brandy- B7

The trail-blazing legend Brandy’s debut 3x-platinum, self-titled album was released in 1994 when she was just 15 years old. Now, for the R&B legend’s first album in 8 years, she has released her seventh studio album appropriately titled B7. Titling the seventh album B7 is about more than just the numerical lineage, but the spiritual meaning behind the number 7. To many, the number 7 is associated with inner wisdom.

In her 8-year break away from music, Brandy focused on self-healing and personal soul searching, as you can take away from the album. On the surface, Brandy’s B7 is filled with classic R&B love songs. But in this particular album, the love isn’t necessarily for a partner, but for herself. She acknowledges her dysfunctional and self-sabotaging past in “Unconditional Oceans” and her mental health on “Bye BiPolar”, and further empowers herself by understanding her worth on “I Am More” and demanding proper communication on “Say Something”. From its textured R&B sounds to its self-empowering lyricism, B7 was worth the wait…especially since Brandy herself healed during its making.

[ ℗ 2020 Brand Nu, Inc./ Entertainment One U.S., LP. ]

Honorable Mentions:

Amy Allen- “Difficult” (single)

Hit-Boy, Dom Kennedy- Also Known As (album)

Peter Fenn- “Something of Myself” (single)

Lola Young- “Woman” (single)

Yandel- Quien Contra Mi 2 (album)

Juicy J (with Wiz Khalifa)- “GAH DAMN HIGH” (single)

Dominic Fike- What Could Possibly Go Wrong (album)

Maluma- “Hawái” (single)

Sam Smith (feat Burna Boy)- “My Oasis” (single)

Sam Fischer- “The Usual” (single)

A. K. Paul- “Be Honest” (single)

Dan + Shay- “I Should Probably Go To Bed” (single)

Koffee- “Pressure” (single)

Marilyn Manson- “WE ARE CHAOS” (single)

Billie Eilish- “my future” (single)

Lost Frequencies- Cup of Beats (EP)

Rod Wave- “Freestyle” (single)

Bastille (with Graham Coxon)- “WHAT YOU GONNA DO???” (single)

Sleepy Hallow- The Black House (EP)

Mulatto (feat Gucci Mane)- “Muwop” (single)

grandson- “Riptide” (single)

Jacob Collier (feat Tori Kelly)- “Running Outta Love” (single)

Angel Olsen- “Whole New Mess” (single)

Bryce Vine- “Life Goes On” (single)

JPEGMAFIA- “living single” (single)

Skip Marley (feat Rick Ross, Ari Lennox)- “Make Me Feel” (single)

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