Must Listen, New Music: Week 15

My must-listen list of music containing singles, EPs, and LPs all released between August 1st and August 7th, some of which specifically reference the systematic racism and continued Black Lives Matter protests which have occurred and continue to occur across the world.


Anderson .Paak (feat JID, Noname & Jay Rock)- “Lockdown” (Remix)

.Paak recruited verses from JID, Noname & Jay Rock for the remix of his popular track “Lockdown” (included in Must Listen, New Music: Week 8 #BLM) centered around the Black Lives Matters protests amid the coronavirus pandemic’s quarantine lockdown.

"It's a war going on outside, I swear to God
I'm on the front line, no front, no cap, no fun-size
Sunshine, cinnamon skin, people blend in together and ride
Side by side, organize
We bust guns at the same time, harmonize 
Form a line, pick a lead, take a leap
Lead with love, please, you sound like Dr. King
People tired of taking beatings from beasts covered in sheets 
I love ni***s, but we too forgiving for how they treating us
Common ground, prison compounds full of my fuckin' people 
How you still sleepin'?
Have you had your coffee this evening, Karen?
'Cause you seem a little off 
All the black girls missin' and endin' up inside the coffins
But you mad when they hashtag "BlackLivesMatter" on front your sidewalks"
"Government cinematic, American drive-thru
Eat their apple pie in the morning then bury the strange fruit 
Then marry the strange fruit and call it Black love
So when he bleeds, I bleed, the sacred riddle
Ain't no money I can make to make the cops get little 
We seen 'em murder the indigenous, the Passage Middle
The Constitution, a life for a bag of Skittles?
So when we bleed, I load the sacred pistol
An African liberation is ready to take arms 
They telling you, 'Stay calm,' they double-barrel the shotty
And stand on a grave and tell you to slave on"
[Jay Rock]
Turn on your tube, dawg, look how they do us
Knee on our necks, bullets in backs
Stimulus checks, strictly for Blacks?
History repeating 
People scared to eat a chicken,
everybody going vegan
What they put in it? Look at the world we living in
They got us shook in it 
You go on your jog, then your color might get you took in it
Man in the mirror, don't look away, you better look at it
Black lives matter, so what it means when they shoot at it?
Generation, genocide, what happened to enterprise?
Heard the man infiltrated, Black Panther, re-energize 
Nothing to figure out, they tryna kill us out 
If I take a kneel, see my fist? I'm a killer now
Just think, bullshit you gotta filter out
Are you really ready for the smoke like a Swishahouse?
Ready for the revolution, who ready to ride?
It won't be televised, so tell me, who ready to die?"

[ ℗ 2020 Aftermath Entertainment, exclusively distributed by 12 Tone Music, LLC. All rights reserved. ]

Rick Ross (feat Finn Matthews)- “Pinned to the Cross”

"They say young black men
Are now living in a state of public emergency
Middle class and poor people be targeted every day dealing with so much hostility"
"When you're forced to be fearless strangers consider you careless
Detrimental to my upbringing, I felt so abandoned
I was lost in confusion therefore had nothing to lose
Now I'm running the racket, ni*** got cut from the noose 
I just wanna be free, another black man on the run
We was pinned to the cross since our birth under the sun
Ain't no hate in my heart, I've adapted to rage
Step off the stage, pussy ni*** right back in the cage
Now we burning the streets, Christ to the cross 
Our position is blatant, rightfully lost
Let's empower the people, no need for signin' petitions
Peace and Revelations, scriptures keep on blinding these Christians"
"I'm watchin' for Karen, G watchin' bird watches 
My life needed a balance, didn't come for the status
But my mother responsible, she raised me so lavish
Look, son, you're a kind, were the verse she recited
And it kept me excited 'til the day I'm indicted"

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

TeaMarrr (feat Wale)- “Colors”

"Pardon my palette, I was made this dark
I still bleed red though my hair is coarse 
Miss me with that fake guilt and fake remorse 
Ask me how I feel, you just make it worse
They say that they love the rainbow
I know they hate when it reigns, though
They want us back in our stables, labeled
Black dreams standing in the same light
Killing us in daylight so we never take flight 
Black dreams, smother them 'til flatline
Shoot me for a brake light 'cause we're not the same kind

I'm just a color
I don't want no problems"

"I'm just a color, I'm just a color 
Karen, let me be great
Hands up in the air, don't shoot
Don't wanna see another name hashtag
Tryna dull my saturation"
"Look how I'm comin' through
The system full of lies, but my eyes know the truth
We humble, they be quiet, it's a riot, then they cool
The black hate the blue 'cause the blue shoot whatever
Which mostly is the blacks, 'cause the blue be acting yello
And the whites seeing red 'cause the blacks ain't goin'
The orange in the office on that green 'cause he golfing
I hate when brothers hate when bothers gay 'cause why you bashing'?
A black hate a rainbow, hone a black hate the palette
I'm tired of being passive, I'm tired of being fed up"
"Can't see my rise, don't be color blind 
My struggle came from the spoken lies
And my broken eyes and these broken thighs
And this broken mind 
You look at ma and just wonder why 
I'm black as fuck and feel so divine
It's like I'm bliss 
To the bullshit, to the bullshit
'Cause I'm just a color"

[ ℗ 2020 Raedio LLC under exclusive license to Atlantic Recording Corporation. ]

Flatbush Zombies- “Afterlife”

"Paranoid when I'm countin' every dollar 
'Cause tomorrow ain't promised when you're black
Should I say anybody goin' through it like I did, skin color hybrid
One false move sendin' bullets through your cartilage 
Twelve circle block with the steel round where I live"
"My, oh my
I'm just tryna catch the vibe
I'm just tryna live my life
All we know is sacrifice"

[ ℗ 2020 Glorious Dead Recordings. ]


Oscar Lang- “Get Out”

For anyone feeling trapped inside their own mind, this one’s for you.

“Get Out” is an incredibly catchy motivational anthem encouraging listeners to get out of their bedrooms and get in the sun, or at least open a window. Too often we feel stagnantly trapped in own heads as we’re physically trapped in our bedrooms separated from any sense of the ‘real world’. Instead of distracting our minds and escaping our negative thoughts, we sit and isolate with them as we waste our days away. Oscar Lang expresses all of these numbing emotions in a desperate motivational attempt to serve as our ‘medicine’ to get us out of our heads and into our lives. With lyrics like “livin’ in your bedroom walls, you’re trapped inside your mind”, “No use spending all your minutes laid out thinking flat”, “Get it out your head that it’s all bad”, Lang’s holding us accountable for our own thoughts by detailing what it’s like to be stuck in a depressive state of mind, which could very well hit home for so many of us (especially during the numbing chaos of 2020). Think about 2 questions Lang pens in “Get Out”: “How you feelin’ now, are you feelin’ numb?” and “When was the last time that you saw day?” If you are feeling numb and it’s been a while since you’ve seen real daylight, you probably “only got yourself in your own way”.

[ ℗ 2020 Dirty Hit. ]

Machine Gun Kelly- “concert for aliens”

For Machine Gun Kelly’s first of two new songs released during Week 15, “concert for aliens” is another single off his upcoming album titled Tickets To My Downfall, which is his punk collaboration project with legendary drummer Travis Barker. MGK deemed the upcoming album’s release as the start of a whole new era as he reminisces on his punk roots in music. The first single release for the album came on May 1st with “bloody valentine” (included on Must Listen, New Music: Week 1), which has racked up almost 40 million plays on Spotify to date.

MGK released “concert for aliens” on his Instagram with the caption “since it can’t happen on Earth right…’concert for aliens’ drops tonight!!” It’s an extremely catchy pop-punk vibe depicting how it feels when your world’s falling apart. The ‘aliens’ MGK refers to in the first verse can be interpreted as ‘social outcasts’ by the second verse, as he details becoming an outcast in high school: “I heard you never graduated from high school / The food sucked and the kids were awful / I know you wanted me to go to law school / I dyed my hair, pierced my nostril” MGK’s metaphorical ‘concert for aliens’ is, in reality, a head-banding concert for anyone who’s ever felt a little lost, as the chorus and post-chorus reign in “SOS (I’m callin’) / SOS, I’m calling out / SOS (I’m fallin’) / SOS, I’m falling now / I’m upside down, I’m upside down, I’m upside down / My life is a roller coaster, roller coaster / Get me off this roller coaster”

[ ℗ 2020 Bad Boy/Interscope Records. ]

Joji, Diplo- “Daylight”

Singer-songwriter Joji’s collaboration with DJ-producer Diplo marks another single released in preparation of his upcoming album titled Nectar. Joji’s smooth and tortured vocals atop Diplo’s mid-tempo production make for a yearning summer breakup anthem. For “Daylight” Joji feels ‘helpless’ in ‘hell’ as he blames himself over a breakup. He tries to convince himself and his ex that he could care less singing “I don’t care if you moved on / I’m not layin’ in bed with a fucked-up head / I’m not layin’ in bed with a fucked up” but I, for one, am not convinced.

In the first verse he’s “wide awake, gettin’ half-past zero” as he’s “preoccupied with the late night B-roll”. To define B-roll, it’s extra or alternative footage that doesn’t include sound which is often used to establish a story’s mood and aid in its understanding. Basically, Joji is laying in bed unable to sleep, blaming himself for what went wrong, as his ‘fucked up’ mind plays through captured memories of his lost relationship. And once again, Joji has us all up in our feels.

[ ℗ 2020 88rising Records/12Tone Music, LLC/Mad Decent, under exclusive license to Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment. ]

Omar Apollo- “Stayback”

With the funk vibe “Stayback”, Omar Apollo is begging a love interest to stay away from him. Although he has been in love with them for a long time, he needs to create emotional boundaries so that he can properly move on. He pleads that them that it “took all that I had to forget about you baby”. Instead of wasting energy trying to make the relationship work, he came to terms with the heartbreaking fact that “you could never love me so stayback”. The track is lined with a smooth base, a warm electric guitar, and perfectly-timed funk synths to make for an edgy break up ballad. The single is anticipated to appear on Apollo’s upcoming debut album, which follows his 2 EPs in 2018 and 2019 respectively. He also recently collaborated with Kenny Beats for “Imagine U” and rapper Dominic Fike with collaboration track “Hit Me Up”.

[ ℗ 2020 Omar Apollo under exclusive license to Warner Records Inc. ]

Doja Cat- “Freak”

At first listen, the sound and style of “Freak” begins to play out like an oldie doo-wop, rhythm and blues classic. And to any old-school music lovers out there, the song should sound incredibly and particularly familiar. Though Doja Cat put her own sexy spin on it, “Freak” is a sample of Paul Anka’s 1959 classic “Put Your Head On My Shoulder”. Doja Cat originally released her take on the classic on Soundcloud in 2018, but has now made it available on most major streaming platforms.

I’ll admit, I was extremely hesitant about this one when I heard the classic sounds of Paul Anka. But honestly, “Freak” is a whole ass vibe. And the two songs are so drastically different lyrically and stylistically that I can continue listening to Paul Anka’s classic free of any Doja Cat thoughts. She stripped the song of any of its initial lyrics to make it extremely sexually explicit. Straight away, the song’s chorus begins “Freak like me / You want a good girl that does bad things to you / You never been with no one as nasty as me / Spice up your life, come get a freak”. She proceeds to rather beautifully and sweetly (ironically) sing about being tied up as his sex slave before transitioning into a freaky first rap verse “Daddy the grand master, daddy, I want it faster”. Frankly, some of these rap lyrics are so explicit I don’t want to include them on this site. But for all listening purposes, we are here for them.

[ ℗ 2020 Kemosabe Records/RCA Records. ]

Walk Off the Earth- “Farther We Go”

Walk Off the Earth’s “Farther We Go” sweetly reminisces on old times, but acknowledges the drastic downsides of growing up. Time moving too fast, our friends moving away, our parents getting older…growing up is tough to process and happens way quicker than we think. As expressed in the chorus, we begin to question life and time: “When did the simple things get so complicated? / When did the future stop feeling so far? / When did our lives decided to play out like they did?” But as difficult as it is to process the downsides, there is one big upside to growing up that Walk Off the Earth addresses: we get smarter as we get older.

Typically, I don’t discuss a song’s associated lyric visual release, but this video is simply too cute not to. Their lyric video for “Farther We Go” features 2 young kids blissfully enjoying their youth. They’re running in the fields, playing in the sun, and “laid in the grass / talking and holding hands”, just as the song reminisces. An extremely simple, yet extremely powerful visual to remember our youth and appreciate how far we’ve come.

[ ℗ 2020 Golden Carrot Records. ]

Machine Gun Kelly (with blackbear)- “my ex’s best friend”

For MGK’s second release during Week 15, following “concert for aliens”, he paired up with rapper/R&B artist blackbear for “my ex’s best friend”. His latest single marks MGK’s third time working with blackbear, the first dating back to his own 2012 debut album Lace Up for “End Of The Road” and the second on blackbear’s 2017 album cybersex for “e.z.”

“my ex’s best friend” is precisely the type of love song we’ve come to expect from both MGK and blackbear. It details falling for his best friend’s new girlfriend’s best friend…oh! and, according to the song’s title, his boy’s new girl also happens to be his ex. Can I get a ‘yikes’? The duo does admit the love triangle “makes it all feel complicated” in the song’s intro and outro and this seems like a major understatement. Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem as if MGK could resist as the chorus rings “I swear to God, I never fall in love / Then you showed up and I can’t get enough of it”. Pens the question asked by the ex’s BFF in the first verse: “Is it wrong if I come up with you?” MGK and blackbear seem to have listeners intrigued by the complicated triangle. With almost 6 million plays on Spotify, “my ex’s best friend” is still sitting on Spotify’s US Top 50 (#32) 6 days after its initial release.

[ ℗ 2020 Bad Boy/Interscope Records. ]

Jacob Latimore- Leo Season

Milwaukee-born (MKE Pride!!!!!) R&B singer (and actor) Jacob Latimore has one of those magnetically, smooth-as-butter voices that’ll make you melt. I remember randomly stumbling upon his single “The Real” with fellow Milwaukee-native IshDARR on YouTube back in 2016, and have been hooked ever since. And not just because he’s from Wisconsin (like me), but because of THAT VOICE.

Leo Season is his second project release of 2020 following his three-part 3rd album release C3, the first two parts being his first 2 full-length projects Connection and Connection 2. The latest EP, Leo Season, is stripped mostly to a lower tempo resembling more of the classic and ridiculously smooth R&B that we all know and love. That classic vibe is even represented in the one of the projects’ features — iconic R&B boy group Jagged Edge on “Sleep With Me”.

The EP’s title, as well as 2nd track “It’s My Birthday”, pay homage to Latimore’s birthday on August 10th, a mere 3 days after the EP’s release. But I think the titling pays homage to more than just a literal birthday season. As someone who’s intrigued by zodiac signs, I cannot seem to ignore the major Leo qualities instilled in Leo Season. Leos tend to be creative, self-confident, dominant, difficult to resist, and they most definitely don’t like being ignored. And as for the Leo Season vibes, all of these zodiac qualities check out. For the entirety of Leo Season, Latimore is enamored and creatively longing for a love interest. In “Be Mine”, he is begging for a second chance from someone who has been “been on [his] mind”; and based on his lyrics and his voice, he must be an extremely hard guy to resist. “It’s My Birthday”, “Dat Ass”, and “Sleep With Me” all bleed sexual confidence and dominance. In “Real Love, Pt. 2”, we see his dislike of being ignored as he “called you three-four times, you don’t pay no mind / Text you with that message, you ain’t get the message / When you go in silence, I get worried”. Latimore closes on a more tender and loving “How”, as he wonders how he ended up with such an amazing girl. Considering he put me all the way up in my feelings, Jacob Latimore’s Leo Season is creative, self-confident, dominant, difficult to resist, and hard to ignore.

[ ℗ 2020 FTE / Jacob’s Ink, Inc. / EMPIRE. ]

Victoria Monét- JAGUAR

After gaining massive success as a songwriter/producer for other artist’s projects, Grammy-nominated Victoria Monét is stepping back into her own singer-songwriter spotlight with her debut R&B project Jaguar. She has previously released four solo EPS and leading up to Jaguar, Monét has written/co-written hits like Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” and “Them Girls Be Like”, Chloe x Halle’s “Do It”, Chris Brown’s “Drunk Texting” and Machine Gun Kelly’s “A Little More”. She has also been a producer, composer, or vocalist on over 2 dozen Ariana Grande songs, including “thank u, next”, “7 rings”, “Be Alright”, and “My Everything”. In fact, she has written on all of Grande’s studio albums to date. Monét spoke to The Fader last year about deciding to step away from other artist’s projects in order to focus on her debut album: “One of my goals was to write like a really big song and once ‘7 rings’ came, I think it allowed me to feel more comfortable to take time off of writing for other people and spend a month straight making my own songs. I’d never done that before, taken the time to dive into what I actually love about music.”

Jaguar is heavily rooted in R&B with sparkling flares of fuck and disco, all of which drastically differ from any songs she’s written on previously. Lyrically, Monét’s much-anticipated debut album Jaguar embodies a confident self-assurance, and establishes this immediately with “Moment”. It is also notably and explicitly sexual in nature, which is always deeply refreshing from a female R&B artist. Monét told The Guardian last year that she’s “heard male rappers talking about [women] in certain ways — why can’t we sing about how we feel and what we want?” She does just this in songs like “Moment”, “Dive”, “Jaguar”, “Touch Me”, and the massively successful previously released “Ass Like That”. Along with the more explicitly sexy songs, Monét also shows a tenderness in “We Might Even Be Falling In Love (Interlude)” and “Go There With You”.

[ ℗ 2020 Tribe Records. ]

Aminé- Limbo

I’d go on to say Aminé is one of the most creative and uniquely talented rappers in the game right now. Aminé’s sound, artistry, and even personality are all extremely unique to the modern rap industry. Every time I hear a new Aminé release, it truly feels like he’s doing something completely fresh, unlike anything anyone’s ever done. (Side note: Many critics disliked his second studio album ONEPOINTFIVE as they felt it blended in with more ‘mainstream’ rap compared to the work on Good For You. Personally, I don’t feel all that critic hate, I love the album. Feeding into comparison is a creative trap and I don’t fuck with it.) When smash hit multi-platinum single “Caroline” (off his massively popular debut 2017 album Good For You) blew up, we could all tell he was something special. He continues reaffirming what we all knew with Limbo.

For his third studio album, he announces his lyrical intentions straight out of the gate in “Burden”, rapping “this a black album”. Lyrically and stylistically, Aminé covers a lot of ground on this album. With Limbo, he reflects on his roots but looks toward the future and the bigger picture. This shift is made particularly imminent on the second track “Woodlawn” and its following spoken interlude. On “Woodlawn”, he addresses the impact of Kobe Bryant’s death remembering him as somewhat of a father figure. And for the following interlude “Kobe”, comedian Jak Knight speaks on Bryant’s death as symbolically the death of innocence for many. Acknowledging the impact of Kobe’s death on Aminé also acknowledges the death of his individual innocence, particularly in his lyrics and music especially in relation to his debut music.

Because of the music on Good For You, Aminé became known as the happy-go-lucky, funny, nonchalantly loose rapper with addictive hooks and snappy verses. We do still hear that free-spirited goofy rapper on songs like “Compensating”, “Pressure in My Palms”, and “Shimmy”. But, we also get a more matured side of Aminé throughout the album. He’s fed up with the inherent, racism-based burdens faced by those with dark skin (“Burden”, “Becky”), he addresses his complicated, on again off again relationship (“Can’t Decide”, “Compensating”, “Riri”, “Easy”), he lovingly and adorably thanks his mom (“Mama”), he ponders his hopes and fears of future fatherhood (“Fetus”), and he graciously reflects on living his dreams (“My Reality”).

[ ℗ CLBN, LLC; ℗ 2020 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. ]

Cardi B (feat Megan Thee Stallion)- “WAP”

Cardi B and Megan Thee broke the charts and the entire Internet with explicit rap anthem “WAP”. Still, 5 days after its release, “WAP” sits atop Spotify’s US Top 50 and Global Top 50 charts. By the time I publish this post, you’re an odd ball out if you haven’t heard this song and seen its associated music video. Bare minimum: you must have at least seen one of the many screenshots of the video or its associated memes on Twitter. This song is quite literally everywhere right now, and rightfully so.

In an industry which, historically, hasn’t been as accepting to female performers, two female rappers at the top of the charts is actively changing the whole rap game whether you like it or not. AND these two queens are riding the #1 with a rap focusing on women’s sexual empowerment. Oh, and for those odd-balls who haven’t heard the song yet, “WAP” stands for ‘wet ass pussy.’ Got your attention yet?

[ ℗ 2020 Atlantic Recording Corporation. ]

Honorable Mentions:

GASHI- 1984 (album)

Terrell Hines- Portal One: The Mixtape (EP)

Tatiana Manaois- “Your Ocean” (single)

JAWNY- “Sabotage” (single)

X Lovers- “LOVE” (single)

OMB Bloodbath- “Bolt” (single)

Troye Sivan- “Rager teenager!” (single)

ROE- “I Like” (single)

Rexx Life Raj, G-Eazy (feat Jay Anthony)- “Bounce Back” (single)

Lil Mosey (with Lunay)- “Top Gone” (single)

Tiana Major9- At Sixes And Sevens (EP)

Tiwa Savage- “Koroba” (single)

glaive- “clover” (single)

NLE Choppa- Top Shotta (album)

Bon Iver- “AUATC” (single)

CHIKA- “U Should” (single)

joan- cloudy (EP)

Lil Keed- Trapped On Cleveland 3 (album)

BRONSON, ODESZA, Golden Features- BRONSON (album)

IDK, JID (feat Kenny Mason)- “Cereal” (single)

Jake Miller- “Let’s Go Home” (single)

Washed Out- Purple Noon (album)

Ant Saunders (feat VanJess)- “I Had A Love Song” (single)

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