Must Listen, New Music: Week 21

My must-listen list of music containing singles and a mixtape all released between September 12th and September 18th, some of which specifically reference systematic racism and the continued Black Lives Matter protests which have occurred and continue to occur.


Rapsody- “12 Problems”

"I got 99 problems and 12 still the biggest
I got 99 problems 
Baton, bullets, triggers"
"Death come in 3's 
Every month March, every month March
His killer in jail, y'all don't get that part 
Cops kill lawfully, no remorse
I don't wanna hear arguments no more about black on black
When white on white 
They kill they own too
And cops the only ones who ain't accountable 
Black men in jail for a ounce or two 
For us it's punishable (And they still ain't free)
Look at the weed business (Look at the weed business)
We get a thirteenth amendment
We get a shot back without a shot back, take the shot back and vaccines
All we see is murder, murder, murder, murder
And you wonder why we gotta disorder?"
"No daddy, no papi, who the kids gonna call now?
But you steady killin' they fathers left and right, our brothers
They tryna take you out (They can't take us out)
We don't die, we multiply
Black man, black woman, 12"

[ ℗ 2020 Jamla Records, under exclusive license to Roc Nation. ]

Marlon Craft- “Time Will Tell”

"It look like reparations 
Not just in donations 
It look like time, sacrifice, structural compensation
It look like actually caring a lot
It look like excavation, digging up your inner hatred that this nation gave us 
Stop pretending it ain't there"
"It look like gettin rid of that racist-ass national anthem 
It look like truth and reconciliation, word to South Africa
It look like admitting that our God is capital and abandoning faith
'Cause capitalism is white supremacy hype man 
And it look like knowing where the fight lands
And if we won't give up bullshit American dream allegories in search of equality 
Then it look like a saddening story
It look like leadership 
It look like not stuffing our faces when they feed us shit we know is toxic designed to sedate us 
Less talking, more being shit
It look like reading shit
'Cause there's no substitute for knowledge 
You can't spark notes a revolution
Look are we in this?
It look like honest conversations 'bout what we would give 
And you ain't gotta give your life like on the line
But you do gotta give it daily 
Will you bleed this shit when it's off-cycle
Like do you mean this shit?"

[ ℗ 2020 Marlon Craft LLC. ]


LANY- “cowboy in LA”

LANY’s leading man Paul Klein is setting himself apart from the rest of LA with the 4th track from their upcoming album mama’s boy. With Klein being raised in Oklahoma and forming LANY in Nashville, the alternative rock/indie pop band is reconnecting to their southern roots with the mama’s boy releases thus far. With cowboy in LA, Klein establishes his roots as a ‘southern gentleman’ and ‘hopeless romantic’, which seem to be rare finds in a place like LA.

"Let's skip the club, let's skip the crowd
Wanna take you on a date 
I'll hold your hand, I'll hold the door
'Cause that's how I was raised
Yeah, all the other boys in town all look and talk the same 
But I got a different kind of heart 
I'm a cowboy 
A cowboy in LA"

[ ℗ A Polydor Records Release; ℗ 2020 Side Street Entertainment LLC, under exclusive license to Universal Music Operations Limited. ]

Jacob Banks- “Stranger”

Singer-songwriter Jacob Banks fuses soul, R&B, and electronic aspects to capture a chillingly heartfelt sense of loss and yearning. The Nigerian-born and UK-based rising powerhouse puts his uniquely distinct, deeply warm vocals to breathtaking use as he pours a sense of longing emotion into this heartbreaking track about struggling to move on.

"Stanger, once upon a time we were the chorus 
Glory, your hands been into mine and tell our story 
Runnin', race you to the silver lining and keep going

Stranger, once upon a time we were the chorus
Fallin', coming out the other side feels foreign"

[ ℗ Darkroom/Interscope Records; ℗ 2020 Interscope Records. ]

YUNGBLUD- “god save me, but don’t drown me out”

YUNGBLUD is once again bearing his soul through truth and vulnerability with his latest “god save me, but don’t drown me out”. The British pop punk rocker pairs his heart-wrenching vocals with a lyrical plea for help, as there’s mental pressure on his brain and emotional weight on his shoulders.

"Take a breath and try to think straight
'Cause there's so much pressure on my fuckin' brain 
And my blood runs thin 'cause I'm off my face
And my shoulders weigh more than I can take 
(I can't fucking take it)"
"God save, God save all of us (And finally I know)
God save, God save all of us (Finally I know)
God save, God save all of us (Somehow finally I do)
God save, God save all of us (Finally I know)"

Within the track, YUNGBLUD comes to a critical realization: don’t waste your life worrying about things you can’t control. Let yourself sleep and wake up stronger tomorrow.

"So waste my time, and God save all of us
And the walls, they'll shatter
And I won't let my insecurities define who I am, I am
Not gonna waste my life 'cause I've been fucked up
'Cause it doesn't matter

Goodnight, everybody
See you tomorrow 
I think we might be alright, you know"

[ ℗ 2020 Locomotion Recordings Limited, under exclusive license to Interscope Records. ]

Black Coffee (feat Celeste)- “Ready For You”

South African DJ Black Coffee collaborated with UK singer-songwriter Celeste for the glistening electronic pop track “Ready For You”. Celeste’s divinely smooth vocals over Black Coffee’s steady-building warm jazz-induced production makes for a touching confession.

Lyrically, “Ready For You” declares a readiness to commit. The first verse acknowledges her struggles to find her own way, and the reasons why she couldn’t commit sooner. In order to commit to someone else, we have to commit to ourselves…which she just wasn’t ready to do.

"I know I've been out of my control 
Way I was before but I hope you can see 
I was lost and wandering 
Just riding on the wind"

As the song’s production builds, so does her willingness to commit. She finally acknowledges that she’s ready to be loved.

"And I need your voice to save me
And when you are beside me 
I never lose myself

I think I'm ready for you"

[ ℗ 2020 Ultra Records, LLC. ]

Fiji Blue- “Waves”

“Waves” captures the sense of hopelessness that manifests as we fall out of love. Without quite knowing what went wrong, the end feels painfully inevitable.

"Oh, where did all the good things go?
Oh, falling out of love too slow"

No matter how Fiji Blue attempts to rekindle the love shared, nothing ever seems to be good enough for his partner.

"It's a beautiful morning
Don't throw it away
If I gave you the sunset, you'd wish for the rain
Do you even notice
What I'm trying to say?
If I gave you the ocean, you'd complain 'bout the waves

Guess there's nothing
Feels like I'm not doing this right
Like a star that slowly disappears in the night"

[ ℗ 2020 Fiji Blue. ]

Kamaiyah, Capolow- Oakland Nights

Oakland rappers Kamaiyah and Capolow teamed up for a collaboration mixtape Oakland Nights. The 10-track tape is filled with an addictive charm and attitude from Kamaiyah, and marks the rapper’s second full-length project this year. She decided to collaborate with a rising artist like Capolow because, as she told Uproxx, “I don’t know anybody else who has that sound”. The two’s chemistry is seamlessly clear throughout Oakland Nights‘ bounce-filled production.

[ ℗ 2020 Grnd.Wrk, Inc. ]

Justin Bieber (feat Chance the Rapper)- “Holy”

“Holy” is a pop ballad, with hints of Gospel influence, about a commitment to love based around undeniable faith. The track marks a “new era” for Bieber, as he explores his devotion to both his Christianity and his wife. The collaboration debuted at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

[Justin Bieber]
"I hear a lot about sinners 
Don't think that I'll be a saint
But I might go down to the river
'Cause the way that the sky opens up when we touch 
Yeah, it's making me say

That the way you hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me
Feels so holy, holy, holy, holy, holy"
[Chance The Rapper]
"I know I ain't leavin' you like I know He ain't leavin' us
I know we believe in God, and I know God believes in us"

[ ℗ 2020 Def Jam Recordings, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. ]

MYRNE (with salem ilese)- “Splinter”

“Splinter” chronicles a classic case of commitment issues within a relationship. As one partner enjoys the bliss of a steady relationship, the other constantly worries about the couple’s fate.

"You just smile
Looking cool and calm 
While I go on and on 
And I'm still afraid when I wake up"

MYRNE’s suspenseful, climbing production matched with salem ilese’s emotionally-charged vocals depicts the growing concern over the couple’s fate. She knows that the closer you get to someone, the harder it hurts in the end. Her anxiety is high because she’s grown so close to this lover that he’s under her skin ‘like a splinter’.

"It's harder having something to lose
I could lose it in a minute
If something good has got to go, I wanna go with it
It's harder having something to lose
Oh baby, I don't want this shoe to drop
Don't wanna make it stop

'Cause I think we got too close for comfort
Love, I let you in like a killer
I think we got too close for comfort
Babe, you're under my skin like a splinter"

[ ℗ 2020 Ultra Records, LLC. ]

嵐 (ARASHI)- “Whenever You Call”

“Whenever You Call” is Japanese pop group ARASHI’s first all-English track, which marks a huge step for J-Pop in the international music scene. The group has collected over 50 #1 singles in Japan and millions of albums sales worldwide, making them one of Japan’s biggest and best-selling artists of all time. With a two-decade-long career under their belts, “Whenever You Call” is the group’s mere second track (following “IN THE SUMMER”) to be worked into the American industry. The track was specifically written for ARASHI by Bruno Mars and D’Mile. The heartfelt ballad preludes the group’s hiatus at the end of 2020.

The song’s emotional depth takes on many forms, which group member Jun Matsumoto addressed with the Grammys: “While this was certainly not planned originally, I actually am really touched by the fact that… not only is it a song for us and the story of us going on hiatus, saying that we’ll still be with our fans, but [it] also really speaks to what is happening right now– the fact that people aren’t able to get together […] due to what COVID is doing to everybody.” Ultimately, the track teaches that “no matter what, there is a way to transcend those barriers, transcend physical distance, transcend racial divides and all the things that are troubling people around the world. The spirit of togetherness and the spirit of being willing to actually come together is something that is universal. I’m very happy that the song can actually help communicate that message to people– not just in Japan, but around the world.”

"We don't have to be together 
We could even be a thousand miles apart
This, I promise you forever
I'll always be the light that gets you out the dark

No matter the time, no matter the place 
There's nothing in this world that could stand in my way

I'll come running wherever you are 
My love for you ain't never gonna change
I'll come running wherever you are 
Whenever you call, girl, whenever you call my name"

[ ℗ 2020 J Storm Inc. ]

Honorable Mentions

Saba- “Mrs. Whoever”

rei brown- “Honest”

Lunay, Beéle- “Victoria”

Cautious Clay- “Agreeable”

220 KID, JC Stewart- “Too Many Nights”

Rise Against- “Broken Dreams, Inc.”

COIN- “You Are the Traffic”

Sam Smith- “Diamonds”

Elderbrook- Why Do We Shake In The Cold?

Joy Oladokun- “if you got a problem”

Alicia Keys- ALICIA

WizTheMc, Hugo- “WhoWho”

Ali Gatie (feat Alessia Cara)- “Welcome Back”

Barkley- “FNY”

Olivia O’Brien- “NOW”

Yellow Days- A Day in a Yellow Beat

Phil Good- “Falling”

Sasha Sloan- “Is It Just Me?”

MAX- Colour Vision

Emily Vu- Lost &

contradash- “cat out the bag”

Smoove’L- “Wait A Minute”

SahBabii (feat Joji)- “Gates to the Sun (POLLEN Singles)”

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