Must-Listen, New Music: Week 22

My must-listen list of music containing singles and LPs all released between September 19th and September 25th, some of which specifically reference systematic racism and the continued Black Lives Matter protests which have occurred and continue to occur.


Voices for Change- EMPIRE Presents: Voices For Change, Vol. 1

"Something's Gotta Give" by Sonna Rele

"Feet hurt from all of this marching (I can't breathe)
My voice tired from all of the shouting and arguing 
We need answers to all our questions (I can't breathe)
But can anybody tell me why, this system ain't for me?
Fist bruised from all of the fighting (I can't breathe)
My heart aches from all of the silence, while we're dying 
You see the nation's divided (I can't breathe)
Oh if we can't have no justice, why would you ask for peace?"
"They Don't Care" by Lloyd

"The government don't like me, they just fear us 
Takin' our history, flip it, then fake us 

Livin' the American dream but all I hear is murder 
Yeah, all I hear is murder 
Bloody, bloody murder
Livin' the American dream, still I feel they don't care

And I feel, they don't ever care enough
And I know, they will always fear us"
"Hands Up" by TEC & $tupid Young 

"My hands up but they still shoot
I can't breathe, guess they knees is the new noose

'Cause my skin color and my complexion they view as a weapon 
If I jog through they neighborhood, them bitches just might stretch me
Ain't with that peace shit like our ancestors, bitch, we really steppin'
They killed Sandra Bland, took a photo right after her soul exit
What the fuck is they protectin'? Tear gas us, run us over
While a ni*** protestin', used to spray us with hosepipes
Pray for the next generation, I been through this shit my whole life
Ain't nothin' change, yeah, still the same shit
Everybody feelin' like 'fuck the law', lootin' shit, fuck the cause
We need justice, them bitches kill us and try to brush it off
Had George Floyd handcuffed, suffocatin', beggin' for his momma and all
Killed that man on tape with a straight face like it was nothin', dawg"
"Lost Children" by Little Torment 

"All lives matter once my people's lives matter
And when black lives matter, we can deal with our own matters
Where's our reparations?
1964 there was still segregation and we need an explanation
Ni***s hangin' in trees 
They saying that it's suicide 
And ni***s gonna hang me 
If I get too much shine
We can't breathe 
Police in the rear 
I got nothin' on me, but I'm still in fear
The nineteenth time this year"
"Time To Listen" by Audio Push

"Everybody wanna be a ni*** 'til it's time to be a ni***
Well, it's time to be a ni*** right now
Who gon' say it? Who gon' be it?
There's a difference right now
You ain't black, shut up
This your time to listen right now

The pain left me numb and we scream out defund
'Cause a blind man can see the cops don't need guns
Leave out the house lookin' like Amaud Arbery, they just wanna see me run
I leave out the house lookin' like Robert Fuller, damn, they just wanna see me hung
I seen it before like a rerun
Pay taxes for them, we need a refund 
It's gone always be separation
Until my people get reparations"
"Promised Land" by Jackboy

"We ain't tryna lose our life to no crooked cop
He was a bitch in high school, how you let him call the shot?
'Posed to be here to protect, we're treated like we opp
So don't expect a ni*** to freeze, when you tell a ni*** to stop

Black lives don't fuckin' matter, they killin' ni***s on cameras now
How the fuck I'm from the projects and you still tryna tear me down?"
"Power (Say Her Name)" by iyla

"Eight shots to a soul is ungodly 
You drained all the life from her body 
Bree can't move on or walk away just like you would 
Like you could 

Don't say a word, your silence is louder
So we take back your power
And lift her in power

We yell Black Lives Matter, you scream 'All Lives'
But our lives are valued two times while her daddy died
There's no excuse to use abuse, construe and make the truth a lie
The brutalize, criminalize, disenfranchise, and try to justify"
"You Should Be Ashamed" by PJ Morton

"You should be ashamed
That nothing's really changed
And it's your ignorance
That won't give me a chance
Because of the color of my skin"

[ ℗ 2020 Voices For Change / EMPIRE. ]


Bastille- “survivin'”

“survivin'” is a less-than-conventional, uplifting pop track for a less-than-conventional year. 2020 has been filled with ads, marketing tactics, videos, etc. all attempting to lift our spirits…filled with people trying to convince us that everything is fine…why can’t we just tell it how it is? If you’re tired of trying to convince yourself that all is well, the new Bastille track is for you. You don’t have to keep pretending like everything’s alright when it’s not. Just tell it how it is…we’re all just survivin’.

"And I'm not gonna lie, say I've been alright 
'Cause it feels like I've been livin' upside down

What can I say? I'm survivin'
Crawlin' out these sheets to see another day 
What can I say? I'm survivin'
And I'm gonna be fine, I'm gonna be fine
I think I'll be fine"

[ ℗ An EMI / Virgin Records release; ℗ 2020 Virgin Records Ltd. ]

Hong Kong Boyfriend- “Tiramisu”

“Tiramisu” expresses a love that keeps on giving. From the start, their connection made his heart stop. And every time they touch, he feels that same way all over again.

"I wanna start from the start with you again 
You made my heart stop and start when this began
And from the second that I held your hand
Baby I feel it again"

Craving this never-ending connection, Hong Kong Boyfriend makes a romantic proclamation in the final verse:

"All I need from you is your time 
I can fit your heart inside mine 
You can spend another hour in my bed 
Keep you warm until it's warm outside 
Come on in, I made you a place in my heart"

[ ℗ 2020 Hong Kong Boyfriend. ]

Savannah Ré- “Homies”

“Homies” is an alluring, yet distraught modern R&B love song. It’s the all-too-often ‘friends with benefits’ situation gone disarray.

"I don't need your drama 
Your Netflix is still logged in 
Know I worry 'bout your momma 
But I ain't never gonna call her
And I like the things you hate 
But you still like the way I taste 

Give it to me softly 
But break it to me easy 
Don't link me in the mornin', actin' like we homies"

Rising singer-songwriter Savannah Ré is lyrically bearing it all, hoping to be more than just ‘homies’. To the ‘homie’s out there: drop the drama and the stress already, and give her more.

"You can keep the stress, I want more of you, I want more of us
I want less of this, I want more of you, I want more of us
I'd be lyin' if I said, I had it all figured
Lyin' if I told you I can't live without
More of you, more of us"

[ ℗ 1Music; ℗ 2020 Universal Music Canada Inc. ]

Royal Blood- “Trouble’s Coming”

British rock duo Royal Blood released a juxtaposition-induced dance rock track in “Trouble’s Coming”. The upbeat-sounding backdrop doesn’t match the dark and tortured lyrics…which duo member Mike Kerr deems as power. He told NME: “the whole song with ‘Trouble’s Coming’ is a feeling, and it’s a feeling that I know well. It’s more about these recurring mental nightmares that I’ve had. I felt more comfortable being that honest, that open and that vulnerable, because the backdrop was so upbeat.” The mental nightmares induce a sense of hopelessness and despair as he can’t cope with his mental unrest.

"I gave my knuckles a run for their money 
Spider web cracks on the mirror
I see someone but not somebody 

I let me demons take hold and choke on me 
Can't fill these holes that I'm digging
Can't stop my heart when it's sinking 
But if I could, then I would 

If I could, you don't think I would pretend
Trouble's coming but I still don't know when 
That's the voice that I can hear in my head 
I hear it over and over again"

[ ℗ 2020 Imperial Galactic Limited t/a Black Mammoth under exclusive license to Warner Records UK, a division of Warner Music UK Limited. ]

Chris Stapleton- “Cold”

Chris Stapleton has become a staple name in country music following his 5 Grammy wins (3 in 2018 and 2 in 2016). His killer vocals and undeniable lyricism are reeling for more. “Cold” is the 2nd release for Stapleton in 2020, following “Starting Over” (which has over 10 million plays on Spotify). Both songs were released in anticipation for his upcoming album Starting Over, set to release next month. With “Cold”, the impressive singer-songwriter is struggling to cope with a harsh heartbreak. While he was trying to build a future with her, she was leaving a ‘hole in his soul’.

"Girl, the way you broke my heart 
It shattered like a rock through a window 
I thought we had it so good 
Never really saw this comin'

Oh, girl you know you left this hole 
Right here in the middle of my soul 
Why you got be so cold?

What am I supposed to say 
If anybody ask me about you?
I guess I'll tell 'em I'm without you
How am I supposed to live 
When I built my life around you?
Try to put yourself in my shoes"

[ ℗ A Mercury Nashville Release; ℗ 2020 Sound Records, under exclusive license to UMG Recordings, Inc. ]

Oscar Scheller- “Average Joe”

“Average Joe” is a big middle finger to societal expectations and stereotypes. Oscar Scheller is challenging masculinity and ‘cool guy’ prospects because he’s not an ‘average Joe’. Instead, he’s free from the pressures and burdens of adhering to any expectations.

"I don't really cling too much to all that manly stuff 
I read a poem once that parents fuck you up 
Your words don't prove that much to me
Go ahead and speak cause 

I don't care about being cool
Fuck what they all thought in school
Now I'm not your textbook average Joe
I'll bend all the rules
I play around cause I'm free
Can't tell me what masculine means
Cause I'm not your textbook average Joe"

[ ℗ 2020 Handle With Care. ]


Jessie Reyez released a third version of her debut album BEFORE LOVE CAME TO KILL US, which was originally released in March. Following April’s deluxe edition, October’s “+” edition features two previously unreleased songs “NO ONE’S IN THE ROOM” and “SUGAR AT NIGHT”.

With “NO ONE’S IN THE ROOM”, Reyez delves into deep personal exploration. She ponders a very critically important concept: who are we once we strip any societal influences over us? We’re told to follow the rules…we’re taught a system of beliefs from the time we’re young…we’re expected to behave a certain way…all because societal influences say so. When we stop allowing society to influence our actions and beliefs, especially at a young age, who are we?


"I'd go to church every Sunday
But teenage love still took my virgin skin
And the night after my first time I cried, 'cause I
Thought Heaven wouldn't let me in 
Meanwhile the priest has got a boyfriend 
And lots of teachers smoke weed after school
When you're young, they try to keep you in the cages but 
Most of them don't follow their own rules

Spend your whole life being graded 
Being told you're not enough
Being told go find the one and sit and wait for death to come 
But I don't wanna
I need to talk to God, there's things I just don't understand 

Like who am I when no one's in the room?
Who am I when no one's in the room?
Does the voice in my head, that talks me off the ledge, belong to me?
Or does it come from the clouds?
Who am I when no one's in the room?

While “NO ONE’S IN THE ROOM” dives into the singer-songwriter’s own personal mental and social dilemma, “SUGAR AT NIGHT” takes a deep dive into her troubled love life. An emotionally abusive and toxic relationship left her with fucked up dreams, scars, a broken heart, and old parts. Along with the Canadian’s consistently powerful lyricism, Reyez’s heart-wrenching vocal performance makes this heartbreak track even harder to swallow. (I also highly recommend the official music video).


"You're like sugar at night 
You just fuck up my sleep
You'll never make me a bride 
You just give me fight scenes 
You're like sugar at night 
You just fuck up my sleep
You always take away my smile 
You always fuck up my dreams 
My dream

I could say it's love but it's just highlights 
Sometimes I wish that you'd have never entered my life
My friends would call and say they saw you had a wild night 
Was so embarrassed when I had to call you my guy
You stole my good years and my phone calls
I wish I could've seen you comin' in some tarot cards 
I could've dodged your cheating and some bad scars
Now I'm stuck sellin' a broken heart and old parts"

[ ℗ 2020 FMLY, under exclusive license to Island Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. ]

Spillage Village, JID, EARTHGANG- Spilligion

Spillage Village is an Atlanta-based hip-hop and soul musical collective comprised of rappers, singers, and producers. The group was founded by hip-hop duo EARTHGANG and also includes rapper JID, brother producers Hollywood JB and Jurdan Bryant, singer Mereba, rapper 6lack, and producer Benji. Spilligion is their fourth collective album, and includes features from Ant Clemons, Chance The Rapper, Buddy, Ari Lennox, and more. Along with its array of astound musical talent, the album incorporates various genre elements, including that of R&B, soul, gospel, jazz, trap, and funk. It also explores an array of lyrical concepts, including but not limited to the state of the world today, social activism, love, and spirituality.

"Baptize" (with JID & EARTHGANG feat Ant Clemons)

[Johnny Venus]
"Police, they beat me, we storm the same streets
We storm the same black, won't stop 'til we free"

"How you get money and act as if poverty's past tense?
We see bad shit happens, but what happens to bad shit?
You need your ass whipped"
Look at yo' neighbor and say 'Neighbor'
Stack up all yo' paper
Pray for me, I say a prayer for you, be not forsaken
Jump in a lake, let the water run over yo' face
We baptize people, now they breathtakin'"
"Ea'alah (Family)" (with JID &EARTHGANG)

[Johnny Venus]
Surprised you picked up, I know you've been dealin' with the world and all his little hiccups
I don't mean to bother you, well yeah, I kinda do
See we've been wrestlin' with this nasty plague, that's kinda like the flu
I ain't a doctor, I don't know, but I know rich folks dyin' too
And I know they gon' get their treatment first, when that shit gets approved, and that's some BS
You should've seen the panic on your kids' faces
In the grocery line clutchin' tissue up to our breast
If it's the end of days, end of times, then here's my last request, I pray for power
To strike these cowards down and send 'em straight to You, that 
Fear disappears and love brings again, clear and truth and peace"
"Oshun" (with EARTHGANG & 6lack feat Jurdan Bryant)

[Johnny Venus] & 6lack
"Never kiss and tell 'bout you
Never say the things you do
She said, 'can she keep it?'
My love is the deepest
Take some time to decompress"

[Doctur Dot]
"Knockin' on your door, promise I just pulled up for conversation
If we take it further, that's a bonus
I be outta space, you keep me grounded, I appreciate it 
I just hope you never leave me hopeless
People talkin' gossip, slander, tryna hurt your reputation
What they say don't matter, they don't know us
What we have is special, fuck whoever say whatever
See forever in each other when we focus"
"End of Daze" (with EARTHGANG & JID feat Jurdan Bryant, Mereba, & Hollywood JB)

"When I make it to the heavens, what's the code?
Do I call a phone?
Security at the gate, no plus one, come all alone?
All along the race of life, I took a jog alone
Along the coast, I'm tryna cope, I raise a toast
And we consulted with the Most High
She told me watch my back, front, both sides
Hit a few baddies you never smashed 'fore y'all both die
Let the smoke rise, take the bodies to the crypts
And when the poor people run out of food, they can eat the rich"
"Hapi" (with Benji. & EARTHGANG feat Mereba, Big Rube)

[Johnny Venus & Merebda]
"Gunshots ringin' in my hood
They sound so off-beat 
I'm prayin' they don't off me
I promise I'd change it if I could"

[Johnny Venus]
"Some say, 'life is just a Hell
And it's here we dwell until we're truly, truly, truly free'
Some say, 'projects and ghettos and seeds that will never grow 
All berries to see'
I'll stay with you through the night and in the darkest times
We'll fight through it all until we reach that dawn
I dream of a world where love is the rule
Where hearts walk two by two
And I with you
I dream of a place where a child's wish can always come true 
And the old and withered become renewed"
"Jupiter" (with Mereba & JID feat EARTHGANG, Jurdan Bryant, Hollywood JB & Benji.)

"So hold my hands and dance with me tonight
You know, they say we're all about to die
And maybe it's the love we all are tryna find
Who knows what lies, it's only by design"

[ ℗ Dreamville/SinceThe80s/Interscope Records; ℗ 2020 Dreamville/Interscope Records. ]

Machine Gun Kelly- Tickets To My Downfall

Machine Gun Kelly has gifted the world of punk with an album for the ages. Tickets To My Downfall leaves any lifelong punk feeling nostalgic over his guitar-heavy, head-banging tracks filled with emotionally-charged lyricism. The album is a nod to the early 2000s pop-punk scene, and truly does the beloved and iconic era justice.

MGK’s dive back into pop punk has been long awaited as the Cleveland native has spent most of his recent musical career making rap music. In order to circle back to his mohawk-rocking punk roots, he teamed up with legendary drummer Travis Barker to render his first #1 Billboard album ever. Excitement for his pop punk return arose following the release of “bloody valentine” (included in Must Listen, New Music: Week 1) and continued to skyrocket following 2 consecutively great releases in one week (Must Listen, New Music: Week 15) “concert for aliens and “my ex’s best friend”. The #1 album includes features from Halsey, Trippie Redd, blackbear, and iann dior.

Some of my favorite punk-infused lyrics off the album (though it was very hard to choose):

"title track"

"I sold some tickets 
To come see my downfall
It sold out in minutes"
"kiss kiss"

"Get me out of this house and get me out of my head 
Get me a drink and cigarette
I just need to go out 'cause I can sleep when I'm dead"
"bloody valentine"

"I'm overstimulated and I'm sad 
I don't expect you to understand
It's nothing less than true romance 
Or am I just makin' a mess?

In my head, in my head
I'm lyin' naked with you, yeah
In my head, in my head
I'm ready to die holding your hand 

I don't do fake love 
But I'll take some from you tonight"
"forget me too" (feat Halsey)

[MGK, Halsey, both ]
"Hey you
Tell me why you do the things that make me 
Hate you
It's an emotional kaleidoscope when I 
Face you
Permanent calligraphy, I just
Your name on me forever, fuck"
"all I know" (feat Trippie Redd)

"My life on the outside's fun to them 
But the person on the inside is crumblin'

All I know is I don't know nothin'
All I know is I don't know nothin' at all"

"Lonely, lonely, even when the room is full
I'd trade it, trade it, I would trade it all for you"
"concert for aliens"

"I know that I'm immature 
But at least I'm not a goddamn failure"
"my ex's best friend" (feat blackbear)

"I swear to God, I never fall in love
Then you showed up and I can't get enough of it"
"play this when i'm gone"

"I wrote you this song to keep when I'm gone
If you ever feel alone 
You're gonna cry and baby, that's alright, it's alright 

I hope you get to go to all the places that I showed you
When I was on the road and couldn't be home to hold you
Part of me doesn't want this cruel world to know you
So just try and keep in mind everything that I told you"

[ ℗ 2020 Bad Boy/Interscope Records. ]

Honorable Mentions

Gwen Bunn, Faith Evans- “Between The Lines”

DeathbyRomy- “Beautiful Mayhem”

Joji- Nectar

REASON, Vince Staples- “SAUCE”

Katie Pruitt- “Look The Other Way”

OneRepublic- “Wild Life”

ZAYN- “Better”

Hauskey- “Somewhere”

Caro- The Longest Year: Part One

Jean Dawson- “Starface*”

Salaam Remi, Mack Wilds- “Home Vacation (FamilyOverEverything)”

LØLØ- “Dear First Love,”

The Neighbourhood- Chip Chrome & The Mono-Tones

Grady- “Puppy”

Polo G- “Epidemic”

Jany Green- “Drippin”

Jharrel Jerome (feat Kemba)- “For Real”

Carla Morrison- “Ansiedad”

Fleet Foxes- Shore

Bruce Springsteen- “Ghosts”

Mustafa- “Air Forces”

Shay Lia- Solaris (EP)

Spencer Barnett- “Slow It Down”

Sufjan Stevens- The Ascension

Mozzy- Occupational Hazard

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