Anytime Kanye West breathes over a beat, the internet crashes. Case in point, this past weekend’s “God Level”, in association with FIFA’s World Cup 2014. And now, a little over a year after we first heard “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead”, we’ve been graced with a preview of Kanye’s latest studio work, in the form of “Black Bruce Wayne”.
It’s reminiscent of Graduation-stand out “Flashing Lights”, and has obviously gotten us excited about his next release, whenever that may be. Mr. West has had himself quite the excellent week, and now he’s made our week a little better as well.
The promotional cycle for Ultraviolence, the new studio LP from Lana Del Rey, is heating up. After the release of “West Coast” a month ago, here comes the first promo single from the album, “Shades of Cool”. The song refreshingly adds to Del Rey’s signature sound, exchanging the canned hip-hop flourishes of Born to Die for a psychedelic rock hue, complete with an unexpected and pretty awesome guitar solo. Lyrically, Del Rey continues to explore romantic themes, and her vocals are a delight, especially the way they soar during that shimmering chorus.
Ultraviolence is out 13 June via Interscope in the U.S.
For those familiar with Gary Lewis Jr.’s work as Twin Shadow, “Lost You” marks a surprising, welcome change of page for the well-established singer-songwriter. Lewis nails the vocals on the reflective dance track, as he sings, “I get to thinking that I should call you / I like to think about the first time that I saw you / Thinkin’ bout you as if I lost you”. Zeds Dead members DC and Hooks create a fantastic backdrop for the relationship turmoil bubbling under the surface of Lewis and D’Angelo Lacy’s vocal work, reminding us all that it’s okay to dance as we stumble along the way.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane for a second; back on the last day of 2013, superstar rapper Nicki Minaj released her remix of PTAF’s “Boss Ass Bitch,” completely annihilating the track. Then, a couple months laters, she hopped on Young Thug’s “Danny Glover” remix, showing the kids how to effectively commandeer a preexisting track. “Lookin’ Ass” and “Chi-Raq” followed, both further pushing Minaj towards her rap-based persona.
She has a new album on the way, and she just dropped the first single, the change-of-pace “Pills N Potions”. She’s one of two artists in hip-hop that can do a song like this and fill it with genuine emotion, the other being Drake. “I still love / I still love / I still love” she emphatically sings during the chorus, showing us a new side to her pop tendencies. Because before, with songs like “Super Bass” and “Starships”, while fantastically infectious, there weren’t many layers to those recordings. But with “Potions”, Minaj has effectively married her two musical genres, as much as hip-hop heads have claimed they must remain mutually exclusive. Nicki Minaj knows better.
Fresh off the charming and relentlessly fun Duck Sauce album Quack alongside Armand Van Helden, A-Track and Cam’ron have partnered up for one of 2014’s most triumphant rap cuts. Over a beat the recalls Graduation-era Kanye West, Cam’ron sounds completely revitalized while Juelz Santana drops in to deliver the fiery chorus. Some songs take time to show us their full appeal, but not “Dipshits”. This hits right from the beginning, and maintains its status through multiple plays.