A great 2016 gets even better for Anderson .Paak on the VIP Mix of Vindata’s “Own Life”

2016 has been an incredible year for rap, with giant names like Kanye West and Drake and Kendrick Lamar releasing albums, steady forces such as Future and Young Thug, newcomers Lil Durk and Lil Yachty, too. To these ears, though, the two artists with the best case for 2016 rap game MVP are Chance The Rapper and Anderson .Paak. The two are responsible for two of the year’s best albums (so far), and their guest spots have all been :fireemoji:. And while Chance is the favorite heading into the second half of the year (“Ultralight Beam” in itself made the lead nearly insurmountable), .Paak might still catch him if he keeps us his torrid pace.

He followed guest spots on the outstanding Kaytranada single “Glowed Up” and Snakehips’ “Money on Me” with features on ScHoolboy Q’s Blank Face LP earlier this month, and a couple of days ago he was featured on Mac Miller’s best single yet. Now “Own Life” – originally from Vindata’s 2015 EP Through Time and Space – is reworked on this VIP mix of the song. What was once a bombastic, cluttered banger is now a spaced out, expansive cut, one better in-tune with Anderson .Paak’s astrological musings. The song reaffirms .Paak’s place in 2016 rap discussions, acting as another exhibit of his hot streak. And it’s made even more impressive because this time, he didn’t even need to lift a finger.

Listen to “Own Life (VIP Mix)” via Apple Music.

And watch the video for the original below:

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Nao’s debut – ‘For All We Know’ – is without a doubt the week’s best new album

It wasn’t until 2015’s February 15 EP that Nao really started to garner attention for her progressive, entrancing music – that EP’s “Inhale Exhale” is still great, and is present here – and ever since that EP’s release in May 2015 the curiosity of what a Nao full-length would sound like has been palpable. This week sees the release of For All We Know, an album that cobbles together tracks from her 2015 EP with new compositions, and the result is one of the more interesting pop music listening experiences of the year. “I like songs that capture a vibe,” Nao told Beats 1 radio host Julie Adenuga earlier this year, and those vibes are felt throughout Know. The album has a charming DIY-aesthetic to it, with the colorful sounds faded at the edges, Nao’s vocals shifting in and out of focus.

I’m mostly reminded of Jai Paul’s otherworldly compositions when listening to For All We Know, and his brother even shows up on the standout “Trophy.” Paul’s imprint can be felt on many Know tracks, but it’s Nao’s that looms largest. She proved to be a compelling vocalist in bursts through her EPs and singles, but it had yet to be determined how she would fare over the course of a full-length LP. At 18-tracks and 54 minutes, this is certainly a full-length, and never once does Nao overstay her welcome. She’s a spritely force, a ray of light that’s able to brighten up the entire room. Nan’s vocal performances are captivating, some of the strongest takes I’ve heard all year. For instance, take the show-stopping “In the Morning,” which begins rather innocuous before blowing up into her largest song yet. “Let me go,” she pleads, and her wish is granted through sheer force. “I can take your breath away,” she sings breathily on the closing “Feels Like (Perfume).” For all we know, she just might.

Listen to For All We Know via Apple Music.

Plus, check out ‘Best New Album’ features on ScHoolboy Q, Clams Casino, and Gucci Mane.

How To Dress Well looks for clarity on “Lost Youth/Lost You”

Every since he emerged on the scene in the midst of the alt-R&B takeover, Tom Krell (aka How To Dress Well) has stood out as the micro-genre’s bleeding, beating heart. From Love Remains to Total Loss to “What Is This Heart?”, How To Dress Well’s music has always been gorgeous, but also an emotional rollercoaster. That’s not to say the lead single from the upcoming Care is not pathos-driven (it is), but it’s safe to say Krell is as optimistic here as he’s ever been. “I think I know what love is now,” he sings on the chorus, attempting to look at things from the sunny side. “But then the second that I open my mouth / I want to change my heart again,” he sings, backing down. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. But at least this one is trying.

Mac Miller teams up with Anderson .Paak on his “Dang!” good new single

Taken from the forthcoming The Divine Feminine, “Dang!” continues Mac Miller’s evolution from a rich man’s Asher Roth to a respectable rapper in his own right. He teams up with would-be rap game MVP Anderson .Paak (had Chance The Rapper not released anything this year) for a song that’s as sure-footed as we’ve ever heard Miller. “I can’t keep losing you / Over complications,” croons .Paak on the hook, and you can hear the two rappers attempt to simplify things on “Dang!,” to equally thrilling and gratifying results.

The 2016 MTV VMA Nominations

I predicted the nominees this weekend, and today they’ve been announced. Here’s the official list plus my initial predictions. Spoiler alert: Don’t take me to Vegas with you.

Video of the Year:

Adele: “Hello”
Beyoncé: “Formation”
Drake: “Hotline Bling”
Justin Bieber: “Sorry”
Kanye West: “Famous”

Video of the Year (Predictions) [3/5]

Adele – “Hello”

Beyoncé – “Formation”

Drake – “Hotline Bling”

Justin Bieber – “What Do You Mean?”

Rihanna ft. Drake – “Work”

Best Female Video:

Adele: “Hello”
Beyoncé: “Hold Up”
Sia: “Cheap Thrills”
Ariana Grande: “Into You”
Rihanna [ft. Drake]: “Work” (short version)

Best Female Video (1/5)

Adele – “Hello”

Beyoncé – “Formation”

Meghan Trainor -“NO”

Rihanna -“Needed Me”

Selena Gomez – “Hands to Myself”

Best Male Video:

Drake: “Hotline Bling”
Bryson Tiller: “Don’t”
Calvin Harris [ft. Rihanna]: “This Is What You Came For”
Kanye West: “Famous”
The Weeknd: “Can’t Feel My Face”

Best Male Video (1/5)

Drake – “Hotline Bling”

Future ft. the Weeknd – “Low Life”

Justin Bieber – “What Do You Mean?”

Justin Timberlake – “Can’t Stop the Feeling”

ZAYN – “Pillowtalk”

Best New Artist:

Bryson Tiller
Desiigner
Zara Larsson
Lukas Graham
DNCE

Artist to Watch (2/5)

Alessia Cara – “Here”

Desiigner – “Panda”

Flume ft. Kai – “Never Be Like You”

Troye Sivan – “Youth”

Zara Larsson & MNEK – “Never Forget You”

Best Hip Hop Video:

Drake: “Hotline Bling”
Desiigner: “Panda”
Bryson Tiller: “Don’t”
Chance the Rapper: “Angels” (!!!)
2 Chainz: “Watch Out”

Best Hip Hop Video (2/5)

Desiigner -“Panda”

Drake – “Hotline Bling”

Fat Joe & Remy Ma ft. French Montana & Infrared – “All the Way Up”

Future ft. the Weeknd – “Low Life”

Gucci Mane – “1st Day out tha Feds”

Best Pop Video:

Adele: “Hello”
Beyoncé: “Formation”
Justin Bieber: “Sorry”
Alessia Cara: “Wild Things”
Ariana Grande: “Into You”

Best Pop Video (0/5) 😦

Ariana Grande – “Dangerous Woman”

Fifth Harmony ft. Ty Dolla $ign -“Work from Home”

Justin Bieber – “What Do You Mean?”

Nick Jonas ft. Tove Lo – “Close”

Rihanna ft. Drake – “Work”

And here are the rest of the nominees:

Best Collaboration:

Beyoncé [ft. Kendrick Lamar]: “Freedom”
Fifth Harmony [ft. Ty Dolla $ign]: “Work From Home”
Ariana Grande [ft. Lil Wayne]: “Let Me Love You”
Calvin Harris [ft. Rihanna]: “This Is What You Came For”
Rihanna [ft. Drake]: “Work” (short version)

Best Rock Video:

All Time Low: “Missing You”
Coldplay: “Adventure of a Lifetime”
Fall Out Boy [ft. Demi Lovato]: “Irresistable”
twenty one pilots: “Heathens”
Panic! At the Disco: “Victorious”

Best Electronic Video:

Calvin Harris & Disciples: “How Deep Is Your Love”
99 Souls [ft. Destiny’s Child & Brandy]: “The Girl Is Mine”
Mike Posner: “I Took a Pill in Ibiza”
Afrojack: “SummerThing!”
The Chainsmokers [ft. Daya]: “Don’t Let Me Down”

Breakthrough Long Form Video:

Florence and the Machine: The Odyssey
Beyoncé: Lemonade
Justin Bieber: PURPOSE: The Movement
Chris Brown: Royalty
Troye Sivan: Blue Neighborhood Trilogy

Best Art Direction:

Beyoncé: “Hold Up”
Fergie: “M.I.L.F.$”
Drake: “Hotline Bling”
David Bowie: “Blackstar”
Adele: “Hello”

Best Choreography:

Beyoncé: “Formation”
Missy Elliott [ft. Pharrell]: “WTF (Where They From)”
Beyoncé: “Sorry”
FKA twigs: “M3LL155X”
Florence and the Machine: “Delilah”

Best Direction:

Beyoncé: “Formation”
Coldplay: “Up&Up”
Adele: “Hello”
David Bowie: “Lazarus”
Tame Impala: “The Less I Know the Better”

Best Cinematography:

Beyoncé: “Formation”
Adele: “Hello”
David Bowie: “Lazarus”
Alesso: “I Wanna Know”
Ariana Grande: “Into You”

Best Editing:

Beyoncé: “Formation”
Adele: “Hello”
Fergie: “M.I.L.F.$”
David Bowie: “Lazarus”
Ariana Grande: “Into You”

Best Visual Effects:

Coldplay: “Up&Up”
FKA twigs: “M3LL155X”
Adele: “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”
The Weeknd: “Can’t Feel My Face”
Zayn: “PILLOWTALK”

“Conceptual Romance” finds Jenny Hval at her most personal

From 2013’s Innocence Is Kinky to last year’s apocalypse, girl, Jenny Hval has made a name for herself as a left-field songwriter-composer, complete with a clear artistic vision. Hval’s music has always been breathtaking for its singularity, for its visceral yet cleansing properties, but “Conceptual Romance” – taken from her forthcoming excellently titled Blood Bitch – is something else entirely. The song is anchored by lonely piano keys and a low-growling synthetic hum, forgoing the dissonant noise Hval wailed over on previous LPs. While the sonics are softer, her pen is sharper. She sings, “I lose myself in the rituals of battle,” and that “I want to give up.” But if there is one overarching theme in Hval’s music, it’s her relentlessness, her passionate desire to be heard, seen, felt, on her own terms. “I can tell my heartbreak is too sentimental for you,” she sings, circling her audience. That’s what is most radical about “Conceptual Romance.” Her previous albums have conveyed a strong political attitude, a presence impossible to ignore. On “Romance,” she turns her eye inward, examining the personal. Or, as Hval puts it, “conceptual romance / is you and I.”

Blood Bitch is out September 9 via Sacred Bones.

The Linedots crash onto the scene with “Small Talk”


It’s always good to hear your favorite artists return with great music, but it’s almost just as gratifying coming across a new band, a new song that sweeps you off your feet. That will happen if you give the Linedots – Evangeline Ling and Kevin Emre – and their single “Small Talk” a chance. The song mixes Ling’s deadpan delivery with a swelling, see-saw of an instrumental. There’s not much background to find on the Linedots, making “Small Talk” is significant opening statement.