Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future, James Blake – King’s Dead
King’s Dead has all the makings of a TDE sleeper hit. While the thumping Mike-Will assisted beat is whip-ready, the song structure, off-kilter flows and hazy second half seemingly disqualify the song from the mainstream success Kendrick has been enjoying of late. Jay Rock’s main artist credit shines through the song’s insistence to stick with that hard-nosed Hip-Hop sound. While the likes of Kendrick, SZA and Schoolboy Q enjoy Pop crossover success, the hardest thug of Top Dawg is enjoying a suitably rough start to 2018.
Kali Uchis, Tyler the Creator, Bootsy Collins – After the Storm
Kali Uchis dives headfirst into the nostalgic Funk sound that exemplified many key albums last year and reaps the benefits. The meditative tempo and Kali’s sultry performance aim to make a certain flower boy’s endless anxieties melt away. Said flower boy briefly appears in the song to try to mitigate and divert Kali’s concerns in a moment that would’ve sounded right at home on Tyler’s album last year. Though she never manages to help Tyler, it’s hard not to be put at ease by the woozy BBNG instrumental and Kali’s own pleas for calm.
Bruno Mars, Cardi B – Finesse (Remix)
Following the release of 2016’s 24K Magic, Bruno Mars has had a plethora of Funk singles ready to fire into the mainstream at his leisure. Despite how great that album is, none of the potential singles had the staying power of the lauded title track or ‘That’s What I Like’. Finesse was the same until some genius music executive decided to get Cardi B involved. While Cardi B’s verse at the start at and contributions on the intro are minimal, they go a long way into making a good song a great one. The New Jack Swing revivalism becomes a full-blown ode to all the most fun parts of the 90’s Pop sphere thanks to Cardi’s bratty verse and Bruno’s usual smooth hooks.
Marshmello, Lil Peep – Spotlight
The first posthumous release we get from Lil Peep is even more of a gut punch than we could have imagined. Clearly conceived as a break-up anthem, Lil Peep’s Tom Delong esque croons of loss and longing take on a whole new meaning in context. Perhaps the most painful thing about this track is how well his performance meshes with Marshmello’s icy Trap production, as opposed to how insufferable it could be on the DIY Soundcloud beats he would usually be found on. Spotlight is the realization of Lil Peep as the mainstream Emo prince for the Trap production, but it’s too late.
Preoccupations – Espionage
Like a wounded shadow wandering through an impenetrable smog the vitriol of Preoccupations first single for their upcoming album “New Material” is barely concealed beneath the surface. Shimmering synths and repetitive drum loops build towards the most explosive hook the band has ever written, breaking through the usual Post-Punk drudgery to deliver some poignant fury.