NxWorries – Scared Money [Album Track]
It’s fair to say that Anderson .Paak is this year’s Hip Hop and R&B champion. Starting with the terrific solo album Malibu, then the multitudes of killer feature spots, being named as a XXL Freshman, and as if that wasn’t enough – we were graced yet again with Yes Lawd!, the full-length album from his Stones Throw side-project with producer Knxwledge which definitively delivered on the promise and potential of the 6-track Link Up & Suede EP from last year. .Paak and Knxwledge paint such a rich tapestry of smooth soul, hip hop and R&B that it’s difficult to single out one favourite track, but “Scared Money” is my pick. Check out Yes Lawd! if you haven’t already, it’s up there with the best albums I’ve heard this year.
David Bowie – No Plan [Single]
The official soundtrack for Lazarus, the stage production featuring songs that cover the spectrum of David Bowie’s immense and genre-bending career, was released yesterday. Included are three previously unreleased songs that Bowie wrote and recorded during the sessions for Blackstar – “When I Met You”, “Killing a Little Time” and “No Plan”, the latter of which I’ve selected here. Just as Blackstar became Bowie’s epitaph, so too does this track – there’s a definite tinge of pain and melancholy in his delivery of “All the things that are my life: My moods, my beliefs, my designs / Me alone / Nothing to regret.”, indicative of a man coming to terms with his mortality. Musically, it’s almost a perfect segue from the end of “Blackstar”, capped off by a gorgeous piece of saxophone.
D.R.A.M. ft. Erykah Badu – WiFi [Single]
Who would have thought that the seemingly mundane act of connecting to a WiFi signal could form the premise for a sultry, smooth piece of 90s-style R&B like this. D.R.A.M. and Erykah Badu are the perfect couple to pull it off, their smooth vocals complementing the sensual atmosphere of the song, while also making fun of the premise itself – D.R.A.M. references the ‘Netflix and Chill’ meme while Badu croons about the feng shui in her living room. Even though there are “No strings attached”, the two are “Still connected”. I see what they did there!
Leisure – Know You Better [Album Track]
A year and a half has been and gone since “Got It Bad”, the first teaser single from Auckland’s musical collective Leisure was released. After a steady stream of additional singles in the meantime, and an eclectically groovy Spotify playlist that continues to be updated, the self-titled album finally dropped yesterday – and I was mightily impressed. “Know You Better” is one of my personal favourites from the tracklisting, it has a distinctly pop-flavoured vibe with some punchy organs, catchy guitar hooks and sweet, breezy vocal harmonies that would fit perfectly anywhere amongst Tame Impala’s Currents. Leisure might just be the perfect soundtrack for late afternoon vibes in the upcoming summer season – give it a listen.
Swet Shop Boys – Aaja [Album Track]
US rapper Heems (from the group Das Racist) and UK actor Riz Ahmed (credited as Riz MC) make up the Hip Hop duo Swet Shot Boys, who released their debut album Cashmere last Friday. Cashmere is a witty, humorous and politically sharp album that also creatively links these performers together through their shared Pakistani ethnicity and identity. Even though the two have differences in their presence on the mic – Heems’ New York persona versus Riz MC’s Grime-influenced cadences, the contrast works well as the two trade verses across the album. London-based producer Redinho also deserves credit for creating memorable beats such as “Aaja”, a track which flaunts the kind of seamless melding of South Asian and electronic styles that runs through Cashmere, and it’s a banger.