Keeping up with new music releases can be a difficult task. Your Weekend Playlist offers a brief introduction to a broad range of the most interesting new tracks and emerging artists.
This weekend’s playlist includes new (or newish) music from Mach-Hommy, Flying Lotus, and Erika de Casier, plus a new track featuring the late MF DOOM.
Your Old Droog and MF DOOM: Dropout Boogie
On the last day of 2020, the music world mourned following shocking news of the death of the beloved rapper and producer MF DOOM, who passed away at the age of 49. From Tyler The Creator to Q-Tip to Thom Yorke, the influence of the underground hip-hop legend is impossible to overstate. Widely respected by his peers, DOOM is often referred to as “your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper.”
On Tuesday, to the delight of fans, New York MC Your Old Droog released “Dropout Boogie,” which features a posthumous verse from DOOM. Though the two artists have previously collaborated, the new track is the first they recorded, Droog explained in a statement:
“I remember getting the verse back and realizing that I had come full circle. That same night I drove to my old community college where I used to listen to DOOM heavy back in ’07-’08 and I was in a semi-catatonic state playing that verse back over and over.”
The track, in which the two rappers reminisce on their school days and features an old school beat from fellow underground artist Edan, feels like a joyous paean.
Rostam: From The Back Of A Cab
During his time as a key member and songwriter for the indie titans Vampire Weekend, Rostam Batmanglij provided the band’s sound with a sense of warmth and harmony, which operated in perfect contrast to the playful and highbrow stylings of lead singer Ezra Koenig.
Since leaving the band in 2016, Rostam has charted a new path as a guru of earnest indie pop, producing albums by Haim, Clairo, and The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser. On his second solo album, the unfortunately titled “Changephobia,” Rostam preserves the laid-back and breezy atmosphere of his previous work, fusing plucky keyboards with mournful melodies and soulful horns. These songs bring to mind the distinct image of a man perfectly content to wallow in his self-imposed loneliness.
Rostam literally embodies this image in the visual for “From The Back Of A Cab,” a lovely track about saying goodbye, set to a unique 12/8 drum track inspired by African and Iranian music.
Erika de Casier: Polite
R&B fans may want to keep their eye on Erika de Casier, a Portugal-born, Copenhagen-based songwriter whose music magically channels the spirits of Aaliyah, Sade, Monica and Brandy, and even Destiny’s Child.
If that sounds like hyperbole, give her new album “Sensational” a spin, especially the tracks “Busy” and “Make My Day.” These songs sound effortless, de Casia’s airy vocals floating lightly atop 90s-inspired instrumentals (de Casia also co-produced the album).
On “Polite,” she leans even further into the sounds of the ’90s, repurposing a hook from 2Pac’s “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” over deep G-funk bass groove.
In a review for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis writes: “It’s music that looks to the past, made by an artist too original to be a revivalist: memories and retrospection rearranged into something fresh.”
Mach-Hommy: Folie Á Deux feat. Westside Gunn, Keisha Plum
(Warning: Contains explicit lyrics)
Feeling bored with radio rap? Does the new Migos track feel a little too “2017” for you? Why not take a break from the like of Drake and Travis and spend some time with Griselda Records, the prolific, Buffalo-based hip-hop collective composed of Westside Gunn, Boldly James, Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher, Mach-Hommy, and others.
Known for their gritty, downtempo beats and dense bars, members of Griselda have dropped dozens of albums, mixtapes, and EPs over the last few years, seemingly determined to one-up each other with each new release. Comparisons to Wu-Tang (especially the vocals of Westside Gunn and Ghostface Killah), abound.
Mach-Hommy’s newest album, “Pray for Haiti,” feels like a new peak in the Griselda canon. On “Murder Czn,” Mach croons like Yasiin Bey over Westside Gunn’s relentless machine gun ad-libs, creating a perfect bit of chaos. On “Folie Á Deux,” the two rappers join forces with Griselda’s in-house poet Keisha Plum for another album highlight, though producer Conductor Williams steals the show on this one.
Flying Lotus: Crust
Producer Steven Ellison, better known as Flying Lotus, does a little bit of everything. In addition to releasing several solo albums, he’s produced tracks for Kendrick Lamar, rapped under the alter ego Captain Murphy, and written scores for horror movies and Adult Swim cartoons. Like his frequent collaborator Thundercat, Ellison appears interested in finding points of intersection between his sophisticated and avant-garde musical tastes and his nerdier interests.
His latest project is the excellent soundtrack for the Netflix anime series “Yasuke,” which tells the story of an African warrior who served under Japanese daimyo (feudal lord) Oda Nobunaga in the 16th century. Though I cannot vouch for whether the series is any good (92 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes!) the soundtrack holds its own weight. Highlights include the Thundercat collaboration “Black Gold” and “Crust,” which combines a jazzy bass line with cinematic strings, is a perfect FlyLo earworm.
Shelley FKA DRAM (feat. Summer Walker): All Pride Aside
Remember DRAM? The guy who wrote “Cha Cha,” the song Drake allegedly “jacked” to make “Hotline Bling”? The guy from the “Broccoli” earworm? The guy who once sang “I choose you like a Pokemon” on “Cute.”
Well, “Big Baby Dram” is back with a new moniker, and he’s shed some of his goofiness, but none of his charm. On his self-titled album, released earlier this spring, the singer teams up with H.E.R., Summer Walker, and Erykah Badu for an album of velvety, retro R&B; music that better showcases his raspy and captivating vocals than his earlier, if more playful sound.
Highlights include “The Lay Down,” which features a better guitar solo than you’ll hear on rock radio this decade, a Daft Punk cover of “Something About Us,” and the instant classic, “All Pride Aside.”
Bonus track: The Alchemist: Nobles (feat. Earl Sweatshirt & Navy Blue)
On “Nobles,” one of hip hop’s best working producers teams up with two of the best working rappers for a incisive and layered track that somehow pays tribute to both “The Neverending Story” and The Beatles’ “Long and Winding Road.”