Eminem’s latest album, Revival, comes stocked with anti-Trump rhetoric right along with the rapper’s signature bluster. Hip-hop collective BROCKHAMPTON make a case for themselves as the boy band of the future. Haitian DJ Michael Brun starts to roll out his latest project, focused on the sounds of home. Camila Cabello contributes to an unusual star-studded movie soundtrack for a new Netflix film. And indie New York group Dirty Bird stews in sweet melancholy on a new first track.
You could classify Brockhampton as a hip-hop boy band, as they do; their Spotify bio simply reads, in all caps, “THE WORLD’S GREATEST BOY BAND.” Casual observers might see them more as a young rappers’ collective, a crew of 14 artists that combines both producing, rapping and even web design talents. Whatever you call it, though, don’t sleep on their music. The L.A.based group released three stacked mixtapes in the course of just one year, finishing up with today’s Saturation III. Songs like “ZIPPER” show their varied talents best: they take turns rapping in smart verses over infectiously sharp beats, each getting a chance to shine. Before you know it, you’ll be dancing — and singing — right along. If this is the future of the boy band, buckle up.
“Like Home,” Eminem feat. Alicia Keys
On his much-hyped ninth album, Eminem see-saws from political commentary (“Untouchable,” “Like Home”) to self-reflection (“Walk on Water,” “Bad Husband”) and some of the bombastic party fodder of his previous iterations (“Heat,” “Remind Me”). “Like Home,” in the vein of his most melodic collaborations of albums past, sees him joining up with Alicia Keys for an orchestral, piano-grounded rap-ballad. That’s not to say Eminem doesn’t bust out some rapid-fire verses, though. Stocked with blatantly sharp anti-Trump invective, the former Slim Shady even lambasts his old self for pulling a publicity stunt with the current president back in the day. The vitriol is balanced by Keys’ softer vocals — and one hopeful plea: “Let’s hear it for the start of a brand new America without him, and be proud of where we’re from,” Eminem dreams.
“Easy On My Love,” Michael Brun feat. Janelle Kroll
DJ Michael Brun started off studying to be a doctor in college, but soon took a detour into the world of EDM: early electronic releases nabbed him enough notice to appear in major music festivals before he even graduated, while his techno remixes amped up his star power. For his new project, though, Brun returned to Haiti to reconsider the sounds — and traditions — of the island, working with local artists to create an export that still sings with Haitian soul. “Easy On My Love” is a sweet and moody electronic track, effortlessly listenable and grounded in Caribbean warmth.
“Crown,” Camila Cabello and Grey
Netflix keeps rolling out the new movies, this time with an upcoming Will Smith sci-fi-fantasy action flick, called Bright. Perhaps more importantly than the unusual narrative premise, the movie comes soundtracked by 12 original songs (and a cover) by some of music’s biggest current names across genres (think: Migos, Portugal. The Man, Steve Aoki). (Director David Ayer also followed a similarly music-forward approach for Suicide Squad.) Pop singer Camila Cabello comes in on “Crown,” a surprisingly haunting, Middle-Eastern-inflected track with a slow, sitar-thrum build and eerie electronic production. It may not sound like radio fare, but it has a charm all its own.
“Towers,” Dirty Bird
New-York-born-and-bred indie group Dirty Bird’s debut major release, “Towers,” is the sweet and folksy antidote to poisonous news cycles and end-of-year blues. Banjo plucks and pretty violin phrases background a lyrical piece of ambivalent poetry. “I have been tricked into this bliss that I don’t want,” they muse. “Was this the world I burned or love?” It’s an inviting first look at a band that seems to have a thoughtful story yet to tell.
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