You'll need to sign a non-disclosure agreement if you want to party with Beyoncé. That's the message the Queen has for us on "Top Off," a new DJ Khaled single also featuring Jay-Z and Future, and full to the brim of Beyoncé power. Also new this week: long-time alt-rock trio Yo La Tengo offer the rock 'n' roll version of a friendly lullaby; vibey R&B singer Amber Mark explores love on a warm new track; Tom Misch pairs up with the suave old-school stylings of De La Soul for a slinky groove; and K-pop boy band BTS's j-hope releases a solo mixtape, introducing himself as an artist with his own style to share.
"Top Off," DJ Khaled, JAY Z, Future and Beyoncé
Once again, DJ Khaled flexes his ability to corral the biggest names into one track on surprise new release "Top Off," the first song off his upcoming album Father of Asahd. Like a sequel to Grateful's "Shining," both JAY Z and Beyoncé pop up on this one, giving the people the duet we want. This time, though, they're joined by Future, auto-tuned into distortion for his chorus appearance. Jay doesn't bother to mince words, throwing down on George Zimmerman and supporting incarcerated rapper Meek Mill in his verse. But the real star is Queen Bey, turning the track from just another song into a statement of her ongoing superiority. In a verse at times melodic and aggressive, this Beyoncé proves you do not want to be on her bad side: "If they're tryna party with the queen," she reminds us, "they gon' have to sign a non-disclosure." Point taken.
"For You Too," Yo La Tengo
Experimental rock trio and cult favorite group Yo La Tengo have been pushing sonic boundaries for decades, whether releasing their own quirky covers or investigating the potential of feedback-heavy production over the course of their steep discography. On "For You Too," a new song off upcoming release There's a Riot Going On, they take a soft and welcome tack. A lovely, simple guitar melody is overlaid with ambient noise and an ethereal vocal from frontman Ira Kaplan, rather like a rock 'n' roll lullaby. Turns out, that's exactly what it is. “For you / whenever there’s hurt / and things are uncertain / Maybe I could be that guy / I’d like to try," he croons, a sentiment as sweet as it is necessary.
"It Runs Through Me," Tom Misch and De La Soul
Pour yourself a glass of wine — something mellow and rich, probably red — and cozy up to a fireplace while playing "It Runs Through Me," a new song from soulful British singer Tom Misch off upcoming debut album Geography, with an unexpectedly well-matched feature from hip-hop group De La Soul. With a suave bossa nova beat and minimalist production — you can hear each note and instrument as if you're at a live show right with them — "It Runs Through Me" is sexy ode to the delights of making music and, maybe, more. If you don't fall in love with the silky flutter of Misch's voice, perhaps you're not listening closely enough. "She told me add a bassline, and everything will be alright," he muses, and you have to agree.
"Love Me Right," Amber Mark
Amber Mark on "Love Me Right" is so smooth. This is a velvety and rich R&B song — a lead single, actually, off her upcoming sophomore EP Conexão — that feels meant for the weekend. Mark, who is a New-York-based singer-songwriter but grew up across parts of Europe and Asia, has an international flair that comes across in songs like this one. It's pleasantly timeless and of indeterminate provenance. Instead, she creates music with universal appeal: soft, vocally resonant, and warmly loving.
"Hope World," j-hope
Often, when a popular group's member releases a solo project, it's a bell tolling for the end of an era; One Direction had to put their whole group on indefinite hiatus in order for the boys to pursue their own projects. But dominant K-pop group BTS has so far managed to avoid this seemingly-inevitable fracturing of the band into separate identities. The answer: just let the artists release solo "mixtapes" as they go along. J-hope, one of the seven members of BTS, is the third to put out an independent project. Naturally titled Hope World, the lead track of the same name is a bouncy and fresh piece of rap-forward pop. It's sung in Korean, j-hope's infectiously upbeat vibe is hard to miss.