Cardi B proves herself worthy of her spot in the limelight on her heavy-hitting debut album Invasion of Privacy. Dua Lipa continues her own success story by teaming up with Calvin Harris on a woozy club track perfect for the season ahead. Gallant makes a case for the falsetto on dreamy R&B tune "Gentleman." Indie rock trio Wallows, featuring 13 Reasons Why's Dylan Minnette, calls back to an earlier era in a promising new EP. And Mikky Ekko explores a darker side of his rock-pop hybrid.
"I Like It," Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J. Balvin
After much hype following the breakout success of "Bodak Yellow," Bronx rapper Cardi B came out swinging on her debut album Invasion of Privacy, out April 6. "I Like It" leans into her Dominican roots, featuring Puerto Rican and Colombian stars Bad Bunny and J. Balvin over a sinuous, layered Latin beat. It's a party track that packs heat: There's no doubt Cardi and her crew are having a good time defying expectations and enjoying the finer things in life. ("I do what they say I can't," she reminds us proudly.) But the song is also an excellent showcase for Bad Bunny and J. Balvin, who rap nimbly in Spanish, continuing to prove that the Latin takeover of the mainstream music scene is not about to go anywhere.
"One Kiss," Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa
Slip into a woozy '90s club vibe on "One Kiss," a new release from hit-producing Calvin Harris and "New Rules" singer Dua Lipa. While Harris got his start in techno and EDM, he has been playing with the groovier side of things for a while now. "One Kiss" feels like a worthy spiritual successor to the funk-forward, instantly party-ready sound of "Slide," last year's collaboration with Frank Ocean and Migos. On "One Kiss," though, he's sped up the tempo. Some singers might have gotten lost in the deep house mix, but Dua Lipa is more than a match for the task; her rich voice floats right over and through the beat. Summer can't come fast enough.
There's something unearthly about Gallant's falsetto. It's straight-up silky, an effortless whisper that he lets float in "Gentleman" over a bubbling, sensual beat. (Old-school Weeknd fans, this one's right up your alley.) Gallant was nominated for Best R&B Album at last year's Grammy's for his debut album Ology, although he has remained one of the genre's best-kept secrets — so far. That's bound to change as he continues to hit the sweet spot of soulful grooves, dark R&B, and haunting electronic production.
There's something about spring — perhaps it's the impending end of the school year, even if you're many years graduated — that reeks of nostalgia. Wallows, an indie rock trio of southern California boys that includes 13 Reasons Why actor Dylan Minnette, fit that graduation-day mood pretty perfectly. On their latest EP Spring, the early-20s musicians, who have been playing together since they were as young as 11, find an easy groove in lightly angsty rock; their songs evoke the suburban house parties and beach bonfires of an earlier era. "Now we're watching the moments as they're leaving," they reminisce, already perfectly aware that youth is fleeting.
"What's It Like Now," Mikky Ekko
Mikky Ekko has been on the music scene for a while — he was a songwriter for years before ending up as the featured male vocal on Rihanna's emotionally searing 2013 ballad "Stay" (which he also co-wrote.) Now coming into his own with an upcoming sophomore album, Ekko shows off the genre-agnostic rock-pop he's exploring with this week's new track "What's It Like Now," which has a grittier edge than his earlier hits. (For this new phase, he even grew a thick beard.) Born the son of a preacher in the south, Ekko brings layers of intensity to "What's It Like Now," all over an amped-up, deeply catchy rock 'n' roll base.