While all seems to be going wrong in the divisive and nationalistic world of Donald Trump, we can at least try and take solace in the fact that the music world has been chugging on through 2017. Whether you’re looking to bounce to the latest hip-hop hit or lounge with some lo-fi indie rock, we have everything you need to satisfy your musical cravings. On this week’s SoundCloud playlist, we’ve got a politically charged song from Vince Staples, a pair of freaky folk cuts from indie sensation Mac Demarco, a sensual new single from R&B star Kehlani, and so much more!
Royce da 5’9” - Let’s Take Them to War (Freestyle)
Detroit rapper and longtime Eminem colleague Royce da 5’9” has been on a rampage in 2017, dropping a new freestyle on SoundCloud every week. On his latest, “Let’s Take Them to War,” the fearless wordsmith holds no punches, first interpolating Big Sean’s track “Move” and then slaying Dave East instrumentals during the second half of the song. Of all Royce’s recent freestyle joints, his latest is certainly the most album-worthy, leaving fans to ponder what else he might have in store for this year.
The nearly six-minute verbal stampede is chock-full of clever wordplay and boastful rhymes. “But when I double pump it, I’m prime Chamberlain/Every track on the record got a background message/We don’t back down ever/I’m putting the autobiographical book out with the Book of Ryan/I just let my bitch in L.A. read, now that sounds Epic/My mind carries words/You couldn’t walk a mile in my patent leather Larry Bird black Con Weapons,” he raps. Known for his ruthless, uncanny flow, Royce proves that old heads still deserve a spot in today’s rap game, and if anyone disagrees with that, they might just end up a subject in next week’s verbal riot.
Jimi Tents (feat. saidbysed) - Should’ve Called Pt. 2
East New York young gunner Jimi Tents gained his first bit of traction in the hip-hop circuit last year with his strong debut EP, 5 O’Clock Shadow. Now, with his new banger “Should’ve Called Pt. 2,” he looks to conquer both the rap game and his own emotional struggles. Tents rues his insecurities over the drippy synth and rattling trap production, while Brooklyn native saidbysed jumps in on the second verse to share his own introspective rhymes.
“I can’t control my demons/I like to hide my problems/Sometimes I choke on reefer/So much beyond my mind,” Tents contemplates on the track. His distraught and anxiety-ridden lines are helplessly sprawled over the minimalist production, creating a somber atmosphere that we can all relate with on the darkest of days.
Matt Martians (of the Internet) - Diamond in da Ruff
After gaining critical acclaim with their Grammy-nominated album Ego Death, Los Angeles neo soul band the Internet announced that they would explore their own solo paths in 2017. While all eyes have been on the debut record dropped by lead singer Syd, co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Matt Martians has been cooking up some funky recipes of his own.
On the new cut “Diamond in da Ruff,” Martians pieces sporadic guitar-driven funk instrumentation with smooth soulful lyrics, creating an expressive sound that breaks the boundaries of his band. This pristine jam, co-produced by Steve Lacy, is reminiscent of that spaced-out soul made famous by Parliament-Funkadelic, and will help you get your feet moving straight through this fresh week. If you’re feeling the vibes on this one, check out Martians’ recently released debut studio album, The Drum Chord Theory.
The Underachievers - Gotham Nights
The Underachievers, a quick-spitting duo from Brooklyn, are known for pioneering the East Coast psychedelic hip-hop movement alongside A$AP Mob and Flatbush Zombies. On their latest single, “Gotham Nights,” rappers AKTHESAVIOR and Issa Gold both flex their superhero-strength lyrical skills over the jazzy beat, spitting spiritually-charged bars about shedding the ego and opening up your mind.
Their pair of soulful verses revolve around an metaphysical hook that disregards the need for money and material things. “Heaven inside your soul/Keep me segregated from haters we just oppose/I just suppose all the glitter and gold/Will make a nigga think that he livin’ ’til he exposed,” the duo rhymes. “Gotham Nights” supplies that ’90s-style hip-hop vibe to help escape your daily routine and fall into some blue dream.
Ugly God - Bitch!
After making some serious waves last year with the chart-topping banger “Water,” Houston artist Ugly God has become an Internet sensation as a rapper, producer, and comedic entertainer (see: Instagram video of a lizard on his face). On his latest cut, the Ash-Ketchum-hat-wearing rhymer goes in over the slippery self-produced beat, spitting tongue-in-cheek lines like “No, I’m not a rapper, this the first page of the chapter/Bitch, I’m a disaster, bite your bitch just like a raptor.”
Throughout the joint, Ugly God repeatedly mutters the word “bitch,” a simple hook that creates a strangely hypnotic atmosphere. His endless barrage of “skrrt” and “pewpew” adlibs help his witty verses meet the high expectations that the world has now set for him. Fans of the electric rapper can expect his debut mixtape, The Booty Tape, to drop sometime this year.
Vagabon - Minneapolis
When New York City indie punk artist Lætitia Tamko recently had a terrifying experience on a flight to Minnesota, she was inspired to write “Minneapolis,” a turbulent punk offering filled with heavy distortion and spiraling high-pitched howls. “Holding onto my breath/As we ascend on to the Twin Cities,” she screams with jittery fright.
The latest Vagabon venture is full to the brim with boisterous guitars and crashing drums that will thrust your mind high up into sky. “Minneapolis” will be featured on Tamko’s studio debut, Infinite Worlds, due out Feb. 24 on Father/Daughter Records. If you’re looking to roll one up and headbang the mundaneness of Monday away, stop what you’re doing and spin this impulsive punk piece now.
Kehlani - Undercover
Ascendant R&B singer Kehlani has started 2017 off with a bang, dropping her highly anticipated studio debut, SweetSexySavage, last week. Her voluptuous 17-track project is encapsulated by the standout single “Undercover,” a three-minute anthem about saying “Fuck it” to those who judge the way you choose to live and love.
Kehlani lays her soulful voice over the bubbly Charlie Heat-produced joint, creating a vibe fit for a ride in the California sunshine. The track features tropical trap production and feel-good keys, setting up an islandy vibe for her sensual voice to surf over. After making headlines last year for attempting suicide, the Oakland artist has made a triumphant return with “Undercover,” and she doesn’t care what you have to say about any of it.
Father John Misty - Ballad of the Dying Man
Known for voicing his political and social criticism in his strange folky ballads, outspoken indie star Father John Misty has taken over 2017 with a fiery vengeance. After dismantling the patriarchy with his visual anthem “Pure Comedy,” J. Tillman has resurfaced with “Ballad of the Dying Man,” the second single from his forthcoming studio album Pure Comedy.
His latest number seems to poke fun at the artist himself, as he lyrically demeans his own disparaging views as foolworthy and pointless. “Eventually the dying man takes his final breath/But first checks his news feed to see what he’s ’bout to miss/And it occurs to him a little late in the game/We leave as clueless as we came,” Tillman satirically contemplates.
As Father John Misty laments the grim realities of life, brightly toned piano carries this disheartening five-minute folk ballad to completion.
Vince Staples - BagBak
Looking to add some fuel to your ongoing resistance to Donald Trump? Take a voyage into the politically cynical mind of Vince Staples on his latest joint “BagBak.” The Long Beach rapper tackles this wavering industrial beat with potent lyrics about police brutality and racial strife in America. “Obama ain’t enough for me, we only getting started/The next Bill Gates can be on Section 8 up in the projects,” he boasts.
The wobbly Ray Brady production provides the perfect backdrop for Vince’s seismic bars. By the end of the fresh cut, Staples is firing shots at Trump, the government, and the one percent, imploring them all to “suck a dick, because we on now.” You can catch Staples across the U.S. and Canada on “The Life Aquatic Tour” with Kilo Kush, which kicks off in California on Feb. 24.
Mac Demarco - My Old Man/This Old Dog
This past week, Canadian indie icon Mac Demarco graced fans with not one, but two new offerings from his forthcoming record This Old Dog. The first cut, entitled “My Old Man,” features Mac crooning about the newly discovered similarities between him and his father over tender acoustic guitar work and subtle percussion. “Look in the mirror/Who do you see?/Someone familiar/But surely not me,” he contemplates.
The second number, called “This Old Dog,” follows a similarly stripped-down and sweet tempered style. Once again, the indie folk bizarro touches upon the inevitability of aging, but this time from the vantage point of someone clutching onto past memories of love while also growing into new ones. According to Demarco, the acoustically driven 13-track project was inspired by his recent move from New York City to Los Angeles, which allowed him to approach his upcoming album from a new perspective.
BNQT - Restart
What better way to kick the week off than with the debut joint from the highly-anticipated folk rock supergroup BNQT (pronounced “banquet”). Formed back in 2015 by Midlake frontman Eric Pulido, the collaborative effort features members from Band of Horses, Franz Ferdinand, Grandaddy, and Travis.
On their debut offering, “Restart,” the indie folk pioneers conjure up the spirit of classic rock with punchy power chords, fuzzed-out bass lines, and thunderous drums. As the powerful anthem progresses, the collective’s five lead vocalists belt out a tranquil harmony about trying to start over. “I think we can all use a restart/but what does that mean,” the singers collectively chime. This robust rock song will be the opener on BNQT’s upcoming studio debut Vol. 1, due out April 28 via Dualtone/Bella Union.