Surprise releases only work for a few select artists. The Weeknd is one of those artists, and we're not, which is why 10 New Songs You Need This Week comes at you at the same time every Friday to simplify your music listening, giving you only the best of what hip-hop and R&B have to offer every week.
On that note, let's dive right in (and if you'd prefer to dive right into all of these songs in a Spotify playlist, you can do that here).
The Weeknd — “Privilege”
Sex! Drugs! Feeling hollow! Abel is back to his old ways, a fallen Starboy trading in his daft electro-pop and the keys to the guest house of Max Martin’s Hollywood villa for a freezer bag of blow and more mindless sex than a Ric Flair night out with Sophia the robot.
Well, not completely.
My Dear Melancholy, is no House of Balloons. The vibe here feels less like stumbling on a depraved madman seducing innocent women into drugs and eroticism they’ll probably regret, and more like someone who’s been genuinely hurt by caring too much. Sure, The Weeknd is claiming casual fucking and pills to take the blues away, but it wouldn’t be surprising to walk in on this Abel pouring his heart out to a stripper before paying for her Uber home.
The production is certainly a return to the confines of the late night and early morning, but without the tense unease that made Trilogy so intoxicating. There's no return of Illangelo and Doc McKinney; production comes from a more modern cocktail of hit-crafters named Frank Dukes, Mike WiLL Made-It, Skrillex, Cirkut, and even Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, who is credited sans his helmeted partner. This EP is sexual but sorrowful, and more elegant than House of Balloons' raw haze.
If there’s one song that does transport ears back to the deviance of Abel’s humbly mysterious beginnings, it’s the EP’s conclusion, “Privilege.” Produced by Frank Dukes and DaHeala, notes build without advancing, disintegrating into the fog as quickly as they appear, synths swirl ominously into focus, and a steady, creeping bassline tugs at the brain. Across the chorus, crackling and heavily vocoded vocals give off the sense of sleep depravity, of the unnerving disorientation of not knowing whether it’s day or night, and The Weeknd's numb detachment in the face of pain begs the question of where he goes from here.
Octavian — “Hands”
Born in France and raised in London, UK rapper Octavian has showcased his versatility with each of his first two singles. “Hands,” his third, is propelled purely by feeling. It works like a building sunrise, slowly enveloping the listener in waves of warmth.
Tyler, The Creator — “OKRA”
Tyler’s new throwaway is more Scum Fuck than Flower Boy, nonchalant raps served over frazzled splatters of deep-fried bass.
Rich The Kid — “No Question” ft. Future
I don’t care if you don’t think Rich The Kid is a good rapper, or that he only cares about material wealth, or that he self-promoted his way to a golden-ticket Kendrick feature that finally brought him mainstream success. In fact, nothing about Rich’s Interscope debut will probably change your thoughts on him as an artist. But I’m going to play “No Question” at absurdly high volume with absolutely no interest in anyone else’s opinion on the matter, and you should too.
Snakehips — "For the F^_^k of It" ft. Jeremih & Aminé
Sunny-day whimsy and fat, plodding thumps of bass. Sort of like a “Broccoli” for more sophisticated folks with Jeremih and Aminé instead of DRAM and Lil Yachty.
Smokepurrp & Murda Beatz — “Do Not Disturb” ft. Lil Yachty & Offset
Fittingly, “Do Not Disturb” sounds like an alarm raised to warn of mass disturbance.
Tink — “On to the Next One”
After four years of squandered opportunity with Timbaland’s Mosely Music Group, 22-year-old Chicago rapper and singer Tink is back with a new EP (Pain & Pleasure) full of smooth sensuality. “On to the Next One” finds the newly indie artist crooning about having being wronged to create pleasure out of her pain.
IDK — “Lil Arrogant” ft. Joey Bada$$ & Russ
IDK continues a streak of punishing verses by stealing the show alongside Joey Bada$$ and, uh, Russ.
Jessie Reyez — “Figures, a Reprise” ft. Daniel Caesar
Jessie Reyez adds a fellow Toronto talent to her biggest hit to date as two of R&B's biggest rising stars serve up some food for the soul.
Preme — "Hot Boy" ft. Lil Wayne
Don’t let Wayne saying “squirt life” scare you off from this very satisfying club record from the artist formerly known as P Reign.
Album of the Week:
The Weeknd — My Dear Melancholy,