White people saying the N-word onstage with Kendrick Lamar, R. Kelly dominating the news, NAV releasing an album—it's already been a long week. Luckily, in just a few days' time we'll hopefully cleanse our souls with the release of Pusha T's long-awaited King Push and A$AP Rocky's "third album," which goes to show you that so long as enough people spend years complaining on social media and commenting "drop the album" on every post, it will eventually come to fruition.
Before any upcoming music, though, we must celebrate what we've already been blessed with. Welcome to the 10 songs you need this week, the legendary series where we give you the 10 best hip-hop and R&B songs from the past week. We even have a bonus song this week! (And if you'd rather listen via an easy-to-consume Spotify playlist, click here.)
Anderson .Paak — “Bubblin”
As much as I might love the breezier, more laid-back stylings of Oxnard’s Finest, “Bubblin” is a welcome, hard-earned victory lap for an artist with 65,000 songs in the can. Produced by Jahlil Beats, the song sounds like the moment a successful bank heist turns into a fruitful getaway.
Lil Baby — “Life Goes On” ft. Gunna & Lil Uzi Vert
Lil Baby unites with Gunna—suddenly one of the most sought-after features in rap—and Lil Uzi for the runaway hit from his Harder Than Ever project. One mark of a great collab is the constant internal back-and-forth between who had the best verse, and while the QC rapper might edge out his featured guests due to a seamless transition from verse to hook, everyone shows up (producer Quay Global included).
Patrick Paige II — “Voodoo”
For the final piece in a puzzle of post-Ego Death solo outings, The Internet’s bass wizard Patrick Paige II spilled his soul with the release of his debut album Letters of Irrelevance. “Voodoo,” the album’s second single, is a mellow, comforting offering that will immediately make you want to press play on the rest of the album.
Jay Rock — “WIN”
Jay Rock has finally realized the key to mainstream success is repetition. Win, win, win, win.
Kevin Gates — “Change Lanes”
Few artists can channel pain and tumult into polished, melodic street operas quite like Kevin Gates, and with a nine-month prison sentence now in the rearview, the New Orleans artist is back to releasing music. Chained to the City is a potent distillation of what Kevin Gates does best, and “Change Lanes” is a fierce introduction back into hip-hop.
Leon Bridges — “Bad Bad News (Ricky’s Vibe Tape)” ft. Terrace Martin
The only thing better than the prospect of hearing Terrace Martin’s sax breathe new life into Leon Bridges’ “Bad Bad News”—already one of the best songs of the year—is the artwork that accompanies this “Ricky’s Vibe Tape” edition. The lack of Leon’s vocals is a blow, but one that turns this version into an entirely separate and fulfilling experience.
Moses Sumney — “Make Out in My Car (Extended Version)”
The only problem with the original version of "Make Out in My Car," a standout from Moses Sumney’s quietly stunning 2017 album Aromanticism, was that it didn’t last long enough. Problem solved.
Conway x Sonnyjim — “Kevlar Tux” ft. Roc Marciano
Two of NY's finest wordsmiths over luxuriously gritty production from Sonnyjim.
Smino — “New Coupe, Who Dis?” ft. Mick Jenkins
Two Midwest talents that need no co-sign cut like filet mignon over syrupy production. As Smino explains: “sum fun shit while i’m out here finishing my albums.”
Lil Tracy “Like a Farmer (Remix)” ft. Lil Uzi Vert
Lil Tracy’s “Like a Farmer” is enjoyable enough to make me seriously consider the plausibility of country-parody rap, of Lil Tracy as an artist, and of “Yeehaw, finna pick up your daughter” and “You’re cute as a button, but don’t got fake boobs” as actual bars. I’m sure I’ll come to my senses but until then it’s “giddyup bitch.”
BONUS: Disclosure — “Ultimatum” ft. Fatoumata Diawara
This is not a hip-hop song, nor is it an R&B song, but I make the list and the rules.
Album of the Week:
Patrick Paige II — Letters of Irrelevance