Are you fiending for your latest audio fix? It's Friday, so you're in luck, as this Essentials column and I are back again like Talib and Hi-Tek in '09. Between SoundCloud API daily rate limits, Taylor Swift taking on the Apple Music machine and Juvenile hawking washing machines, it's a marvelously confusing time to be a music listener. There's too much to pay attention to, with new headlines fighting for your attention every day, and I get it, you just want to hear the music.
Don't worry, I'm here to be your guide, navigating you through the vast industry landscape to arrive at nothing more than audio bliss. You shouldn't have to filter through the 1,000 or releases each week, that's why DJBooth is so selective with the music that gets posted and also why we have our Top 20 charts, to make things simple for you. To make things even simpler, here are the four songs that you need to hear from the last week, the cream of the crop, the four most essential songs of the week.
J.I.D. represents the good city of Atlanta, but don't let his hometown trick you into any assumptions about his material. Beyond the strip clubs, another Atlanta begs to be seen and heard, one of creativity and originality and actual lyricism. J.I.D. Dicaprio, as he fashions himself in his bio, is a part of this faction. I haven't heard a ton of his work, but from the little I have enjoyed I can safely say he's one of the more anticipated artists from The A. "Underwear" is lyrical, but beyond what's being said, it's really how he says it that matters. His flow is Kendrick-esque, with a voice that manages to be different from most of the thousands of rappers I've heard. Each word seems to drift over into the next, each bar into the next in turn. Christo's production is dark and murky, a perfect backdrop for the slight weirdness and madness displayed by J.I.D. on the track. Also, any song that samples Matthew McConaughey in The Wolf of Wall Street is an automatic win.
A.CHAL's recent material has been great. His "GAZI" record is one of the best songs released this year, with an excellent music video as well, and "Round Whippin" keeps the floating, blunted-out aesthetic alive while adding just the right amount of energy. A.CHAL's crooning is hypnotizing, with hip-hop oriented, almost electronic reggae production from 11LIT3S. The influences are everywhere. Even with the very necessary bass, it's hard not to zone out here, enough to make you want to go "Round Whippin" on a late night two seater cruise yourself. Immediately.
True story, starRo's "California" was a serious contender for my Favorite Song of Last Summer, which was almost perfectly described by the UK producer as "Palm Tree Bounce." Another true story, Jay Prince is not the CEO of Rap-A-Lot Records (not this one at least), but rather one of the best up-and-comers in hip-hop right now (Don't believe me? Listen to his last project). The fact that these two artists aligned earlier this week was enough to make me nearly drop my morning bagel in anticipation. Prince is the perfect voice for this record, as his London accent glides overtop some of the most beautiful vibes to grace an instrumental. Feel free to play this one all summer long. As for me, "I Will" represents the second summer in a row I will have a record to blast any time the sun is out and the temperature tops 70 degrees.
Raury's "Devil's Whisper" was released about 10 days ago, and I thought it was a great song. The chorus, the pounding drums, the rapping at the end; it was all great. Everyone was talking about it, and yet, it didn't quite hit me with the same force that "God's Whisper" had when it was first released in March of '14. Something was missing for me. Then the video came out, and I understood. I'm not sure why, but after watching this video I have a renewed appreciation for the song. Now that I actually think about it, the same exact thing happened with "God's Whisper." Raury's visuals are captivating, perfectly illustrating his message about the dual sides of the industry. It's a fine line to toe between chasing financial success and letting the dark side drag you down to selling out, versus focusing on making great music at the risk of flopping commercially. Industry plant or not, Raury is taking the game by storm and it's only the beginning. Pro tip: see him live if you have the chance, trust me. Also, while I can't name everyone in the video, you can spot a "who's who" of up-next Atlanta artists including OG Maco, Key!, Curtis Williams and Money Makin' Nique.
Now equipped with four incredible songs, you should be fully prepared for weekend-long speaker domination. If anyone tries to stop you from taking over the songs selection, you have my permission to brush them aside with the quickness. You've got the juice now, thanks for rocking with DJBooth for another week.
[By Brendan Varan. He's going to go watch The Wolf of Wall Street for the hundredth time in honor of J.I.D. Follow him on Twitter.]