A lot happened this week. Donald Trump won the presidential election. A Tribe Called Quest released their first album in 18 years. Childish Gambino dropped a mesmerizing single from his upcoming album. Paul McCartney, actual Beatle, did the Mannequin Challenge to Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles.” Oh, and Drake got a new flaming skull tattoo (and Twitter is going cer-azy!).
Yeah, it was a weird one. No one’s blaming you if you haven’t stayed up on all the latest music like you usually do, but we’ve got you covered anyway. Whether you’ve been too busy bumping Tribe’s new album or bemoaning four years of President Trump, here are five great songs from the last week you probably missed.
Smoke DZA & Pete Rock “Milestone” ft. Styles P, Jadakiss & BJ The Chicago Kid
When Smoke DZA and Pete Rock announced they were working on a joint album called Don’t Smoke Rock (genius) earlier this year, I was intrigued. When they dropped the track list, which features the likes of Mac Miller, Cam’ron and Big K.R.I.T., I was excited. And when I heard the pair’s latest single earlier this week, I was left fiending for more like Tyrone Biggums.
“Milestone” is a powerful blend of soul and street smarts: Pete Rock’s smooth, piano-laced production sets the mood while DZA trades insightful verses with tag-team champions Styles P and Jadakiss. Throw in a soothing hook from one of the silkiest voices in the game, BJ The Chicago Kid, and “Milestone” is as addictive as pure Colombian. Good rap don’t crack.
Not only does she have one of the best pens in the game, Rapsody is one of the most important voices in hip-hop right now. Released shortly after Trump was declared as AmeriKKKa’s new President, “Fire” is part-Martin (“The sun rise tomorrow no matter how dark the night gets”), part-Malcolm (“They don’t want hear our cries / So we set that motherfucker on fire”).
Featuring rich, soulful production from 9th Wonder, Khrysis and Ka$h, the track is a powerful indictment of a country that has drugged, killed and caged Rapsody’s brothers and sisters—and evidently has no intention of repenting: “We need progress and they still talking past tense.”
Halfway through, the beat begins to sample Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson’s “We Almost Lost Detroit,” with each of Rapsody’s bars being punctuated by Scott-Heron’s “losing our minds” refrain. 1977 isn't as far behind as we think.
GoldLink “See I Miss Pt. 2” (ft. Marsha Ambrosius)
Despite being quite a bleak song on paper, “See I Miss” is one of the grooviest-sounding cuts on GoldLink’s 2015 debut album, And After That, We Didn’t Talk. Almost exactly a year later, the song gets updated thanks to Marsha Ambrosius. Flipping the script on GoldLink’s desperate plea to win his girl back, the Floetry singer offers some perspective from the other side of the relationship: “Nobody will love you like I did just like I do / And I forgive you when you do it again / Again and again.”
“Marsha added a certain balance and flavor to the song that only a woman could provide and it sounds great,” GoldLink said of the remix. “A lot of people make songs about relationships and it’s really one-sided. You don’t always get to have another creative with a fundamentally different outlook and approach add to it in a genuine way.”
KAMI (previously known as Kami de Chukwu)’s solo career seems to have taken a back seat lately. Given the success of his Leather Corduroys duo alongside fellow SaveMoney member Joey Purp, who can blame him? For anyone who’s heard his LIGHT mixtape, though, new solo music from KAMI is more than welcome.
After making his return with “HOME MOVIES” last month, the Chicago rapper dropped off a new track this week called “FOUNDATION.” Produced by Knox Fortune (who you probably recognize from Chance The Rapper’s “All Night”), the song showcases KAMI’s fervent delivery that’s as fiery as it is forlorn. When he raps, “the world we living in turning into a cemetery,” you don’t know whether he wants to punch you square in the face or cry into your chest.
“This song really just acknowledges the idea that nothing was built without a conversation of ‘we’ or ‘us,’” KAMI says.
Ta’East has been on his grind for a minute. I remember first hearing about him back in 2011 with the Casey Veggies and Stevie Crooks-assisted “Politics” (which still knocks as I listen back to it now). But with co-signs from No I.D. and Virgil Abloh, it seems like the San Diego-via-Kentucky rapper is finally starting to build some real momentum.
“Blackmale” is Ta’East’s latest track, and demonstrates the kind of darker, more hard-nosed themes in his current music. “This is a retrospective look into the mind of a young black man learning his truths through trial and error while responding to the white lashing of the progressive state of America,” he says. Throw in Cairo Mayeson’s booming production, and “Blackmale” will not only rattle your trunk but piss off every Trump supporter you drive past.
By Andy James. Follow him on Twitter.