January

2019 is off to a tremendous start. These tracks have been on my mind and in my ears all month.

  1. “It Runs Through Me” by Tom Misch
  • This track comes from Misch’s debut studio album GeographyI vividly remember being in LA for spring break last year when the project dropped, blasting it in the car and cruising through Malibu. A friend showed me the light and I was instantly hooked on the 23 year old’s hypnotic guitar skills and smooth as butter voice. As much as I love the music video for this track, discovering his COLORS performance a few months back made me fall in love with the man and the music all over again. It has been on repeat since October and truly never gets old.

2. “Talkin Bout Makin Love” by Bimyo

  • Bimyo! Beautiful soul and fellow NYU student Jum showed me the enchanting world of Bimyo, his own group born out of California with friends Nick and Jack. This song and music video, both released last year, are extremely well produced and deserve the praise of a much bigger audience. The YouTube algorithm needs to figure itself out and put these guys on the front page. The track is dynamic and tells a story, constantly surprising the listener with new layers. It is physically impossible to watch the music video and not want to be in this friend group. Their other tracks “Smile” and “Solo” have also solidified spots in multiple playlists. I am eager to see what is next for Bimyo. One thing is for sure, the future is bright. These guys are on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, and YouTube, so there is no excuse. Don’t sleep, y’all.

3. “Gonna Love Me” by Teyana Taylor

  • Harlem native Teyana Taylor is no stranger to the industry. Signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music, Taylor has released two full length projects, VII and K.T.S.E. This track comes from the latter, raking in more than 31 million listens on Spotify. Its insane popularity birthed a second version of the song featuring Ghostface Killah, Method Man, and Raekwon. The Delfonics sample, from the 1970 track “I Gave To You”, is the star of the show. Taylor’s warm and soulful voice paired with Kanye’s masterful production is worth endless replays.

4. “777 (feat. Coco & Kwe$t)” by lilbootycall

  • Micheal Bocanegra, better known as Lilbootycall, has been active on Soundcloud for three years, earning almost four million plays on his most popular track, “sailor moon”. After discovering that track last year, I have been keeping my eye on him. With 58k followers on Instagram and 19k on Twitter, I’m hoping to see a debut project from him sometime this year, something he teased on Twitter just a few days ago. Enlisting the help of Cuco on this track, my most listened to artist of 2018 (Spotify analytics are a powerful thing), I had to give it a listen the day it dropped. It also features the likes of KWE$T, a close friend and frequent collaborator of Cuco’s who can be found on tracks like “Lucy” and “Summer Time High Time”. Being that Lilbootycal rarely collaborates with other artists because he struggles to find people “on his wavelength”, this is a very exciting release between three relatively “new” artists. Give it a listen. Play it at the next kickback.

5. “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)” by Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto

  • Ahhhhh the sounds of Brazil. They always take me to another world. Growing up, this album was playing in the house 24/7, my dad can never get enough of it to this day. While my sister and I used to lean more toward our mother’s playlist of Shakira and The Pussycat Dolls, I have fallen in love with Brazilian music royalty like the Stan Getz, Antônio Carlos Jobim, and the Gilbertos in my older age. This song comes from their 1964 joint album, Getz/Gilberto, featuring gems like “The Girl From Ipanema”, “Só Danço Samba” and “Vivo Sonhado”. The Bossa Nova classic, written by Jobim in 1960, is now considered a “jazz standard”, having been recorded by more than 50 artists in the past 50 years including Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, and Tony Bennett. This is an example of art that will forever stand the test of time.

6. “Nuketown (feat. Juice WRLD)” by Ski Mask The Slump God

  • Talk about a change of pace! Sir Ski Mask is a name that hopefully needs no introduction. The past year has been the most formative of his career thus far. In the wave of new school rappers, many of whom also hail from Florida, Ski differentiated himself early on with a super speedy flow and captivating stage presence. His latest project, STOKELEY, was released in November 2018. The project’s second track, “Nuketown (feat. Juice WRLD)”, rose to the top as an early fan favorite. This track is more belligerent and chaotic than most on this list, but I think that is what makes it so intriguing. As for the lyrics, I never get sick of them. I find a new, goofy pun with each listen. With Ski’s insane pace, isolating his smart nods to pop culture is like finding easter eggs as a kid. (You kind of have to listen and look, but they are literally all around you.) I have included his Genius interview because I just love hearing him delve into lines about Avatar the Last Airbender, Drake & Josh, and The Fairly Oddparents. For me, music choice is often synonymous with setting. In that case, this song would probably land on the opposite pole of the spectrum, far away from “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)”. Nothing is more essential than variety.

7. “Bruise” by Ryan Beatty

  • I’m sure some of us remember the name Ryan Beatty from the earlier years of YouTube, where his musical career started by singing covers on his sister’s channel. In recent years, Beatty’s professional career has blossomed, working closely with artists like Brockhampton and Tyler, the Creator. In 2018, Beatty released his first studio album Boy in Jeans. “Bruise”, the project’s fourth track, gives listeners a poetic look into Beatty’s high school years, describing a secret relationship with another boy. This song is simply a feel good track. You can picture Beatty and this boy locking eyes across the floor under the lights of the prom slow dance. Just me? No, it’s not. Listen to the song, then get back to me.

8. “Never” by JID

  • “NEVER” comes from Dreamville rapper J.I.D’s debut project The Never Story, released in 2017. A close friend of mine got me hooked on the track, blasting it in the dorm everyday without fail. Like Ski, J.I.D’s rapid rap skills are impossible to overlook, especially on this song. However, J.I.D’s flow is definitely a bit more more controlled. But again, it never hurts to try a lil bit of everything. The beat alone on this song warrants a hit. J.I.D goes one step further and flips the script halfway through, revving up the tempo with a fresh beat and accelerated flow. I can’t help but fantasize about how perfectly Kendrick would fit onto this second half of the track. A girl can dream.

9. “Dagenham Dream” by Blood Orange

  • This song would fall alongside Beatty’s “Bruise” in the realm of downtempo chill wave magic. It comes from Dev Hynes’ fourth album under the name Blood Orange, Negro Swan. The track, named after his hometown in England, relives a brutal jumping that left Hynes in the hospital at a young age. Following this, Hynes cut his hair, stopped painting his nails, and stopped experimenting with makeup. He found skateboarding to be an escape from the suffocation of his peers. The roaring siren through the song transports you right into that moment; skating in the streets, running from whatever poses a threat. It is a beautiful, raw account of real life and survival.

10. “Lover Boy 88” by Phum Viphurit & Higher Brothers

  • Who knew the ideal summer anthem would be even more perfect in the 15 degree New York winter! Crazy! “Lover Boy 88” is a remix of the ever-so-charming Thai artist Phum Viphurit’s track “Lover Boy”. I found the original song a few months back via Viphurit’s COLORS performance on YouTube. The remix features verses from Higher Brothers members MaSiWei and DZ, a Chinese rap group who has collaborated with American artists like Ski Mask the Slump God and Famous Dex. The song is just straight up fun, one of those where you can’t help but smile. You know the ones. A resolution for the new year: explore more Asian rap. They know what they’re doing.

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