With so much good music steadily coming through, it's easy to miss some of the best. To help prevent this, we've rounded up the best songs from the past week. Here are the songs you can't afford to skip, in no particular order.
Kendrick Lamar - "Element"
After the density of To Pimp A Butterfly, it's refreshing to hear Kendrick deliver something comparatively straight-forward. "Element" isn't a simple song by any means, but it's not the incredibly lyrical, rapping-over-multiple-musical-movements-Kendrick that many expected. That works in the track's favor, with Kendrick providing memorable verses and a sticky hook over some sparse but gorgeous production.
It's unfiltered and direct in the way his 2015 work wasn't. "Element" is a prime example of what makes Damn an immediately appealing body of work that is just as rewarding as his more challenging output.—Joe Price
Frank Ocean ft. Jay Z & Tyler, the Creator - “Biking"
On his latest surprise release, Frank Ocean teams up with Jay Z and Tyler, the Creator for an enthralling collaboration called “Biking.” The new track debuted on the third episode of Frank’s Beats 1 show “blonded RADIO” and has since been released as an Apple Music exclusive.
“Biking” finds Frank and his old friends ruminating on freedom, fame, and the cyclical nature of life. The track explores several sonic landscapes, moving from distorted, swirling synths to dusty pianos to acoustic guitars and back again. Frank alternates between singing and rapping, sounding equally at home in both mediums. Jay Z’s laid-back verse is offset by Tyler’s sharp, animated one, creating a fascinating juxtaposition that complements the various sonic textures of the song nicely. As “Biking” draws to a close, Frank screams about riding a million dollar bike as understated guitars swirl around him, abandoning his inhibitions once and for all.—Charlotte Freitag
Little Dragon - "Celebrate"
Before releasing their brand new album Season High, Little Dragon shared three singles to showcase the variety of sounds they would be offering. Though each of the tracks seemed to differ in style, there was one very important detail that tied everything together—every single is without a doubt a feel-good song.
One of the stand outs, "Celebrate," is a mid-tempo track that is just upbeat enough for listeners to work their way up from a steady two-step to a full dance break. As Yukimi Nagano sings, "Don't let little worries make you blue," before the chorus, this comes off as a sign that it's alright to let loose for the moment. At just under four minutes long, "Celebrate" feels like a track that needs to be on a weekend playlist to help melt the stress away.—Adrienne Black
Mal & Squid - "Chelsea"
Mal and Squid might be my favorite tag team in the game right now. These two have been making music nonstop since they've linked up and they haven't missed once. SquidNice has a knack for making addictive melodies with his signature drowsy flow while Mal brings grit and charisma and together they make music you'll catch yourself humming along to almost instinctively. "Chelsea" puts all of these characteristics on full display and is easily an early favorite of 2017.—Eric Isom
Kendrick Lamar - "Pride"
There are a lot of intense moments on DAMN., but right in the middle of it all is the gorgeous, introspective "PRIDE." Steve Lacy's contributions bring a lazy, dreamy vibe that provide a little moment of peace in an otherwise urgent album. Read more about Steve Lacy and Kendrick's collaboration here.—Jacob Moore
Cousin Stizz ft. Offset - "Headlock"
Cousin Stizz's rise has been steady, and his success is based on hard work and consistent output. "Headlock" might be his biggest moment yet, with a tough Vinylz beat, an Offset verse, and an exuberant Zane Lowe premiere on Beats 1 bringing more well-deserved attention to the Boston rapper. As he has done on so many tracks, Stizz delivers a low-key but catchy hook that will be stuck in your head for days. Boston keeps rising, and Cousin Stizz is at the forefront.—Alex Gardner
Deadboy - "Caballero"
London-raised producer Deadboy resurfaced with the announcement of his long-awaited debut album this week, bringing with it the wonderfully tactile "Caballero." The production, which ranges from gorgeous and spectral to intimidating, is some of the best he's put out yet. Accompanied by his own original vocals, the track builds on the sound of his legendary edit of Drake's "Fireworks." There's something about the track which lingers long after, like a cold wind that refuses to budge despite summer approaching. Even if it's a breath of fresh air, it leaves you with a shiver.—Joe Price
Kendrick Lamar ft. U2 - "XXX"
Many had their reservations when they first saw that U2 was to be featured on Damn, but Kendrick managed to find some common ground with the band that forced its way into your
heartsiPod. "XXX," in fact, is one of the more lyrically impressive songs off the album. Painting a bleak picture of America, its violence, social unrest, and racial tensions laid bare, "XXX" is as heartbreaking as it is powerful. What's surprising, of course, is that Bono's contribution actually works, acting as a quick breath of air in between Kendrick's relentless and harrowing verses. The song only goes to show that Kendrick can enlist just about anyone to make something incredible.—Joyce
Jay Prince ft. Avelino - "Peace of Mind"
Jay Prince is back with new music just a few months after his Smile Good release, and he's tagged a P&P favorite for the assist. Avelino floats over Prince's joyful, chipmunkish production, nimbly finding a pocket between the feverish percussion. It's the first time Prince has worked with another rapper from London, he tells Zane Lowe, and the two have something good going on.—Graham Corrigan
Mac DeMarco - "On The Level"
For "On the Level," Mac DeMarco is a little more introspective and a little more subdued than what one might expect. The steady, synth-laden backdrop is the perfect foundation for Mac to delve deeper into the familial themes he promises for his upcoming album This Old Dog, softly crooning lyrics like, "Boy, this could be your year / Make an old man proud of you / Forget about the tears." Mac takes a step back from his usual sound, and it pays off. Of course, he doesn't forego all weirdness; the song's accompanying visuals are endearingly strange.—Joyce
Lethal Bizzle ft. Skepta - "I Win"
Two grime OGs connect on "I Win," from Lethal Bizzle's new EP, the excellently named You'll Never Make a Million from Grime. Skepta and Bizzle go in over celebratory horns, referencing old bars and flexing on their competition. It's a toast to success, and it's a lot of fun.—Alex Gardner
Judge ft. Jesse Rutherford & Lil West - "Addicted"
L.A.-based producer Judge has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. Over the past year he's been providing compelling production for a number of artists, as well as producing some of the coolest bootleg remixes on SoundCloud. Now he's back with a new song featuring The Neighbourhood's Jesse Rutherford and SoundCloud-favorite Lil West, and the result is his best solo track to date.
Following the excellent "Wolf" earlier this year, "Addicted" makes good use of its two guest vocalists, but the focus here is on Judge's stellar production. With additional help from Dylan Brady and Alexander Lewis, Judge has got us excited to see whatever it is he has coming next.—Joe Price
Lil Yachty ft. Migos - "Peek A Boo"
Out of nowhere, Lil Yachty dropped two new songs last night, offering fans a preview of his upcoming project Teenage Emotions. One of the tracks, "Harley," offers up Yachty at his whimsical best, but the Migos-featuring "Peek A Boo" goes for a different approach. The haunting production, which fits Migos perfectly, demands something a little more charged-up from Yachty, and he delivers with a manic verse and one hell of a minimal hook.—Joe Price
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