Future — High Off Life
Is there anything left to say about Future that hasn't been said? Over the last decade, Atlanta's toxic king has spawned one thousand thinkpieces as one of music's most consistently bankable stars and one of the most influential artists in rap and popular music. High Off Life, his eight studio album, extends his win streak by delving deeper into his comfort zone of narcotized trap. Highlights include a mind-numbing beat switch on "Ridin Strikers," an effervescent back-and-forth with Lil Uzi Vert on "All Bad," and the defensive, introspective musings of "Too Comfortable."
Odunsi (The Engine) — EVERYTHING YOU HEARD IS TRUE
As one of the leading voices for Africa’s cutting-edge Alté (read: alternative) scene, Odunsi is used to dealing with blowback from breaking convention. His style and music that have made him the Platonic ideal of youthful cool have also made him a focus of gossip and raised eyebrows amongst Nigeria’s more traditionally minded. EVERYTHING YOU HEARD IS TRUE, his new seven-track EP, is a response in both name and further sonic experimentation. Across 14 sublime minutes, West African percussion provides the backbone for glistening synths (“Luv in a Mosh,” “Airplane Mode”), 808-powered party-starters (“PDA!,” “Wicked, Sexy!”), and an all-women statement of sexual empowerment ("Body Count").
Polo G — THE GOAT
It's been just over a year since the release of his breakout hit, "Pop Out," but Polo G has already established himself as the leading voice of Chicago's new rap vanguard. The North Side native commands a rare combination of mass appeal and critical acclaim, able to craft pained, thoughtful music that unifies both the streets and the streaming charts. THE GOAT, his sophomore album, expands the darkened world of its predecessor, inviting in industry heavyweights like Lil Baby, Mustard, and the late Juice WRLD and tapping Mike WiLL Made-It and Tay Keith for an all-out brawl on "Go Stupid." Still, this is Polo G—expect plenty of solemn piano and top-tier rapping.
Sheff G — One and Only
“My old shit sound like they new shit,” raps Sheff G on “Moody,” the second track and first single to the artist’s second full-length, One and Only. In 2017, Sheff G’s “No Suburban” cemented drill as the sound of Brooklyn. Three years later, he remains one of the scene’s most celebrated characters, while his sound, steely and focused as ever, has evolved to incorporate more polished, melodic touches.
Charli XCX — how i'm feeling now
Over the past two months, Charli XCX has mastered the quarantine-as-productivity-marathon. The reigning queen of avant-garde pop built her fourth album and its corresponding rollout from scratch, utilizing social media, Zoom, and the tools at her disposal to create, crowdsource feedback from fans and collaborators, and document her various breakthroughs and frustrations for the internet's feasting eyes. As she told Meaghan Garvey for Vulture, "“I’ve really felt the impact of doing literally everything myself this week, the recording, the photos, the press, the videos, handwriting all of the album notes … It’s been quite heavy.” how i'm feeling now, produced primarily by longtime collaborator A. G. Cook (of PC Music), is an appropriately digitized, anxious, and intimate pandemic dispatch from one of music's most effortlessly creative minds.
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