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Our Best New Songs series is here to give you context on what we’re spinning each week in VMP’s On Rotation playlist — curated by VMP staff, no algorithm needed. Listen and read along below to find out why these artists should be on your radar.
Denzel Curry hasn’t announced a release date for his upcoming album, Melt My Eyez See Your Future, but has already dropped two singles: “Walkin” and “Zatoichi.” The latter brings Curry and British rapper slowthai back together for another collaboration following their 2019 single “Psycho.” slowthai doesn’t have his own verse, but contributes the single’s driving, distorted chorus. Both Curry and slowthai are former VMP Hip-Hop artists, featured for their albums TA13OO and Nothing Great About Britain.
The music video for “Zatoichi,” directed by Adrian Villagomez, draws on the aesthetics of Kill Bill and classic samurai movies; Zatoichi films make up the longest-running action series in Japanese history about a heroic blind swordsman (Curry makes a direct reference to that character in the first verse: “I’m Zatoichi leadin’ the blind, pressure get applied”).
Both singles for Curry’s forthcoming project have been visually cohesive, and that, along with a trailer for My Eyez See Your Future, hints the LP might be a concept album. In a statement released with the first single, “Walkin,” Curry indicated that Melt My Eyez See Your Future will be different than his previous records: “I like traditional hip-hop, I like drum and bass, I like trap, I like poetry, so a lot of that is going to be interwoven in this album, including jazz and a lot of genres that I came up on as a kid and just being in my parents’ house.”
He added, “This album is made up of everything that I couldn’t give you on TA13OO or Imperial because I was going through depression [and] anger issues.”
You can get a copy of slowthai’s debut, ‘Nothing Great About Britain,’ a former VMP Hip-Hop pick, here.
Robert Glasper’s highly anticipated third installment of his Black Radio series has finally dropped, along with a lyric video for “Why We Speak.” The track, featuring esperanza spalding and Q-Tip, is fluid in more ways than one: in genre but also language, cycling between English, French and Spanish throughout.
At the chorus, spalding sings — interspersed with “se souvenir” — “While we speak the English / While we speak the French / While we speak the Spanish / And bargain with the vendors / Not to sell our souls / In between, remember how to speak / Out of my mouth before I had to say / Nobody ever wants to sit there one day.”
In an interview with VMP ahead of the album’s release, Glasper said of “Why We Speak”: “There’s the esperanza spalding song where she’s just talking about being in your truth, speaking and standing in your truth, not letting anybody mute who you are.”
Black Radio 2 was released eight years ago, and Glasper said that although he’d been asked repeatedly if a third installment was coming, he didn’t start working on it until the pandemic, when “people really started asking for it because there was a hunger for music.”
When asked what he wants people to get out of Black Radio III, Glasper said, “Whatever they need. Whenever I put a record out, I don’t really hope for a specific thing. I just hope this record does something for you. Whatever that thing is that you need. I hope this record can fill that void for you.”
You can get a copy of the VMP edition of ‘Black Radio III’ here.
Chicago artist Molly Madden, aka Uma Bloo, has released “Strange Actress,” the final single from her upcoming debut LP, Don’t Drive Into the Smoke via Earth Libraries. Madden went to acting school and has done burlesque, which shows clearly in her alter ego: Bloo oozes with theatricality and performance, as referenced by the song title itself.
“The emotions I wanted to express in my art didn’t tie in with my family’s values, but once I accepted the fact that I wanted to create, these songs started pouring out of me,” Madden said in a press release about Don’t Drive Into the Smoke. “In a lot of ways, this album has been in process since I was eight years old without me fully knowing it, unpacking the life I had and what I wanted to build.”
In a statement about the latest single, Uma Bloo’s bassist Luke Blanco said, “‘Strange Actress’ is exemplary of the band’s wide dynamic range. The drums and bass maintain the beat in lockstep during the second verse without sacrificing the subdued mood. Guitars blare in increasing intensity as the song progresses, overdriven guitars blanketing the listener in a warm, yet heightened emotional state.”
Back in 2017, Gang of Youths’ LP Go Farther in Lightness was featured in VMP Rising. With the release of angel in realtime and its final single, “spirit boy,” the band have returned with their first full-length record in five years. The band’s David Le'aupepe said of “spirit boy”: “We were fortunate to have Shane McLean, an outstanding musician and Taonga Pūoro facilitator, write and perform a spoken verse in Te Reo Māori. A wonderful Māori woman performed ‘rongoā’ on me — a sacred healing practice … There was a moment when this wonderful woman looked at me and said ‘you’re a wairua boy’ — wairua in Te Reo means something like ‘spirit.’”
“Officer, Let Me Go To School” is the latest single from South London-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Neue Grafik’s upcoming EP, Foulden Road Part II, from his Neue Grafik ensemble band. In a statement, Neue Grafik said the new EP “is a bit darker, closer to realness with a sprinkle of hope. I couldn't have predicted that I'd finish it encased in my flat, between four walls, in December 2020 after a year of lockdown, Brexit, George Floyd protests, and without London's brilliant culture mesmerising my mind. Everything was sad and closed … But it also gave me the time to work hard and deliver this second part of Foulden Road, pushing it forward."
WiFiGawd’s second full-length of 2022, CHAIN OF COMMAND, is out now via POW Recordings, along with its final single, “Flying Lotus.” The D.C. native has had a prolific career already; he released 22 projects over the last five years. In an interview with VMP ahead of his latest release, WiFiGawd said, “Music, at this point, is effortless for me. But it do take some time because my outlook on this shit is crazy, bro. I feel like, personally, I’ve rapped on some of the best beats being made — industry, underground, it don’t matter. So making new music is crazy because I really have to tap in and find fire-ass beats all the time and shit ... I’ll probably spend the majority of the time looking for beats, but the rapping probably takes the least amount of time.”
You can get a copy of the VMP edition of ‘CHAIN OF COMMAND’ here.
Sudan Archives, the avant-garde violinist, songwriter, beat-maker and vocalist, has been relatively quiet since releasing her 2019 full-length debut, Athena. In the time since, she performed for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert in 2020 and now has contributed a track to Ocean Child: Songs of Yoko Ono (the tribute album celebrating the artist on her 89th birthday). “Dogtown” appeared on Yoko Ono’s Season of Glass in 1981 — and was first released as a bonus track on 1973’s Approximately Infinite Universe. Reworked here by Sudan Archives, the song has a completely different feel, more sultry and haunting than Ono’s lilting, uptempo version.
“Still” is the most recent single, following “I Am You,” from the Irish rock group Just Mustard’s forthcoming sophomore album, Heart Under. The single is accompanied by a similarly intense and moody video, mostly focused on reflections in close-up shots of an eye. The band’s Katie Ball said in a statement: “‘Still’ is one of the earliest songs we worked on for the album and has gone through several formations. We wanted to write a song that people can dance to. Instrumentally and lyrically it surrenders itself to other emotions expressed on the album, playing with repetition, tension and release.”
“CHICKEN TERIYAKI” is the latest single from ROSALÍA, from her upcoming album, Motomami. Talking to Apple Music 1’s Zane Lowe about the recent single, ROSALÍA said, “There’s irony in the lyrics. This song happened in the Mercer Hotel in New York. Because they don't complain of the music being loud. They really don't. Nobody complains. So it's really easy, you can have the speakers and yeah. And it has a vibe.” Already teased on TikTok, the dance-heavy video sees ROSALÍA leading a dance class in choreography — likely exponentially recreated by fans on the app already.
Wet’s first release of the year, and first new music after the band’s 2021 album Letter Blue, is a collaboration with Dijon, reworking “Larabar.” The New York three-piece originally collaborated with Buddy Ross (Frank Ocean’s touring keyboardist) to produce “Larabar.” Already distorted in its original form, in Dijon’s hands, “Larabar (Remember Something Heavy in the Car Going Wherever Remix)” becomes even more chaotic and layered, adding his own vocals. (This is also the first release in 2022 from Dijon, who made his solo debut with 2021’s Absolutely — one of VMP’s best albums of the year.)