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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.
Filipino-American musician, producer and photographer Nathan Bajar has released a new EP, Joyride, along with the single “Four Eyes,” as a follow-up to his 2019 debut album, Playroom — which was featured in our VMP Rising series in 2020. On “Four Eyes,” which a press release describes as “the story of an uncomfortable bus ride to visit his partner,” Bajar sings, “A crowded morning bus ride / Three-hour commute / To see my darling four eyes / I'll be there real soon / Running late on the Greyhound, nothing new.”
The music video for “Four Eyes” doesn’t feature a bespectacled love interest, instead opting for the surreal portrayal of someone with four eyes, literally. Bajar shared a list of video references for the visuals on Instagram, including the title sequence from Pangako Sa ’Yo (a Philippine primetime soap opera series), a still from the 2000 film Yi Yi and the video for Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Goin Down.”
According to a press release, “Intertwined between the riffs and playful harmonies [on Joyride] are stories devoted to family and cherished moments. ‘Big Body’ is written for Nathan’s dad, and a truck they had to sell shortly after his passing. ‘Blessing’ describes the anxiety of meeting a partner’s stepfather for the first time over elated piano melodies and floating vocals. ‘Healing’ is a plea, a note to his mom to accept the man Nathan has become.”
You can get a copy of the VMP edition of Bajar’s debut release, ‘Playroom,’ here.
The Australian trio Camp Cope — singer, songwriter and guitarist Georgia Maq, bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and drummer Sarah “Thomo” Thompson — are known for a more aggressive, punk sound, but with their latest album, Running with the Hurricane, they explore softer territory. On the opening track, “Caroline,” Maq sings, “Take my hand and touch my soul / I was wrong to doubt you / You turn my whole world gold, Caroline.”
On “Caroline,” and throughout the album, there’s a focus on romance. In a candid interview with VMP, Maq said, “The whole [album], it’s just me, and a lot of my life is having crushes on people. I’m a big hopeless romantic, and I romanticize things a lot. I think this album is me being unafraid to say that.”
Running with the Hurricane is a new phase from the band, coming out of hard times and getting closer to each other. Speaking about this shift, Maq said, “I think people think that we’re very angry, combative people because that’s what the last album was, and that’s kind of what we had to be. But people don’t realize how funny and light we actually are. They kind of expect us to be a certain way because of the song content from the last album. I think that there’s definitely always a place for anger; there was definitely a place for anger in my life at that point.”
“But I’m past that, it’s done,” Maq added. “I felt anger, felt it, embraced it, let it go, done, onto the next phase.”
You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘Running with the Hurricane’ here.
Denzel Curry’s latest album, Melt My Eyez, See Your Future, combines a myriad of influences into a more vulnerable record from the South Florida rapper. In a statement, Curry referenced “depression [and] anger issues” as limiting factors on his earlier records Imperial and TA13OO (VMP’s August 2018 Hip-Hop Record of the Month), and with Melt My Eyez, he’s reached a new level of introspection.
In an interview with Loud and Quiet about the album, Curry said, “Usually, when you hear my records, they are loud and aggressive. Maybe a little out there and a little weird, and I would always hide behind a personality. This time, you don’t get a personality, you don’t get a Zeltron or a Raven Miyagi or Aquarius’killa. Ultimately, this album is about me, Denzel Curry. No alter egos, no nothing. Just Denzel Curry.”
Speaking to Pitchfork about influences on the record — from Luke Skywalker to therapy — Curry referred to “Ain’t No Way,” featuring 6LACK, Rico Nasty (also a former VMP Hip-Hop artist), J.I.D., Jasiah and Powers Pleasant, as one of the tracks based on Kanye West’s Graduation. Curry explained: “Certain tracks are Soulquarians-based, but then others are Graduation-based. I wanted some of these songs to sound like they belonged in stadiums. ‘Sanjuro,’ ‘X-Wing,’ ‘The Last,’ and ‘Ain’t No Way,’ are definitely my Graduation moments. If you listen to that album, it has a variety of beats, too. I just wanted something that sounded as colorful.”
He also spoke about watching Netflix’s recent Kanye documentary, adding, “The doc humanized Kanye for me. I’m watching him get shit on as a rapper and it reminded me of the times I’ve been shit on as a rapper … jeen-yuhs confirmed to me that I should be confident in my music no matter what, even if nobody wants to listen to it.”
You can pre-order the VMP edition of ‘Melt My Eyez, See Your Future’ here.
Kilo Kish — the featured VMP Rising artist for March 2022 — has released another single from her upcoming album, AMERICAN GURL with vocals from Miguel, “DEATH FANTASY.” On the moody electronic track, Kish sings, “The death fantasy / Rejected spaces in your frameworks / They will not go to me / To fit inside your empty visions / Livid bird in a cage.” Speaking with VMP recently, Kish said, “My feelings about the way I make music — it ebbs and flows. Sometimes I want to be microscopic and sometimes I’m like, ‘Honestly, a good song is a good song.’ Enjoyment in music is also nice; it doesn’t always have to be this creative undertaking.”
When Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, Vince Staples tweeted, “Will Smith inspired me man let me drop this video.” Whether he would’ve released the video anyway, or truly dropped the single and music video for that reason, Staples then shared “Rose Street.” The track is the latest single, following “Magic,” from his upcoming album, Ramona Park Broke My Heart, due out April 8. Also via tweet, Staples said, “Rose Street the first video I directed by myself they shoulda never let that happen now I think I’m Spike Lee.” (The credits for the visual include C. Blacksmith as a co-director.)
“Dear Gina” is the first new music from Kadhja Bonet in 2022, following last year’s “For You” — which was her first solo release in three years after 2018’s Childqueen. The new single is accompanied by a music video directed by Ethan Samuel Young. Explaining the years between releases, Bonet said in a statement: “My forced hiatus from music has created an urgency in brand redirection. I began making music to get to know myself and fortify connections, and in many ways, I have derailed from that intention. I reflect on my last few years as a recording artist and see someone trying desperately to fit the mold, despite making music that does not. To be pretty, to be liked, to be relevant, good, or accepted.”
Nigo — the Japanese fashion designer, DJ, producer and label owner — hasn’t released an album since his debut, Ape Sounds, in 2000. Twenty-two years later, he’s released his sophomore full-length, I Know NIGO!, with an extensive list of features, including A$AP Rocky, Tyler, The Creator, Gunna, Kid Cudi, Pharrell Williams and more. Standout “Punch Bowl” marks a rare appearance from Clipse, as it features both Pusha T and No Malice together on a track (for the first time since they appeared on “Use This Gospel” from Kanye West’s Jesus Is King in 2019). It’s also a reunion for the rappers with The Neptunes (the duo of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), who produced the new track along with most of Clipse’s discography.
You can get a copy of Clipse’s sophomore album, ‘Hell Hath No Fury,’ a former VMP Hip-Hop Record of the Month, here.
“Jersey” is the first track on Barbara, the new album from multi-hyphenate artist Barrie Lindsay, which was shaped by grief over her father’s passing and also romance, documenting her relationship with her now-wife, Gabrielle Smith. Throughout the process of making Barbara, Lindsay told VMP she had to weigh privacy and truth in her art. “I was very wary of feeling disingenuous and talking about vulnerability and making sure that it didn’t feel like I was just using [my situation],” she said. “I was not confident that I was going to even mention my dad’s death or anything when I put out the record, or Gabby’s name, but it’s proven to be really good and special.”
You can get a copy of the VMP edition of ‘Barbara’ here.
Harpist Mary Lattimore and guitarist Paul Sukeena have announced a full-length collaborative album called West Kensington, and released the single “Altar of Tammy.” Lattimore and Sukeena first released a song together in 2020, “Dreaming of the Kelly Pool,” while quarantining together and reflecting on the time they both spent living in Philadelphia and LA — the album title is the name of a Philadelphia neighborhood and “the Kelly Pool” is a public pool in the same city. In a statement about the track, Sukeena said, “this track captures the dark spirit of the time. Waking up to a life with no form; drinking again in the same room every night, illuminated only by red light. The world was telling us to stop.” Lattimore added, “We watched a lot of Friday Night Lights.”
“Sidelines” is the new duet from Bruce Hornsby and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, cowritten by Blake Mills. The track will be the opener on Hornsby’s forthcoming album, ‘Flicted. The new record is set to complete a trilogy of song collections — starting with Absolute Zero and Non-Secure Connection — based on film cues Hornsby composed for Spike Lee. In a statement about the single, Hornsby said, “‘Sidelines’ is a song about hysteria in various forms, starting with the Salem witch trials of the 1600s then to the present-day pandemic-era panic. It features angular melodic content vocally and a pointillistic middle instrumental section.”