You know that feeling when an artist that you feel like you know really well goes into uncharted waters? I'm talking about that uneasiness and momentary discomfort as you decide whether this new sound expands your respect for them or erodes away at the base of your fandom for them. Well that just happened for me as I tried to wrap my head around Keys N Krates' new one featuring the vocals of Laura Aqui.
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Joey: Cutting edge, provocative and definitely underground. These kids with their sheer noise are making noise and we’re listening.
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The entire first minute of Nothing But Space I thought they were about to launch into a full-on pop ballad, which would have been a really big departure from the boomy trap they usually put out. Then the drop came and gave way to the steady thump that I was expecting all along. Now after the third listen, I'm really liking the stark contrast between the chill vocal build up and the melodic, post-drop beat. All in all, the track is net positive for me because it evolved what I thought the duo from the T dot was capable of putting out. That beat ride out the last minute and a half is cooooold too.
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Here we have a garden variety hype single that the internet has been collectively salivating over the past few weeks as a steady trickle of social media snippets began forecasting its release. Now don't get me wrong, everyone should be excited to hear Calvin Harris and Frank Ocean collaborating on a track together. Ridiculous talent ceiling aside, Slide didn't live up to my lofty expectations. It's more of a middling, mid-tempo, chill pop track than a chart topping must listen. Interestingly enough, the verses from Migos found a way to fit in seamlessly and give the track some much needed energy. Considering how hot Migos is right now and the sheer name power of the two marquee names, this one is about to be force fed to you, so consider this a warning.
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Stop me if you've heard this before, but I dig heavy, experimental Trap music. You know, that stuff that sounds like pots and pans being clanged together with a whole bunch of bass. Basically almost anything that TroyBoi has put out, including his new one with Grandtheft.
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There's only one way to listen to Rae Sremmurd's music and that's all the way turnt up. To be clear, you have to have at least a few drinks in you to be able to get into their music. I can count on one hand songs I like of theirs and when I'm in to the mood to hear those songs, they're my favorite. Feel free and add Set the Roof to that playlist with others like with No Type and Come Get Her.
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The final video of the week from Miike Snow is about as interesting and outlandish as it gets from a plot perspective. Picture a Dr. Evil-esque villain who is experiencing some bit of sexuality confusion. Then, he falls for the secret agent that he captures and lives happily ever after as a same sex couple.
To be clear, it's rare that they go the ballad route, but when they choose this type of adventure, they do it really really well. Credit to Kiiara on this one, she really stood out as the shining star on this one (side note - be sure to catch her on tour with The Chainsmokers this summer). It has just enough gentle rock drops and orchestration that you can hear the usual Linkin Park style bleeding through. Needless to say, the masses are going to have fun with this one as they ramp up for the release of their 7th studio album (One More Light) on May 19th.
The new one below will be surfacing on Big Gig's upcoming Brighter Future album, due out on August 26th. Feel free and join me in looking forward to his yet to be released collabos with the likes of ROZES, Logic, and Waka Flocka.
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It's been over 8 months since Gryffin released Heading Home and it's still in heavy rotation on my GWDJ Favorites Spotify playlist. Knowing that, he's long overdue for a follow up single. Enter Whole Heart, which features the vocals of Bipolar Sunshine (think DJ Snake - Middle). The track is unique in that it finds a way to capture the essence of folk music despite having an easy-listening, EDM/Pop sound. The soft guitar sample adds to the folk/acoustic vibe by adding an almost Country twist to the song. Between the Mumford-esque sing-along hook and vibrant, melodic drop, it's a very cool mix of a few different kinds of awesome.
Taste the Feeling is about as easy-listening as a ballad gets. There's enough tempo on the hook to get everyone excited and singing along, but it's definitely poppy and radio friendly as hell. I'm struggling discern where Avicii fit into the equation on the song, but that doesn't take away from it's likability.
In the world of music, there was high profile EDM collabo, a captivating Wiz Khalifa freestyle and a debut single from Baauer. You might recognize The Right Song from a previously posted song by Oliver and Tiesto (Wombass), but this time Natalie La Rose blesses the bouncy beat with vocals. It's a rare occasion where I think the instrumental wins over the vocal version. It was a tumultuous week for Wiz Khalifa, but that didn't prevent him from showing off his ability to twist everyone's favorite Adele track into a weed anthem. Last but not least was the premiere of Baauer's new single Day Ones.
In the land of late night, star power was not lacking one bit. Will Smith made his rounds this week promoting Suicide Squad and while doing so he made a stop at Colbert. When he stopped by, the duo sat on a blanket looking at the stars pondering life's biggest questions.
Those of you who grew up in the MTV era should be feeling a bit nostalgic right now. But even if you're not, you've got to be at least mildly amused with what Pitbull was able to do to the original. He managed to put his own upbeat, party anthem flair on Freedom. There's not much new and novel about it, but if you like previous releases of his, you'll enjoy this one.
Moving on with Run the Jewels who seemed to fill every nook and cranny of NPR's Tiny Desk space. You can't hate one bit on their ability to hold the crowd (regardless of size) in the palm of their hands, but I question whether the type of music they make is suited for the Tiny Desk setting. Don't get me wrong it was hella entertaining, but it was akin to watching two dudes practice rapping, which isn't the most interesting thing. The good news is, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver have all the interesting you need as they exchanged political humor and banter for a good ten minutes.
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Full disclosure, I'm definitely not a video game guy. Command and Conquer is about where I ended my PC and console gaming and that was back when MMO games were just starting to pop up. So when I hear about all this mobile and online gaming, I'm always amazed with how immersive and easily accessible gaming has become. It's literally a whole new universe and the stuff I used to play was seriously clunky, child's play in comparison.
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Tis the season for holiday music and this week’s Christmas edition of Diplo & Friends is full of trapped out Christmas cheer. For the mix, Diplo enlisted his Mad Decent partner in crime Paul Devro to throw together a massive two hour mix.
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So what does the train wreck of a movie series have to do with music you ask? Well, if it weren't for the movies coming to life, we wouldn't have another star studded soundtrack to fawn over. In all honesty, the first soundtrack was average, but the Fifty Shades Darker is full of potential with new tracks from John Legend, Sia, The Dream, Halsey, and Tove Lo to name a few. That list of artists above doesn't even mention the one I'm most excited about, Kygo. His new one, Cruise, features some $20 bill vocals and a characteristically mellow Trop House vibe to boot. It's not going to be your favorite Kygo track by any means, but it fits in nicely with a lot of his other chill singles.
Sure, it helps to have the OWSLA cosign attached to your name, but she's more than holding her own with remixes like the one below. Before indulging in her recreation, check out the vocal driven, hardcore original from Darren Styles.
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It doesn't stop there, though, as Danny Brown and Pell decided to hop on a remix of the original this week. If you know anything about Danny Brown it shouldn't be a surprise that something as carefree as Birthday would be something he'd want to donate a verse toward. I favor the original over the remix because I'm more of an instrumental purist, but I can see why you'd feel the verses added to the general excitement of the track.
It's as if The Weeknd was starting to worry that the public perception of him was full-on-pop the way he's been attacking the Hip Hop scene the past week. First it was his collaborations with Future on Low Life and Jeremih on Pass Dat, now it's Travis Scott.
Pardon the cheesy pun, but color me excited about the collaboration below. About a month ago, I heard a live snippet of the track at Bill Graham in SF when Marshmello came to town. I've gotta say, it's as bubbly and hard hitting as it sounded live. Equipped with the Passion Pit-esque vocals from Noah Cyrus, it's every bit as quirky as you expected, chalked full of high pitched samples and bouncy funtime beats that both Marshmello and Ookay are known for.
Sean: They’re making themselves, they’re taking a stand, going against stereo types, working with what’s come before them and integrating it with the present to come up with a whole lot of heat. It’s wonderful and everyone here understands (see this page) that and embraces it.
Joey: Through out the year we putting on events, concerts and from there we figure out who’s shaking it up and whom we want to cultivate. People like ‘Alpha Pup,’ seed-ny.com, and urb.com they’re there helping to bring the diverse talent up and give it a stage to roam. And that’s the beauty the underground cutting music finally gets to be heard and these guys go onto making more amazing music.
With all the collaborations between Hip Hop and EDM these days, I'm beginning to raise my own bar for being impressed. That being said, a collabo between three of my favorite artists is probably starting out with a higher chance of eclipsing that bar than your average track. Seeing Big Gigantic, Logic, and Rozes on the same track together caused me to fumble with the mouse because I tried to click play so fast.
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Now that we know Drake's new Views From the 6 will be arriving in April (probably on April 16th since Toronto's area code is 416), it's time to sit back and relax as new music trickles in over the course of the next two months. Following the mo' money, mo' fame, mo' problems, mo' haters rapper career trajectory, it seems like with every passing year Drizzy picks up a new rival. We've seen him and Chris Brown get involved physically and verbally, then there's the ongoing Meek Mill saga (yawn) and lately it's been fellow up and comers from Toronto (Tory Lanez) taking subliminal shots at Drake. Rapping over a beat concocted by Toronto's finest (40, Boi-1da and CuBeatz), Drake takes on all incumbents with subtle jabs. I'm not going to pretend to do a better job than Lyrics Genius at illuminating the beef and subsequent jabs, so if you want to dive deep, head on over to that fine site.
One thing I really appreciate is when modern EDM artists reach back into the archives to dust off a classic. Electronic music as a whole didn't begin to start gaining appreciation from an American audience until the decade after Y2K. As a result, there's an entire history of electronic music that not a lot of people know about. For example, if it weren't for Avicii and now Flux Pavilion, I wouldn't know very much about Faithless. Evidently, they've made a lot of great music in their day, including their 2001 hit We Come One (below).
In hindsight, it was a pretty awesome track that I wish I had known about earlier. But, luckily, Flux has my back because he modernized the original by adding his own special sauce. There are few that can impart the type of awe inspiring drum and bass progressions that Flux Pavilion is able to generate. This isn't just a solid remix, it's a great remix that adds in a few exclamation points and a whole lot of a head nod worthy bass.
While asleep at the wheel a few months back, I swung and missed on posting Boys Noize and HudMo's collaboration Birthday. It's about as celebratory of a track you'll find with excitable synths and rowdy percussion samples adding to the already jubilant energy surrounding the track. Add to that a repeatable, sing-along hook from Spank Rock and you've got yourself a single-worthy effort.
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It'd be going a bit far to say that Kanye is back to making legendary music, but all signs are pointing that direction. His success has always come from his ability to produce music and tell a story. Keeping that in mind, it's no surprise that he's received overwhelmingly positive reviews for his new single Real Friends.
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Despite the inundation of copycats onto the EDM scene, in general, the world could always use more feel good house music. What I'm talking about is smooth, slightly funky tracks like Oliver Heldens and Throttle's new one Waiting. It's fun, upbeat, repeatable and is another example of how disco is creeping back into electronic music.
If you need a sign that EDM is evolving more and more into the definition of Pop, look no further than the Adam Lambert assisted Broken. Led by an intriguing collaboration between one of my favorite EDM duos (Tritonal) and up and comer Jenaux, the song amounts to a ballad wrapped up in bubbly synths. It fits the uplifting vibe that most Tritonal tracks carry, but this time they set their sights directly on Top 40 radio.
There's heating up NBA Jam style and then there's whatever Alan Walker is after yet another stellar release. At this point on the verge of being convinced that I genuinely like his style of using high-pitched, whiny synths to capture your attention. I wasn't a huge fan of Charli XCX and Lil Yachty's original version of After the Afterparty, but you overlay an ethereal, calming beat and I'm all about the remix. For comparison, check out the video for the original below.
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I have a short list of artists that I will follow into battle no matter where they decide to go with their music. For reference, I used to think Drake was on that short list, but nowadays I like about half of the stuff he puts out.
Without hesitation I'd be comfortable anointing Majid Jordan as one of the top three R&B duos right now. Their soulful vocals and funk-filled music are another level of fresh in an R&B landscape that now finds itself devoid of the quality it had a decade ago. If you're a fan of theirs you've been counting down the days until self-titled debut EP lands on iTunes on February 5th.
It takes a certain mood, but there are certain days where chill House music is all I feel like consuming. That type of mellow EDM with soothing vocals and melodic chords that immediately forces you to relax your mind. Here's the newest example I can think of from Gryffin featuring the vocals of Josef Salvat. From the piano lead in to the echoing vocals and vibrant vocal samples, it possesses the secret sauce. It won't ignite a crowd, but if you're Heading Home and need something to put on to allow you to get past the exhausting day you just had, this will hit the spot. The way it comes together after the gentle drop may even get you nodding your head and vibing out a bit.
If you listen closely to his lyrics, there's another level of intellect just below the surface that is easy to miss because of how casual he delivers each bar. Between the rhymes, analogies, and storytelling, you'd be hard pressed convincing me there is a more polished rapper than him in the game. Critics will say his lyrics can be too sing-songy or he's too white collar, meaning he's not "gangsta" enough, but he doesn't get enough credit for how much he's influenced many of your favorite rappers (namely Drake).
Yep, it's about that time I zig when you guys think I'm about to zag. Normally this is the home for up and coming Hip Hop and EDM, but I wouldn't be staying true to my own tastes in music if I didn't post the occasional ballad. This week it just so happens to be Lana Del Rey's newest single, Love. Lana's steady, mellow harmony is distinct in that there's rarely ever any peaks and valleys in her vocals. Normally I'd find the lack of excitability boring as hell, but there's an undeniable soothingness that is mesmerizing. Her style would seemingly fit in better with the 1960s, but that's probably why she's able to stand out among the crowd of young and formulaic pop stars.
But this week, the duo seemingly made amends when they released their first collaboration in years title Bird Song. The track is as tribal, bouncy, and quirky as you'd expect. Packed with more than a few play on words having to do with birds, the lyrics are borderline trolling. But, to its credit, it bangs in the headphones and will find a way to coerce you to wiggle a bit.
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Despite my affinity for all things bouncy in EDM, I've got a soft spot for mellow electronic ballads too. Take for example Illenium's new one, Fractures. The track comes equipped with attention grabbing vocals from Nevve to go with a tranquil mix of whistles and soft chords. Somehow, some way, you'll find yourself whistling, humming, or singing along by the end of the track, you can bet that. The vibe of the track perfectly matches the cover art above.
Despite not being as jam packed with excellence as previous weeks, there were a few gems in this week's top five thanks to our friends from across the pond. In case you missed it, which you probably did, The Brits were this week. Normally that wouldn't be of huge interest to folks in North America, but The Chainsmokers and Coldplay performed their new single live for the first time and Ed Sheeran debuted his upcoming remix of Shape of You with Stormzy. Both were as stellar as you'd hope for when hearing a track performed live for the first time.
I bring up tour collabos because Porter Robinson and Madeon are about to embark on a tour together. Today when they announced the tour, they also shared a new single they did together that's coincidentally the same name as their tour. The Shelter tour will include 17 stops and you can bet they'll be blasting the track below together on stage at some point during the show. The track is exactly as melodic and jubilant as you'd expect from two EDM artists who have made their name with high pitched vocal samples and soothing drops. Both of their unique sounds are reflected in the track, yet the mix of styles is seamless.
Generally, I constrain myself to picking one, and only one, song to post per day. Mostly due to time constraints, but also to ensure that what I post about is something I generally like quite a bit.
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Random doesn't begin to explain that collection of talent on one stage, but it came together quite well on the Mardi Gras classic Iko Iko. If that's not random enough for you, how about some Obama clips dubbed together to form Justin Bieber's I'm Sorry? I'm not sure it was as good as Thriller or Hotline Bling, but baracksdubs takes attention to detail to another level.
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If you thought 2021 was going to end without Kanye making a big, loud statement, then your thoughts were answered with an exclamation point. On New Years Eve, Yeezy released an aggressive, bass heavy banger in the form of FACTS. It's more of a three and a half minute, stream of consciousness type of freestyle that shouts out everything from clothing brands to professional athletes to pop culture figures that may or may not have just been released on bail for a cool million. It's loaded with braggadocio and will serve as the warning shot for his upcoming album Swish.
In ZHU's case on Hometown Girl, it's without a doubt nostalgia. Everyone had that certain high school sweet heart or summer vacation town chick (or dude) that they would always go to for comfort. Take comfort whatever direction you want, but there's something about ZHU's smooth vocals over deep house rhythms that amplify the memories for me. It's truly an ode to that steady person you have in your life who you grew up with and I'm here writing because it made me immediately think of that person and re-live those memories. Despite the fact that this song has been out since July and that likelihood that you've already done a few laps around Generationwhy, the lyric video was released this week, which is what prompted the post.
So why did TroyBoi remix MJ out of the blue? Well, yesterday would have been his 58th birthday, so we were blessed with a fresh new trappy rendition of one of his less appreciated tracks. On the remix, you'll get the unrefined goodness you're used to from any TroyBoi beat set to the background of a bouncy, almost haunting beat. Tracks like this allow us to imagine what it would be like if MJ was still around to collaborate DJs of today. I see that is a gift, which is fitting considering it was made for his birthday.
Very few things entertain me more than when Hip Hop and EDM artists cross paths. When the two genres mash together, tempo is always what I notice first. Is it toned down to accommodate the Hip Hop verses or do they gear up in anticipation of the drop? It's never the same formula, but it seems like this heavy bass, Trap sound is becoming the meet in the middle point.
There was a whole lot of straight up caucasian, whiteness to this week's top five. It all started with DJ Shadow and Run the Jewels video for Nobody Speak where a bunch of white politicians decided to duke it out. From there it got a lot less violent, but still stayed blanco with a new video from G-Eazy for Calm Down and another more than mildly entertaining video from Lil Dicky and Gronk. Those two need to go on tour together, straight up.
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I've been impressed with how DJ Mustard has went from one of most well-known Hip Hop producers to an artist who has the capability of headlining a show. It's an evolution that not a lot of Hip Hop producers have been able to make and it speaks to his ability to produce a wide range of high energy music. Recently I've enjoy how he's been able to start catering to the electronic demo by bringing in some trap elements to his music.
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Very few people can resurrect previous hits with a new spin like Pitbull. Some would knock him for his unoriginality, but I've always found myself on the admiration side of the fence when it comes to Mr. 305. This time he put his own spin on the Soup Dragons' I'm Free. Based on the psychedelic, low budget style of the video, you can probably guess it was from 1990.
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Chance took to GMA to show off his brand new single Summer Friends, while Anderson used every bit of space in the room for his tiny desk concert for NPR. Both artists are out to prove that Hip Hop music is fun to consume live and I'm digging every bit of their live shows.
If only every week could be as hype as this week's top five. Performances were the name of the game this week, front to back. Led by the Rockin' 1000 people who congregated in Cesena, Italy to form the largest rock band on earth to perform Nirvana's classic, Smells Like Teen Spirit. I'll admit, I thought it was going to sound like a catastrophe of sound, but it delivered the goods. If you don't get hype seeing all those people with drum sets and electric guitars then you weren't watching the same video that I was.
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I'm not one to post streaming radio versions of tracks, but then again, Dr. Dre doesn't release new music very often. Evidently the track below found itself on the chopping block when the final track list for the Compton album was solidified. Back to Business is about as a good of an example of how Dr. Dre wakes up and pisses excellence. Saying that the track wasn't in the top sixteen tracks of any album is laughable. Featuring a slow bangin' beat, solid verses from all hands on deck (including the Good Doctor) and a fine hook from Victoria Monet, there's a lot to like.
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Those who were heartbroken over Avicii's retirement must be feeling like a huge void in the melodic house music space. To those fans, I say worry not because Syn Cole is about the best proxy you're going to find for inspirational, feel good EDM. His new single Follow Me is a stellar effort featuring the vocals of acoustic artist Joshua Radin. Between the piano lead in, the soulful vocals, and ever-so-bubbly chord progression post-drop, this has all the makings of a Top 40 hit. It's the type of track that I'll have on heavy repeat for the coming weeks because of it's easy-listening vibrance.
Listening to Wale's remix of Ed Sheeran's new one makes me nostalgic. About a decade ago, you could count on at least one well known rapper to go in on every single catchy pop single. Now that EDM is eating up all the remix usage, hearing a hot 16 over an Ed Sheeran joint is a novelty.
This week was a refreshing return to the mix of music videos and quality late night clips. In other words, Colbert and Fallon finally came back into the fold with some entertaining new content. Before we get to the specifics of late night, let's give some love to the music first. Led by G-Eazy and Jeremih's Ghostbusters themed video for Saw it Coming, there was a heavy dose of cinema crossover this week.