Music week in review: A$AP Ferg, Dave East, Brand New, Bieber, & more
There was a ridiculous amount of amazing new music this week.
With releases from across the spectrum, you should have no trouble finding exactly the vibe you’re looking for right now. Of course leading off the list is two Harlem rappers.
A$AP Ferg – Still Striving
A$AP Mob’s de facto number two A$AP Ferg is calling Still Striving a mixtape, but there’s no evidence to show it’s not a straight up album.
Still Striving is chuck full of some absolutely wild features, and A$AP Ferg seems as though he’s comfortable standing alongside the biggest names in hip-hop.
One moment he’s trading bars with Meek Mill, then Cam’ron (“Rubber Band Man” is a standout), next is Lil Yachty, then Dave East, and on, and on.
Still Striving cements Ferg as a massive star in hip-hop. Now we’re ready for Cozy Tapes Vol. 2.
Dave East – Paranoia: A True Story
Another Harlem rapper Dave East released a career-defining album today.
Dave East, who had been creeping on the fringes of hip-hop stardom for a couple years now after making last year’s XXL Freshman list, has solidified himself within the rap game with Paranoia.
It’s his third studio album since 2015 and easily the cleanest and most comprehensive yet.
Although East is joined by artists like Jeezy, Nas, French Montana, and Wiz Khalifa, it’s East’s trademark deep voice that rings out over the rest.
Paranoia is one of the best rap projects of the year, it’s a vintage New York hip-hop record.
Brand New – Science Fiction
Iconic pop-post-not-quite-emo-punk band Brand New released their first album since 2009 and maybe their last album ever.
The release of the album was rather unorthodox, Science Fiction isn’t available on streaming platforms, rather it’s just for purchase.
Musically, it’s a powerhouse of a record. On Science Fiction, Brand New sheds some of the pop-punk constructions of their past and builds a hugely interesting rock record.
At times the sound is fully stripped-down and minimal, at times a wall of sound slaps you in the face.
As always, Jesse Lacey’s lyrics are both bizarre and poignant, at one point singing “Let’s all go play Nagasaki/Let’s all go get vaporized.”
It’s a weird, and great, record for weird times.
Kodak Black – Project Baby 2
Kodak Black has had a wild couple years.
Numerous run-ins with the law and legal troubles that sent him in and out of prison have not stopped Lil Kodak from putting out a massive amount of music.
He’s back doing his thing on Project Baby 2, rapping over a top selection of beats about the system trying to keep him incarcerated, the discontents of sudden fame, being booted, and wanting to go back to his old life of crime.
Kodak is one of the most intriguing young characters in hip-hop, dude just needs to stay out of trouble.
Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
Once upon a time, Grizzly Bear were labeled the “New Beatles.” That they are not, but they may be more interesting.
Their first album in five years, Painted Ruins is another meticulously crafted musical project.
There’s a lot of layers to get through on every track, but not in an inaccessible way.
This album is both more poppy than their previous work in its use of synthesizers and drum machines, but also more complicated than Grizzly Bear’s other albums.
That Ed Droste and co. can even do that is wildly impressive.
Grizzly Bear is an awesomely talented rock band. It’s good to have them back.
Peewee Longway – The Blue M&M 3
On the complete other side of the spectrum from intellectualist rock band Grizzly Bear is Peewee Longway.
The Atlanta, Georgia native has released a shitload of mixtapes over the years with the latest The Blue M&M 3. It’s full of fire beats and bars about moving bricks.
Peewee is very well thought of in Atlanta trap rap circles and Blue M&M 3 shows why.
He vibes in his trademark southern drawl in a way that will have you nodding your head along.
If you’re looking to get the trap bumping this weekend, Peewee Longway is the best way to go.
Justin Bieber – “Friends” (with BloodPop)
Justin Bieber has returned from his recently-cancelled tour with a poppy dance jam alongside producer BloodPop.
This song will likely be completely inescapable for the rest of the year, at least until the Biebs releases something new.
Bieber sings over a driving bass beat about whether or not he can remain friends with a former love interest.
Of course everyone knows the answer to that question, but the massive chorus will make you forget the futility of Justin’s pleas.
Gucci Mane (ft. Migos) – I Get The Bag
Gucci Mane taps the Migos for a new fire single “I Get The Bag.”
Despite the fact that Gucci just dropped DropTopWop back in May, this is the first single off his upcoming Mr. Davis in September.
Trading verses with Migos, Gucci is as sharp as ever.
East Atlanta Santa is a gift to us all.
Best to be grateful.
Gorillaz – “Strobelite” (Kaytranada Remix)
Genius producer and DJ Kaytranada has remixed “Strobelite” off of Gorillaz April album Humans to amazing results.
This is some new age Studio 54 shit, those kick drums are absolutely irresistible.
Kaytranada reworked “Strobelite” into a sort of trance disco jam. Of course, it helps to have Peven Everett’s unique vocals to play around with.