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Kendrick Lamar Lays Waste to the Competi...

Kendrick Lamar had been starving his fans. Since the excitement of untitled unmastered.’s release last March, his work has been uneven: Every showstopping guest verse, like his turn on Isaiah Rashad’s “Wat’s Wrong,” was countered by questionable decisions (that odious Maroon 5 track, for example). On “The Heart Part 4,” he acknowledges that he’s been away. Its brief first verse finds him in a meditative mode, reflecting on the money and legacy he’s made—but something’s irking him, and his mood shifts quickly. “I ain’t sanctified enough to say that I won’t shoot ya,” he...
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Drake Goes to Margaritaville on “Passion...

It used to be that Drake only had one persona: He was the sad-sack rapper who let his feelings about failed relationships and career failure flow out of him like water out of a firehose. But since 2013’s Nothing Was the Same, he’s been forging new identities to slip in and out of at whim. There’s Tough Guy Drake, aggressive and confident, heard first on “Worst Behavior.” (This phase went in tandem with his newfound dedication to weightlifting and, by proxy, Instagram thirst-trapping.) And since “Hotline Bling” and “Controlla,” he’s been building up what might be...
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Yves Tumor’s “Limerence” Is Electronic M...

Yves Tumor isn’t so much an experimental musician as he is a snake charmer or a hypnotist. He replaces the flute or the pocket watch with synths, samples, field recordings, and hot digital noise, creating a musical world that is teeming with spooky sensations. This is especially true of his song “Limerence,” which is part of PAN’s wide-ranging ambient compilation mono no aware. It first appeared on the artist’s self-released and underrated debut When Man Fails You, and it is given new life here as the focal point of a compilation that explores the fleeting nature of...
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Perfume Genius Channels New Primal Power...

How do you create a sound that’s both skeletal and giant? That dichotomy is at the heart of “Slip Away,” the lead single from Perfume Genius’ upcoming fourth album, No Shape. The song takes the significant sonic upgrade Mike Hadreas made with 2014’s Too Bright and blows it out of the water. And rightfully so: If you’re going to write a fight song about breaking free, never looking back, and letting the haters’ voices slip away (including the ones in your own head), the music needs to have your back. It more than does here, pulsating with primal power as Hadreas’...
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Happy Drake Returns on “Get It Together”...

In recent years, Drake’s love affairs with the world’s flavors of pop music, from dancehall to grime, has seemed at once endearing and calculated. To the cynical observer, his embrace of stars like Skepta, Wizkid, and Popcaan felt like an attempt to be as palatable as possible to everyone who encountered him, regardless of hemisphere. On Drake’s new “playlist,” More Life, his fascination with global pop is more joyful and generous than it’s been in the past. More Life is often opposite to last year’s VIEWS, a warm, convivial counterpoint to that album’s frigid...
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Hear Downtown Boys’ Punk Rallying Cry “S...

Last month, the fiery Providence, RI punk group Downtown Boys announced their signing to Sub Pop, a promising indication that larger audiences will discover their insurgent energy. While there’s still no news on a follow-up to 2015’s Full Communism, yesterday the band released their first track through their new label, the glorious, Spanish-language “Somo Chulas (No Somos Pendejas).” The title translates to “I’m elegant/intelligent, I’m not dumb,” which Downtown Boys explain is “a declaration of one’s ability to decolonize one’s mind, and the importance of fearlessly...