"Rich Sex" by Nicki Minaj (feat. Lil Wayne)
Does a Nicki album actually exist if Lil Wayne isn't featured on it? I guess we'll never know. Their new single may not be exactly radio-friendly due to the nature of the highly sexual content, but it's a banger, nonetheless, that we'll all be hearing in the clubs for the rest of the year. What makes the song good is mostly the beat and production done by Aubry "Big Juice" Delaine and J. Reid. Heavy bass and four piano notes in a loop haven't sounded this good since DJ Mustard was the biggest deal around that style. Minaj delivers solid verses and a hook that encourages rich people to have sex only with other rich people, but it's Lil Wayne's mumbling, incomprehensible verse that takes the song a couple notches down.
"Bed" by Nicki Minaj (feat. Ariana Grande) ★★★½
Nicki and Ari continue their hit streak with their third collaborative single, "Bed", with a fourth on the way, which will be found on Grande's fourth album, Sweetner, due in July. Clearly selling sex together works for the them (one more than the other, it seems) and this new single could essentially be a part two to "Side to Side." According to Minaj's Twitter, this particular track has been in the works for a year and the wait was nearly worth the wait. Their chemistry is unrivaled and it'd be a genius move if they released a collaborative album. Just imagine how much more success that'd bring to the both of them. Grande's beautiful vocals and catchy hook on the single are what sticks out the most singing the lines "Got a bed with your name on it...Got a kiss with your name on it". The best part? She's actually enunciating (more than usual), meaning it's easier to tell what she's saying! This particular track creates a lot of anticipation for Nicki's long-awaited album, Queen, due in August.
"U Wanna" by Fyra
Fyra is back with a brand new single and this time it's a banger. Skillfully produced by Maw (see below), Fyra brings the gritty sounds of deep drum claps, the electric guitar, and echo-y synths that could give The Weeknd a run for his money back in his Trilogy days. Not only is the beat crafted very well, but the lyrical content is honest and real. Do you ever feel like you haven't been with your significant other in a while, like been with them, and you just need to satisfy that craving? That's what "U Wanna" encapsulates so well: take a break, do the deed, get back on the grind. The single officially drops June 21.
"Love Lies (Maw Remix)" by Khalid (feat. Normani)
Producer Maw has been remixing big hits for some time now, as well as producing for Fyra (see above), and his latest interpretation of Khalid and Normai's collaborative single is a huge hit. It takes a lot of talent and guts to remix someone else's work, and Maw does a marvelous job at it. He makes the song much wavier that the original and it would go hard in any setting, including anywhere from festivals to backyard pool parties. The blend of tropical vibes and stripping down the vocals are keys to making such a satisfying banger. Be sure to also check out his other remixes on his Soundcloud, especially the one he did for Bazzi's "Mine".
"Goodbye" by Jorja Smith
More people need to listen to Jorja Smith. Remember her name, because she seems to be destined to become a houeshold name. The 21 year-old British newcomer just released her debut album, Lost & Found, which are receiving critically-acclaimed reviews, and her standout single is a real tear-jerker. It's a nice change of pace to hear something like Smith's "Goodbye" in the age of trap-hop and EDM-pop dominating the airwaves. Smith sounds like she could be the next Adele, and on this track, she delivers a wonderful performance simply with her voice and an acoustic guitar. As she sings about not spending enough time with a loved one that's no longer here, it makes us feel all the feels and it'll force you to not take anyone or anything for granted ever again.
"Dance to This" by Troye Sivan (feat. Ariana Grande)
The YouTube pop sensation just dropped his new single with a little help from another major pop sensation, Ariana Grande. Though the song contains a decent beat that is actually danceable, the song overall is a bore. I get that they were going for a more mellow dance track, but the lyrics aren't great and are just downright corny ("Dearly beloved / Bring those 501s a bit closer"). It's an insignificant song that we'll all forget about in a few days or weeks, so hopefully Sivan can cook up something a little more refined next time.
"Midsummer Madness" by 88rising
What is respectable about this particular song and 88rising is that it's a collective of Asians making music for the American mainstream, which we don't get a whole lot of these days. Did BTS' insane international success have something to do with 88rising getting a small spotlight on them? Maybe. Maybe not. 88R is a little bit different; they're not a boy band, per se. In fact, they seem like just a genuine group of guys who enjoy making good music and not giving a fuck about anything else (i.e. "Fuck the ru-u-u-ules," as Joji sings on the chorus). The song is perfect for that laid back summer bonfire as the sun sets and I'm excited for what's to come on their collective album, HEAD IN THE CLOUDS, due later this year with a matching music festival to go along with it.
"Like I Do" by Christina Aguilera (feat. GoldLink)
Aguilera has had a bumpy career for (what seems to be) the last decade or so, but it's interesting to see her make a comeback in 2018. Her eighth studio album, Liberation, is out now and seems to be generating some buzz. With this particular single, Aguilera taps GoldLink for a fire verse and Anderson .Paak and Dumbfoundead on the excellent production, which is the most impressive part. This track, about a flirty game of cat and mouse between Xtina and Link and how she's too good for him, has potential to be the one that puts her back on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Either this one or the many others on her album that feature vocals or production by other big names, such as Kanye West, Mike Dean, Demi Lovato, Ty Dolla $ign, and 2 Chainz.
"Liberated" by DeJ Loaf (feat. Leon Bridges)
The latest single from the Detroit rapper/singer is truly a step away from her "Back Up" days. Loaf has taken a turn to talk about positivity and being true to who you are. The uplifting lyrics and fun, steel drum beat make the song really shine and Loaf trades in her old lines like, "Fuck around and I'ma catch a body" for her newly progressive ones like, "I won't judge who you love, or your brown skin". This song could be an anthem for both the LGBTQ community as well as people of color, and that's a win overall. Also, having the Southern crooner, Leon Bridges, on the track as a featured artist is a plus. This is a change for DeJ, but it's a change for the better.
★★★★★ Classic | ★★★★ Excellent | ★★★ Good | ★★ Fair | ★ Poor
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