Listen Up

From funk by the late Fela Kuti to a jubilant pop track and a haunting hip-hop song, a few of our favorite tracks from the week

Fela Kuti + Roy Ayers: 2000 Blacks Got To Be Free (Edit)

Originally released in 1980 but taken out of print in 1989, “2000 Blacks Got To Be Free” first appeared on Music of Many Colors, a collaborative record between Fela Kuti and Roy Ayers. The two toured together, and sought to put a capstone on the experience with this release. Mixing Ayers’ vocals and Kuti’s prowess as a producer, a reissue of the track surprised fans of both artists when it was officially released on Record Store Day earlier this year. Those that purchased a copy have enjoyed it for months, but it hit streaming platforms last week.

Lapalux feat. Lilia: Limb To Limb

Lapalux (aka Essex-based producer Stuart Howard) previews his forthcoming album, Amnioverse (out 8 November on Brainfeeder), with an ambient, breakbeat-influenced track featuring singer Lilia. Howard’s prowess as a producer, though, lies in fusing influences to form an entirely fresh sound. Throughout the middle section of this track, a crunchy, digital drumbeat juxtaposes Lilia’s airy vocals; later, another layer of industrial, space-like notes chimes in. The result is a track rich with texture and devoid of a clearcut genre.

Rex Orange County: Face To Face

From Rex Orange County’s forthcoming album Pony (out 25 October) comes “Face to Face,” a winding combination of verses, bridges, and hooks that swell into a cheerful pop tune. The crescendo occurs slowly, but picks up as the track’s pace does. The British artist (aka Alexander O’Connor) speeds up his vocals as drums and synths kick in, along with a resonator and O’Connor’s ad-libs.

Clipping: All In Your Head

Off the trio’s most recent album, There Existed an Addiction to Blood (out 18 October on Sub Pop), Clipping’s (aka LA-based rapper Daveed Diggs and producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes) “All In Your Head” references the horrorcore genre, while being both enthralling and unabashedly artistic. There are moments of spoken word samples, chaotic and glitching drums and bass, and then a gospel-like breakdown that ushers the track to its hallucinogenic conclusion.

Rufus Wainwright: Trouble in Paradise

“Drum beats herald a romp through the inner mind of a bob-haired fashion doyenne on her drive from the town to the country,” Rufus Wainwright says of his single “Trouble in Paradise.” The clever track is a taste of the artist’s forthcoming album, expected out in 2020—his first in the pop genre since 2012’s Mark Ronson-produced Out of the Game. With production by Mitchell Froom, the new song dazzles, dances and blossoms into something altogether delightful. Wainwright fans will be pleased.

Little Dragon: Tongue Kissing

Along with their 2020 tour announcement, Little Dragon has released “Tongue Kissing,” a song the Swedish band says is about facing one’s demons. “Forever broken minds, so unified / take me apart, take me apart” frontwoman Yukimi Nagano sings over the layered but laidback beat. Altogether it’s as whimsical, mellow and glittery as fans have come to expect from the electronic act.

Listen Up is published every Sunday and rounds up the new music we found throughout the week. Hear the year so far on our Spotify channel.