Listen Up

Reflective rap, a soulful debut, a Breeders cover and more new music

Shelley: Cooking With Grease

Through the single “Cooking With Grease,” Shelley (fka DRAM) debuts a new name and a revamped sound. On lesser-known releases under his former moniker, Shelley (full name Shelley Massenburg-Smith) flexed his vocal prowess, but these performances were somewhat overshadowed by his rapping on hits like “Cha Cha,” “Broccoli” and “Cash Machine.” Now, with renewed direction and a refined sonic focus, Shelley focuses on serving up soft falsettos and soulful hooks.

Saba: Ziplock / Rich Don’t Stop

Chicago rapper Saba (aka Tahj Chandler) fuses two new singles for the medley “Ziplock / Rich Don’t Stop,” which debuts along with a music video. Saba adopted this double-sided style in 2020, when he regularly dropped two tracks that worked well together. “Ziplock” and “Rich Don’t Stop” are no exception. The tracks are united in an Ian Lipton-directed music video, wherein Saba performs on a rooftop decorated with its own geometric, color-coded landscape.

benny blanco + Omar Apollo: Care

“Care,” a single on producer benny blanco’s second album, Friends Keep Secrets 2, focuses on the vocal performance of Hobart, Indiana-born singer-songwriter and guitarist Omar Apollo. The track is sparse, yet pretty and emotional. Apollo deliver delicate verses, while the chorus crescendoes into an impassioned plea: “And you left me all fucked up / I probably pushed my luck / I couldn’t take no more / You’re someone I care for,” he sings.

Tairey: The Shallows

Recording artist Tairey (aka Tairey Perez) releases a catchy, reflective rap track, “The Shallows.” Perez fills the single with affirmations, reminding himself and listeners that many of the challenges before us are “not that deep.” In the face of stress-induced insomnia, he tells himself, “I thought I would drown if I jumped in / but it’s not that deep.” There’s also a limited edition “The Shallows” T-shirt available now, featuring the track’s single art: a blurry, black-and-white image shot by Perez.

Big Thief: Off You (The Breeders Cover)

For record label 4AD’s 40th anniversary covers compilation, Bills & Aches & Blues, folk rockers Big Thief deliver a touching rendition of The Breeders’ “Off You.” Pared back but powerful (quite like the original), the cover finds lead singer Adrianne Lenker breathing her signature sound into lyrics made famous by the inimitable Kim Deal. Lenker succeeds where others would fall short.

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. Hero courtesy of Shelley