Listen Up

Our favorite new music this week blends and bends genres

Indigo De Souza: Hold U

The second single from singer-songwriter Indigo De Souza’s upcoming album Any Shape You Take (out 27 August), “Hold U” is a sweet pop-leaning tune that begins with soft vocals and synths, before evolving with swirling guitar and percussion. Of the bright, optimistic song, she says, “I wanted to write about a really simple kind of love that isn’t necessarily romantic, but that is just about holding space for other people to fully express themselves and to feel celebrated. Just simply seeing someone in their humanity and loving them.”

Samm Henshaw: Grow

English-Nigerian singer-songwriter and producer Samm Henshaw brings plenty of vintage soul and gospel-inspired back-up vocals to his latest lush tune, “Grow.” He says, it’s “just a song about understanding that the hard parts of a relationship (any relationship) are necessary for growth and strength and that we shouldn’t give up at the first sign of trouble.” The uplifting bop is the second tune from his Untidy Soul series.

Fana Hues feat. Mereba: Desert Flower

Singer-songwriter Fana Hues released her glorious debut album Hues last year, featuring the slow-burning, delicate ballad, “Desert Flower.” Now the song gets a rework, with Hues teaming up with Mereba. Still gentle, vulnerable and ethereal, this new version includes violin (played by Hella Strings) and an arresting, almost haunting, verse from Mereba.

Childish Gambino: Stay High (Brittany Howard Cover)

Alabama Shakes’ front-woman and guitarist, Brittany Howard recently announced Jaime Reimagined—an entire album of covers and remixes of her 2019 solo debut Jaime. The album’s first single “Stay High” remains an airy, uplifting vintage-sounding soul song—replete with rhythmic guitar, celesta and textured percussion. For Jaime Reimagined, Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) eschews the guitar for strings, synths and handclaps, with his familiar falsetto sweeping over the top. Other artists appearing on the album include Little Dragon, Syd, BadBadNotGood, Michael Kiwanuka and more.

anaiis feat. Topaz Jones: chuu

French-Senegalese artist anaiis teams up with New Jersey-born Topaz Jones for “chuu,” a song that blends elements of contemporary hip-hop and trap with R&B and layered ethereal effects that make it feel a little otherworldly. Appearing on anaiis’ upcoming album, the song’s introspective lyrics are brought to life thanks to her mesmerizing voice.

Clairo: Amoeba

Singer-songwriter Clairo (aka Claire Elizabeth Cottrill) has released her second full-length, Sling, the follow-up her 2019 debut, Immunity. The album—produced by Cottrill and Jack Antonoff—was made in Upstate New York, and inspired by the landscapes and atmosphere there. From the album, “Amoeba” certainly stands out as a vintage-sounding pop song, carried by Cottrill’s gentle vocals.

Planet Giza feat. Ivy Sole: Out of Touch

Montreal-based trio Planet Giza (Rami B, Tony Stone and DoomX) have teamed up with Philadelphia rapper Ivy Sole for the spacey, soulful “Out of Touch.” The vocalists’ smooth harmonies flow into Ivy Sole’s effortless verse, altogether making for a groovy, mellow collaboration.

Biz Markie: Make The Music

Internationally renowned and beloved, the Clown Prince of Hip-Hop, Biz Markie (born Marcel Theo Hall) has passed away at 57 years old. Best known for his massive hit “Just a Friend,” Biz Markie was a talented beatboxer (a talent he honed during his teens) and rapper, but embraced his goofiness with playful, self-deprecating lyrics and off-tune singing: “I’d rather have a smile than to be serious.” Growing up on Long Island, he DJ-ed at NYC nightclubs and joined the Queensbridge-based Juice Crew in the ’80s, before signing to Prism Records and releasing his debut record Goin’ Off in 1988. From that album, the lead single “Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz,” showcased his beatboxing skills. While Biz Markie never saw the same huge popularity of “Just A Friend” ever again, he worked alongside Marley Marl, Beastie Boys, Wu-Tang Clan and others, and appeared in TV and movies. He told Entertainment Weekly in 2019, “I don’t feel bad. I know what I did in hip-hop.”

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 Fana Hues