Listen Up

A synth-pop protest song, reflective hip-hop, meditative indie and more music from the week

Nana Adjoa: No Room

Dutch-Ghanaian singer-songwriter Nana Adjoa’s new song “No Room” (from her upcoming debut LP, Big Dreaming Ants) feels at once mellow and spirited. Adjoa builds the energetic, dreamy tune upon delicate guitar, gentle handclaps, percussive back-up vocals and her lovely voice. Along with the sublime song, the video directed by Robbert Doelwijt Jr features several visual references to Ghanaian culture—from fabrics to fans and games. Big Dreaming Ants will be released in September.

Tunde Adebimpe: ReelFeel

Part synth-pop dance jam, part protest song, and altogether undeniably from TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, “ReelFeel” rides on the singer’s enchanting falsetto. Chrome Sparks produced the Bandcamp-exclusive single and the platform waived its fees on 3 July so that a portion of the proceeds could go to the Audre Lorde Project, a non-profit for lesbian, gay, bisexual, Two-Spirit, trans and gender non-conforming People of Color.

Lute: Life

Dreamville Records rapper Lute’s “Life” is the second single from his forthcoming album, which is set to release later this year. The song addresses Black Lives Matter protests, scenes from his hometown of Charlotte (where a mass shooting killed three and injured dozens) and the death of his cousin, who was shot the month prior. There’s little superfluity on “Life” and Lute (aka Luther Nicholson) balances hard truths with words of encouragement, all atop a straightforward but engaging instrumental adorned by stringed instruments. “I’m here to give you all these tools and / then my life be complete / Show you what you dream is true / And what you want in life in reach / And now I gotta take a look at me and practice what I preach,” he raps to us, but also his daughter, the intended recipient of his message.

Haich Ber Na: By Floras

London-based recording artist Haich Ber Na explores a new sonic realm on “By Floras.” Glitchy and intergalactic yet delicate, the track mixes elements from Ber Na’s 2019 EP, Everywhere’s Home, but proves much more pop-oriented. The song incorporates many of the celestial elements he’d teased with previous releases, while lyrically he addresses an ever-growing distance between himself and a friend.

Steve Arrington: Keep Dreamin’

Following the release of the blissful “The Joys of Love” in May, funk legend Steve Arrington announces his first album in 11 years and debuts “Keep Dreamin’,” a positive tune with glamorous accents. The album, Down to the Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions (due 18 September via Stones Throw Records) took at least 10 years to make, according to Arrington, who says, “No matter what, no matter how long it takes, I stay focused and put in the work for dreams to come true.”

The Altons: Over And Over

A track from “souldies” band The Altons’ new, double-sided vinyl release, When You Go (That’s When You’ll Know), “Over And Over” burns slowly, led by vocalist Bryan Ponce’s impressive range and vintage-sounding delivery. It’s altogether reminiscent of Smokey Robinson’s Motown-era outfit, The Miracles. Though the vinyl pressings have sold out—because they’re released in that format first—the track is now available on all streaming services, courtesy of Daptone Records’ Penrose imprint.

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.