Nosaj Thing: N R 2
The mostly enigmatic LA-based beatmaker Nosaj Thing (aka Jason Chung) has something for the fans. After three intensely personal albums, he’s releasing No Reality, an EP that finds the artist pushing himself to overthink less, flow more. “Most of these songs are new and were written within the last two months. I wrote one of the songs all on my iPad, and arranged and mixed three of the songs the morning it was due to mastering—lots of quick changes and decisions were made,” he writes in the press release. Listen to the slowly-shifting, very danceable “N R 2” (all of the five tracks are similarly named N R #) ahead of the 8 April album release, and catch Nosaj Thing at Coachella this month.
Maria Usbeck: Moai Y Yo
Former lead singer for machine pop trio Selebrities, Maria Usbeck, sets out on her own for the first time. Her solo album Amparo (co-produced by Caroline Polachek) will come at the end of May, and the influences are quite personal. Brooklyn-based, Quito-born Usbeck sings “Moai Y Yo” in her native Spanish, backed by the gentle lapping of water, sparse percussion and the eventual layering of her vocals into a moving, chanting chorus. The organic nature of this track—thanks to acoustic instruments and field recordings—is a stark contrast to the ’80s styled electronic music Usbeck was previously making and the way she’s tucked in snippets of lesser-known languages (Catalan, Quichua, Rapa Nui, Bribri) into “Moai Y Yo” for texture and emotion reminds us of how producers sample songs and beats.
Gold Panda: In My Car
There are no kaleidoscopic visuals or light effects in Gold Panda’s video for his new instrumental track “In My Car.” It follows the British producer to his hometown, Chelmsford, as he spends a day with his grandma Lakhi Shiner (whose name was the inspiration for his debut album title, Lucky Shiner). Their differences are stark—she can’t help but look disinterested as he plays with his Sequential drum machine—but in some of their everyday activities like home cooking, weeding his grandpa’s grave and sipping takeaway tea together, there’s a sweetness and connection that need no words to explain. Gold Panda’s third album Good Luck And Do Your Best is out 27 May 2016.
Azealia Banks: Along the Coast
Zero-fucks-giving Azealia Banks fires her sound engineer, and when he threatens to leak her mixtape, she promptly uploads it instead. Slay-Z features Rick Ross and Nina Sky, plus Kaytranada has produced the R&B lullaby-like “Along the Coast,” with Banks showing off her softer side as she silkily croons. Banks has noted via Twitter that “Along the Coast” is a prelude to what’s to come from her next project, Fantasea II: The Second Wave.
D.R.A.M.: Don’t Let D.R.A.M. Be A Hot Boy (Missy Elliott Remix)
Proving once again Missy Elliott’s brand of music has literally no sell-by date, Virginia artist D.R.A.M. (aka Shelley Massenburg-Smith) has remixed her sublimely perfect Timbaland-produced “Hot Boyz” (from her 1998 album Da Real World) and taken the slick, seductive and effortless sample to create “Don’t Let D.R.A.M. Be A Hot Boy.” The track pays just enough homage to Elliott, while still creating something brand new—complete with a little falsetto, soul and plenty of sleaze. (This remix is also a great reason to re-visit the color-saturated, Hype Williams-directed video from 16 years ago—featuring Lil Mo, Eve, Nas, Ginuwine and Timbaland.)
ListenUp is a Cool Hunting series published every Sunday that rounds up the music we tweeted throughout the week, also found in Listen. Hear the year so far via Cool Hunting Spotify.