Hugest duh ever if you read this website consistently, but my most anticipated mainstream-y album this year has been The-Dream's IV Play. Yet since I'm sensitive and don't have a bath at the office, I'm not listening yet. In the meantime, get sultry and complex with "Where Have You Been" – a duet between Terius and Kelly Rowland. It's about love, sure, but also codependence and some of the darker pitfalls that pop-up when you just need somebody.
On "Always," Friendzone continues pushing their flighty button-mashing to new heights. It's like a sample funhouse filled with kaleidoscopes, a clattering beat underneath and eventual key-horn melody to make the proceedings appropriately operatic.
On "Darker," the always-embattled Gucci Mane touts his new mentor-protege relationship with Chicago's Chief Keef. It's a delirious cauldron of bravado, nervous energy, garbed intergalactic wordplay and grimy street darkness. Fight music!
On "High Art," two of the finest writers of our time converge in an operatic bid for summer jam glory. Really, the beat on this one is just gargantuan with my main man The-Dream throwing hooks like sexual, drugged-out darts and Jay-Z at peak-level bravado.
Let's welcome Chance The Rapper to the weird-rap continuum. The Chicago MC's biggest moment in the spotlight, this new mixtape entitled AcidRap, is upon us and, in addition to his irresistible ambition, it features Internet favorite singles like "Good Ass Intro" and "Juice," as well as guest spots from Ab-Soul, Action Bronson, Childish Gambino and Twista.
Mixtape Download: Chance The Rapper - AcidRap [WeTransfer]
A seemingly odd pairing at first, DOOM's word avalanche collides with Clams Casino's cloudy valleys on "Bookfiend." Neither artist bends their style too much as ol' MF slows it down, turns his drawl to molasses and garbles through dense, one-liner wordplay. Rap as escapism.
On "You," Bibio looks ahead and finds a dusty, psychedelic future that somehow feels timeless. Using the far-out foreign sampling technique that makes Madlib such a head trip, the Warp signee creates an aural kaleidoscope of miniature sound-scraps that is just jaw-droppingly beautiful.
On "Girls Love Beyoncé," Canada's national treasure Drake summons the spirit of Destiny's Child to indulge in his own loneliness. It's a sultry creeper and yet another example of Drizz knocking-out a quality R&B track by snaking every little vocal inflection into a sexualized, dejected hook.
On "Numbers On The Boards," Pusha T ups his viciousness over a bed of rumbling, glitchy minimalism cooked up by Kanye West and Don Cannon. It's straight bravado rap – angry, defiant, gracefully lyrical ("I might sell a brick on my birthday/ 36 years of doing dirt like it's Earth Day) and a delightful anecdote to the blasted-out ignorance dominating airwaves right now.
Just like Beyoncé before him, Jay-Z returns to the solo game by putting the music industry, media, NBA and US government on notice with the vicious, curmudgeon rap of "Open Letter." Produced in over-night session by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland and rapped just as quickly, Hov responds to recent controversies (Nets ownership! Cuba!) with his trademark icy coolness and a dose of powerful old-man anger.