Welcome back to The Verge’s weekly musical roundup. I’m Jamieson, I’m still your host, and I hope all of the readers scrolling from the Eastern Seaboard are appropriately prepared for this weekend’s blizzard. Charge your devices! Stock up on red wine! Throw every blanket in your home into a glorious pile! (Feel free to do the same even if you’re living somewhere snow-free.) I’m trying to do my part by picking a bunch of warm, crackling jams: there’s tropical pop from AlunaGeorge and Popcaan, soul from Anderson .Paak, and toasty sampling from Kanye West.
Remember to subscribe to our Spotify playlist if you haven’t already — it’s updated weekly! Let’s go:
AlunaGeorge ft. Popcaan, "I’m in Control":
AlunaGeorge’s tidy, clipped pop-R&B received an unexpected American boost last year when a DJ Snake remix of "You Know You Like It" snuck onto club floors and charts around the country. The British duo is planning on releasing new LP I Remember this spring, three years after debut Body Music. "I’m in Control" is the first single, and it has the same vague Caribbean tilt that characterized much of last year’s popular dance music. (It sounds a little like Ace of Base, don’t you think?)
Anderson .Paak, "Put Me Thru":
I’ve spent a lot of time this week listening to Anderson .Paak’s impressive new album Malibu, a sprawling collection of soul, hip-hop, and funk throughout which .Paak capably raps and sings. (He also played a major role on Dr. Dre’s 2015 comeback LP Compton. "Put Me Thru" is one of the album’s shortest tracks, but it packs a punch, bitter and crunchy like a strange piece of fruit.
Fatima Al Qadiri, "Battery":
Fatima Al Qadiri makes challenging, globally-minded electronic music, and she’s readying a new album called Brute for release on March 4th. (Her 2014 full-length debut Asiatisch used traditionally Eastern sounds to poke at Asia’s relationship with the rest of the world.) "Battery" fuses menacing horns and a robust low end to disembodied, wordless samples, and it makes for a creepy three-minute listen. More importantly, it comes with artwork depicting a Teletubby in navy riot gear. Tinky Winky meets trap, I guess?
Future, "Inside the Mattress":
Future had one of the busiest years in hip-hop history last year — he released two solo mixtapes, one LP, and a hugely successful collaborative tape with Drake — and he’s obviously not ready to slow down. Purple Reign came out last week, and "Inside the Mattress" is the tape’s clear highlight: it’s a victory lap, a celebration of Future’s insane work rate, and a bleak snapshot of life on the road, all rolled within a beat that sounds like it’s anchored by a melted NES.
Isaiah Rashad, "Smile":
Kendrick Lamar associate Isaiah Rashad has kept pretty quiet in the two years since releasing his impressive debut EP Cilvia Demo. If you’re not familiar with his work, "Smile" should make a decent starting point. Rashad isn’t as ambitious as Kendrick or as strange as his other TDE contemporaries, but he’s an intense, compelling rapper, and he should release a full-length album sometime this year. Keep your ears open.
Kanye West ft. Kendrick Lamar, "No More Parties in L.A.":
Are you ready for Swish? Kanye West’s new album is coming out in just a few weeks, and like the previously released "Real Friends," "No More Parties in L.A." suggests Kanye’s leaning back toward the soulful, obscure sound of the first half of his career. He can’t match Kendrick when it comes to lyrical pyrotechnics — then again, who can? — but it’s a joy to hear Kanye glide over an off-kilter Madlib beat without the intervention of acid-ravaged synths or frenzied drum machines.
Majical Cloudz, "Heaven":
Majical Cloudz’s new EP Wait & See collects a few tracks that didn’t make the cut for the solid LP they released last October, Are You Alone? All of the songs are worthy listens, but "Heaven" is the most impressive: it’s insistent, intimate, and obsessed with death, qualities it shares with a lot of the band’s best work.
Pet Shop Boys, "Inner Sanctum":
British electro-pop legends Pet Shop Boys are releasing Super, their first album since 2013 and 13th overall, on April 1st. "Inner Sanctum" is the first single, and it’s a timeless slice of luminescent dancefloor fodder. I have no way to test this, but I imagine it’d sound just as good in 1988 as it does now. The boys have still got it!
The Range, "Florida":
James Hinton is the producer who records as The Range, and his new album Potential (due out March 25th) relies heavily on sampled clips of anonymous YouTube users, people who vlogged and sang to tiny audiences for their own personal fulfillment. "Florida" takes a snippet of someone covering Ariana Grande and builds a lush, constantly mutating piece of music around it. Figuring out the story behind the song only makes it seem more impressive.
Tinashe ft. Juicy J, "Energy":
Tinashe’s new album Joyride still doesn’t have a release date, and the quality of songs like "Energy" isn’t making it any easier to stomach the wait. Mike Will Made It supplies a sublime, strange beat; Tinashe’s vocals are subtle and skilled; Juicy J shows up for a typically debauched, detailed verse. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable piece of contemporary R&B.
Here’s the running This Is Your Next Jam playlist — have an awesome weekend!