Hip-Hop: Dirty Cup
Gucci Mane featuring 2 Chainz, from the forthcoming Trap House 3: The Guwop Edition (1017 Brick Squad/Asylum/Warner); streaming here
Gucci Mane is the mush-mouthed Alfred E. Neuman of rap, rhyming about toting uzis and slugging back sizzurp with a perpetually befuddled “Who, me?” persona. But as simple as his hooks may be (“my cup so dirty / my cup so muddy / dirty cup, dirty cup, damn I got a muddy cup”), his rhymes can be dazzling. The star of director Harmony Korine’s forthcoming Spring Breakers rhymes “flick,” “slick,” “quick,” “TwitPic” and “pool stick” (and a couple of other, less savoury “-ick” words) in the space of two lines, shifting effortlessly between boasting about his girlfriend and shrugging at being accused of attacking someone with a pool cue in the early 2000s. “Be all you can be, don’t be like me, mane.” The army ain’t easy, but being Gucci is doubtlessly harder than it sounds.
Pop-rock: Eyes like Sky
Frank Ocean; unreleased single streaming here
From the first chiming acoustic guitars and hope-and-change lyrics, you may think this was a lost track from Train or the Goo Goo Dolls, not neo-soul critical darling Frank Ocean. But there’s a crooked line from Joni Mitchell through Prince to this kind of social conscience-flaunting pop-rock, and even if the lyrical conceit is a smidge corny for some tastes, there’s no question Ocean can nail a vocal in a wide range of styles.
R&B: Heaven for the Sinner
Bonobo featuring Erykah Badu, from the forthcoming The North Borders (Ninja Tune); streaming here
The earliest Chicago house music frequently invoked the gospel tradition, and Erykah Badu may have been thinking of it when she turned stalwart British down-tempo producer Bonobo’s glistening, moist and sun-dappled beat into a song about salvation. “God is ready, when you’re ready,” she croons, but we sinners get a taste of heaven anyways – especially when the strings come in.
Indie-dance: Pretty Boy
Young Galaxy (remixed by Peaking Lights), from the forthcoming Ultramarine (Paper Bag); streaming here
Now that they’ve fully embraced the dance side of their sound, Young Galaxy seem comfortable enough to nod back to the pop-rock they started with, in a roundabout way. Pretty Boy is as anthemic as the Who’s Baba O’Riley yet musically subdued; remixer Peaking Lights turns it into a dance-floor filler reminiscent of New Order (Love Vigilantes, The Perfect Kiss and Age of Consent for those keeping score at home) with added bleeps and hand drumming.
Hip-hop video: BBQ Sauce
Sean Price featuring Pharaohe Monch, from Mic Tyson (Duck Down); streaming here
If you enjoyed the vintage aesthetics ofArgo’s titles, then this video from Boot Camp Clik co-founder Sean Price will basically make you lose your mind. Not only is there a veritable avalanche of archival footage, and lens filters making Price look like he was in it, the recitation of achievements such as being inducted into “The Dingleberry Pines Equestrian and Polo Club.” Bonus points for Pharaohe Monch’s hilarious n-word warning: “White people please do not recite the chorus, if you do we’ll wash your mouth with Lavoris.” (That’s a mouthwash, honky.)