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Drake’s Ass and Macklemore’s Back in This Week’s Best New Songs

5 great new local songs, 5 great new songs from everywhere else, and the week's worst new song.

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Dizzy Fae; Sabrina Carpenter

For this week’s non-local picks, I rounded up the best of the current pop hits (sorry Teddy Swims, sorry Hozier, sorry Chappell Roan) and tried to find what’s worth salvaging from Kendrick vs. Drake.

Local Picks

Andrew Broder, “East River Road”

Andrew Broder should have a Wikipedia page. How else am I supposed to keep track of everything this producer has done, and is doing, from his days with the Fog through his numerous production gigs to his upcoming release Acceptance, due at the end of the month. That album’s first advance track, “East River Road,” masterfully builds momentum and accrues details over the course of 7:28 minutes, beginning with what sounds like a phone on vibrate and eventually washing away to chilled out synths. 

Dizzy Fae, “Play the Video”

The stylish, queer R&B singer returns, cooing at the upper end of her register over a memorable mwomp-mwomp-mwomp bass and light hi-hat driven beat. Just one of the highlights from the Are We There Yet? EP, released last Friday.  

Essjay TheAfrocentricRatchet, “BUGZ BUNNY”

Hate to see a great name go to waste, so I’m glad to report that Essjay lives up to her epithet, rattling off lines like “I heard you used to fuck with so-and-so and what’s-her-name” and “He make me mad but not as often as he make me cum” with matter-of-factness that doesn’t waste any more aggression than necessary on her foes. She’s performing as part of the show in support of Living Wage for Musicians Act at Uptown's Green Room tonight.

Garbage Co. feat. killhades, meda, BabyLeaf, “Junk” 

After an ugly downpitched vocal intro, the track rises out from the sludge with a proudly self-lacerating cry of “I’m trash, bitch!” Can’t tell you much about Garbage Co. or the featured artists listed, who I presume are rapping here, but I’m guessing the semi-anon mystery is part of the aesthetic.

My Loving Tiger, “Call Your Local Congressman”

I was hooked by the opening line: “All my friends are financial institutions.” A great kickoff to the story of a lonely guy trying to make friends with the debt-collectors and others customer service reps. This isn’t newly written—Mark Kayser and Justin Malzahn are apparently re-recording their complete body of work—but it is newly recorded.

Non-Local Picks

Sabrina Carpenter, “Espresso”

When a wispy waft of a songlet like this gets everyone buzzed, I like to wait and learn if I can rely on it for a consistent high or if it’s just a passing sugar rush. But “Espresso” does inject itself right into your bloodstream and keeps on pumping—if you can shake “I’m working late, ‘cause I’m a singer” outta your memory hole, you are made of sterner stuff than I. Pop is currently weighed down by celebrity autobiography, and I know entirely too much about the lovelife of (to pick just one example) Ariana Grande. What’s endearing about this song is that literally anyone could be singing it. Yes, Genius feels the need to tell me the boy “who won’t stop calling” is Barry Keoghan. But I’ve already forgotten that. 

Macklemore, “Hind’s Hall”

He’s as earnest and clunky as ever, it’s true, but this time (and it’s not the only time) that’s a strength. Because the bloodthirsty IDF rampage in Palestine, and the idiotic institutional response to student protests in the U.S., call for outrage and directness, not subtle wit. Especially when you’re the only rapper noticing them. If you ask me, he’s mackling just the right amount. 

Tommy Richman, “Million Dollar Baby”

Anything that shakes up the pop charts is good, so I’m happy to hear this greasy little summer jam leap from TikTok to No. 2 on the Hot 100. Whoever Richman is, I dig his scratchy falsetto vocal, even if he may as well be slurring nonsense syllables on the verses for all I know or care. We may never hear from the viral 20-something Virginian again. But I’ve been wrong about that kind of thing before. In fact, I almost always am.

Shaboozey, “A Bar Song (Tipsy)”

Back with another one of those boot-stompin’ beats, this Beyoncé collaborator slides a little J-Kwon reference in with his forlorn whistle, downhome drawl, and sawing fiddle, then dares you not to call him country.

King Willonious, “BBL Drizzy”

Fuck AI, sure, but dig this pastiche of Philly International strings and chorales that this comic summoned up using that accursed tech. For them as haven’t followed the backstory: Rick Ross dropped the unforgettable title phrase as a Drake diss last month on his track, “Champagne Moments,” and Willonious riffed off it à la Harold Melvin here, then Metro Boomin challenged rappers to come at the (allegedly) posteriorly enhanced rapper over his remix of this track. But the original track—its lyric a celebration of that unnatural butt, just as its music is a celebration of unnatural tools for creativity—is still the best piece of music to come from the Kendrick-Drake beef so far.

Worst New Song

Drake, “The Heart Part 6”

I get that what I loathe about Drake—that flow of ambient smugness, with bits of too-precise detail rising to that surface, like a podcast that scans—is what his fans love about the guy. And, loathe him or leave him, it’s how he’s redefined hip-hop. But squaring off against Kendrick has highlighted how unsuited for battle-rapping Drake is. When you come back from pedophilia charges with (direct quote) “You gotta learn to fact check things” and (paraphrase) “Oh yeah, so how come I’m not in jail?” you’re playing a game that’s only tangentially related to rap, or even music. Overall, I’m glad this spring’s bitter back-and-forth has resurrected the beast in Kendrick, and I won’t mind hearing “They Not Like Us” all summer, thanks as much to the beat as the rhymes. But the whole thing’s left a sour taste in my mouth.

Wanna get a local song considered for the playlist? To make things easy on both of us, email keith@viraluae.com with MONDAY PLAYLIST in the subject header. (Don’t, as in do NOT, DM or text: If I’m in a good mood, I’ll just ask you to send an email; if I’m in a bad mood I’ll just ignore it.)

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