The Black Keys – “Turn Blue” Apr14

The Black Keys – “Turn Blue”...

Damn this song is deeper than a river. From the second verse: When the music is done and all the lights are low I would remember the times where love would really glow Like a dream I had before my world turned blue When the light inside would only shine for you Produced by The Black Keys and Danger Mouse, here’s what Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney says inspired the album’s name, “Turn Blue could refer to: A: Suffocation B: Sadness C: Numbness from extreme cold D: A Cleveland late night TV host from the 1960s named Ghoulardi E: All of the above.” Pre-order Turn Blue now on iTunes and get the first two singles, “Fever” and the title track....

Alicia Keys feat. Kendrick Lamar – “It’s On Again” (video) (prod. by Pharrell Williams) Apr14

Alicia Keys feat. Kendrick Lamar – “It’s On Again” (video) (prod. by Pharrell Williams)...

Katy Perry tries with “Roar” and fails. Shakira tries with “Empire” and makes barely a ripple. Alicia Keys attempts with “It’s On Again” and ensures her indelible mark by enlisting the hottest Black rapper in the game and the hottest producer in the game today. Granted Alicia has made a career belting out torch songs straddling pop and R&B crossover sensibilities for over a decade. So when she made “Girl On Fire” a couple years ago, making a pop theme for a movie franchise seemed like a natural step. Here we are with Alicia’s 80s-influenced anthem featuring a needlessly aggressive 16 bars from Kendrick Lamar....

Childish Gambino feat. Problem – “Sweatpants” (video) Apr14

Childish Gambino feat. Problem – “Sweatpants” (video)...

Third single from Childish Gambino’s highly underrated album, Because the Internet. Hat tip to my man, Dan Cutts....

DJ Premier feat. Lady of Rage – “Chemical Burn” Apr10

DJ Premier feat. Lady of Rage – “Chemical Burn”...

DJ Premier has a brand new website, Premier Wuz Here. Check it out already! I believe it may be a partnership with Serato or a place to resurrect the lyrical careers of back-in-the-day rappers like Papoose and the aforementioned Lady of...

Killer Mike – “The Boonies” (prod. by The Alchemist) Apr10

Killer Mike – “The Boonies” (prod. by The Alchemist)...

Killer Mike’s win streak continues with his ode to The Boondocks, the militantly bawdy cartoon about two young brothers living with their Granddad in a suburban neighborhood. Per Pitchfork The Boondocks Mixtape, which is out on April 16, features songs from Smoke DZA, Lil Herb, Chevy Woods, Problem, Roscoe Dash, Two 9, Skeme, and more. It’s hosted by DJ Drama, Don Cannon, and Trendsetter Sense. I still have my trepidations about Season 4 since the show’s creator and showrunner, Aaron McGruder, had no hand in this year’s cartoons. I’ll watch it regardless, but I will definitely be checking for McGruder’s next project, Black Jesus, with a greater sense of...

Atmosphere – “Kanye West” Apr08

Atmosphere – “Kanye West”...

Pigeons and Planes has a revealing feature with MPLS rap veterans preceding the release of the 8th album, Southsiders. When we first saw the tracklist for Southsiders, the title “Kanye West” had a lot of people wondering. Well, here it is. “I wanted to write a song about loving something so much that you submit to the moment,” says Slug. For a rap act who I have really tried in vain to champion amongst my friends, I was initially put off the use of another act’s name to gain traction. I get the song, which I also really like. Ant’s production is still a great fit for Slug’s everyman storytelling without being droll. But I also get 21st century marketing. I want Atmosphere to get as much as shine as possible. (Pigeons and...

Future feat. Kanye West – “I Won” Apr08

Future feat. Kanye West – “I Won”...

A not-really love song dedicated to Future’s girl, Ciara, and Kanye’s fiance, Kim Kardashian. Not as gutter as his fantastic single, “Move That Dope” with Pusha T and Pharrell. Not as earnest as his first single “Honest.” Not as sincere as (my personal favorite) the mixtape track, “Substitute Everything.” “I Won” is available on iTunes. (MissInfo)...

Nicki Minaj feat. Lil Herb – “Chi-Raq” Apr08

Nicki Minaj feat. Lil Herb – “Chi-Raq”...

Any other rapper, male or female, would be getting universal respect for dropping such a fierce verse. However, I am sure Nicki knows that her standing as rap’s current queen is tenuous and polarizing. Sonically, the beat is a more of a throwback to late 90s super underground instead of mid 10s Chicago drill music. From Nicki Minaj’s upcoming album, The Pink Print....

Coldplay – “Magic” (video) Apr07

Coldplay – “Magic” (video)...

Rather than commenting on Chris Martin’s yellow fever for casting Ziyi Zhang, his wife’s “conscious uncoupling,” or the undeniably catchiness of this track (more so than Ed Sheeran’s “Sing”), I’ll just post this quote from Christopher Priest’s novel, The Prestige. “Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.”...

The Roots – “When The People Cheer” Apr07

The Roots – “When The People Cheer”...

I cannot do a write-up that does the same justice as Eddie Stats did on Okayplayer. Just recognize that Greg Porn and Black Thought embodied fully-fleshed characters created with great lyricism. The musicianship is at full power. And this is music for grown, thoughtful people that just happens to involve rapping. From the new Roots concept LP/anti-rap opera titled …And Then You Shoot Your...

Watch The Duck feat. T.I. – “Girlfriend??”...

This is my big criticism of the video. I hate the exposition that bookends the video with the Cheaters TV show and the bootleg Bill Burr/Joel McHale host. Just get into the video. Trust me, folks ain’t checking music videos for story arcs. Plus people can figure out she’s humpin’ around. All that said, another awesome track juxtaposing dubstep with Southern funk. T.I. is a bonus. I can take or leave him, but he does validate these dudes. They need to be bigger. And if this is the first time you’ve heard of Watch The Duck, check the video that got me open, “Poppin’ Off.” Then cop the Anatidaephobia EP on iTunes now....

Ed Sheeran feat. Pharrell Williams – “Sing” Apr07

Ed Sheeran feat. Pharrell Williams – “Sing”...

Allegedly this dude is supposed to be the future of pop songwriting or some shit! This sounds like another Justin Timberlake reference track Pharrell prepared for the 20/20 sessions. Per his interview with Zane Lowe on BBC 1 Radio, Sheeran already knows people are going to “love it or hate it.” Yeah, Eddie, that’s how pop music works. It sounds catchy enough. The acoustic guitar jangles are nice. I’m just having a hard time believing this ginger doughboy is singing anything worth listening to, says me the book cover judger. Maybe if he gets big enough, I’ll stop pronouncing his name “SHE-han” in a completely mocking manner....