The 5 Best Songs We Heard This Week: Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar


We’ve probably listened to ★ — the excellent new David Bowie LP that dropped today — a few dozen times over the last few days. But there was still plenty of other new music to get excited about this week, and we’ve rounded up five of our favorites.

This week, we’ve got a new untitled track from K.Dot, some exhibitionist emotions from our favorite Apple sync stars, a Sufjan Stevens cover featuring Sufjan Stevens, and a new video celebrating the deluxe edition of the solo album from Ratking’s dentally challenged MC. But first, a fresh cup of new Kanye!

Kanye West – “Real Friends”

After his wife/publicist tweeted out that Sir West would be releasing new music every Friday, ala the G.O.O.D. Music Fridays of days yore, we spent most of today refreshing his Soundcloud page, eagerly awaiting new gospel from da gawd. It came, it went, it came back. Despite the botched launch, the new track’s production steps out of the way of Kanye’s raps a bit, continuing the understated sonic tones of “FACTS.” The included snippet of “No More Parties in LA” is enough to whet our appetite, if not render any judgement.

Kendrick Lamar – “Untitled 2”

Kendrick Lamar Ducksworth (yeah, we know) had a banner 2015, starting it off with a pair of Grammys and ending it with To Pimp A Butterfly at the top of most end-of-year lists. To start 2016, he’s graced us with a new track, debuted live in sweatpants on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. It’s unclear if “Untitled 2” will remain the track’s title, or whether a studio version will ever be released, but for now we can simply bask in the glory that is this excellent live performance. He tries on a few flows, and with each performance with a live band, he seems to be getting more and more confident as a performer. And oh yeah, he debuted his new kicks, too.

Chairlift – “Crying in Public”

As we noted in our 2016 music preview, we’re pretty pumped for the next full-length from Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly. “Crying in Public,” the third single from Moth, due out January 22 on Columbia, is a departure from the bouncy, upbeat tracks that preceded it, “Ch-Ching” and “Romeo.” It’s a little sweet, mostly somber, and completely lovely, thanks to Polachek’s elegant breathy tones. We like Chairlift best when they make us move, but at this point, anything will do.

Gallant x Sufjan Stevens – “Blue Bucket of Gold”

Christopher Gallant is an ascendant R&B singer who toured with Sufjan Stevens last year — check their joint cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” if you’re not yet sick of that sort of thing. The LA-based artist, who performs as Gallant, recently debuted a web series called “In The Room,” in which he hopes “to both pay tribute to and create something special with the artists that have inspired me the most.” The debut episode features a cover of Stevens’ “Blue Bucket of Gold,” itself inspired by an extremely Sufjan-y myth of a group of camping children who returned back to their campsite with the titular object. The video, recorded in one take, highlights a sparse arrangement with stunning vocal runs. A fitting tribute, indeed.

Wiki – “Crib Tax”

Ratking’s Wiki is one of the most talented young MCs in the game right now, a New York cat to the bone (to a fault, even), who seems more concerned with his art than any superficial flexing. The Ratking crew seems to embrace New York’s griminess with warm affection while simultaneously rejecting the tired sonic signifiers that those stuck-in-the-’90s cats hold on to for dear life. “Crib Tax” is ostensibly an ode to kicking it at that one homie’s apartment that everyone seems to congregate at. But we ride for Wiki’s impressive flow and that mean saxophone. Wiki’s Lil Me is out now on Letter Racer.