The top five rappers of the past week? Kendrick, Kendrick, Kendrick, Kendrick, and Kendrick. Because he spits hot fire. If his latest release had been released on Monday, it’s likely that this column may have looked quite similar. But since we’ve had less than 24 hours with the untitled bonus tracks from the To Pimp a Butterfly sessions, we’ve dug up some tunes we’ve had a bit more time with. So before we spend the weekend in the K.Dot hole, here are the best songs we heard before the midnight surprise of untitled unmastered. This week, we’ve got a crush on a Malaysian super babe, we’re straddling the desert and the islands with Bombino, spiking our coffee with some virtuosic soul, and blasting off into space with the hardcore wing of NASA. But first, Tina Halladay wants you to know that she’s nobody’s “baby.”
Sheer Mag – “Nobody’s Baby”
Philadelphia’s Sheer Mag, currently on tour with Flavorwire favorites Downtown Boys, have been steadily accumulating buzz around two stellar EPs, its magnetic lead singer Tina Halladay, and a killer live show. They just got booked on Coachella, and are set to bring their blend of scuzzed-out ’70s vamp rock and bratty punk to Austin for this year’s edition of SXSW. This week, we’ve been blessed with III, their latest four-song 7″ EP, up for sale on Bandcamp like all of their releases. This video for “Nobody’s Baby,” directed by Philip Steiger and James Rodenhouse, fits their 70s VHS aesthetic perfectly,
Yuna – “Crush (ft. Usher)”
Malaysian songstress Yuna has been releasing music in her home country since 2008, but didn’t cross our radar until signing with the FADER label in 2011. Her latest LP, Chapters, features production from hip-hop legend DJ Premier (on the brassy, scratchy “Places To Go”) and is out May 20 on Verve. This single, “Crush,” features lush PBR&B production and some smooth soulful crooning from crush magnet Usher. We can’t wait to hear more.
Bombino – “Timtar (Memories)”
Bombino’s music is a lovely concoction of reggae tones and rhythms blended with the desert sounds of Tuareg music, the desert blues of Saharan Africa. The bounciness of “Timtar” illustrates this dichotomy, cooking in the scorching desert sun, then cooling off with a tropical sea breeze. It’s the latest single off of Azel, his ten-track third LP, which was produced by the Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreth, Look for it on Partisan on April Fool’s Day.
Gallant – “Bourbon”
LA’s Gallant has made some noise with his Sufjan Stevens collaborations, but his powerful vocal chops are worth attention in their own right. This latest track, “Bourbon,” from his upcoming LP Ology, due out April 6 on Mind of a Genius, channels Dev Hynes and the spectre of the Purple One, flitting from a deep, soulful croon to an ascendant falsetto with acrobatic grace. Try it on with a warm blanket and a cup of bourbon’d coffee.
NASA Space Universe – “70 AD”
Chaotic, brutal, hardcore punk. There’s nothing pretty about the sounds of Santa Ana, California’s NASA Space Universe, whose shows rarely involve stages but almost always involve crowd participation, voluntary or otherwise. Their latest, the nine-song brick bomb of an EP titled 70 AD, dropped earlier this week on Feel It Records, and the title track is our favorite. Put it on and try not to break anything.