The 5 Best Songs We Heard This Week: Kingdom, Empress Of, Royce 5’9″


It’s Friday, so there’s officially more new music being released than one could possibly listen to in a day, or even a weekend. But that’s why we’re here: to help you wade through the muck to find the gems you’d want to spend a weekend with. This week, we’ve got a new track from our new favorite one-woman band, some fire from a diminutive Detroit MC, a sweet home video with Grandma, and a “Lonely Lover” down to her last $5. But first, a new video from the bossman at one of the more exciting electronic music labels in the game right now:

Kingdom — “Shox”

We’re big fans of most of the output from LA’s Fade to Mind and its sister UK label Nightslugs, particularly the stellar Cut 4 Me mixtape that launched Kelela’s career. Fade to Mind head Kingdom has a new LP on the way this year, and has released two-song EP Shox as a teaser of sorts. The title track is noticeably absent of vocals, but packed with the unique instrumentation and off-kilter rhythms we’ve come to know and love. And the companion video art piece by Sam Rolfes is beautifully bizarre.

Empress Of — “Woman Is a Word”

It’s hard to believe it’s only been six months since the release of Me, the debut LP from Loreley Rodriguez’s project Empress Of. She apparently feels the same, because we’ve already got new music: this wonderful riff on the word “woman.” “I’m only a woman if woman is a word,” she sings over space organ and electro steel drum percussion. There’s no word on a new Empress Of EP or LP, but Rodriguez has a collaboration with Darkstar in the works; you can hear the first single, “Reformer,” here.

Royce 5’9″ — “Wait”

We mentioned Royce’s latest solo effort in our April preview, but this jam, “Wait,” produced by Seattle’s Jake One, was worth highlighting. Always quick to flex on his own skills (“I don’t speak on behalf of myself/ but my impeccable rap does”), on “Wait” Royce puts up a stiff arm to block all the people clamoring for his time and attention. Rappers are always talking about how it’s their time to “shine,” and this may just be Royce’s.

Gold Panda — “In My Car”

Sometimes you just want to chill with your gran. There’s something about seeing a reflection of yourself from years past, seeing the lines on an ancestor’s face, and knowing that your existence is inexorably tied to them. The new video for Chelmsford, UK producer Gold Panda’s “In My Car” doesn’t try to do more than that; it’s simply a day spent with his grandma, driving around in his Jaguar. The track floats between soft bell and string tones to stretched and scratched vocals and percussive elements, and the video is mundane yet sweet; a boy sharing the things he loves — video games, electronic music — with his grandma, as she does what most grandmas love to do: feed her offspring.

Xenia Rubinos — “Lonely Lover”

We’re suckers for artists who write and perform in multiple languages, so we’re already predisposed to liking Xenia Rubinos, the Cuban/Puerto Rican-American singer-songwriter whose second LP Black Terry Cat is due out June 3 on ANTI-. On “Lonely Lover,” Rubinos takes a familiar bass line and freaks it with swirling neo-soul vocals that feel both a bit kooky and a bit sexy, flexing her storytelling chops along with her infectious vocal stylings. More, please.