Yes, the biggest album to hit streaming services this week came out three years ago. What about it? In addition to her Homecoming documentary, which chronicles 2018's Beychella, being available on Netflix, Beyoncé’s Lemonade is officially available on all major platforms. It’s been a long time coming, but damn if it hasn’t been well worth the wait. Remind me to cyberbully the Recording Academy this weekend for not giving Lemonade Album of the Year.
That wasn’t the only highly-anticipated music release of the week, though. Schoolboy Q’s Crash Talk is finally here; that’s 40 minutes of new music from the TDE star. We’ve also got prime screaming music from Rico Nasty, the return of FKA Twigs, and, though not on this list, we did get a new track from one Taylor Swift, and a Game of Thrones-inspired project, which features the likes of Rosalía, SZA, A$AP Rocky, and Ty Dolla $ign. We also got the announcement that Kanye West is interested in starting a church. Sorry, that’s not technically new music, but I can’t stop thinking about it.
If you're still catching up on weeks past, be sure to check out the newest projects from Lizzo and Billie Eilish, both of whom have received critical acclaim for their unique sounds. Otherwise, these are the best new songs this week.
Beyoncé, “Sorry (Original Demo)”
Beyoncé’s genius really knows no bounds. This week, three years after the original release of her stunning visual album Lemonade, the epic has (finally!) been released to all major streaming platforms. And here we are, streaming it into oblivion, just as excited as we were in 2016. But can you blame us? For non-Tidal users, this is the first time we’ve been able to listen to “Hold Up,” “Sorry,” “Daddy Lessons,” “All Night,” and every other flawless track on the album, at our leisure. She is risen!
I didn’t look at the album in Spotify before I pressed play on Tuesday. I’ve been dreaming of this day since I was 21 years old; I knew what I was in for—or so I thought. When “Formation” ended, I was ready to run that shit back, until I heard the opening notes of “Sorry (Original Demo)” and quickly checked my phone. Excuse me? A demo version of one of my top three Lemonade tracks (and one of my top five Beyoncé tracks of all time)? Ma’am! But just as I was preparing to throw my middle fingers up to every man who has ever wronged me, Beyoncé switched up and got vulnerable on me.
Though the demo features many of the same lyrics as the official version, it’s made much more melancholy with the addition of a few key lines (“Ain't nobody got no time for that/Tryna keep my family right”) and the absence of a few key lines (there are no middle fingers or allusions to fellatio to be found here). Despite these differences, Bey (unsurprisingly) sounds just as resilient, albeit a little more gracious. But she’s not too gracious; her “big homie”s still come across as appropriately patronizing, and she still reminds us who the fuck she is (“You been runnin’ game on the wrong one”). What else is there to say? Beyoncé forever, and then some.
FKA Twigs, “Cellophane”
It’s been three years since the arrival of “Good To Love,” the lead promotional single from FKA Twigs’ still-unreleased sophomore album. This week we've received new music with “Cellophane,” which hopefully marks the beginning of an official album rollout (cut to me knocking on every single wood surface available). The three-and-a-half-minute track, which comes with an unnerving music video, centers on the sacrificial yearning for a partner, as personified by the South London songstress’ breathy falsetto over sparse piano production. The closest thing the song has to a chorus is Twigs’ desperate interrogation of, “And didn't I do it for you?/Why don't I do it for you?/Why won't you do it for me/When all I do is for you?” which acts as the bleeding heart of a heartbreaking ballad.
ScHoolboy Q f/ 21 Savage, “Floating”
In an era where rappers are either releasing maximalist projects with more fat to trim than prime cuts, or finely tuned collections of music that take themselves too seriously, ScHoolboy Q’s CrasH Talk lands somewhere in the middle. It’s definitely not a concept album. Thematically, Q's new music floats from horny anthems like “CHopstix” to reflecting on his journey and the choices he’s made on the title track, to all out flexing on “5200.” But despite the album not having an expertly curated, cohesive sound, it all still makes sense together. The standout, “Floating,” features 21 Savage, a thunderous beat from Cardo, and the best of Q himself: his laid-back L.A. drawl on the chorus juxtaposes his higher-pitched, more frantic flow in the first verse. 21’s verse is par for the course, but nevertheless works well, with both rappers offering their perspectives as unlikely made men.
Kevin Abstract, “Peach”
Kevin Abstract’s genre-defying ways reach new heights on his new solo album, ARIZONA BABY. Co-produced by Jack Antonoff, the 32-minute collection of music features groovy guitars and a wide variety of drums (according to Kevin’s Twitter, live instruments were used on nearly every song), but it manages to stay relatively atmospheric. The 22-year-old continues to lean into his truth on the album, but “Peach” is a little more universal, with Kevin reminiscing on a relationship from his youth, à la Frank Ocean’s “Ivy.” The track also features vocals from Dominic Fike, Joba, and Bearface, whose voices blend seamlessly to evoke a palpable nostalgia
James Blake, “Mulholland”
Did Assume Form need a deluxe edition with only one (1) extra track? No. Am I eating it up and listening to this album on repeat again? That’s between me and God and my Spotify followers! “Mulholland,” which James Blake interestingly slipped in between “Don’t Miss It” and the album’s closer, “Lullaby For My Insomniac,” rather than at the end, could almost fit on a “lo-fi hip-hop beats to study & relax to” playlist, if not for its depth. The song’s nucleus (Blake’s repetition of the words “They are just now understanding me”) is both haunting and optimistic. Yes, they are just now understanding, but they’re finally understanding, and that’s something to be celebrated (see: the later lyric, “They’re understanding me, at least”). It’s a departure from the rest of Assume Form, which primarily focuses on his love for girlfriend Jameela Jamil, but the self-indulgence is powerful and welcome.
Rico Nasty f/ Baauer & EARTHGANG, “Big Titties”
Guest features are rare on music from Rico Nasty, for the simple fact that she works as a one woman show. It takes a special kind of guest to complement, but not compete, with Rico’s unparalleled energy. Her latest release, Anger Management, produced by Kenny Beats, contains just two features, both of which manage to achieve this feat. The above track, “Big Titties,” features an assist from EARTHGANG, the Atlanta hip-hop duo consisting of Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot. The former’s vocal inflections are similar to Rico’s own, and the latter mellows things out, but only slightly. Baauer joins in on the production for a perfectly raucous sound, and Rico’s verse closes with some words of wisdom: “Don't give that boy the pussy if you know he ain't worth it/You ain't learned yet? You worth way more than a Birkin.” It’s the longest track on the 18-minute tape, and rightfully so.
YG, “Stop Snitchin”
Over virtually any other beat, this YG cut would sound like one long, repetitive subtweet. Thankfully, production from TnTXD and Yung Tago amps things up several notches on "Stop Snitchin," transforming YG’s chants of “Bitch n***a, snitch n***a, hoe n***a, bitch n***a” from an R-rated Mother Goose nursery rhyme to something a bit more menacing. The lyrics leave a lot to be desired, but those keys add sonic depth. YG, who put what was supposed to be an upcoming surprise album on hold after the passing of his close friend Nipsey Hussle, appears to be back in it, and ready to continue the marathon.
KNDRGRTN, “City of Angels”
When we premiered KNDRGRTN’s debut project last fall, the ennui, sad-boy L.A. transplant angst immediately leapt out. His new release, "City of Angels," finds him doubling down on both of those feelings, and the aesthetic around them. It’s all right there in the title, with the hazy, almost chopped-and-screwed delivery and its accompanying retro-styled video. K may be lonely and unsure of his new surroundings, but he’s definitely on the way to finding his voice.