Pigeons & Planes' Best Songs of the Month

A lot of incredible music came out in May.

P&P Original


Best Songs of the Month May 2018

With so much good music steadily coming through, it's easy to miss some of the best. To help prevent this, we've rounded up the best new songs of the month. Here are the songs you can't afford to skip, in no particular order.

Pusha T - "If You Know You Know"

pusha t

I didn't fully believe Kanye when he promised all that new music. I wanted to, but let's face it—the man has been volatile lately.

But Pusha T's DAYTONA is here as promised, right on schedule. It goes a long way in allaying doubts about Kanye's newfound interest in politics affecting his music—he's listed as principal producer on seven tracks, decelerating a piece of Air's "Twelve O'Clock Satanial" for the staggering opener "If You Know You Know."

But enough about Kanye—Pusha reminds us why he's one of the greats as soon as the beat drops, weaving disparate references and a king's delivery seamlessly into the mix.  DAYTONA​​​​​ is, somehow, another level up for an artist already at the top. —Graham Corrigan

Jorja Smith - "February 3rd"

jorja smith getty 2018

Jorja Smith has only released a handful of songs but her glow and charm has seemed to propel her to a level of celebrity matching that of acts with full-blown albums out. P&P has been with her since day one, back in 2016 when she released "Blue Lights." Now, she's finally gearing up to release her debut album Lost & Found. "February 3rd" is the latest single as we close in on her June 8 release date, and she does not disappoint. Her soulful voice sits perfectly atop delicate production and fits right in with previous singles "Teenage Fantasy" and "Where Do I Go?" —Eric Isom


A$AP Rocky ft. FKA twigs - "Fukk Sleep"

asap rocky

The new ASAP Rocky album Testing is packed with triumphant confidence on moments like the updated version of "ASAP Forever" with Cudi and T.I., the synth-laced "Buck Shots," and the discombobulated "OG Beeper." But Rocky has always been a master of many moods, and an early standout is Rocky's tranquilizing collaboration with FKA twigs, "Fukk Sleep." Despite its surface level simplicity, the track's dark and dynamic production morphs inconspicuously as Rocky floats through it with some help from twigs' free-flowing vocal embellishments. And despite the sedated tone on "Fukk Sleep," that chorus is fit for an anthem. Add this one to your late night playlist immediately.—Jacob Moore


Jay Rock - "Win"

jay rock getty tim mosenfelder

Is 2018 about to be Jay Rock's year? "King's Dead" with Kendrick Lamar, Future, and James Blake from the Black Panther soundtrack is still ringing off, he's killing it on TDE's Championship Tour, and now the Watts, LA rapper is back with another anthem. The production from Boi-1da and Vinylz is huge and filled with triumphant horns, and Jay Rock delivers the most immediately memorable track of his career. It's confident, fun, and 100% slaps. "Third album comin' soon," Jay Rock raps, and we're ready.—Alex Gardner

Anderson .Paak - "Bubblin"

anderson paak

.Paak back. The Apple/FKA Twigs collab "Til It's Over" reminded us of the Oxnard native's depthless talents, but "Bubblin" dispenses with pleasantries. He's back to his raspy, bombastic ways on this one—with its crazy energy and and skittering production, "Bubblin" is a sonic descendant of .Paak's iconic Venice cut "Milk 'N Honey," but 2014 feels a lifetime away.

.Paak's sound has continued to evolve, and ever since Malibu, he's retained a mantle as one of music's most exciting and talented acts. "RIP to the times that I was broke," .Paak raps over trumpet sample from Jahlil Beats and AntMan Wonder. He's rumored to be releasing two projects in 2018, and if the video for "Bubblin" is any indication, it's about to get theatrical.—Graham Corrigan

James Blake - "Don't Miss It"

James Blake

As he has done many times before, James Blake debuted new music on his BBC Radio 1 show this month, and "Don't Miss It" is a gorgeous, haunting song. Built around understated piano and Blake's incredible vocals, "Don't Miss It" is a little less overtly experimental than glitchy January single "If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead," and it is a collaboration with Mount Kimbie’s Dominic Maker. James Blake album soon? Here's hoping.—Alex Gardner

Maggie Rogers - "Fallingwater"

Maggie Rogers

We already knew Maggie Rogers could sing—her Pharrell-stunning breakout song "Alaska" proved that much. But goddamn she comes in strong on "Fallingwater," soaring like Florence + The Machine at her most lung-bursting. The song mutates and evolves from there, constantly changing and moving like water itself, with a surprising bridge and a beautiful ending that feels like a gospel song.

“Fallingwater" is produced by Rostam Batmanglij and Rogers herself, and she shared some of her thoughts about the song in a handwritten note. "[It is] about these past two years, this giant transition and ride that I’ve been on. It’s a song that celebrates rapid change and how simultaneously scary and electric it can feel. It’s about giving everything and not knowing if it’s enough. Its about the power of vulnerability—a cry for help and a battle cry at the same time.”—Alex Gardner

Juice WRLD - "Lean Wit Me"

Juice WRLD

Juice WRLD had a meteoric rise that earned him one of the biggest deals of the year as he signed to Interscope/Alamo Records earlier this year. Known mainly for his two hits "All Girls Are The Same" and "Lucid Dreams," Juice made a name for himself bending genres and delivering unorthodox melodies. After a long wait, the LA-based artist delivered his major label debut Goodbye & Good Riddance and his latest single "Lean Wit Me" was an early standout. Like many of his releases, the song is a melodic roller coaster ride through love and drugs that is easy to sing along to and addictive enough to enjoy over and over again.—Eric Isom

Childish Gambino - "This Is America"

childish gambino dance choreography

With everything he's got going on right now, it was surprising that Donald Glover revived his Childish Gambino moniker so soon. In 2016 he delivered a radical left turn with Awaken, My Love!, but he's already introduced the next stage of his ever-evolving artistic process. The everyman we don't deserve has gone from proudly showcasing his infatuation with both Kanye West and Lil Wayne to dominating the conversation with the first masterpiece of 2018.

Although the video certainly elevates the song, "This Is America" is just as essential without director Hiro Murai and choreographer Sherrie Silver's work. Laced with an inspired utilization of ad-libs from 21 Savage, Young Thug, BlocBoy JB, Quavo, and Slim Jxmmi. the song verges on chaos before bringing itself back down. It's protest music for an age with too many words not saying enough.

With the always incredible Atlanta and "This Is America," Glover has solidified himself as one of America's most important artists, and as someone who previously rapped "E.E. Cummin' on her face, now that's poetry in motion," that's quite the turnaround.—Joe Price

Omar Apollo - "Ignorin"

omar apollo brakelights

"I don’t know if anybody would’ve heard my music if it wasn’t for the internet,” Omar Apollo told us in April, “I make it [music] in my room but that’s 'cause it's all I had.” After releasing a steady stream of songs on his SoundCloud and racking up millions of plays, the Indiana artist is releasing his debut EP, Stereo on May 30, and he sounds more confident than ever.

"Ignorin" is the second single after "Erase," and it goes heavy on the funk, while the vocals veer from smooth and understated to sharply dramatic. Omar Apollo is leveling up, so pay close attention.—Alex Gardner

Valee ft. Jeremih - “Womp Womp”


Valee and Jeremih revel in their success on “Womp Womp,” a gloriously over-the-top stunting anthem. Rapping atop what sounds like a gritty reboot of a classic Neptunes beat by producer Cássio, the two vocalists trade escalating boasts; Valee’s handing out Chanel while Jeremih’s clowning a girl for wearing Pumas.

Valee and Jeremih first connected on “Are U Live” from the latter’s Christmas project with Chance the Rapper, and “Womp Womp” proves that the Chicagoans are perfectly suited collaborators who hopefully have many more cuts in the pipeline.—Grant Rindner

Lou The Human - "Sour"

lou the human 2018 getty

As we close in on the one-year anniversary of his debut mixtape Humaniac!, Staten Island MC Lou The Human decided to step back in the game with a new freestyle and video titled "Sour." Lou's lyrical ability is up there with the best of them in a time where melody and adlibs have taken over the game. And while he's often compared to some of the GOATs of the golden era, one look at his Twitter account you'll quickly realize he doesn't give a single fuck about any of that.—Eric Isom

Zaytoven ft. Future - "Mo Reala"


Beast Mode 2, the second installment of Zaytoven and Future's legendary mixtape series is on the way "not long after" Future's Superfly soundtrack in June. As a sort of precursor or preview, the final track on Zaytoven's Trapholizay album is a piano heavy, melodic collaboration between the two artists, and as always, it goes. Zaytoven's entire album is packed with stars like Lil Uzi Vert, T.I., Offset, Gucci Mane, and more, but his chemistry with Future is unmatchable.—Alex Gardner

Deem Spencer - “boy ain’t a bad boy”

Deem Spencer

Deem Spencer is one of the most compelling artists to emerge from New York in some time. He’s a gifted lyricist with a knack for sloping, MF DOOM-ish cadences, and doubles as an effective, emotive singer. He puts both skills to use on “boy ain’t a bad boy,” a song about his tumultuous childhood that takes a turn towards religious surrealism. The track’s ruminative, soulful beat was provided by Miami’s Sylvan LaCue, who is better known as an MC but has quietly been growing as a beatmaker.

The production is moody and atmospheric, with delicate falsetto riffing and noirish guitars and strings, but it’s also more traditional than Spencer’s usual instrumentals, which affords the young artist room to experiment and play multiple characters. He embodies both his mother and God at different points on the song. Spencer released “boy ain’t a bad boy” along with “i was talking to God,” and after impressing with his off-kilter we think we alone EP, he’s clearly cooking up something grand and mysterious in 2018.—Grant Rindner

Read our interview with Deem Spencer here.

Jessie Reyez - "Body Count"

jessie reyez getty junos andrew chin

Jessie Reyez is a master at doing more with less. Some of her best tracks are just acoustic guitar and voice, and while "Body Count" adds a drum pad to the mix, it's still a valuable lesson in sparse songwriting. The Toronto singer is disparaging all of those caught in their feelings on this one, reminding a partner that she "dodges dick on the daily" and suggesting they take prophylactic precautions in case of heartbreak.

"The luxury of not getting judged for "loving" who you want to love should be given to everyone—including women," Jessie said in a statement. "I feel like so often we're encouraged to keep our 'body count' low, where as men get high fives for a high number; which is cool, do you, but I think the double standard is wack and women should get high fives too lol. I'm not saying go f*** the world—I'm saying f*** the unfair judgement."—Graham Corrigan

Ski Mask The Slump God ft. SahBabii - "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle"

ski mask the slump god

Ski Mask The Slump God's long-awaited Beware The Book of Eli highlights the young artist's range. He maintains some of the raw energy of his early SoundCloud releases and tries out some more subdued sounds, but an early favorite comes in the form of one of the most off-kilter moments on the project. "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" showcases Ski's tongue-twisting delivery at its peak over a Wallis & Murda Beatz production. It lands somewhere between the vibe of a cartoon and that of a horror film, and there's nothing else like it out there.—Jacob Moore

Jungle - "Happy Man"


It's been four long years, but Jungle is finally set to release the follow up to their terrific self-titled 2014 album. We're not there yet, but the collective released not one, but two songs from their upcoming album earlier this month to officially announce their return.

"Happy Man" features that familiar funk-pop feel that earned Jungle their fanbase—catchy and vibrant, infectious and fun. Though the song explores the pitfalls of materialism, these dark lessons are masked by the song's bright soundscape. "Happy Man" is a tantalizing first taste of the new album, and Jungle has assured fans that it's one to look forward to.—Joyce

Jelani Aryeh - "Daunt"

jelani aryeh

Teenage artist Jelani Aryeh is still in the early days of what should be a long career, but he's already pushing himself both as an artist and a person. We first became familiar with Jelani as a genre-blending  rapper and singer, but on "Daunt" he puts his singing front and center. The thoughtful song is written from the perspective of Jelani's exes, and boasts another brilliant hook.—Alex Gardner

Read more about Jelani here.

No Rome - "Do It Again"

No Rome.

Manila's No Rome found himself a mentor in The 1975's Matt Healy last year, and ever since then he's been working on becoming the popstar he's always hinted that he could be. From his earlier releases through Secret Songs and SoundCloud, Rome demonstrated his ability to blend gorgeous atmospherics with rock solid songwriting. With a higher budget, his lo-fi shoegaze R&B has been given the amount of care it deserves, and "Do It Again" is a tantalizing tease of his very promising future.—Joe Price

Denzel Curry - "Percs"

denzel curry

Denzel Curry's album TA13OO is on the way, and he's back to blacking out on any and every beat. The last we heard from him was the booming "Sumo," and on "Percs" Denzel is riding raw, guitar-based production. "Eight years in the game and I never rode a wave / I may be overlooked, but I'm never underpaid," he raps, a timely reminder that although he's sometimes grouped in with a new wave of Florida rappers, he's really an OG.—Alex Gardner

Watch Denzel talk Florida, Jay-Z, and more here.

Playboi Carti ft. Lil Uzi Vert - "Shoota"

Playboi Carti

Playboi Carti's debut album Die Lit has been in the works for months, but with short notice he finally decided to drop it last night. The 19-song project features Skepta, Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj, Bryson Tiller, Chief Keef, Young Thug, and more, but an early standout is "Shoota" with Lil Uzi Vert. The song builds with an Uzi intro before the booming bass drops and Carti kicks in, just in time.—Jacob Moore

See more on the rise of Playboi Carti here.


Rae Sremmurd ft. The Weeknd - "Bedtime Stories"

rae sremmurd

When Rae Sremmurd first announced that they would be releasing a triple disc album, it seemed like it could be too much to consume. But there's nothing Swae Lee and Jxmmi love more than proving everyone wrong. Their album SR3MM features a joint album as well as each of their solo efforts which gives a clear look at what both of them bring to the table each time they create another hit.

One of the early standouts is their collab with The Weeknd, "Bedtime Stories." This track showcases all three of their unique styles: The Weeknd delivers a mesmerizing hook, Jxmmi dances between rapping and singing with a dialed-downed version of his usual energy, and Swae Lee completes it all with his usual harmonizing. The end result is an incredibly catchy single that deserves to be on repeat.—Adrienne Black

Gallant - "Doesn't Matter"

Gallant performs at The Greek Theatre.

The rollout for Gallant's second album began earlier this month with "Gentleman," but the Mind of a Genius signee took things to another level this week with "Doesn't Matter." It's his biggest, catchiest song since "Weight In Gold," the kind of alt-pop hit that will be in curated playlists everywhere by month's end. Gallant has been biding his time, and it's about to pay off.—Graham Corrigan

Patrick Paige II - "Voodoo"

Patrick Paige II

The Internet started releasing new music last month, but we're still not done discovering their seemingly bottomless well of individual talent. The latest member of the group to unveil solo skills is Patrick Paige II, who plays bass and produces alongside Syd, Steve Lacy, Matt Martians, and Christopher Smith.

"Voodoo" follows on the heels of last month's "On My Mind / Charge It To The Game," both of which will appear on Paige's debut Letters of Irrelevance album. This latest cut is deep velvet, taking cues from R&B greats while infusing just enough modern ingenuity to make it stand out in a crowded field. He shows off a considerable falsetto on this one, and something tells us Paige will have a couple more tricks and tracks up his sleeve before the full release drops later this month.—Graham Corrigan

Buddy - "Trouble On Central"


Maybe it's his surroundings, maybe it's his personality, or perhaps just an even combination of both—everything Buddy releases has a genuine, unforced feel-good vibe. His latest single "Trouble On Central" continues right down that path. 

On the new single, Buddy reflects on advice from his parents and all the things he wished he had, could have done differently, or could be doing right now. As he sits and lists all of the better things he wants in life, Buddy manages to make "Trouble On Central" sounds positive. Rather than beating himself up about his current life, the song almost transforms into a bucket list when he says "I still got so far to go." Things might be bad right now, but they won't always be. Buddy's just here with a reminder that it's going to be alright. —Adrienne Black

Snail Mail - “Let’s Find An Out”

snail mail lindsey

There’s nothing more pure than the feeling of wanting to start over, and Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan renders it in heartwrenching fashion on “Let’s Find An Out,” the latest single from her upcoming project Lush. With sweeping, elegant fretwork and a quiet, thumping bass, the track is gentle but unyielding in its emotion, as Jordan yearns for another chance beneath ominous red skies.

While the lyrics are a touch cryptic, the ultimate fate of Jordan and the song’s subject is telegraphed in the plaintive strumming and the creeping resignation of her beautiful vocals. There's not always a fresh start on the horizon, but Jordan is capable of finding the beauty and power in that fact, however bleak it may be.—Grant Rindner

Read our interview with Snail Mail here.

Smino ft. Mick Jenkins - "New Coupe, Who Dis?"


Over the past couple of years, Smino has become the kind of artist you don't compare to other artists. He's established his own style, and it isn't defined by any one quality—it's in the production he chooses, the agility of his zigzagging flows, and the details packed into every word of every line of every verse.

Smino's meticulous with it, and his dynamic delivery is complemented nicely by Mick Jenkins' commanding presence on "New Coupe, Who Dis?" THEMpeople join Smino on production duties for a beat that has equal parts bounce and space, making this the kind of song you can sway with or break your neck to, depending on the mood.—Jacob Moore

Mitski - "Geyser"


In 2016, Puberty 2 was the soundtrack for my transition from a post-grad millennial full of hopes and dreams into a real, working woman with bills to pay. "Geyser" marks Mitski's long-awaited return to music, her first new single in two years. It's easy to jump to the conclusion that the song falls in line with familiar themes from her previous work—the hardships of falling in love while fighting your own demons, and knocking down any barriers in order to be with that person.

But Mitski recently told NPR that the song touches on making a full commitment to music as a career, despite the looming cloud of uncertainty that comes attached to the job. The Zia Anger-directed video is an extension of what it feels like to completely burst with passion as Mitski sprints down a beach, throwing herself into the sand and digging below the surface while the guitar slowly builds up and then erupts behind her.—Sydney Gore

John Mayer - "New Light"

John Mayer

John Mayer's new song—the No I.D.-produced "New Light"—is a breezy summer gem with a hint of disco and a melody so hummable that after two listens I can tell it's going to be in my head for the rest of the month, and I'm okay with that.—Jacob Moore


Future ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR - "No Shame"


Atlanta rapper Future is producing the 2018 Superfly remake and curating the soundtrack, following in the footsteps of Curtis Mayfield, whose soundtrack for the 1972 original is a classic. "No Shame" is the first single from the new soundtrack, and Future floats over guitar heavy production from watt and Happy Perez, with an assist from PARTYNEXTDOOR on the hook. Party anthem Future is fun, but debauched, crooning, voice cracking Future is peak Future, and that's what we get here.

So forget Future Hendrix, let's talk about Future Mayfield.—Alex Gardner

GRIP - "These Eyes"


GRIP's album PORCH has the best intro I've heard in a long time. It takes over a minute for the beat to kick in after a suspenseful build-up, and the payoff is one of those "oh shit" moments on par with Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" drum fill. It's a hell of a way to kick things off, but the second song on the Atlanta rapper's album shows his full set of skills.

"These Eyes" paints a vivid picture of struggle through GRIP's perspective, and he dishes it out with intensity bordering on a breaking point. The internal chaos is palpable, and for those of us looking to face reality instead of escaping it, GRIP's music is vital.—Jacob Moore

Hear PORCH and read our interview with GRIP here.

Lil Peep ft. Clams Casino - "4 Gold Chains"

This is a photo of Lil Peep.

It’s been over six months since Lil Peep passed, but his presence is still very much felt. The slow trickle of Peep's unreleased material has made his absence all the more difficult. His patient, drawling Clams Casino collab “4 Gold Chains” exemplifies why.

Deconstructing his rise and how he sought to make it less painful, it’s a heartbreaking display of just how much he wanted to do for his family and friends. It’s a bittersweet, forlorn track that shows once again just how much more Lil Peep had to give.—Joe Price

Clairo ft. Rejjie Snow - "Hello?"

clairo diary 001 ep

Any notions of Clairo as just a lo-fi bedroom pop savant have been dismantled: her diary 001 EP is a patchwork quilt of genre and style, swinging from slinky opener "Hello?" to the sugar-rush hyperpop of "B.O.M.D."

Rejjie Snow provides a standout singular verse on the former, and at just over two minutes long, it's the kind of addictive, snackable track that leaves you wanting more.—Graham Corrigan

Joji - "Yeah Right"

joji press 88 rising

Joji's first new solo track since In Tongues explores a penchant for elegant piano loops, lush vocals, and emotional valleys. "Yeah Right" feels like a spiritual sequel to his standout single "Will He," but while that song was focused on the long distance aftermath of a bitter breakup, "Yeah Right" is much more immediate, preoccupied with getting through a single hazy night.

The hook's lyrics could easily come from a carefree summer anthem, but with Joji's somber, reverb-heavy delivery, there's a deeply rooted loneliness that captures the hollowness of trying to bury emotions beneath drugs and parties.

The track's grainy video is a departure from the more conceptual clips for "Window" or "Demons," but it has the gritty, bittersweet quality of a far-fetched daydream. Joji remains exceptionally gifted at building dense, textured tracks about heartbreak, and "Yeah Right" proves he's only gotten better with time.—Grant Rindner

Popcaan - "Body So Good"


Jamaican dancehall star Popcaan is back with a new single, the first from his upcoming sophomore album. Although he's kept busy with a stream of tracks and videos, as well as features like Jamie xx's "I Know There's Gonna Be Good Times" and iconic moments like the Red Bull Culture Clash in London, it's been a long four years since his last full-length. In that time, dancehall's influence on mainstream music has become more and more evident, and now Popcaan's back with the authentic sound of the Caribbean.—Alex Gardner


Lil Baby ft. Drake - "Yes Indeed"

Lil Baby

Lil Baby is on fire right now. He may not be as flamboyant as Migos or the rest of his Quality Control comrades, but he's capitalizing on the moment they're all having and has picked up more and more steam with each release. Earlier this month, snippets and rumors started floating around about a collab between Drake and Lil Baby. Shortly after the record premiered on OVO Sound Radio, "Yes Indeed" was officially released. The track is only a little over two minutes long and features flex-filled verses from both artists, connected by a Baby hook that floats over the hard-hitting Wheezy production. The song is built for clubs and parties and both Lil Baby and Drake are having some of the biggest moments of their respective careers.—Eric Isom

Skepta - "Pure Water"


As if we didn't already know this, 2018 is a year where anything can happen. Somehow Skepta opens up his latest single "Pure Water" with the children's nursery rhyme "Row, row, row your boat," and it works. Similar to the majority of his singles, Skepta's latest features a menacing rhythm that sets up the perfect foundation for him to float right over and brag as much as he wants to. However, even with that mood embedded into the production, Skepta comes through sounding like he doesn't want to be bothered with the beef—"I don't wanna war / let's make peace"—because he's focused on something better. 

But also, would it be summer if Skepta didn't give us another one-liner to say repeatedly until it feels like the new motto? Whether you're looking for a new IG caption or yet another reminder to up your water intake, Skepta's got you. Catch me simply asking for "pure water with lots of ice" at the bars this summer. —Adrienne Black

Leon Bridges - "Shy"

leon bridges getty

It's been three years since Leon Bridges dropped Coming Home, a breakout album that helped usher in a wave of early rock nostalgia. Bridges, in his fedoras and cardigans, was perfectly suited to play the part. That voice didn't hurt, either—but three years is time for an artist to step back and think hard about their next move, and it was time well spent for Bridges. 

Good Thing is the follow-up—the previously released singles were an indication Leon was heading in new directions, but we couldn't have predicted how many directions. He's writing  songs for heartbreak on the dance floor ("Forgive You") and fusing his blues roots with Frank Ocean-esque vocal melodies ("Mrs."), but the silky, sample-driven "Shy" has the most repeat listens thus far. Bridges has graduated from classic to cool, and proved himself capable of a great many genres in the process.—Graham Corrigan

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