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 week. Here are the songs you can't afford to skip, in no particular order.
Drake - "Nice For What"
Drake's latest offering, a party anthem called "Nice For What", is an effervescent and undeniably danceable celebration of women. "Nice For What" opens with a vocal sample from Big Freedia and then erupts into an endlessly catchy affair driven by Drake's buoyant rapping and a chopped up Lauryn Hill sample. Murda Beatz's production draws heavily upon New Orleans bounce for inspiration, injecting the song with energy.
As the vibrant production booms beneath him, Drake spits endearing lyrics about his admiration for women and their strength and resilience. The song's uplifting accompanying video, directed by 22-year-old Karena Evans, features cameos from Issa Rae, Syd, Tiffany Haddish, and many other talented women from several creative fields. In 2018, Drake is the happiest version of himself, and his joyous energy is contagious.—Charlotte Freitag
Young Thug ft. Nicki Minaj - "Anybody"
Young Thug remains the most unpredictable rapper alive. He recently changed his name to SEX and said he wouldn't put out any music in 2018. Today, he returns as Young Thug with the Hear No Evil EP featuring three new songs. "Up" features Lil Uzi Vert, "Now" features 21 Savage," but the EP's Nicki Minaj-featuring opening track "Anybody" steals the show. It's one of the most polished and accessible songs Thug has released in a minute, which could mean Thug is back in music mode and gearing up for an album. Then again, it wouldn't be surprising if Thug's next move was a SEX tape featuring nothing but experimental music.—Jacob Moore
Swae Lee ft. Slim Jxmmi - "Guatemala"
The run-up to Rae Sremmurd's latest album, SR3MM, has been confusing and messy, but it's also given us a lot of great music already. Their upcoming triple-album could very well be nothing more than an inspired take on making lengthy records in the streaming age, but when it's finally giving us Swae Lee's debut solo effort there isn't anything to complain about.
Swaecation has the biggest potential of all three parts of the forthcoming album, and "Guatemala" is further proof why. A spiritual sequel to "Unforgettable," his fantastic collaboration with French Montana, "Guatemala" makes it feel like summer is already here. Swae Lee has made it clear that he's got what it takes for pop stardom before, especially with "Black Beatles" hitting the No. 1 spot, but "Guatemala" is one of his most ambitious shots at it yet. We don't deserve Swae Lee.—Joe Price
Empress Of - "In Dreams"
Empress Of is getting better and better. 2015 album Me showed us an artist not afraid to get personal in their quirky, left-of-center pop music, while 2017 single "Go To Hell" featured some of her sharpest songwriting yet. Now she's back with two more tracks, "Trust Me Baby" and "In Dreams," which mix Spanish and English lyrics. The two are both great, but "In Dreams" is my current favorite, a nostalgic song with an angelic chorus.—Alex Gardner
OMB Peezy - "Fuck My P.O."
Alabama's OMB Peezy is riding high off his Young & Reckless mixtape with Sherwood Marty, but the rapper is still racked with paranoia and anger, topics he explores on the fiery new single "Fuck My P.O." The track overflows with urgency and frustration, as Peezy rails against a corrupt judicial system that could easily cut short his promising career at a moment's notice.
At the song's climax, he's just been bailed out, but knows another charge could be lurking right around the corner. Peezy's impassioned flow makes the circumstances he's discussing feel visceral and immediate as a listener; there's nothing impressionistic about his bars. Plus, the thumping bass and menacing keys are classic Peezy, who has found a way to marry Southern and Bay Area sensibilities atop beats that seem to gain steam with his rapid fire delivery.—Grant Rindner
Nicki Minaj - "Barbie Tingz"
At this point, everything Nicki Minaj drops is guaranteed to be a success. She's a commercial juggernaut with a dedicated army of fans who flood the mentions of those perceived to have slighted her and will debate the meaning of her lyrics for eternity. For me personally, Nicki's hit or miss—when she's motivated to rap she's one of the most fun MCs out, a punch line machine whose voice can inhabit five different characters in a three minute song, but when she leans more towards pop, I'm not as interested. This week Nicki made her grand return with two new songs and "Barbie Tingz," with its hard as nails beat, was a pleasant surprise.—Alex Gardner
G Herbo ft. Lil Uzi Vert - "Who Run It"
Three 6 Mafia's "Who Run It" beat is a monster, and it's a lot of fun to hear so many different rappers over it, so shout out to G Herbo for getting this whole trend started with a fire radio freestyle. That freestyle became an official release, and now we have the remix, featuring Lil Uzi Vert. But if you think Uzi is here just to provide hook duties while Herbo goes off with the bars, you're wrong.
Instead, he comes through with a verse that mixes a deeper rap delivery with some of the melodic moments we know him for, flexing his Grammy nominations and continuing his feud with Rich The Kid. "Hes a singer," Rich The Kid said of Lil Uzi Vert to Zane Lowe on Beats 1, suggesting that Uzi wouldn't respond to him. That much, at least, has been disproven by this track.—Alex Gardner
August 08 - "Lately"
By signing August 08, 88rising made it clear they were serious about expanding their portfolio. We came to know the label as the gatekeepers to hip-hop from Asia, but after a couple of singles, the latest addition to their roster has emerged as one of the most exciting new voices of R&B. August 08's "Lately" follows the quietly empowering "Funeral," and offers a more dynamic, lively look at the L.A. singer.
"Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a Lamborghini with suicide doors," August told DJ Booth. "It’s like an analogy to say that when you’re lonely there is nothing that can help you cope with that, but family." Understated production from Michael Uzowuru and August's impressive falsetto combine to create something special, and with a debut project incoming, the future's bright for August 08.—Graham Corrigan
Smokepurpp & Murda Beatz ft. A$AP Ferg - "Pray"
Smokepurpp and Murda Beatz's new Bless Yo Trap tape is super consistent, but the heavy "Pray" featuring A$AP Ferg is a standout moment. Ferg is versatile enough to go from a Premier beat to a Purpp collab without flinching, and he matches the cold-blooded energy on "Pray" while bringing some of his own unique charisma to the table.—Jacob Moore
Janelle Monae ft. Grimes - "PYNK"
Wow, where to begin with this track... First off, I need more collaborations between Janelle Monáe and Grimes. They clearly have an amazing energy when they combine forces, and I think that we could all benefit from a joint project in the future. Back to their latest single though—I have never felt so honored to possess a vagina until this moment. Women's reproductive rights continue to be threatened by the patriarchy, and until we are all truly equal, we must not stop talking about it.
Listening to Janelle and Grimes softly sing metaphors about all the pink parts of the human body behind a bouncy, bubblegum beat is the equivalent of getting hyper from a sugar rush. As much as this track serves as a celebration of creation and "pussy power," it is also a delectable expression of self-care which femme-identifying individuals require for everyday survival. Janelle Monáe's new album Dirty Computer is out on April 27.—Sydney Gore
Shawn Scrilla ft. Gunna - "On Fye"
LUCKI - "Root of All"
LUCKI has been through a lot. Despite it all, the 21-year-old rapper has held on dearly to his artistic integrity, and now that he's in a good place mentally and back to focusing on music, he's sounding better than ever. He's working on a new album called Better Days, and his Days B4 II EP is LUCKI at his sharpest. His music still has that hypnotizing, head-in-the-clouds atmosphere to it, but he leveled up lyrically, and while the songs still feel raw and intimate, they also feel thoughtful and well-crafted. "Root of All" is an early favorite, but the whole project is worth a listen.—Jacob Moore
Deem Spencer - "Baybay"
"I can't pretend I know what I'm doing is wrong as I do it." Deem Spencer's latest, the honest and lonely "Baybay," opens with that unflinching admission, and from there the rapper/singer lets his soul spill forth, voice crackling with distortion that makes the vocals feel like a late-night phone call after a few too many drinks.
The plaintive piano line from producer Leaping Tiger is a perfect accompaniment to Deem, who oscillates between delicate, homespun singing and more aggressive bars. "Baybay" captures Spencer's conflicted state, and the young artist has a unique ability to showcase his raw emotions despite an understated delivery that makes him sound numb. In the middle of the track, Spencer's vocals are soaked in reverb, creating a dizzying effect mirroring the many voices in his ear. Spencer is one of the most captivating figures to burst out of New York in some time, and "Baybay" only affirms his unique gifts as a songwriter and vocalist.—Grant Rindner
Pac Div - "Circle"
Pac Div's return was completely unexpected, and something I personally didn't know I needed. Their lead single "Stoked" reassured us that they hadn't missed a step, even with all this time away. It felt fresh, and perfectly timed. But one of the standouts on their new album 1st Baptist, "Circle," has a nostalgic quality to it that really does bring everything full circle. The sung hook of "I keep my circle with real ones" makes it clear why Pac Div can step back in the game without a glitch.
Like, Mibbs, and BeYoung are down for each—first and foremost—and because of that, the music comes naturally for them. Everything about "Circle" feels laid-back, relaxed, and effortless like the good old days. This is for the fans.—Adrienne Black
Busu - "Do 2 Much"
Stockholm's Busu isn't averse to incorporating rock into his distinctively Swedish take on hip-hop, but "Do 2 Much" is his most riff-driven track to date. Rapping and singing over a memorable riff that builds to some room-shaking bass hits, "Do 2 Much" is what might happen if Lil Uzi Vert and Blink-182 decided to work together. In other words, it's something I've been dreaming about for longer than I'd like to admit.—Joe Price