Listen to the following songs and more via TOO FRESH, the freshest monthly playlist there is here.

ALBUM OF THE MONTH | R.A.P. Ferreira – Bob’s Son

“Art rap” may be an outdated, pejorative term, but I don’t know how else to explain that this album is dedicated to the life of the late-beat poet Bob Kaufman and his beatnik Abomunist Manifesto.

Opening with a humorous skit commanding the computer to “activate Bob’s Son,” R.A.P. Ferreira (a.k.a. Milo) leans into contemporary Open Mike Eagle’s headassery on tracks like “The Cough Bomber’s Return” and “Bobby Digital’s Little Wings.” His most focused project to date, Ferreira glides over warm, jazzy production and satisfying beat switches that reference inspirations from beat poets to Wu-Tang. (Bandcamp)

VERSE OF THE MONTH | Ransom – “25th Hour”

Released on the fantastic Crime Scenes, a quick, seven-song tape of classic East Coast rap featuring Safdie-referenced tracks like “Uncut Gems” and “Good Times,” “25th Hour” highlights Ransom, the Jersey City rapper with a history of Joe Budden features and a recent appearance on Griselda’s Conflicted soundtrack. “Like a body hung on the cross, I’m godlike,” he raps, “A descendant of a slave, so now I’m whippin’ that soft white.”


1. Navy Blue – “Breathe” with Yasiin Bey

Like Nas on “Find Ya Wealth,” Navy Blue’s “Breathe” seems to be channeling ’70s funk by sampling Brian Bennett’s “Solstice” (or creating a vibe just like it), paying homage to the Brooklyn legend with another Brooklyn legend, Mos Def, a.k.a. Yasiin Bey. As part of the collective featuring Earl Sweatshirt, MIKE, and Mach-Hommy, Navy Blue’s hazy stylings are the experimental alternative to the current wave of Drill sweeping New York. And like most underground rap movements of the 2000’s and beyond, it’s where the hip-hop heads gravitate toward and help flourish.

2. CARM – “Song of Trouble” with Sufjan Stevens

CARM (of Bon Iver) may the trumpet player here, but this is a Sufjan Stevens song through and through. “Song of Trouble” is right up there with Call Me By My Name’s “Visions of Gideon,” with Age of Adz’s “Futile Devices,” and with Carrie & Lowell’s “Should Have Known Better.” Poetic and somber, it’s another addition to the wonderful cannon of Sufjan.

3. (G)I-DLE – “HWAA”

Those “K-Pop Has Become the Most Popular Genre in the Country” articles must be right around the corner, as groups like (G)I-DLE have started joining the trends of BTS and BLACKPINK to make additional recordings of their most popular tracks in English. “HWAA,” the latest hit to do so, still (like most) works best in its intended Korean, but the move is a sign that K-Pop’s influence on the song market is stronger than that of a slow burn.

4. Madlib – “Road of the Lonely Ones”

Partnering with Four Tet for the unlikely collaborative beat tape Sound Ancestors, Madlib continues to showcase his talents as the best producer alive, and a tribute to influences such as the late J Dilla or the recently passed MF Doom (which is still hard to even write). That “Road of the Lonely Ones,” which samples The Ethics’ “Lost in a Lonely World,” appears on an album dedicated to the two Sound Ancestors and beyond, is only honorably fitting.

5. FKA twigs – “Don’t Judge Me” with Headie One and Fred again..

Moody and ethereal, FKA twigs’ recent single “Don’t Judge Me” arrives featuring UK’s Headie One and Fred again.., boasting lyrics such as, “Officer, am I allowed to breathe here?/I didn’t choose to be me, so why discriminate me?” The song also mentions Mark Duggan, a Black man who shot by the police in North London in 2011, sparking widespread outrage. As much as police brutality permeates American life, racism and violence remain deep, global issues.

AND… ONE FOR THE ROAD | Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License”

A lot of forces helped Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” get to a Billboard No. 1: she was already a Disney Channel star, she got a co-sign from Taylor Swift, and her record label, Universal, owns a billion dollars of stock in Spotify (enough power to get her on any playlist they want).

And yet, that doesn’t change the fact that even with all that influence, it’s still a pretty decent song. “Drivers License” sits right in between every major pop female movement currentlya little of the sad girl-ness of Phoebe Bridgers, the folklore of Taylor Swift, the synth dips of Billie Eilish, the storytelling of Lordelike a recipe to create the perfect Spotify single. And it did. We’ll have to see what kind of staying power Rodrigo has moving forward, but “Drivers License” is definitely a job well done for a first outing.

What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.