Listen to the following songs and more via TOO FRESH, the freshest monthly playlist there is here.
ALBUM OF THE MONTH | Genesis Owusu – Smiling With No Teeth
You know a guy rules when he says that one of his major inspirations is the 2002 Sega video game Jet Set Radio Future for Xbox, and that’s just what Australian singer Genesis Owusu did when he sat down with NME right before the release of his debut album, Smiling With No Teeth. “It melted me down and remoulded me,” he said of the pirate radio station/rollerblade graffiti game. “I really think I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t play that game.”
You can hear the video game influence in bright, punchy singles like “Don’t Need You” and opener “On the Move!,” but the record’s subject matter dives a little deeper—exploring depression through the concept of the “Black Dog,” a symbol of both mental health and racism.
VERSE OF THE MONTH | Tobe Nwigwe – “A Revealing Freestyle”
Signing copies of his record Cincoriginals, Tobe Nwigwe dropped a bonus freestyle surrounded by his family, boasting Houston love, his wife’s pregnancy with their third child, and a fun, energetic, out-of-breath performance.
9 SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR…
1. Brockhampton – “Buzzcut” with Danny Brown
It’s nice to see Brockhampton, more rap group than boy band on “Buzzcut,” gain some love from features in the hip-hop community. Danny Brown’s wacky persona is an immediate no-brainer for the group, and “Buzzcut” is probably the best track off of the new record, Roadrunner.
2. Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak – “Leave the Doors Open”
Appearing together for the first time at the Grammy Awards, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak easily had the performance of the night. I never saw this duo coming but it makes perfect sense, and “Leave the Door Open” is such feel-good nostalgia.
3. CHIKA – “Hickory Dickory”
Following up “My Power,” released in conjunction with Netflix’s Project Power, CHIKA dropped the Once Upon a Time – EP and a performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk, sporting the single “Hickory Dickory.” “Hickory dickory dock,” the Alabama rapper and 2020 XXL Freshman raps, “This shit a bippity bop.”
4. Gallant – “Scars”
Gallant had one of the best records of 2016 with Ology, and his silky R&B earned him comparisons to John Legend, Moses Sumney, and Seal. The “Kiss from a Rose” singer later joined him on stage at Coachella in 2016 to sing Ology‘s lead single, “Weight in Gold.” Gallant’s latest track, “Scars,” leans more Blood Orange than Seal, but it’s still undeniably the singer everyone fell in love with now over 4 years ago.
5. IAN SWEET – “Drink the Lake”
IAN SWEET hold a special place in my heart since my review of their debut album, Shapeshifter, was one of my first published pieces on SPIN back in 2016. “Drink the Lake,” their new single, is a really sweet song even if it’s about a break-up, with lead singer Jilian Medford singing, “I’ll start saying your name backward, So I’ll forget it.”
6. Internet Money – “JETSKI” with Lil Tecca and Lil Mosey
These guys produced Lil Tecca’s “Ransom” and YK Osiris’ “Worth It,” so of course “Jetski,” was gonna be a hit. It’s a real shame that Lil Mosey had to go and get accused of sexual assault this month though, because right before that I was blindly jamming to “Jetski” no problem.
7. JAHMED – ARMANI
A close second for Album of the Month, L.A. rapper JAHMED’s debut album ARMANI is fun as hell. Not only can JAHMED rap, but he’s playful, rapping on “USAY,” “You say you gon’ cuff me/but I don’t see no cops around.” Suga Free and Freddie Gibbs assist as this star-to-be admires his face on hometown billboards and soaks it all in. One of the best rap releases of the year so far, hands down.
8. Justin Bieber – “Peaches” with Daniel Caesar and Giveon
I’ve clowned the kid before, as we all have, but no one could anticipate Bieber bookending sections of his new record with Martin Luther King Jr. speeches. Tone deaf and also completely separated from the record’s themes, Justice is actually a surprisingly good record without them, and “Peaches” with Daniel Caesar and Giveon is a big highlight. I don’t need you out here doing offensive stunts such as handing Pepsi’s to the cops like Kendall Jenner, just do “Peaches.” Sing about having a good time and loving your wife. “Anyone” got stuck in my head for a whole week, and it didn’t bother me at all.
9. Lil Nas X – “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”
My man Lil Nas X killed it with “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” as the every-song-is-a-hit wonder poll dances down into hell to give satan a lap dance. The latest track to rile the media since Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP,” Lil Nas X 100% knows what he’s doing and he’s a force that will not be stopped. F**k the hates, my guy, keep it up.
What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.