Drake Clears His Throat With DJ Khaled, and 10 More New Songs


Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at [email protected] and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.

A pair of Drake afterthoughts that flaunt his two sides, or perhaps his two cooperative-competitive instincts. “Greece,” with its digitally sweetened vocals (halfway to Nav territory) and a faint echo of “Dreams Money Can Buy,” feels more like a notion than a fully formed song, an ambiguous experiment in texture. “Popstar” is a string of ruminative tough talk, with syllables running together so tightly they begin to take on a percussive quality. Drake has fellow Canadians on his mind: “Don’t even usually get this big without a Bieber face”; “If we talking joints, it’s just me and David Foster.” When he raps like this, with a stream of boastfulness, it’s often an ego-clearing amuse bouche for a more ambitious release to follow. JON CARAMANICA

This casually jolting version of “Vanishing” is from “The Live Debut — 1990,” a new-to-streaming recording of an early Mariah Carey live performance that captures her voice in its full, pure, almost unfathomable luster. CARAMANICA

Tiwa Savage’s “Dangerous Love” glides along on a slyly understated Afrobeats groove: little clave-like taps above the barest hint of a kick drum, leaving plenty of room for wisps of guitar and here-and-gone backup vocals. “I’m deep in love with you,” Savage sings, but she sounds almost nonchalant about it, confident in the song’s cool seductiveness. Meanwhile, the video, co-directed by Savage, hints that Nigeria is not immune to impossible digitized beauty standards. JON PARELES

Deadpan and hilarious, Baby Queen is the singer and songwriter Bella Latham, who grew up in South Africa and now lives in London. “Buzzkill” moves from depressive rapping — “I’m disillusioned by the world and I am living in apathy” — to a perfectly harmonized power-pop chorus mocking all her misery: “Just shut up, you’re bringing me down.” She sees both sides, and she knows pop is on the side of optimistic escape, even if she’s not. PARELES

Gordon Koang grew up along the Nile in what is now South Sudan. He is from the Nuer people, South Sudan’s second-largest ethnic group, and after making 10 albums in Africa he sought asylum in Australia, where he now lives. “South Sudan” has a brisk, modal groove that’s driven by the staccato twang of his thom, a five-stringed harp, tangled with the piano counterpoint of his Australian collaborators. Its zigzagging melody seems to expand further with each verse. PARELES

Don’t expect a Calle 13 reunion anytime soon. Eduardo Cabra graphically and bloodily kills off Visitante, his alias as the producer of the Puerto Rican beyond-reggaeton duo, in the video for “La Cabra Jala Pal Monte.” The music is hard rock with guitars riding a triplet beat that harks back to Latin American rhythms. His last name, Cabra, also means “goat” in Spanish, so the wordplay of his rap is dense, but he’s found a definitive — and musical — way to announce that his next project will be billed as Cabra. PARELES

Standing on the Corner is a loosely configured group that’s explicit about its goals — liberation in all forms, but especially from the straitjackets of race and capital — and just as clear about its source material. “G-E-T-O-U-T!! The Ghetto” nods to the poetry of Gil Scott-Heron, African-American spirituals, early New York hip-hop, British jungle. And the video, directed by Carlos de Jesus, is a short film as much as a music video: part David Lynch, part Stan Douglas, part community-access television. It stretches for nine minutes, but the musicians shift directions so often, the performance can feel like it took place in a time-collapser. Which only contributes to the desired effect: Images and music come in like a transmission from a different place, inviting you to listen differently. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

Shamir summons grand psychedelic drones — electric guitar haloed by sustained strings — and a stately beat for “I Wonder.” In his piercing high register, he sings suitably cosmic tidings: “I’ll be the earth with the disease/And you the human inside of me,” he promises. “And I wonder if you’ll be the death of me.” PARELES

Maybe the initial plan was to make a breezy summer single about romantic bliss, purring along on a cushy, retro electric-piano vamp, feeling “good to be alive” with a companion “here by my side.” But this is, as the title says, “Summer 2020,” when “strange is getting stranger” and Jhené Aiko has to “try to make my way through pain and anger.” In this moment, the soothing summer single is a contradictory mirage. PARELES

StaySolidRocky’s “Party Girl” is one of the year’s sneakiest, sweetest pop songs, showing the rapper to be both melodically deft and also lyrically imaginative. On “Soft Aggression” — the final song on his debut EP, “Fallin’” — he pushes even further on both fronts, all in an intriguingly wobbly singing style, with flickers of broken SoundCloud soul and also the blues. CARAMANICA

The tenor saxophonist and jazz eminence Jimmy Heath, who died in January at 93, always improvised in a way that marked him as a composer: clear, deliberate, lyrical. Each carefully contoured phrase replied to what came before, and cleared the path for what was next. That’s on display throughout “Love Letter,” a posthumous new album, and the first of Heath’s career devoted entirely to ballads. On Mal Waldron’s “Left Alone,” he teams up with the vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, whose own thoughtful phrasing neatly complements Heath’s. RUSSONELLO

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