Every week, members of the Vulture staff highlight the best new music. If the song is worthy of your ears and attention, you will find it here. Read our picks below, share yours in the comments, and subscribe to the Vulture Playlist for a comprehensive guide to the year's best music.
Anderson .Paak, "Come Down"
If you didn't know Anderson .Paak's name, he made sure you did last year by popping up all over Dr. Dre's 16-years-in-the-making Compton. He's also a solo artist, whose delightful sophomore album, Malibu, is out this week, a highlight from which has got to be "Come Down." It has shades of James Brown's "Get Up" (that title ain't a coincidence), and it was produced by the legendary Hi-Tek. Why is .Paak getting so much attention from hip-hop greats? The answer is simple: He exudes timeless swag and puts a refreshingly unique spin on funk while also doing its history justice. "Don't I make it look easy, don't I make it look good?" he purrs. He already knows he does. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)
David Bowie, "I Can't Give Everything Away"
The last song on Bowie's final, stunning album carries a weight that grows even heavier after it ends. I love how this song fades out peacefully after crescendoing with a whole mess of electronic beats and jazz sax and noodling guitar solos, all moving in different directions at various speeds. It’s one of those things you can interpret symbolically in the wake of his passing, along with the song’s very message: Bowie gave us many facets of his being, but he did not owe us all of himself. That Blackstar is a concept album about his own death is shocking, but “I Can’t Give Everything Away” surprises me in a quieter way — one that touches me deeply as fan. Maybe he’s speaking to a more general sense of privacy, but to me, Bowie seems to be explaining his decision to not disclose his illness to those who spent decades living in his anthems, and ultimately saying good-bye. — Jillian Mapes (@jumonsmapes)
DJ Mustard feat. Travis Scott, "Whole Lotta Lovin"
DJ Mustard has arguably been recycling the same beat for three years, but why stray from what gets you hits? That's likely the thinking on his latest single, which aims to make Travis Scott a name in the European club circuit. It takes elements of Kanye's "Paranoid" and CeCe Peniston's "Finally" to make for clap-heavy club heat that's gonna piss off anyone who thinks Travis should stick to his "Antidote" mold. Just let him melt the people's faces (as he does in the song's wild video), please. —DL
Kendrick Lamar, "Untitled 2"
It's unclear when this latest untitled track was written (for all we know, like his first "Untitled," it could've been from the TPAB sessions or dreamed up on the spot), but what is clear is that Kendrick is still not comfortable with all those blue hundreds accumulating in his bank account. On this multi-narrative, masterful piece, he revisits conversations from TPAB, again trying not to misuse his influence, knowing just how quickly he can lose it; he assesses the value of wealth, but comes up short. It isn't until he channels Cornrow Kenny and rips the mic from the podium during the song's Tonight Show debut, that he reaches a radically real conclusion: "What if I empty my bank out and stunt? You ain’t gotta tell me that I’m the One!" Godspeed indeed. —DL
Majid Jordan, "King City"
Another strong track off of the Toronto duo's forthcoming self-titled debut album from Drake's OVO Sound. It's like taking a slow late-night drive all the way down to sexville in a vintage Corvette. Exactly what you want to vibe to on these cold, long, and lonely winter nights. —Lauretta Charlton (@laurettaland)
Denai Moore, "Hours" (FKA Twigs cover)
There's something so intoxicating about Denai Moore's voice. In a perfect world, she'd be as well-known as FKA Twigs, whose deeply carnal song off 2014's LP1 Denai covers here. A lot of Twigs' vocal depth gets washed out in the production (intentionally, I think), but Denai specializes in minimalism. You would never think of "Hours" as a natural ballad, but that's precisely how Denai heard it. This is just stunning work — the way she brings out every romantic undercurrent of Twigs' very lust-driven songwriting. I could kiss it for hours. —DL
This Kanye West–produced jam originally intended for Rihanna is the latest song released from Sia's forthcoming This Is Acting. What's odd is you'd hardly be pressed to realize Kanye is behind this song, because it sounds so completely like Sia. Maybe with Rihanna's vocals it would've come out different, but now it's another in a long line of jams that make you want Sia to release this damn album already. —Ira Madison III (@ira)
St. Lucia, "Somebody to Love"
St. Lucia dropped his debut album in 2013, but now the '80s-pop-inspired musician is preparing to release his sophomore effort. If "Somebody to Love" is any indication, it could be the best pure-pop album since Carly Rae Jepsen's Emotion. The vocals are soaring and instead of Jepsen's saxophone and synths, you've got flutes and synths, setting the standard for the new year of pop music. —IM
Esperanza Spalding, “Good Lava”
Back in 2011, when Spalding won the Best New Artist Grammy over Bieber, Beliebers attacked the jazz multi-instrumentalist. General Grammy viewers mostly said, “Who?” and shrugged, but five years later, I’m not sure this would be the exact case were a similar scenario to emerge. Through folks like Kendrick Lamar, jazz has found a way back into mainstream popular music. Spalding has been doing her thing — and fabulously at that — through it all, but by the delicious sounds of “Good Lava,” she’s also shifting the sound of things, embracing the kind of rock that recalls Prince at his prog-iest. —JM
Kanye West, "Real Friends"
Whether it signals the start of a new G.O.O.D. Fridays or not, it’s hard to view Kanye West’s “Real Friends” as anything less than a harbinger, particularly of Swish, his long-gestating follow-up to the hydrogen bomb that was Yeezus. But even if Swish isn’t revealed to be the exact vision portended by “Real Friends” — a musical Before Midnight to College Dropout/Late Registration’s Before Sunrise/Sunset — we still have this self-poured 3 a.m. whiskey of a song: deep and prickly like the best Ye, but with an isolationist’s melancholy subbed in for that furious anger. Throughout Yeezus, rapping in a puncher’s flurry of a flow, Kanye put his black Timbs on the Hamptons couches of rich white men — plus, other things in other places. On “Real Friends,” over a Tylenol-on-the-private-jet beat by Boi-1da, Havoc, Frank Dukes, and West himself, his flow is sloppier, free verse at times, as focused inward as it is out. The imagery’s no less stunning — “Fuck the church up by drinking at the Communion” is Yeezy canon — but Kanye’s no longer bracing his vulnerability with machismo. He’s a father now. What’s more vulnerable than that? —Kevin Lincoln (@KTLincoln)