Every week, Vulture highlights 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.
Jay Z, "Spiritual"
Black people have been singing Negro spirituals for centuries to endure black pain; no surprise, we're still doing it in 2016. After a week that saw two black men slain on camera by police officers for no other reason than being black, then less than 24 hours later, saw five police officers slain for no other reason than being cops, that pain has become unbearable. Still, we bear it. It's a constant pain that nearly forced Jay Z to release this song two summers ago, after the murder of Michael Brown. Pain can manifest itself like poison, like alcohol, like black blood. We're all as desperate as he is for some spiritual salve to keep our minds from imploding ("I need a drink, shrink, or something"). Let a Jay Z protest song serve as self-care until the next black body is inevitably laid to rest on America's streets. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)
Jamila Woods feat. Chance the Rapper, “LSD”
No, this isn’t a song about hallucinogenic drugs. Instead, “LSD” is Chicago soul singer Jamila Woods’s ode to Lake Shore Drive, the scenic and underrated Chicago highway that traces the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Though “LSD” has a similarly uplifting message as Woods’s contributions on Chance the Rapper’s output (“Sunday Candy” and “Blessings”), LSD’s message feels more intimate. “You gotta love me like I love the lake,” Woods sings. “Even if you break me down, the water always saves me.” For every song that feverishly demands the listener to rep their city,“LSD” is the antidote — a refreshingly understated way of projecting city pride through a personal lens. —Samantha Rollins (@Samantha Rollins)
Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West, "Friends"
This video makes me almost cry every time I watch it. I press play and am immediately in 2008. Yes, specifically 2008. It was the year Bon Iver broke out and Kanye released 808s & Heartbreak (you can hear both on the track). It was also my first year out of college, when Frances and the Lights and his elegant, spastic dance moves were seemingly opening every show I was going to in Brooklyn. The result is I become overwhelmed by nostalgia and what could've been-ness, in a frustratingly cliché way. The point is you should watch the video first. The song works on its own, but the video is so beautiful and honest, it'll forever frame how you'll hear the song, regardless of when you moved to New York or whatever your New York was. —Jesse David Fox (@JesseDavidFox)
BANKS, "Fuck With Myself"
While we await the return of FKA twigs, take pleasure in knowing that her visceral mindfuckery has inspired some flawless imitation. For the days when you feel like lighting yourself on fire, here's the match. —DL
Wild Beasts, “Big Cat”
Wild Beasts have built a career producing synthy songs that deliberately toe the line between the romantic and the twistedly erotic (one of their earlier hits conjures up the image of lovers on a bed of nails, lips blistering as they kiss). The band's latest single is perhaps the best distillation of what makes them tick: "Big Cat" is an ode to sexual dominance with a streamlined groove and a menacingly alluring undercurrent. You'll want to dance, but you should be careful: As the refrain goes, you can look, but don't touch. —SR
Schoolboy Q and Vince Staples, "Ride Out"
I didn't remember to listen to much of Schoolboy Q's new Blank Face LP until a cab ride during a wild weekend night that began at a Garth Brooks concert and ended with way too many drinks with friends. When I got to the Vince Staples collaboration "Ride Out" it took everything in me not to hulk out, smash the cab, and bring a trail of destruction to the tiny overpass we were inching down while I listened. Great rap not only sounds pleasing, it makes you feel powerful and unstoppable, and five minutes of these two cripping out of control over TDE maestro Sounwave's evil-robot disaster-movie production certainly does the trick. —Craig Jenkins (@CraigSJ)
Tory Lanez, "Controlla (Remix)"
Yes, the Toronto newcomer who has repeatedly come for Drake's throne has bested the 6 God at his own game. Because unlike Drake, for Tory Lanez, it's one he doesn't have to play. While Drake may take extreme artistic liberties with Toronto's rich Caribbean diaspora and history — even co-opting it for this very song while removing one of the culture's own, Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan, from the original — Lanez was born with the riddim. Both his parents have West Indian roots (particularly his Bajan father), so it's no wonder his faux-patois passes far better here than Drake's can ever hope to. —DL