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.
Bryson Tiller, "Let Me Explain"
It's often been hard, if you're not a fan, to know exactly what to make of Bryson Tiller, the R&B singer and part-time rapper from Louisville. Tiller's debut album Trapsoul went platinum without much fanfare and without any features, and this reception — quietly enthusiastic but ultimately indistinct — reflects on the artist's own character: The dude isn't saying anything new, so what's the fuss about? It's not surprising to learn that Tiller's latest Soundcloud single "Let Me Explain" offers an explanation. Pairing a sample of the pensive keys from Missy Elliott's "Friendly Skies" with trap drums and hi-hats, the instrumental's blend of hesitation and insistence provides a fitting backdrop for Tiller to acknowledge (somewhat indistinctly) his shortcomings as a boyfriend while also pledging to do better. Tiller isn't interested in showing off, and in many ways he doesn't have much to show off to begin with. He doesn't have the range. But his mix of tender remorse and crisp, plain rhymes endow him with an unfailing spirit of sincerity and commitment. Tiller's achieving a task that's harder than it looks: He manages to be appealing without being flashy. He's charming because he's reliable, and he isn't going anywhere. — Frank Gaun (@frankophilia)
Emily Reo, “Spell”
Before you listen, I suggest closing your eyes. Wait, you’ll need to see the screen to click on the orange play button. Okay, so – a revision – read this blurb, press the button, and quickly close your eyes. Great. Here is something like a guided meditation for this song. Imagine you’re sitting in a tube on a lazy river, but this lazy river isn’t going straight, or circumnavigating a water park, it is swirling slowly around like water down a bath drain. As you go round and round the wet tornado, you see flashes of your life – good, bad, neutral. They register and leave your mind. The water brightens, going from a pool-blue to sky-blue to a bluish-white and finally, when you get to the eye, white. I guess I am describing a meditation that involves you picturing death. Anyway, that’s this song. Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it why we listen to songs? — Jesse David Fox (@JesseDavidFox)
Emile Sandé ft. Jay Electronica and Áine Zion, "Garden"
It never ceases to amuse me for whom Jay Elec will deign to come out of hiding and throw down the rare verse. A few months ago, it was Chance the Rapper; now it's Scottish soul singer Emile Sandé. If I had to guess, maybe Jay was just feeling sentimental about an old flame (hi, Erykah) and in the mood to rap about both love's trappings and freedom. He references Guantánamo and Prince, and, weirdly, it works. But he's just a distraction from Emile, who gives one of the most understated performances of her life, probably. Honestly, I can't imagine being the person who pitched her a scrap from the woozy R&B dumpster heap, but bless Emile for being able to make it sound not totally out of character. Emile is known for big ballads that advertise her range, but this forces her to be both a minimalist and a seductress. Naturally, she still managed to sneak in spoken-word interludes from Áine Zion, because Emile is never not true to herself. Perhaps that's why this song bangs so good. — Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)
The Funk Hunters and Chali 2na, “Oh Shit”
I’m going to start a “Super Hyped” playlist with this song, “Never Scared” by Bone Crusher, and Trick Daddy’s “Let’s Go,” and that’s all, because if it gets any longer my whole body would just shatter into a million pieces from prolonged exposure to bass vibration. — Jordan Crucchiola (@JorCru)
Frank Ferdinand, "Demagogue"
Donald Trump is a human dumpster fire with a neck vagina. And what do you know, one of my favorite bands wholeheartedly agrees with me! It's been a while since a bona fide Franz Ferdinand song was released (no, I'm not counting their fun collaboration with Sparks from last year), so it was a delight to wake up on Friday morning to discover those Glasgowians penned and recorded an anti-Trump track. Alex Kapranos's baritone voice always makes me weak in the knees, especially combined with amusing lyrics such as "those pussy-grabbing fingers won't let go of me now." The only way it could've been cheekier is calling the tune "Demogorgon." Fully capture that summer zeitgeist, lads! (Kidding.) — Devon Ivie (@devonsaysrelax)
Nelly Furtado, "Too Good" (Drake/Rihanna cover)
Remember earlier this year when thousands of white people tried to single-handedly destroy Rihanna's "Work" with their loathsome vanilla-ass covers? This is nothing like that. Nelly Furtado wouldn't do that to her fellow Canadian. Her take on Drake and Rihanna's "Too Good" is acoustic, for sure, and raw where it needs to be, but never too corny (which is an impressive feat, as this is Drake we're talking about). In fact, it hits straight at the romantic frustration of the song – the same underlying emotion of "Work" disguised by the riddim – and takes the vocals to heights Drake will never be able to reach. And rest assured, she doesn't dare attempt the patois. – DL
Tkay Maidza, “Simulation”
Try to deny this song. Just try it. There’s something about the easy vibe of “Simulation” that feels like breezy days of pop music in the early 2000s. Like, if you were listening to “I Do” by Toya or “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right)?” by 3LW, would you really be that surprised if “Simulation” cropped up in the middle? Maybe that’s just me, but the bottom line is that the bubbly energy of this song is so on point, and it builds on the infectious promise of the Zimbabwe-born Aussie’s previous earworms like “Carry On,” “U-Huh,” and the highly M.I.A.-esque “Tennies.” – JC
Kehlani ft. Little Simz, "Table"
Well of course a song about self-worth and recognition would be performed by two women belonging to R&B and rap's new class who've earned it the most. Kehlani and Little Simz have paid their dues, and if there's anyone still questioning whether or not they deserve a seat at any big industry table, take it up with Diddy, who recently reportedly thanked Kehlani for "saving R&B." I wouldn't take it that far, but there is something undoubtedly refreshing about their respective energy, work ethic, and guts. When together, they're a force as strong as some of the greatest rapper-singer duos in recent memory. More please. – DL