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.
N.E.R.D ft. Rihanna, “Lemon”
It seems inconceivable that Rihanna and Pharrell’s paths had never crossed in the studio. But up until yesterday, that was the case; the two never made a song together. Rihanna now features on N.E.R.D’s first song in seven years – and when I say “features,” I really mean stars. Just when you thought Beyoncé had the monopoly on lemonade, here comes Rih rapping her face off on “Lemon.” I said rapping! Upgrading her flow from Kendrick’s “Loyalty,” she spits car references and comes up with a dozen other ways to say she’s stuntin’. (One line, “Tell the paparazzi get the lens right,” apparently dates back to at least 2015, so this collaboration was long in the making.) Rihanna is swagger personified, and this song, assisted by swag king Pharrell’s New Orleans bounce-based beat, is just how swagger sounds. —Dee Lockett (@Dee_Lockett)
Marshmello ft. Selena Gomez, “Wolves”
What is it about Selena Gomez’s voice that makes her such a perfect companion for a slickly produced pop DJ banger? Is it because she sounds like the ideal mashup between an EDM pleasure algorithm and an actual human being? Is it because she is Top 40 music’s master of performative sensuality? Is Selena Gomez a Joi bot companion built for weekend ravers who don’t actually know anything about house music but just like to dance? From Zedd to Kygo and now the elusive Marshmello, Gomez has made her DJ collaboration tracks a highlight of her career. “Wolves” is another pulsing flight into the stratosphere of breezy pop dreams. Gomez’s voice sounds like really good advertising, and I am buying the feeling she’s selling. I don’t do molly, but I do listen to Selena Gomez hypnotically repeat alluring phrases over and over again in electro-pop jams, and that feels like a fair compromise. –Jordan Crucchiola (@jorcru)
Migos ft. Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, “Motor Sport”
Trust the Migos to be rap’s great mediators. Not that there was really a score to settle between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. As the two go to great pains to prove on their respectively lethal guest spots on Migos’ new single, there’s no bad blood, at least not between them. (No matter what professional pot-stirrer Joe Budden would have you believe.) It’s a shame either of them has to waste breath on manufactured tension, but it’s also what fuels some of their best work. Cardi rightfully uses her turn as a victory lap, declaring herself “the trap Selena” — inspiration for a new generation of the underrepresented — after dismissing any perceived beef with Nicki. If this is Cardi’s final verse of the year (her debut album seems not quite ready), I’ll take it.
Nicki’s throne, meanwhile, has been under siege all year, threatened by both Remy Ma and Cardi. She’s not as direct as Cardi in shrugging off competition because years in this game have taught her to broach the subject more deftly. Nicki only knows one mode and that’s attack. She’s not pressed about a single rapper; her concern is greater, like feeling history might disrespect her legacy. To protect it, she delivers a searing verse, performed in various flows, using dizzying multi-meaning wordplay. (Just take a minute to unpack the many layers of “Get you lined for that paper like a loose leaf when that strap blow.”) That Nicki can’t stop telling us how intelligent her verse is shows just how genuinely worried she is people forgot what she can do. –DL
CyHi the Prince ft. Kanye West, “Dat Side”
Kanye West is a private person. It doesn’t seem like Kanye West is a private person because any time he says anything, we argue about if he should have said anything — but then he recedes into the background to record new music in Wyoming or whatever. I might not know where Kanye is right at this exact moment (probably still Wyoming or Calabasas), but I do know that he is undoubtedly CyHi the Prince’s biggest fan. His appearance on CyHi’s “Dat Side” — a loose, run-on sentence of a verse about how Yeezys are everywhere, how he’s the only black guy in his neighborhood, and how fame has made him lonely — is well-trod territory for Kanye, sure, but it’s also a compelling window into where his mind is at and where he might be going next. –Sam Hockley-Smith (@shockleysmith)
Gorillaz ft. Little Simz, “Garage Palace”
There’s a new deluxe vinyl release of the Gorillaz album Humanz, and it has 14 previously unreleased tracks. So basically Gorillaz has released a whole new album of material for you, and on it is this jewel with U.K. rapper Little Simz. Since Simz is basically an alien and the Gorillaz inhabit their own cross-dimensional plane, get intergalactic with them and listen to “Garage Palace.” Just beware the heat coming off that Simz flow. –JC
A few months after releasing a pair of new songs in July, Rhye dropped a new loose track last Friday called “Taste.” A quiet mix of disco, funk, and R&B, “Taste” could easily fit on their acclaimed debut album Woman, and that’s not a problem. Milosh’s vocals flow delicately over soft but intricate instrumentation (restrained slap bass, Isley Brothers–like rhythm guitar, synths, and even some woodwinds), solidifying his reputation as the white male Sade. So far, there is no release date for the new project, but the duo’s upcoming tour dates suggest that it will likely be early next year. —Corinna Burford (@coriburford)