This has undoubtedly been Childish Gambino’s week — or month — but he hasn’t been the only person to release a track by a long shot. He’s one of the biggest names to drop a new track, but there were several upstarts and grizzled veterans who have released singles this week. You may have been pretty busy debating your take on Gambino’s polarizing work to have caught every release, but luckily we took a listen to everything and decided to highlight the best songs of the week:
Childish Gambino — “This Is America”
Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” song is a testament to the power of multi-purpose artistry. On its own, the track is a solid examination of America’s injustice and bloodlust. The polarizing video, however, which depicts a choir and a man in a chair — all Black — being shot down while Gambino moseys along (seemingly reflecting ignorant bliss) makes for a more urgent piece. Some people thought that the Hiro Murai-directed visual was a macabre, shock value video that trivializes Black death at the hands of cops, while others thought it was a masterful statement on America’s current state. Others are merely admiring Gambino aka Donald Glover’s artistic vision, agreeing with writer Myles Johnson that he had “gifted us a freedom to decide if this was medicine or poison.”
Chance The Rapper and Future ft. King Louie — “My Peak”
Chance The Rapper previewed his “My Peak” collaboration with Future all the way back in February of 2017. We finally got the full song this week, which also features Chance’s fellow Chicagoan King Louie. Where their 2016 “Smoke Break” collaboration felt like a Chance song that Future jumped on, “My Peak” shows Chance wading into Future’s murky purple waters, rhyming melodically over ominous keys and a trunk-rattling bass drum. King Louie booms onto the record with a verse that was mixed rather poorly, but he still gets his bars off.
Valee ft. Jeremih — “Womp Womp”
New GOOD Music signee Valee is plugging along and steadily building his name, releasing quality music that showcases his feel-good, melodically adept sound. His latest offering is “Womp Womp,” a song with Jeremih that sidesteps the lazy “Jeremih-is-on-the-hook-because-I-can’t-sing” trope and serves as more of a duet. The two trade verses using an off-kilter, sing-songy flow and drop some fun bars about custom whips and bankrolls over a gnarly bass and thumping 808s.
Ty Dolla $ign/ 21 Savage — “Clout”
The term clout has seen a major hip-hop revival in the past couple years. It used to be used heavily by ’90s west coast artists, but now every young rapper coming up or trying to come up is accusing or being accused of “clout-chasing” usually via social media. Ty Dolla Sign and 21 Savage are two artists who definitely aren’t about attention-whoring, but they’re all about seeing what other people are down to “do for the clout” on their latest banger “Clout.” Ty Dolla Sign starts the song off with a melodic verse before 21 Savage brags about his “Balenciaga Bookbag” and goes in with his measured flow over murky 808s.
Juicy J ft. Suicideboys — “Chokehold”
No one can generalize the hip-hop age gap as some figurative, arbitrary aperture that no one’s willing to cross. You’ve probably heard before that Three Six Mafia’s 808-heavy sound has been updated to provide the sonic wave for certain trap artists of today — but they aren’t bitter about the circumstance. Juicy J has been collaborating with the young boys for years, deftly jumping on records with production derived from ’90s offerings. Such is the case with “Chokehold,” a song from his ShutDaFukUp mixtape. He collaborated with Florida act SuicideBoys on “Chokehold,” who are one of the acts that most harkens back to Three Six’s frenetic, horror movie-influenced sound.
Wale — “Salary Kaep”
Wale is keeping the music coming. He made waves by recently claiming his relative lack of success is due to his dark skin, which is a pretty dubious statement considering he stands next to Rick Ross and Meek Mill. One thing that’s not up for much debate is his lyrical gift when he focused. He showcased them on “Salary Kaep,” a song from his Self Promotion EP that examines the sacrifice Colin Kaepernick and other athletes are making against sports leagues that, in so many words, seem to want them to “shut up and play.” Wale references him and other athletes on the record where he flouts his “colored people pride” and surmises that “me and my people need to rise up.”
Lil Baby — “Southside”
Quality Control is taking over the game, not just because of Migos and new management client Cardi B, but Lil Baby, an up-and-comer feeding the Atlanta streets with that hotboy talk they love to hear. Take his recent ode to his “Southside” Atlanta neighborhood, over thunderous 808s. Baby rhymes with a melodic, quick-tongued cadence about his fallen partners, the women he’s met on the Southside, and all the actions he and his team have been involved in.
SiR — “D’evils”
SiR’s November actually dropped in January, which has made it one of the year’s most under-the-radar offerings. The gifted vocalist fits in perfectly with TDE’s soulful, groovy vibe, releasing an album showcasing a range of sounds. “D’evils” is an undeniably Island-influenced jam, with a gyrating bassline and West Indian vocals on the chorus. SiR muses introspectively about how “life is so much better when you live in slow motion” on the track that was probably a 4/20 favorite but still gets love this week. The song’s cinematic visual was helmed by “God’s Plan” director Karena Evans.