Deadshirt Is Listening… Bringing you a rundown of our staff and guest contributors’ favorite new tracks released in the past week after they’ve had the weekend to blast them in their cars, in a club, alone in their rooms, etc.
Dominic Griffin is speedboat racing to…
As much as I’ve been waiting on a return to form for the Maybach Music Group ring leader, I didn’t anticipate one as cruelly incisive as his latest album, Black Market. Sonically, it follows in the footsteps of recent mixtape Black Dollar, with more dulcet production work that resonates more readily than anything on his last two retail efforts, but the real surprise is the straight razor wit Ross employs over beats from soul loop maestros like Jake One. Much has been made this week over the Drake-directed darts on “Color Money,” but “Dope Dick” (a track that hilariously conflates every element of the Ross persona: drugs, sex, the thinly veiled threat of future violence) doubles down on the rapier Ross uses to stab his various opponents.
He’s always been a little underrated as a lyricist, but there’s something deliriously pithy about the tone Ross maintains throughout this release. It trades in the warm nobility of Black Dollar’s embattled approximation of conscious rap for near Shawn Carter levels of verbal passive aggression. He takes aim at Aubrey Graham (and former foe 50 Cent) with the kind of personality restructuring invective everyone hoped Meek Mill would unleash at the end of this summer, but Ross doesn’t sound like a bully once. He comes off the way Wilson Fisk always seems to when he guest stars in low stakes Daredevil arcs, a once hungry beast self-consciously snacking on the shade-throwing observations of faraway miscreants he doesn’t even see as peers. You can just see him, sitting under an umbrella, munching on lemon pepper wings with his pinky up at the current state of the game.
Whether or not we’re about to see the main event attraction Drake’s feud with Meek Mill served as the undercard for remains to be seen, but here Ross, a man forever charged as inauthentic to a fault, has quietly reasserted his place in the pantheon, and it’s a real sight to see.
David Lebovitz is clapping along to…
Idris Elba ft. Shakka
Murdah Loves John
Idris Elba. Irdis goddamn Elba.
What can’t this man do?
Baltimore drug kingpin? Check. Psychopathic detective? Check. Apocalypse canceller? Check. James Bond? Check… in our hearts.
Murdah Loves John, his newest album, is inspired by his turn as Detective John Luther, and explores the themes and mindset of the eponymous BBC series. Per Elba himself, it reflects how Luther is always active (hence “Wide Awake”) and aware of what others aren’t. A touch clichéd, sure, but accurate nonetheless. The song is juuuuust on the border of catchy, something that will get stuck in your head but won’t necessarily require you to sing along, and is a portrait of how compelling a person Elba (and John Luther) is right now. Recommended for both fans of Luther and those unfamiliar—especially since it has better audio quality than the show itself.
Mike Duquette is slipping under to…
You may not have heard of alt-trio Miike Snow, but you’ve certainly heard what they’ve done for others. As Bloodshy & Avant, instrumentalists Christian Karlsson and Pontius Winnberg have helmed a raft of hits for Britney Spears (most notably the earth-shattering “Toxic”), while vocalist Andrew Wyatt co-wrote Bruno Mars’s “Grenade” and appeared on Mark Ronson’s last two albums.
The trio’s appropriately titled third album, III, due in March, is said to return closer to the pop-friendly roots of their 2009 debut with a bit of hip-hop thrown in for good measure. “Genghis Khan,” the second track to be unveiled from the album, seems worthy proof of that idea, propelled by a snappy, funky drum beat and Wyatt’s airy vocals warning a lover of his (metaphorical, we hope) dictatorial tendencies: “I don’t want you to get it on / with nobody else but me.” I obviously couldn’t imagine hearing Britney sing it, but it’s getting me excited for music in 2016 even before the ink has dried on my year-end best-of list.