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.
Julian Ames is vibing to …
In 2012, the Canadian electronic duo Purity Ring made a huge splash with a number of singles leading up to their debut record, Shrines. After that, they went rather quiet, aside from appearing on and doing remixes of other people’s music. For me, personally, Shrines was strong enough to keep me sated all this time, but after two years it’s about time to get some new Purity Ring material. Now we finally have it, with the song “Push Pull.”
A friend of mine once described Purity Ring’s music as “trap’s beautiful cousin,” which I think is pretty apt. Their music does share the southern hip-hop style 808 beats that trap music uses, but they’re blanketed by synthesizer tones and lead notes, programmed by Corin Roddick, and Megan James’ child-like vocals. Their style stays mostly the same on “Push Pull” with any differences coming in the production–James’ voice has less effects put on it and comes through much clearer now. It’s hard to tell whether this song is a natural progression from their first album or just the band sticking with their tried and true tactics, but either way it sounds great.
Mike Duquette is triumphing to…
Mary J. Blige
The London Sessions
In another time, The London Sessions would be Mary J. Blige’s Aretha Franklin-on-Arista Records moment. Since What’s The 411? dropped in 1992, Mary’s been one of the secret weapons of hip hop and soul, and doesn’t seem to get enough credit despite nine Grammy wins and a dozen Top 10 albums. Already at an unfair disadvantage for being a black female in her forties in an industry that reveres the younger upstarts and the older survivors, one wonders how Blige would keep up her sterling track record in today’s climate.
Turns out, the answer was in the east–across the Atlantic, that is–where a host of up-and-coming British dance/pop/R&B musicians were ready to champion Mary for the legend she is. Disclosure and recent multiple Grammy nominee Sam Smith have already put her on their own records and, on The London Sessions, she’s returning the favor. She’s added Smith, Disclosure, Emeli Sande, Naughty Boy, and others on a record that is classic Mary J., at once old-school soul and forward thinking R&B.
The album’s “Doubt” would be a killer album closer on any up-and-coming singer’s album of torch songs, but Blige goes full “Bow Down” and sequences it as the second track. “I made it to the end / I nearly paid the cost,” Mary declares in the chorus. “I lost a lot of friends / I sacrificed a lot.” Long after “Real Love” and “Be Without You,” hit the charts, Mary J. Blige still has something to say, and even if she’s not going to get a “Freeway of Love” moment, we’d all do well to listen.
Dominic Griffin is warbling in the background to…
“Ja Rule (Featuring Big Sean)”
A$AP season continues as Rocky’s cohort, the infinitely more cartoonish and entertaining Ferg, blessed us with a new mixtape this week. Its run time is largely dedicated to some enjoyable throwaways, exciting but samey songs you’ll bump aggressively in your car or at a party over the next couple of weeks, but few that’ll follow us into 2015. “Ja Rule,” affectionately named after the once-ascendant NY rapper who ran the Billboard charts by mixing rapping and (patently awful) singing long before Drake, is a track that shows some staying power (even if fellow NY emcee Lakutis beat him to the punch with last year’s “Ja Rule” off his supremely underrated I’m In The Forest EP).
The beat cribs the drum pattern from Ferg’s far superior “Work (Remix)” but doubles down on what makes his music so much fun. There’s a mixture of exuberance and absurdity that stops just shy of the non-sequitor nonsense of most post Lil B weirdo rappers, but never bothers to dwell too long on street grit authenticity. Ferg knows better than most that it’s better to be interesting than real, so his sing-songy flow and bouncing off the walls approach to vocal delivery serve his passive-aggressive digs at Ashanti’s sideburns rather well. Big Sean shows up and manages to be less cloying than usual, which should be evidence enough that this cut is worth your time.