This is a weekly compilation of bite-sized song & EP reviews from our music writers. Discover new favs, read nuanced criticism of the week’s hottest releases & more.
Megan Thee Stallion - “Body”
Five seconds into the track and you know you’re in for a sensory trip in Good News’ first-released visualizer, pushed alongside the Houston rapper’s debut. By the tenth second, you’re likely giving your knees a run for their money. This offering from Megan Thee Stallion and producer Lil Ju is going straight to the post-quarantine party playlist and will be on loop ’til then. If this video feels in line with this summer’s “WAP” with Cardi B, that’s because it is. Director Colin Tilley worked on this one, too, and a new batch of girls took center stage here with familiar faces like Jordyn Woods, Blac Chyna and 50-year-old Taraji P. Henson silently, gently injecting confidence into the viewer. “All them bitches scary cats, I call ‘em Carole Baskins,” she says of the hottest in the game. “The category is body,” and the winner’s undisputed. –Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo
Ludmilla - "Rainha da Favela"
“I am the Favela Queen” is what Ludmilla declares loud and clear in her new single. In order to make such a claim, the artist delivers a by-the-book baile funk song where the utterly known beatbox sample is accompanied by low-pitched, grim piano chords. But this is just halfway to the throne. In the music video, Ludmilla is crowned by a league of female MCs who have made history in Brazilian funk. The rite of passage takes place in a remarkable kitsch and camp banquet at the highest spot of a favela. Long live the baile funk monarchy alliance of MC Carol, Valesca Popozuda, MC Katia, Tati Quebra-Barraco and Ludmilla. (At the end of the music video, the singer gives a clear hint that she will eventually release a song with a hispanohablante artist—my guess: a reggaeton hitmaker). –Felipe Maia
Yoshi ft. Jesse Baez - “Se Me Olvida”
As the producer for some of the most forward-thinking Mexican R&B in recent memory, Yoshi has characterized himself as an adventurous songwriter with an ear for catchy melodies. His first solo release, the three-song EP Demos y Feelings exploits his best qualities. “Se me olvida” is a tale of yearning for a complicated relationship driven by a bouncy dembow beat. The track is delicate and intricate yet rhythmically hard, and Yoshi holds his own as a singer with longtime collaborator Jesse Baez. You’ll have this one stuck in your head for a while. –Marcos Hassan
Tierra Whack - “Peppers and Onions”
Ever since releasing her groundbreaking debut project Whack World in 2018, Philly rapper Tierra Whack keeps cementing her place as one of the most inventive voices in today’s hip-hop, one single at a time. She just dropped a duo of tracks, including “Peppers and Onions,” and we hadn’t heard tongue pops used this successfully on a song since “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Whack raps and sings about embracing her imperfections and being her best self, and it’s easy to resonate with her message. –Cheky
Inka - "La Alarma"
Clocking in at under three minutes, Inka’s “La Alarma” is an ambitious nugget of storytelling that details a ride on public transportation gone terribly wrong and how a near death experience can give our lives restored meaning. Through numerous beat and tempo changes that incorporate tambora and wavy guitars, the fresh-faced Dominican rapper is able to conceive a fascinating sonic canvas with an equally intriguing lyrical flow. Seldom do fear, humor and earnestness intersect in such charming, relatable fashion. –Richard Villegas
James Blake - “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”
“Has anyone ever felt so deeply?” is a question I often ask myself when listening to the offerings of James Blake. Over the last few months, the English singer-songwriter has slowly prepared fans for his collection of Covers, set to release on Dec. 11. This take on Ewan MacColl’s track follows his piercing take on “Godspeed,” and continues his mission to peel back layers of the listener’s soul as he lets his sit bare in front of us, recounting an encounter we’d all be so lucky to have. –Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo
Rico Nasty - “OHFR?”
Unlike their previous collaboration, “IPHONE,” “OHFR?” finds Rico Nasty and 100 gecs’ Dylan Brady displaying the best aspects of their work in equal parts; taking the best elements of the post-internet producer’s noisy, autotuned pop aesthetic and the charismatic emcee’s skills at the mic with abrasiveness and charisma. Listening to Rico relate how she’s going to f*ck someone up is always a delight thanks to her cartoon character delivery and humor, and “OHFR?” does it in banging form. –Marcos Hassan
Don Omar - “Navidad Pa’ La Calle”
There’s no doubt that Christmas celebrations will be strange this year, to say the least, but Don Omar is here to take a little load off our shoulders with his new festive single “Navidad Pa’ La Calle.” Giving reggaeton a Cuban flare, El Rey narrates a tale where Wisin invites an all-star list of guests to a Christmas’ Eve celebration, including Daddy Yankee, Ivy Queen, Tego Calderón, and Bad Bunny. But the event gets so packed they all end up being kicked out, and the party erupts in the street. Send location? –Cheky
Poder Fantasma - "Juventud Millennial Z"
For a band that describes their sound as tontipop, Chilean indie rascals Poder Fantasma are a lot more clever than they care to admit. Their latest single, “Juventud Millennial Z,” captures the absurdities of life in 2020, oscillating between jabs at pointless human conflict and reminiscing nostalgically over a time when we could all still gather and dance the night away. The song’s barreling guitars, wacky synths and processed vocals pair perfectly with its Darinka Osorio-directed video, which follows the band as they explore a scrap metal lot; an unsettling yet spot on allegory for the world today. –Richard Villegas
Vandal ft. Heavy Baile - "100"
Vandal is an obstinate outcast in Brazil’s hip-hop scene but he does not seem to care about pleasing others. The rapper is profoundly grounded in Salvador, Bahia, a city that has been left aside by the Brazilian music industry since the beginning of the 1900s. Also, he owns a sui generis sluggish flow that suits both slowed-down ragga jams or sped-up grime samples. Along with Leo Justi, a Brazilian producer who has given a maximal, club music tone for baile funk with his Heavy Baile project, Vandal rhymes over an eerie anti-melodic beat here: “I won’t bow down, my ancestors were pharaohs and kings.” The music video shows reckless bikers wheeling—chamar no grau is a common practice amongst kids in Brazilian favelas. –Felipe Maia
Rizha - “GOODTIME”
Madrid-based Argentine singer Rizha is back with a new bite-size single called “GOODTIME,” and it’s all about contrast. The glossy upbeat production succeeds in misleading us into thinking we’re listening to a happy song, but hidden in plain sight are Rizha’s heart-crushing lyrics where the mirage of the rockstar lifestyle dissolves and she’s now hungry for a real connection. –Cheky