Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Fresh Playlist: Childish Gambino Returns Funkadelic, The xx Emerges From Hiding

With new music flying like warp-speed through the various channels of the Internet, it can be hard to keep up. But worry not! Each week The Fresh Toast will deliver the most-discussed and exciting songs that have recently dropped. Landed. Crashed. And also: soared. Enjoy.

Childish Gambino—“Me and Your Momma”

Stop doubting this man. He won over fans with his hoptronic smash record Because the Internet, re-invented his sound through the Gangsta Grillz STN MTN mixtape and tropical vibes Kauai EP the following year, and created the best show on TV this year. Just as hip hop embraced Childish Gambino as a rapper, he’s zagging once again with his latest single “Me and Your Mama,” from his new Awaken My Love album, out Dec. 2.

Following a synth-backed choir intro, establishing a pleasant, soothing mood, Gambino smashes in with a scraggly wail unlike anything we’ve ever heard from him. He sings over this yowling guitar line, conveying this emotional desperation that just overwhelms you, reaching a breaking point when Gambino dips into some Prince-style screeching. It’s obvious someone’s been listening to some Funkadelic and Prince in between releases.

“Let me into your heart!” the choir vibrates underneath Gambino’s vocals. By the time the slow-bopping outro kicks in, it’s a necessary relief. Not because the track’s poor—it’s quite the opposite. It’s just so much raw and pure goodness injected into your soul, you’re left lying on the flooring, absolutely devastated. And you can’t wait to do it all over again. One thing’s certain: Wherever Gambino’s going next with this project, we’re following.

A Tribe Called Quest—“The Space Program”

Honestly, I’m not ready to rationally discuss this new Tribe album. That we’re even listening to a fresh Tribe record in 2016 is victory enough. This group that serves as a cultural touchstone for so much of hip hop remains just as vital as they’ve ever been. Whenever I listen to We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your service, it always starts with “The Space Program” simply because it begins the project, and I can’t imagine missing one song.

So “Space Program” is the pick for that reason. It could just as easily be the Andre 3000-assisted “Kids…” or the cathartic “Lost Somebody.” Somehow “The Killing Season” features Kanye West, Consequence, and Talib Kweli on a song together, making you wonder if this is 2016 or 2004. Kendrick Lamar flies through on “Conrad Tokyo” and Anderson Paak provides grooves to “Moving Backwards.” But of course it’s the main crew we’re here for: Q-Tip, Phife, and Jarobi, who has bars. Busta Rhymes makes multiple appearances, and you can hear his smile through the raps. It’s infectious.

The xx—“On Hold”

Though not on Tribe levels, years of silence and rumors had some wondering if we’d ever receive another record from the XX. But it’s really happening now and this single marks a new era for the group. It’s groovy and bouncy and samples Hall & Oates. Yet somehow it still sounds like an The xx song or at least within their sandbox.

Run the Jewels ft. BOOTS—“2100”

This week has been very emotional for many in this country, regardless of your politics. A sense of unknown permeates the future. Leave it Run the Jewels to punch through that instability with this track. Killer Mike fires off with “How long before the hate that we hold lead us to another Holocaust,” signaling very clearly the politics at hand here.

Shia LaBeouf—Sway in the Morning Freestyle

I’m honestly just shocked at how good this is. We’ve seen snippets of Shia freestyling before, but he sounds better than some rappers when facing Sway’s Five Fingers of Death freestyle challenge. “”Get ready, get set, this a meme / This is wild, this a childhood dream,” he raps and those are just the first bars. You really never know what goods Shia will deliver.

Leonard Cohen—“Hallelujah”

Rest in peace, king.

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