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Top 10 Songs of the Week (11/21)

on November 21, 2014, 1:30pm
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Don’t start locking in all those year-end lists just yet. Much of the US was forced inside this week, away from the chill; fortunately, great singles just kept rolling in to help us pass the time. It’s been a lackluster year for hip-hop (arguably), but a stellar week for Kevin Gates, Pusha T, and Wu-Tang Clan. In other genres, selections by the likes of Charli XCX, CVIRO and GXNXVS, Sleigh Bells, and SZA also give this week’s list a sufficient kick to help you through your next weather delay. Let’s just hope it doesn’t last anywhere near 36 hours.

10. CVIRO and GXNXVS – “Benjamins”

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Be it the future-folk of Chet Faker, the club cuts of Flume, or the left-field R&B of CVIRO (“Cairo”) and GXNXVS (“genius”), the Aussies definitely like to experiment with their beats. GXNXVS’ garage swing contours effortlessly around the layered vocals of CVIRO, each finding their own casual way to a few handfuls of “Benjamins”. Finger snaps and underlying beatbox challenge the fluidity of CVIRO, the production’s tranquility calming this intermittent grind. –Derek Staples

9. A Place to Bury Strangers – “Straight”

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The pummeling guitars and spurts of piercing feedback on “Straight”, the lead single from Brooklyn’s A Place to Bury Strangers’ fourth studio album, Transfixation (out February 17th via Dead Oceans), catapult the song into a hypnotic groove while singer Oliver Ackermann lends some psychedelic vocals to bring it all together. With new drummer Robi Gonzales and the band’s brand of noisy, effects-laden rock still intact, look for their new LP to be a return to form. –Josh Terry

8. Kevin Gates feat. August Alsina – “I Don’t Get Tired”

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Kevin Gates is certainly no foreigner to flexing, but the Baton Rouge-bred street poet is more about inspiration than intimidation. In the same breath, Gates can flow about those nights without a mattress and then boast about the triumphs of his new sports car — the kind of rags-to-riches story we love to celebrate. But during “I Don’t Get Tired”, the first look from Luca Brasi 2: A Gangsta Grillz Special Edition, Gates isn’t weaving the false stories of drug deals and jilted exes; it’s about putting food on the table no matter the circumstances. In all this destruction, there is beauty, as exemplified by the harmonies of R&B hookman August Alsina. Grab the mixtape December 15th. –Derek Staples

7. Flying Lotus feat. Krayzie Bone – “Medication Meditation”

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While Flying Lotus will have a hard time making another single on par with “Never Catch Me”, “Medication Meditation” is a solid contender. Commissioned for the re-release of Grand Theft Auto V, the song finds the eclectic producer enlisting Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s Krayzie Bone. The spacey beat is punctuated by Bone’s spitfire lines about planetary travel and drug use. It’s wonderfully trippy, a welcome sight to see a veteran and an ever-rising talent collaborate on such a forward-thinking track. –Josh Terry

 6. Charli XCX – “Gold Coins”

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How did it take this long for chiptune to cross over into chart pop? Charli XCX’s new single, released this week in anticipation of her upcoming album, Sucker, probably doesn’t feature an actual Game Boy solo, but the comedown from its chorus sure sounds like the pop star’s been working some new geek-inspired ideas into her arsenal. Whether it’s a guitar or a synth, that two-note chirp sounds like a reward for gathering up gold coins in a Nintendo game. Sure enough, the tune’s all about striking gold, at least in Charli’s dreams. But the UK singer has enough of a sense of humor to keep this bouncy track from becoming just another aspirational wealth anthem. It feels way more like winning a video game than playing the stock market. Sucker is out December 16th –Sasha Geffen

 5. Wu-Tang Clan – “Necklace”

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A week after Migos’ Quavo was jumped and robbed of one of his chains, Wu-Tang Clan have dropped off an ode to their big-ass necklaces and the necessity of watching out for thieves who can’t afford their own. Here, Cappadonna, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and GZA each boast about their neck jewelry as though it’s never been done before. It sounds cliched, but then again, this is the almighty Wu: These guys have rarely, if ever, rapped with anything other than unflinching focus. Rae has the standout verse: “I keep my neck frozen, .45 loaded, please don’t approach this/ Rope is so ferocious, diamonds that shine in oceans.” A Better Tomorrow, the Wu’s sixth album, is out December 2nd. –Michael Madden

 4. Tobias Jesso Jr. – “Hollywood”

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On “Hollywood”, the six-minute first single off Tobias Jesso Jr.’s upcoming debut, Goon, the Vancouver journeyman is in full-on ’70s singer-songwriter mode, playing piano chords at a slow, even pace and crooning lyrics you’ll have memorized in two (maybe three) listens. Jesso Jr.’s vision of Hollywood is uncontaminated until he starts witnessing the attrition of other hopeful entertainers: “Think I’m gonna try in Hollywood”; “Think I’ll say goodbye to Hollywood”; “I think I’m gonna die in Hollywood.” It ends with a squawk of brass instrumentation, as if to communicate just how dizzingly the city can spin a new arrival around, back to where he came from. Goon is out in the spring via True Panther Sounds. –Michael Madden

 3. SZA – “Sobriety”

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A guest appearance from bassist Thundercat, who’s featured all over the new Flying Lotus album, gives this new SZA single one hell of a swing. While it sounds like a loungey number, “Sobriety” carries some of the singer’s bleakest lyrics to date: “What would my mother say?/ She’d want me to be married and happy and whole/ Not high and alone.” She finds herself in a deep pit here, but she ends the song by resolving to keep moving forward even when the pull toward self-destruction grows strongest. “Sobriety” is a moving proclamation of self-preservation; no one ever really wants to end up wasted by themselves even if it keeps on happening. –Sasha Geffen

 2. Sleigh Bells and Tink – “That Did It”

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Sleigh Bells only met Chicago rapper Tink earlier this year at SXSW, but it looks like they clicked immediately. Their new collaborative single, “That Did It”, melts Derek Edward Miller’s playful production into Tink’s fierce delivery, while Alexis Krauss’ melodic vocals supply a colorful foil. “Settle down with your infinite power,” she sings, as though the song was a ragged prayer to something much bigger than herself. It’s the first we’ve heard from Sleigh Bells since their 2013 album Bitter Rivals, and “That Did It” also hints at what might be in store for Tink’s forthcoming, as yet unannounced debut album. Fingers crossed. –Sasha Geffen

 1. Pusha T – “Lunch Money”

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Pusha T has made a point to belittle other rappers throughout his career, be it on the remixes of Clipse’s We Got It 4 Cheap mixtapes (which he and No Malice made to be competitive with the artists who originally rapped over the tracks) or on something like this, the Kanye West-produced “Lunch Money”. “I’m the only dope boy quotable,” Push raps before unveiling two of his funniest bars ever: “Mommy tryna land a Sinatra/ So she don’t fuck niggas with Apple watches.” Yeezy’s beat is one of his weirdest ever, starting out with guitar stabs that, at least texturally, bring to mind his and Jay Z’s “Otis”. There’s also a sheet of psychedelic noises that sounds like it was grafted onto that base, and while it’s an odd juxtaposition, Push has long since shown that he can rap over anything. –Michael Madden

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