Lana Del Rey, Zoë Kravitz, & Kendrick Lamar: The New Music You Need To Hear This Week

After my first job MTV working as a music programmer, I can't stop trying to matchmake people with music they might like. So, I wrote a book called Record Collecting for Girls and started interviewing musicians. The Music Concierge is a column where I share music I'm listening to that you might enjoy, with a little context. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or leave me a comment below and tell me what you're listening to this week.
BØRNS feat. Lana Del Rey "God Save Our Young Blood"
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If you ask me what's good this week, the first thing I'm gonna say is this BØRNS track with Lana Del Rey, which is 99.9% up my alley. It was inevitable that these two would team up, they're like two sides of the same West Coast-obsessed coin. Though she's only a feature on the track, this seems to be written for Lana. Lyrically, it invokes youth, religion, and puts dark visions of blood into your mind all at once — practically a trifecta of her hot topics. But since it's a BØRNS track the explicit sexuality is missing, in favour of illusions to wild nights and spinning rather than overtly (or even metaphorically) talking about drug use. Where Lana likes a Lolita-esque take on innocent sexuality in her songs, BØRNS prefers romanticism. More interesting than the lyrical interplay telling the story of a couple on an adventure is what Del Rey does for BØRNS' voice; her monotone, lower register seems to give him permission to not only hit the high notes he's known for but to let his voice dance in the melody in a more animated manner than usual (note it in the second verse, as well as the final bridge). BØRNS has, from the start of his career, eschewed gender-norms about what music by a man should sound like or concern itself with, but in this track with Del Rey as his foil, he also manages to play with gender roles using their voices. It's a gorgeous twist on California dreaming.
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Lolawolf "Baby I'm Dyin"
The soft and slow side of trip hop will live on if Zoë Kravitz has anything to say about it. Her new track with Jimmy Giannopoulos, who produced it with an assist from Bekon (Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre), goes so far as to incorporate some baritone sax ( a la Morphine if that helps you place why it feels familiar) with Kravitz's droning chant of "home, home" lulling us into a sense of calm determination. There are hints of Portishead and Morcheeba here too, all combining to create a lush, dreamy song that feels like the glow you get in a drunken haze at the end of the night. The band is teasing a new album in 2018, it will be interesting to see what else is up their sleeves.
Camp Cope "The Opener"
And now for something completely different: Australian band Camp Cope has become my obsession with their brutally honest and real as fuck take on being women in a band/women in music. When singer Maq snarls the lines, "It's another straight cis man who knows more about this than me...It's another man telling us to book a smaller venue," what you, the listener, have to know is that this happens to women musicians constantly. Rock is still considered a male space. Breaking into it for bands like Camp Cope is a political act — so lend them your support.
Kendrick Lamar feat. SZA "All the Stars"
Lamar and SZA teaming up is a dream come true, but having it happen for the Black Panther soundtrack is about as poetic as it gets. In a word, this song is defiant. The beat is the sound of a ticking clock, counting down the moments until change comes. Lamar delivers a fuck you to privilege and conversations that exclude POC, while SZA croons a chorus of longing for something better that tells us that there is still hope. Lamar uses phrases that invoke the feeling of the song ("haunt you," "running out of time," "hoped for ya") that cleverly mirror the music, reinforcing what it wants to make us feel and taking the edge off some of his harder moments. This one's got layers.
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Olden Yolk "Takes One to Know One"
There is something creepy about this track. Maybe it's the duelling vocal chanting, maybe it's the sitar, maybe it's the staccato percussion, maybe it's the way they recast things with a known meaning to have a different meaning (including the phrase that is used for the song's title). It's captivating but unsettling. It's a song that the band describes as being about finding beauty and solace in everyday life during highly disturbing times — and the backdrop is what makes it so unsettling? I truly can't put my finger on it, but I also can't stop listening to it.
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