Now more than ever, new music releases have the potential to uplift and spread positivity as people across the world practice social distancing and stay indoors. Luckily, this week brought so many notable new selections that it almost overshadowed the ongoing concert and festival closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic. On the latest installment of Best New Tracks, HYPEBEAST focuses on the long-awaited return of The Weeknd after some 1,200 days with his fourth studio project After Hours. Colombian reggaeton superstar J Balvin also returned with a splash of vibrance with a dozen new tracks for Colores. Other notable selections include the return of TOKiMONSTA for memorable another full-length, stunning new visuals for two of Mac Miller‘s Circles (Deluxe Edition) tracks and more. Follow HYPEBEAST’s 10 essential listens below.
The Weeknd – After Hours
The Weeknd took three years, three months and 23 days in between his critically acclaimed Starboy and today’s After Hours, and it was all worth the wait. The sonic descent into madness, or as the artist himself calls it, his “brain-melting psychotic chapter” started with a series of episodic music videos that found The Weeknd bloody and battered. Standouts like “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights” introduced audiences to his new aesthetic, but the sonics here expand his sound too thanks to collaborations with Oneohtrix Point Never (who he connected with through Uncut Gems), the mastermind behind Tame Impala in Kevin Parker and and old standby in Metro Boomin. He dazzles with slow and minimal offerings like the first two tracks in “Too Late” and “Hardest To Love” while finding his groove over 80s-inspired synths for “Save Your Tears.” He switches between experimentation with his pop sensibilities for a record that hangs in the balance, and is one that you’ll hear on repeat for the remainder of the year.
J Balvin – Colores
He’s already six records into his career and yet it seems like J Balvin‘s momentum is just getting started. The GRAMMY nominee’s Colores is his first solo effort since 2018’s Vibras and follows last year’s Bad Bunny collaboration in Oasis. Colores finds the international superstar play with the perception and emotion behind different shades, carefully crafting themes with each color-inspired track. He says that the idea came to him when he thought, “‘Why not name each song after a color?’ Each person will have their own perception of each color [in] the album. Maybe they can close their eyes and [‘Rojo’] isn’t red to them, but blue.” He worked closely with legendary artist Takashi Murakami on the visuals leading up to his latest visual for “Amarillo.”
Mac Miller – “Right”
Mac Miller‘s estate released two new tracks for his Circles (Deluxe Edition) in “Right” and “Floating”, each serving as a bittersweet reminder of how much the GRAMMY nominated artist had left to offer the world with his music and spirit. “Right” stands out for the Thundercat collaboration and Mac’s self-aware, lovelorn lyrics. “Three years ago I was so dumb/ Clueless, young and stupid but look at who I have become/ I ain’t gonna break your heart, promise it’s always safe/ Baby, don’t go now, pull me closer.” Both tracks are set to release on an upcoming vinyl release due out later this year.
Rico Nasty – “Lightning”
There aren’t too many artists in the hip-hop landscape that can maneuver with the amount of independence that Rico Nasty currently does. Her latest effort, “Lightning” follows some passionate verses on Memphis rapper Jucee Froot’s “Psycho” Remix and 100 gec’s “Ringtone” Remix. The music video also stands in stark contrast to the light, falsetto mantra that Rico released at the top of the year in “IDGAF”. As she builds toward her upcoming Nightmare Vacation LP, it’s great to see one-offs and surprise releases as hard-hitting as this one, especially when she hangs out of a Tesla clad in all purple BAPE camo.
dvsn – “Between Us” feat. Snoh Aalegra
What a time to be in the small circle of world-famous, somewhat-distant R&B acts from Canada. First The Weeknd drops, then PARTYNEXTDOOR has something in the works, and now mysterious OVO duo dvsn has announced their new project, A Muse In Her Feelings will release on April 17. For their latest offering, they’ve enlisted Snoh Aalegra for “Between Us”, a nostalgic single turning back the clocks to the golden era of 1990s R&B with the help of Usher’s “Nice & Slow” serving as the main sample. “The whole idea behind dvsn is, we’re going to give you the unexpected,” Daniel Daley of dvsn said in a statement. Get excited for what’s to come.
Thundercat – “Fair Chance” feat. Lil B & Ty Dolla $ign
Thundercat finally got The Based God to team up with his self-proclaimed Bass God status, but who would’ve expected it to result in such an overwhelming emotional display? Collaborator Ty Dolla $ign opened up the track with a heartfelt verse about loss. “This song is about Mac,” Thundercat said in a press statement. “When he passed it shook the ground for the artist community. Ty Dolla $ign’s a strong dude and when he heard the song he knew exactly what it should be.” Lil B surprises and delights with his half-singing half-rapping feature, “Give me a sip of that potion/ No my heart is not broken/ But I feel like it’s open/ Please somebody do surgery/ Tell the doctor come work with me.” Thundercat’s It Is What It Is releases April 3 via Brainfeeder.
TOKiMONSTA – Oasis Nocturno
GRAMMY nominated producer extraordinaire TOKiMONSTA has finally returned after a prolonged absence following 2017’s Luna Rouge. Her latest full-length LP, Oasis Nocturno, introduces 12 new tracks meant to uplift, wow and inspire. She delivered “Renter’s Anthem”, a bright dance number to help lift everyone’s spirits earlier this week. Earlier this year, TOKi teamed up with EARTHGANG for “Fried for the Night” and paid tribute to her Korean heritage alongside Bibi Bourelly and Jean Deaux for “One Day”. TOKiMONSTA floats through genres, welcoming hip-hop, electronic, R&B and jazz into her world. Her production is as on point as ever, and her collaborators make sure to bring their A-game as well.
JPEGMAFIA – “Covered In Monday”
JPEGMAFIA‘s 2020 has been defined by quick-hitting self-released singles and an ambitious documentary series where he opens up to friends and fellow musicians about tour life, politics and even covers Mariah Carey and Carly Rae Jepsen. After lecturing at Cambridge, Peggy returns with his new music video, “Covered In Money”. There’s a beat switch you need to hear around the 2:30 mark, and it’s full of confidence, balancing measured aggression and idealism. “Best believe little b*tch that Peggy gon’ change/ Ya’ll better pray I stay in my lane/ Never switch my ideals/ Or position or fame,” he raps. He also pays tribute to Bernie Mac for good measure.
Navy Blue – “Simultaneously Bleeding”
You may know Sage Elsesser, but if you don’t know his rap pseudonym Navy Blue, it’s time to get acquainted. He dropped his a new collection of 11 tracks in Àdá Irin at the top of the year following his “Higher Self” visual. Now he returns with the minimalist, black and white video for “Simultaneously Bleeding”, directed by Ryosuke Tanzawa. Warped keys create an hypnotic backing track while miniature wooden manikins are frozen, trapped in melting ice. Watch the video above and stream his first full-length body of work below.
Tambino – “El Amanecer”
Introducing Tambino. The Peruvian-born, New York City-based artist released his latest track “El Amanecer” earlier this week. It translates to “The Dawn” in English and sees the artist champion what he calls his “cumbiagaze” sound reminiscent of the 1990s movement Tecnocumbia. “El Amanecer is about a hazy moment in the late night/early morning, walking the empty streets with your partner or friend and hearing reggaeton beats echoing in the distance,” he said in a statement. “It’s a song about feeling disconnected even though you’re in the middle of it all.” His upcoming EP TAMBINO releases April 7.