2016: Third Quarter Favorites 22 picks from the last three months

This feature is made possible by MusicRogue, a music app that swaps out crappy on-hold music with your favorite songs. Your Music + Your Choice + Your Call. Download MusicRogue from the App Store and blow those on-hold blues away. [What is this?]

For each year's first three quarters, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter features are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series



Princess Nokia

1992

[Self-Released]


Spanish-Harlem raised. Done stepping up. Remaining zoned-in and culturally LAWLZ. Not exactly keeping it “DRAGONS,” but just about. Princess Nokia (a.k.a. Destiny Frasqueri, f.k.a. Wavy Spice) keeps a strong-feminine presence without fabricating heterosexism or gripping nuts in your face to demand alpha dominance in 1992. There’s no screaming like in some Beyoncé/Adele/Lady Gaga joint. Nothing past the “chill point” that Katie Got Bandz, JunglePussy, or Sasha Go Hard try to push. Princess Nokia is a firm cross between Sade, Janet Jackson, and Angel Haze. Like, if “Tomboy” doesn’t make you feel fem-sexy (whether the listener is male or female), move on to “Mine;” if the EP’s title 1992 doesn’t lyrically unfold into a kaleidoscope of nostalgic signifiers, if the front cover don’t get you wearing XXL long sleeves this Autumn, if you only gotta worry about how they‘re moving, anything below your hips is a complete GREY-area while blaring Princess Nokia because life is forever happening. Princess Nokia gives hope to the future of dehydrated MCs, so pay close attention to reality.



serpentwithfeet

blisters

[Tri Angle]


serpentwithfeet: the name of the project itself is allusive enough, drawing on a plurality of meaning — evolution, original sin, self-acceptance, sex as a slimy, holy communion, etc. blisters is less scored than strung up, reminiscent of sadomasochistic liaisons, the soundtracks for Sirkian melodramas, and strange fruit swaying in the breeze. Just the same, Josiah Wise’s method is florid and ripe, bruised and bruising. “How can I touch somebody who won’t even touch themselves?” he asks on his debut EP’s centerpiece, Jacob and the angel wrestling within, etiologic forces winnowing away the distractions of the modern world, until only the most elemental truths remain, a clean-chiseled tablet excavated from under eons of dirt, diary entries cut and arranged into a perfect chapbook of poems, a symbolic narrative that dresses itself up in the arcane and unknowable, and yet stands, unmistakably, as a totemic reminder of birthrights given and rescinded, and of the distances we Canaanites have travelled in exile and on the long roads back home.



Valerio Tricoli

Clonic Earth

[PAN]


Valerio Tricoli has amassed one of the most frightening discographies in contemporary music. Each of his albums contain something like 20 genuinely uncanny “is the void in my speakers” moments. 2014s Miseri Lares brought us again and again to that place — groaning doors, knocks, unknown tongues, whispers — all hurtled our way, whipped deep into our psyches with the intense, achy clatter of his signature Revox tape-looping technique. If Lares was a turn inward, a pathological scrutiny of Tricoli’s and our own deeply embedded fears and anxieties, then Clonic Earth, this behemoth of a record, is the glaring, crackling vision of all outside, our sight cataract over with a foggy, knowing patina of existential dread. It’s an undistillable polyphony of voices, myths, ideologies, beings; it sounds like something living, a real other-world. There’s something else uncanny, though, in how easy it is to take; there’s something sweet, shiny. Maybe it’s Bill Kouligas’s progressively slicker, smarter, and winkingly digestible cover design. Or maybe it has something to do with the thrilling, chilling, flash-bang-boom blockbuster mastery this thoroughly experimental, enormously honest artist has over composition and sound itself.



YG

Still Brazy

[Def Jam]


Post-hyphy’s national radio rise circa “Tell Me When To Go,” West Coast rap has dug its roots further south, away from the Bay Area and back to L.A. And now, in 2016, the roots have been set for a minute, and there’s a circle of rappers hanging around the canopy. When placed alongside untitled unmastered, Blank Face, and Prima Donna, Still Brazy comes from a different, historically concrete place. Like Young M.A. making “real” New York music with New York help, YG is making music synonymous with Los Angeles, specifically Compton, doing it with artists in arm’s reach physically (Slim 400, Nipsey Hussle) and in the industry (Lil Wayne, Drake, who both stick out like a Midwest cold sore). With West Coast walk-nice drive-slow funk, direct-line analog synth creeps, and swirls like it’s 1992, Still Brazy is an IV bag of bool, balm, bonfidence.



Young Thug

Jeffery

[Atlantic/300 Entertainment]


Something about Young Thug saying there’s “no such thing as gender” maybe hinted at it (not to mention allegations that he was, in fact, changing his name to “No, My Name is Jeffery”), but I don’t think anyone was fully prepared for the drop of one of Young Thug’s wildest, most ambitious tapes of his career. Beyond looking like the most insane Tekken showdown of the new millennium, the mixtape again proves that Young Thug can turn any beat into a classic, a hydrodynamic form within the holding space around him. He’s like water in that way: formless, shapeless, spitting every line with an eternally unpredictable flow. “RiRi” and “Future Swag” are Thug at his radio finest, with trap hooks as tight as anything from his career so far, while bonus-track ender “Pick Up the Phone,” perhaps a bit polished next to cuts with dead gorillas for names, still shows Jeffery having fun with it.


For each year's first three quarters, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter features are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series



This feature is made possible by MusicRogue, a music app that swaps out crappy on-hold music with your favorite songs. Your Music + Your Choice + Your Call. Download MusicRogue from the App Store and blow those on-hold blues away. [What is this?]

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