Cold weather getting to you? Not to worry, the music world has been heating up big time in the past week. The friendly folks at Scene put together the tracks that you can’t miss this week. Check out these fire tracks and find some new jams for your regular rotation.
“Dat Side (ft. Kanye West)” – CyHi The Prynce
By Adam Ramos, Scene Editor
New Ye alert! Well, a feature at least. The brand new single, “Dat Side,” finds hip-hop’s greatest provocateur rapping alongside fellow G.O.O.D music labelmate, CyHi The Prynce. The two formerly collaborated on the track “So Appalled” off of Kanye’s 2010 effort “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” A lot has changed in seven years, particularly in terms of production. The track is the second to be released off of CyHi The Prynce’s upcoming debut studio album, “No Dope On Sundays.”
“Dat Side” opens with an eerie piano before a trap drum beat ups the sinister ambiance. “All the haters stand on that side” CyHi orders in the first line, mirroring the viscous simplisticity of today’s popular hip-hop acts a la Migos and Rae Sremmurd. From there, CyHi delivers a pretty interesting verse but ultimately proves that he shot himself in the foot by asking his boss to lend a verse to the track, as Kanye almost unequivocally outshines him.
Showcasing his versatility as a rapper, Kanye mixes his signature candor and innovative wordplay with the now dominant delivery among top-40 rappers on lines like “Moved into a neighborhood where I’m the only black guy / Neighbors said they think I gave the neighborhood a black eye.” Yeah, Ye is back.
“Heart Full of Scars” – Rebecca Black
By Adrian Mark Lore, Associate Scene Editor
Remember eighth grade? That’s really all that needs to be asked in order to conjure up the hormonal chaos of life’s awkward intervening years. Good thing most of us only have embarrassing yearbook photos and other unfortunate mementos to remember them by. But what if your pre-pubescent persona had become one of the most iconic memes since “The Hampsterdance Song,” forever crystallized in the annals of YouTube history? That’s more or less what happened to Rebecca Black, and it gives you a sense of why she titled her latest single “Heart Full of Scars” — wouldn’t you be scarred, too?
“Heart Full of Scars” is taken from Black’s first extended effort, her debut “RE / BL” EP. The hope-filled single is an appropriate soundtrack to Black’s phoenix-like resurrection from the ashes of timeless internet memes. The track makes no mention of 2011’s earth-shattering “Friday,” but the lyricism is clearly informed by the personal trauma of sudden international infamy. “Sometimes you bleed / for who you are,” she sings, exuding the stunning confidence of established pop icons. But the track is a wonderfully defiant personal statement; it’s powerful, like witnessing someone’s emotional transformation in real time. “I’ll keep loving with a heart full of scars,” she sings; swallowed by optimistic synths, the lyric sounds more like “a heart full of stars.”
“Lemon” – N.E.R.D. & Rihanna
By Matthew Munhall, Scene Writer
Rihanna’s greatest skill as a pop star is her versatility. Over the past decade, she’s racked up 14 number-one hits — more than any artist besides Mariah Carey and the Beatles — thanks to her effortless genre-hopping. Her last album alone, 2016’s “Anti,” found her moving between neo-soul, trap, dancehall, psych rock and doo-wop with ease.
It should be no surprise, then, that Rihanna is also a great rapper. She held her own against Kendrick Lamar on “Loyalty,” bringing a casual swagger to her verses and bragging, “I’m established / Hundred carats on my name / Run the atlas, I’m a natural, I’m alright.”
Rihanna’s verse is, by far, the highlight of “Lemon,” the new single from N.E.R.D. It’s the first new music from the group — made up of Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley — since 2010. Sonically, the sparse production resembles Williams and Hugo’s work as the Neptunes in the early aughts, like “Grindin’” and “Hot in Herre.” There’s not much to say about Pharrell as a rapper. Rihanna, however, sounds like she’s having so much fun, dropping bars like “You can catch me, Rih, in the new La Ferrar.” Bad Girl RiRi runs the atlas once again.
“Get Out of Your Own Way” – U2
By Owen Lane, Scene Writer
Earlier this year, on Kendrick Lamar’s debut “DAMN.,” K-Dot teamed up with Irish stadium rock legends U2 on the tour-de-force track “XXX.” Bono’s voice was ideal for the role he played on “XXX.,” acting as a soothing, contemplative respite from the magnificent fury Lamar displays in the song’s middle third. U2’s latest track is a remarkably catchy feel-good anthem that features the world’s greatest rapper in an unconventional preaching role.
If you has consigned U2 to the role of burnt out ’80s rockers that have lost their creative edge, this song may not change your mind. Bono stills sings vague, grandiose lyrics and the band is not breaking down borders. However, it is still worth a listen. Besides a short, unremarkable solo, The Edge’s reverberating guitar is mostly subdued beneath a prominent bassline that carries the song’s infectious energy. Lamar’s guest spot on “Get Out of Your Own Way” is at least as subdued as U2’s guest spot on “XXX.” He merely intervenes at the song’s end to contribute wisdom that could only be described as “The Rock Star’s Beatitudes.”
Featuring the world’s greatest rap star on a song and only having him speak is a unique decision that mostly pays off here. Kendrick nicely bookends a song that, although a little saccharine, is still a worthwhile piece of catchy stadium rock.