Three new tracks to get lifted to, including a burst of rap from Janelle Monáe.
Janelle Monáe – Django Jane
Every year, the Grammys take a break from odd mashups and ballads to throw a bone to the youth. In 2011, that took the shape of a medley, with Bruno Mars, B.o.B., and Janelle Monáe putting on a memorable eight-minute, high energy performance of their early hits. The Grammy’s went two-for-three on this prediction, with Bruno Mars coming back year over year to collect his hardware and Monáe expanding her career in multiple directions. Since then, she’s been a singer, an on-stage painter, an award-worthy actress (she was incredible in Moonlight), and now — on new single “Django Jane” — a rapper.
The third single from her upcoming album, “Django Jane” is an exercise in confidence similar to the first. While “Make Me Feel” took her funk-inspired sound and exploded it to Prince-sized nostalgia, this is confidence in direction, not form. Monáe raps through the entire length of the track, putting together lines like “Jane Bond, never Jane Doe / And I Django, never Sambo”. It feels weird at first, but there’s so much conviction you can’t help but fall for it.
CHVRCHES – My Enemy (feat. Matt Berninger)
Throw this one in the category of “intriguing by title alone”. CHVRCHES, a synth pop group, and Matt Berninger, the lead singer of indie staple The National, are an extremely odd pairing on paper. Giving the benefit of the doubt after CHVRCHES excellent single “Get Out”, though, this song is similarly tight. Over an extremely slick, moody beat, Berninger and Lauren Mayberry trade verses and the chorus seamlessly — the trademark low key cadence of The National make Mayberry’s highs that much more punchy. It seems like CHVRCHES are operating with a new level of confidence, especially with their production, and it’s turned into some of their best tracks.
A.A.L (Against All Logic) – I Never Dream
Nicolas Jaar is a savant. For years, he’s walked the thin line between avant garde and deep house, adding classical chops to the world of dance music with incredible returns. I often return to his 2011 Essential Mix for writing and long car rides, the sheer genius of blending genres and spoken word is — and I know this word is used lightly a lot — transformative.
Jaar, though, has applied high intellect to his music and demanded his listeners work for payoff in the past. With the release of 2012 – 2017 this week, under the alias A.A.L (Against All Logic), though, he’s turned that genius into a more straightforward brand of dance music: disco house. “I Never Dream” is the best song on that album, and siphons the talent of Jaar into a swirling dance track built on vocal samples and a DJ Koze-style break beat. It’s a must-listen.