Alicia Keys

Alicia + Kendrick + Pharrell = can't lose

Alicia Keys ft. Kendrick Lamar, “It’s On Again”

Alicia Keys and Kendrick Lamar teamed up for this tune from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 soundtrack. The Pharrell-produced track is driven by a rock-inspired guitar in the beginning, as Kendrick’s gruff opening verse taps into his Black Hippy alter ego. The music switches up to more of a pop sensibility as Alicia Keys sings an inspirational tune about overcoming challenges in on again/off again battles. This is the perfect theme music for Spidey’s adventures throughout NYC. The single is available today. The soundtrack comes out on April 22, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits theaters on May 2.

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Erica Campbell, Help

After months of anticipation, Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell has finally released her solo debut album, Help. Her music is still the uplifting gospel that fans have come to love, with Erica’s powerful voice leading the charge. And while this project qualifies as contemporary gospel, there seem to be more nods to her down-home, shout-inducing traditional gospel roots (see “The Questions,” “A Little More Jesus” and “Looking Like”), with a little bit of blues infusion.

Available at iTunes.

SZA ft. Chance the Rapper, “Child’s Play”  

We’ve been getting a good earful of Top Dawg Entertainment’s SZA lately, and have heard enough to know that her debut album, Z (set for April 8), sounds promising. On her latest track, “Child’s Play,” she sings about the past in her signature lazy-breathy mid-range voice. Chance the Rapper brings unique energy to the song, with a crafty verse that seems to channel André 3000. “Keys open doors when them keys are albino/Now knock on my door when my stars is align-o/I’ve been finishing for a minute for a minnow/Only I know that a pawn is a trade/And a rookie for a castle like tuition for a final,” he emcees.

Ezzy Anya, Dream

Ezzy Anya is exploring life as a solo singer after years of singing backup for artists like Kelis. The UK-based singer now offers us her debut EP, Dream, which blends ’90s R&B to the tune of her influences (like Sevyn Streeter, but also Aaliyah). Dream is a nice collection of contemporary love songs covering the gamut of emotions from falling in love to heartbreak.

Freeway and Girl Talk ft. Waka Flocka, “Tolerated”

Freeway and sample aficionado Girl Talk are preparing to release their latest project, Broken Ankles, next week. Freeway lends his gruff signature voice to rapping about how he’s tired of dealing with BS from other rappers so he’s out to seek and destroy. In the case of the complementary video, he and Girl Talk can’t seem to walk down the street without brawling and ripping off a few limbs or two. It’s really campy in a cartoonish video-gamey kind of way, which makes it great. Props to director Allen Cordell, Girl Talk, Freeway and Waka Flocka for a job well done on the song and the visuals.

Starrene Rhett Rocque fantasizes about becoming a shotgun toting B-movie heroine, and aspires to save the world from the impending #ZombieApocolypse… In reality she’s a freelance entertainment journalist/blogger who muses about music, TV, movies and fitness. Follow her on Twitter @GangStarrGirl or at GangStarrGirl.com.