Valerie June, Pushin’ Against a Stone
It’s hard not to fall in love with Valerie June’s music. The multi-instrumentalist—who plays the guitar, banjo and ukulele—has a nasally voice that’s haunting and full of palpable emotion. The Tennessee native has mainly released EPs funded by herself and Kickstarter in the past. She’s now teamed up with Concord Records to release a full-length album, Pushin Against a Stone. June’s sound can best be described as a blues-gospel-rock-bluegrass mash-up. Although June is relatively young, her songs seem to come from the old soul of a woman who’s lived many lives, as she muses on everything from womanhood to love.
Krayzie Bone ft. Pozition, “The Future”
The Cleveland rap vet (of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony fame) offers us a reflective piece about the sate of hip-hop, which he feels isn’t too good. In his signature rapid-fire tongue, he raps, “Everybody asks what happened to conscious rap and I simply tell them the money and power/MCs have been silenced by the dollar/So with the struggle they don’t want to be bothered/Emergency, the game’s unresponsive/Turn on the radio you’re listening to garbage.” The beat is so mellow you almost overlook the harsh realities being lamented, but his message is on point: the game does need some balance back. Not everything has to be super-negative, so if you’re looking for a change of pace, then this song is for you.
Big Sean ft. Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica, "Control"
This song will go down in history as "Kendrick Lamar ft. Jay Electronica," or perhaps as a solo record. The Maad City MC snatched the wig of almost all of his peers in a verse that completely destroyed the rapper the song actually belonged to. Appointing himself the "King of New York," Cali and all lands in between, Kendrick threw down the gauntlet: "I'm usually homeboys with the same n----s I'm rhymin' wit'/But this is hip-hop and them n----s should know what time it is/And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Wale, Pusha T, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Drake Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller/I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you n----s/Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you n----s." WELP.
Andra Day ft. Ziggy Marley, “Coolin’ in the Streets”
The San Diego native swiftly became a hit on YouTube by covering popular songs like Amy Winehouse’s “He Can Only Hold Her” and a mash up of Biggie Smalls’ and Marvin Gaye’s “Big Poppa”/”Let’s Get It On.” Today, the Warner Bros./Buskin signee is doing her own thing in preparation of her forthcoming debut album. Her first single finds her teamed up with Ziggy Marley for a breezy feel-good pop tune with reggae tendencies. It’s the perfect summertime anthem that also happens to be the official song for Bud Light’s Bud Light Lime campaign.
Starrene Rhett Rocque is a pop culture junky who often 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 love. Follow her on Twitter@GangStarrGirl.