The-Dream, IV Play

The-Dream has long proven himself to be a versatile singer/songwriter, especially when he’s lending his writing talents to others. But when it comes to his personal music, you can pretty much expect edgy and raw. Enter IV Play, which just dropped today. Anyone familiar with The-Dream’s last few albums will be getting more of the same sophisti-ratchet R&B that they’ve come to appreciate. The-Dream often channels many of his favorite musicians—from Prince to Michael Jackson—but there’s also something very “12 Play R. Kelly meets Jodeci 2013” about IV Play, and I can dig it.   

Available where music is sold.

Concha Buika, La Noche Más Larga

Buika’s La Noche Más Larga is a complete 180 from The-Dream. Let’s backtrack a bit. Spanish (as in actually from Spain) singer Concha Buika made her debut in 2005 and enthralled fans with her husky voice and a dark melodic sound inspired by jazz (Buika’s sound has drawn comparisons to Billie Holiday and Abby Lincoln, although she sings in Spanish), flamenco and her Moorish roots. Since then, Buika has toured the world and continued capturing audiences across various language barriers, because her music’s beautiful and the emotion is palpable.

La Noche Más Larga (which translates to “another long night” if I’m remembering my Spanish correctly) continues the Buika tradition fans have grown to love. But if you’re unfamiliar with Buika’s music and appreciate artistry regardless of genre, then your ears will be delighted. La Noche Más Larga is available in stores on June 4.

Listen here.

Malik 16, “College Girls”

Malik 16’s producer Mr. Anderson laced him with a track that was definitely inspired by an HBCU marching band. As a result, the Harlem MC—who is also a Howard University alumnus—spit a few bars as an ode to smarty-arty co-eds. “I feel like I know, know you I do/You look like you used to go, go to my school/And I know you got the dopest IQ/Tell me where I should enroll besides you,” raps Malik in a playful shout-out to fly intelligent women pursuing higher education all across the country.

Available here.

Thundercat, Apocalypse

Some may be familiar with Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner’s work from his stint in Suicidal Tendencies, collabos with Sa-Ra, Erykah Badu, or as Flying Lotus’s protégé. But come June 4, the singer/songwriter/bassist stands alone once again with Apocalypse, the follow-up to 2011’s The Golden Age of Apocalypse.

Sonically, Brunner taps into what’s come to be described as “astral soul music.” It’s experimental, funky and just refreshingly cool, even when he’s singing about something as commonplace as love. You really just need to hear it for yourself, but it’s just in time for the summer.

Listen here.

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.