Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, “Retreat”

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are back with a vengeance—seriously. “Retreat,” with its horn-heavy melody, is all about coming to get you! Jones soulfully sings on the hook, “Retreat yeah, retreat/Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned/Retreat retreat, I’ll make you wish that you were never ever born.” It’s the funky musical version of telling someone that you’re not the one. “Retreat” is a track from their forthcoming album, Give the People What They Want, scheduled for August 6. If you pre-order the album on iTunes now, you can get the track right away.

Listen here.

Likwuid, “Circle of Life”

Likwuid is dope because she can rap circles around most of everyone’s favorite rappers. But she also has a good ear for beats and melodies, so her songs always flow (no pun intended) and make for good iPod material. The latest from the NYC-via-North Carolina lyricist is “Circle of Life,” a hardcore offering produced by 2 Hungry Bros, where she offers social commentary about matters everyone can relate to: like the daily grind, low self-esteem, man-children and daddy issues. “Circle of Life” is the newest single from Likwuid’s forthcoming album, LiKWUiDiTY, due for release summer 2013.

Listen to the song here.

Watch the Noisemaker Media-directed video here.   

Shanell, “I Wanna Sex You Up (Color Me Badd Cover)”

Shanell’s take on the Internet’s #ThrowBackThursdays is to remake old songs. Last week, the Young Money MC brought back the 1990s Color Me Badd classic “I Wanna Sex You Up,” and she doesn’t disappoint. Her sweet soprano voice adds extra sass that you didn’t even know was necessary. It’s cute, fun, and a great way for Shanell to keep our ears enticed until she releases her official debut album, scheduled for some time later this year.

Listen here.

Talib Kweli, Prisoner of Conscious

Talib Kweli has long been regarded as a conscious rapper, and we all know that record labels can be dangerous. This statement is underscored by said title of Kweli’s fifth solo album. In this instance, it’s not that he’s trying to shirk the responsibility that comes along with intelligent lyricism. But he’s pushing back against people’s often narrow-minded expectations (i.e., either dismissing his music as holier than thou and opting for more vapid radio friendly offerings, or criticizing him when he chooses to explore genres and/or collaborations that may be perceived as outside of his usual). In contesting the “conscious” label, he diversified his collaborations (think Curren$y, Nelly and Seu Jorge), and some of the sound is a bit more experimental (“Favela Love,” which isn’t too memorable), but he doesn’t stray too far. We still get the lyrical, socially conscious Kweli that we’ve become familiar with as well.

Available now.

Mae Day, Love and War All Ain’t Fair

Mae Day is a Detroit rhyme slinger who’s often been regarded as the second coming of MC Lyte. (MC Serch and Miss 10% Dis Herself have cosigned). Her latest project, Love and War All Ain’t Fair, has been out for a while, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that you need this in your life.

Mae Day’s music is expressive, ethereal at times, poetic and emotionally palpable. This isn’t surprising considering that one of her musical muses happens to be Sade, for whom Mae Day created a tribute mixtape in a unique twist of musical manipulation. Love and War All Ain’t Fair draws some of the same raw emotion from Mae Day’s Cherish the Day mixtape. The self-explanatory effort features Mae Day rhyming about various aspects of love, from loving oneself to yearning for that special someone. But the way she emcees is like listening to an audible movie. It’s hard to explain but amazing to hear.

The free download is available 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.