New Music Friday: Spotify Editors Pick Schoolboy Q, The Naked and Famous & More
Every week, Spotify updates their "New Music Friday" playlist, featuring 50 of the freshest new tracks hitting the service that week.
On the heels of Billboard’s partnership with the streaming giant, we’ll be tapping Spotify’s editors each week to sift through the soon-to-be-hits and highlight the best of the bunch.
Check out the picks and listen to the entire “New Music Friday” playlist below.
Schoolboy Q – “Dope Dealer (feat. E-40)”
ScHoolboy Q sets his highly anticipated Blank Face LP free today (July 8). While such occasions are normally met with feelings of accomplished happiness, the 29-year-old L.A.-based rapper is understandably conflicted in even allowing himself to feel good about his art, as his release date coincides with an especially dark week for our nation. Q continues to be one of countless members of the hip-hop community actively using his platform to share urgent messages of solidarity, heartache and frustration in response to the execution-style killings of Alton Sherling and Philando Castile, both of whom passed away this week at the hands of police officers, during separate altercations occurring within 48 hours of each other. As the ongoing outrage and outcries continue, ScHoolboy Q’s 17-track project serves as a small but important beacon of hope, with the emcee being celebrated once more for his reputed honesty and innovation. On a beat co-produced by Metro Boomin and 808 Mafia’s Southside, Q recruits veteran rapper E-40 for “Dope Dealer,” a refreshingly raw track that discusses elements of what the title suggests, while maintaining an overall West Coast coolness Q has been cultivating since the start of his career.
Biffy Clyro – “Howl”
Scottish alternative rock band Biffy Clyro is celebrating the release of their seventh studio album, Ellipsis, available today (July 8) worldwide. The seasoned musicians are currently amid a lengthy tour run to promote and celebrate their latest full-length, which was recorded over the course of the past two years, signifying the enviable fact the group was able to take their time to record the music best aligned with their creative aspirations. The three-piece has proudly stated that the project is “the best record [they’ve] made,” citing the likes of A$AP Rocky and filmmaker John Waters as creative influences helping shape a new direction for their music. “Howl” is one of the more pop-leaning offerings featured on the 13-track album, and its evident all three enjoyed divvying up the vocal duties between themselves in a playful manner, belting over a safe-but-sound base of guitars and drums. Welcome back, guys.
Steve James – “In My Head (feat. RKCB)”
With “In My Head,” Steve James finds his rightful place in this week’s New Music Friday playlist. His new single showcases his passion to craft beautiful music that is equal parts alluring and welcoming, as well as danceable and dreamy. Sharing his latest offering by way of Spotify, the 18-year-old producer is further flexing his talents with a confidence that precedes his age. Perhaps recently collaborating with Justin Bieber helped to reconfirm his Purpose as a career musician, but with each release, James is subtly proving his organic ability to make wise decisions that play up his strengths as a well-rounded producer. As he builds multilayered soundscapes, sprinkled with soft piano notes and synths alike, the production perfectly syncs with the vocal talents of Los Angeles-based duo, RKCB, making the collaborative track a pleasant, laid-back success.
The Naked and Famous – “Higher”
The Naked and Famous happily interrupts their current non-stop tour schedule to release “Higher,” the first single off of their upcoming album, Simple Forms, due out later this fall. The Auckland-bred Los Angeles-based 5-piece has been through, what lead vocalist Alisa Xayalith describes as “a lot of life,” in the past two years, giving the track an unavoidable autobiographical nature in its lyricism, regardless of whether or not that was their initial intention. Xayalith and guitarist/vocalist/producer Thom Powers nurtured a romantic relationship spanning eight years (essentially the same duration of the group’s existence thus far) and amidst their hiatus from touring in 2014, the couple experienced a breakup that almost buried their music in turn. The group’s latest single is a self-proclaimed testament that they are stronger for what they have gone through together, with its spellbinding lyrics proudly declaring a new chapter, and most importantly, a welcomed one.
Francis And The Lights - “Friends (feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West)”
Francis and the Lights, led by Francis Farewell Starlite, has recruited an impressive roster to help mold their latest track “Friends.” The song features Bon Iver and Kanye West alike, with writing and production assistance from former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij, as well as BJ Burton, Aaron Lammer, Ariel Rechtshaid, Cashmere Cat, and Benny Blanco. While the star-studded track was crafted by a generous handful of the industry’s brightest, the song manages to inhabit a simple and minimal space, gradually building with Starlite in the conductor’s chair. The vocals soothingly blend and weave together over a beautifully orchestrated composition, which was also sampled on Chance The Rapper’s “Summer Friends” earlier this summer. In a music video directed by Jake Schreier, West opens up the visual bopping along pensively, while Starlite and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon wander around an empty set and eventually do an oddly enjoyable and strange dance routine together. All in all, the track and visual alike make for an interesting and engaging group effort, destined to help soundtrack this summer.