Lo-fi hip-hop, bedroom pop and more for your midterm stretch: your Press Play-list for the week of Oct. 12

Bart Carmody, Arts Editor

Whether you’re just starting, just ending or in the midst of your unorthodox midterms season during the remote school year, it’s safe to say that we can all cut out some time to relax. And what better way to do so by tuning into this week’s Press Play-List?

With an array of soothing tunes from rapper Father venturing into the genre of lo-fi hip-hop, to the smooth new single by up-and-coming R&B artist Q, we’ve got what you need to take your mind off the exams for a short while. Here’s your Press Play-list for the week of Oct. 12.

Machinedrum – “Spin Blocks” (feat. Father)

American electronic musician Travis Stewart, more commonly known as Machinedrum, is an artist of many names and many talents. Releasing music under several different aliases like Syndrome, tstewart and Neon Black, while dabbling in a multitude of different genres from electronic dance to hip-hop to glitch-hop, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when he’s on production, as he often has his hands in so many musical baskets. And his newest LP “A View of U” is no exception. With songs that impeccably mesh together booming, warped bass and wonderfully calming piano sequences, Machinedrum is as versatile as ever, while still experimenting with sounds that were previously untouched by his discography. Machinedrum isn’t the only artist experimenting on this long-awaited LP–Awful Records trap artist Father delivers a couple of unbelievably smooth verses and a catchy hook over a flute-centered lo-fi beat, a genre also previously untouched by the rapper. With other notable features from hip-hop legend Freddie Gibbs & Toronto R&B star Rochelle Jordan, “A View of U” is certainly worth a listen, whether you need to relax to some lo-fi hip-hop production or bang out some study sessions to some exhilarating glitch-hop.

Future Islands – “Born in a War”

Coming in with another long-awaited project are the synthpop icons “Future Islands” with their 2020 release, “As Long As You Are,” a beautifully melancholic record chock-full of firsts for the Baltimore collective. With lead singer Samuel T. Herring newly in love, “As Long As You Are” is full of gorgeous love ballads dedicated to Herring’s partner, and with today’s sociopolitical climate being an inspiration for many artists these days, Future Islands touch upon some political topics on here for the first time, as well. The song “Born In A War” specifically offers a profound narrative on the controversial issue of gun violence in America. Both verses of the song cunningly contrast one another; the first verse criticizes America’s current obsession with gun ownership and gun rights, while the second verse is from the viewpoint of someone who believes that gun ownership is a crucial part of “being a true American man.” And while this important topic is debated through song over some echoing, transcendent synthpop production, it’s most enjoyable when paired up with the song’s mind-blowing music video, which features grim images of gun violence, war and the monetization of it all through the depiction of kid’s cartoon-esque characters fighting a vicious battle. Between romantic numbers and the exploration of other topics such as racial issues and mental health, “As Long As You Are” is terribly brilliant from front to back.

Headie One – “Princess Cuts” (feat. Young T & Bugsey)

UK drill star Headie One has been on a roll for some time now, with a continuously impressive discography consisting of at least one release a year since 2017. Yet, as he was facing prison time in April and spending his first day out adjusting to the newly locked-down city of London, fans were anxious that this would tamper his streak of universally streamed drill and grime records. But evidently, this didn’t phase Headie One. With his first official LP released this past Oct. 9 entitled “EDNA,” it’s safe to say that his streak remains unbroken. The fourth promotional single from the album, “Princess Cuts,” features Nottingham hip-hop duo Young T & Bugsey, and the three breakout U.K. stars glide over some crisp dancehall-esque production. As Headie One delivers two party-worthy verses, Young T remarkably handles the hook with a suave delivery. And later on the track, Young T and Bugsey go bar-for-bar as an outro, perfectly wrapping up the track as a necessary banger for any drill function. It’s impressive that Headie One is clearly only getting started, as this album consists of reputable features from the likes of Skepta, Drake and Future, and we’re excited to see what the rapper is capable of next.

Junglepussy – “Main Attraction”

Iconic NYC rapper Junglepussy has fans waiting eagerly for her upcoming, aptly-titled fourth LP, “Jp4.” And while fans might have to wait until Oct. 23 until it’s release, she’s keeping us well-fed until then, especially with her most recent track, “Main Attraction.” The song, produced by Nick Hook and David Sitek, is slick, smooth and filled to the brim with Junglepussy’s trademark unblinking confidence. Lyrically, “Main Attraction” lives up to its name, as the singer/rapper charmingly carols throughout the hook about the attention that she deserves from her partner: “I want somebody who don’t like nobody/I want somebody who don’t like to party.” But a Junglepussy track isn’t complete without her usual flair for cleverness and unapologetic sexuality: “Pussy bezerk/I made him pay for all my merch.” If “Jp4” is anything like its lead singles “Main Attraction” and “Arugula,” then longtime fans are sure to be anything but disappointed.

Q – “Take Me Where Your Heart Is”

At only 21 years old, Florida-based R&B singer & multi-instrumentalist Q has secured quite the recognition early in his career. Following a recent Brockhampton co-sign, the artist’s newest single “Take Me Where Your Heart Is” has received a fair amount of attention–and rightfully so. The single is a tenderhearted melody taken right out of a romance flick, complete with Q belting in falsetto several proclamations of love. The track sweetly comes to a close with trippy, reverberating vocals from a pitched-down Q buried under a mind-blowing guitar solo placed so perfectly in the background. Be sure to not miss out on the music video as well, where Q and his date longingly dance to the groovy beat on the lanes of a bowling alley, draped in purple light, before cutting to a Big-Lebowski-esque bowling animation that’s sure to send the viewer on a trip.

Yola – “Hold On” (feat. Sheryl Crow, The Highwomen & Natalie Hemby)

In a time of hyperawareness towards systemic racism in the U.S., Americana singer/songwriter Yola has a voice that echoes strongly and sorely for those affected by or taking stand against these injustices. And her new incredibly soulful single “Hold On” is the perfect example. The track, proudly sporting the Black Lives Matter symbol on its cover, assembles a team of incredibly admirable artists, including folk-rock legend Sheryl Crow, country superband The Highwomen and more. While the song opens up as a letter to Yola’s mother personally, belting “Mama said to me/Hold on/You gotta be wise/Hold on,” it eventually evolves into an open letter to the oncoming generation of Black youth following Yola, as the chorus consists of the song’s entire ensemble singing, “Baby hold on to the things you love/Show me who it is you are/Never let that feeling go/Let it show.” “My mother’s advice would always stress caution, that all that glitters isn’t gold, and that my Black female role models on TV are probably having a hard time,” Yola said in a statement. “She warned me that I should rethink my calling to be a writer and a singer… but to me that was all the more reason I should take up this space. ‘Hold On’ is asking the next [generation] to take up space, to be visible and to show what it looks to be young, gifted and Black.” In a time of extreme divide in the U.S., both physical and political, the posse cut “Hold On” is the much-needed serenade to remind ourselves that we must hold on and hold strong.