Chance the Rapper & The Social Experiment – “Lady Friend”
Released on Valentine’s Day, Chance the Rapper and his band The Social Experiment shared “Lady Friend,” a laid-back, simple song that sees Chance wheezily singing about his girl and rapping lines like “I’m the best man you’re not marrying.” What originally sounds like a cute love song turns out to be Chance admitting that he really just wants to be friends. The low-key track surprises with a horn section and some female harmonies that take over at the end. No word yet as to whether this will be part of Chance’s next album, but it should tide fans over until more news comes.
Drake – “Star67”
It is possible that Drake was pulling a Beyoncé by releasing an album with absolutely no promotion, or maybe it was to help get him out of his record contract or perhaps he was just trying to get some hype around his upcoming album, Views from the 6. Whatever the reason was for Drake’s surprise release, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, there are actually some good songs on it. The 17-song offering moves between singing Drake and rapping Drake, which is best exemplified on “Star67” where the Toronto artist does both. The album covers a lot of ground and is perhaps his most personal, but it is overall a more confident sound than Drake’s previous material. He has always been known and sometimes criticized for the emotion he puts in his songs, but now it seems Drake has finally found the right balance.
Iron & Wine – “Beyond the Fence”
Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine, will be releasing a series of previously unheard material over the next little while, with the first installment of the Archive Series getting its official release on Feb. 24. Volume 1 of the series contains 16 mellow songs, such as “Beyond the Fence,” which features Beam’s hushed vocals over a strumming acoustic guitar. As Beam has expanded the sound of Iron & Wine over the years, the collection of home recordings is a nice look back at the type of music he was playing at the start of his career.
Sufjan Stevens – “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross”
Sufjan Stevens is set to release his ninth studio album at the end of March, and in lead up to the new record the singer has shared “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross.” The short song contains a finger plucked guitar paired with Stevens’ layered, harmonious vocals. On “No Shade,” he deals with the substance abuse and sadness that he faced after his mother passed away. “This is not my art project, this is my life,” he said in regards to the new record, which is named after his mother and stepfather: Carrie & Lowell.