Music to listen to while the coronavirus keeps you in the house
Here are the songs to catch up on while you practice social distancing
Life, as we previously knew it, has changed for the foreseeable future. That’s no different for the music industry. Artists and festivals alike are postponing upcoming dates because of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus. More cancellations are expected soon. And who knows what it means for future release dates? That said, music is still a necessary escape in times like these.
Here are a handful of notable songs that dropped at the end of 2019 or this year. For those practicing social distancing — and have the luxury to work from home — let this be part of your soundtrack while cleaning the crib, getting a home workout in, cooking dinner or actually working. Eventually those day parties, brunches, happy hours and festivals will return. Until then, stave off cabin fever with these suggestions.
Roddy Ricch feat. Mustard — “High Fashion”
Roddy Ricch’s No. 1 debut album, Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial, was met with strong reviews. The project concluded an emotionally taxing year for the Compton, California, artist — bookmarked by his appearance alongside Nipsey Hussle and Hit-Boy on the Grammy-winning record “Racks In The Middle.” Despite the tragedy of Hussle’s slaying, Ricch’s ascension into stardom came with a string of hits including “Ballin’,” “Die Young” and “The Box.” The latter has been the No. 1 song in the country for the past 10 weeks. Also on Antisocial is “High Fashion,” a carefree ode almost too perfect for the arrival of spring. It’s unfair that what should be a trademark year for Ricch is temporarily upended. But if Ricch has proven anything, he’s more than capable of maintaining momentum even in the worst of situations.
Jay Electronica feat. Jay-Z — “A.P.I.D.T.A.”
Much of the talk around Jay Electronica’s Bigfoot-like album, A Written Testimony, has centered around Jay-Z’s verse on “Flux Capacitor.” And for good reason as one-half of Brooklyn’s Finest addressed his controversial NFL partnership, which is ultimately a discussion for another time. But it’s “A.P.I.D.T.A.” — the album’s outro and an acronym for All Praise Is Due To Allah — that presents the album’s most emotional moment. Recorded the night of the helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant and seven others, it’s a cry to souls lost and the lives they leave behind. At 50 years old, Jay-Z’s ability to dominate a track is still obvious no matter the company beside him. Yet, despite an emotionally effective hook from Jay-Z, it’s Jay Electronica’s kite to his mother that doesn’t just pull at the heartstrings — it severs them. “The day my mama died, I scrolled her texts all day long/ The physical returns, but the connection still stay strong/ Now I understand why you used to cry sometimes we ride down Claybourne,” the reclusive New Orleans MC reflects. “You just missed your — you just missed your mama/ Now I just miss my mamas.” A lot of our parents and grandparents can’t leave the house right now. A phone call could go further than you’d imagine these days.
Lil Baby — “Woah”
A song can take off in many ways, including as a dance craze. And while a lot of those records don’t produce long shelf lives, Lil Baby’s “Woah” is a welcome exception to the rule. Not only is the song itself wavy, but the video made it much more so. Having young kids dancing to your record is never a bad look. “Woah” held social media in a vise grip when it dropped in the winter. James Harden and Meek Mill uploaded a video of themselves hitting “the woah.” Though he didn’t create the dance, Lil Baby’s crossover smash has received well over 100 million streams en route to a No. 1 album in My Turn. Keep this song on ice for now. We’ll need it once the postquarantine vibes get underway.
Lil Wayne — “Harden”
Whenever Lil Wayne raps over soul sampled beats, he never disappoints. Cue “Never Get It,” “Let The Beat Build” and “Let It All Work Out.” On his newest studio album, Funeral, lives “Harden,” named after the 2017-18 NBA MVP, which samples the Band of Thieves’ 1976 ode “Love Me or Leave Me.” The song finds the youngest Hot Boy reflecting over love lost and his role in the irreparable void in his life. No longer shouldering the burden of his long-exiled Carter V, Lil Wayne’s Funeral is far more a celebration of a true hip-hop icon than homegoing service. (Also, Lil Wayne’s recent appearance on Drink Champs is a must-listen. Do yourself a favor and listen. You’ve got plenty of time.)
Megan Thee Stallion — “Captain Hook”
If there’s one song I was looking forward to seeing Megan Thee Stallion perform at Washington’s upcoming Broccoli City Festival, it was this one. And perhaps I still will, but it’ll have to wait until the fall as the festival team recently announced it was postponing the daylong concert until Oct. 4. Before COVID-19 becoming the topic in the news, Megan Thee Stallion’s contract dispute between her labels 1501 Entertainment and Roc Nation and the right to release her new project, Suga, was the talk of the industry. All legal arguments and record label politics aside, “Hook” is an extremely hard record. With lyrics such as, “I be texting with a bi chick/ We both freaky, just trying s—/ Main n—- getting superjealous/ He don’t even know about the other fellas” — this isn’t music to play around your grandparents. But it’s Megan Thee Stallion at her explicit finest with confidence on a million.
Griselda — “Cruiser Weight Coke”
Perhaps the best description I’ve heard of Griselda’s music is that “you can smell the piss in the hallways when they rap.” It has the grimy essence of ’90s New York hip-hop, with a lineage dating to The Lox, Onyx and Wu-Tang Clan. Those were the days when you believed rappers could legit beat you up and hold your family for ransom. If this entire description reads like one long, bizarre compliment to Benny The Butcher, Westside Gunn and Conway, then you’re absolutely right. “Cruiser Weight Coke” is make-sure-the-front-door-is-locked music. Which, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it should be.
H.E.R. — “Comfortable”
I enjoy some songs from H.E.R. more than others, but she’s never made a song I just outright didn’t like. “Comfortable” falls in the really like category. At just 22 years old, the two-time Grammy winner sings about love in a way that’s more mature than artists 10 to 15 years her senior. H.E.R. with an acoustic guitar is like Drake with any of his time stamp records — she doesn’t miss. Combine “Comfortable” with “Sometimes” and, if we’re lucky once this quarantine is over, there’s a new album in the works. But if there’s one regret about “Comfortable,” it’s this: She didn’t make it part of her NPR Tiny Desk concert performance.
G Herbo feat. Juice WRLD, Chance the Rapper & Lil Uzi Vert — “PTSD”
“I think about him every day — I swear, I think about him every day,” G Herbo told Billboard earlier this year regarding 21-year-old Juice WRLD’s death in December. “I lost so many homies. I’m no stranger to death, but I catch myself thinking about him.” At 24, Herbo is already a veteran of the Chicago rap scene, an MC whose graphic street narratives read like gut-wrenching transcripts from moments never meant to see the light of day. So imagine the trauma that came with recording the title track for his latest album.
Mac Miller — “Hand Me Downs”
Circles is the album Mac Miller was working on at the time of his death from an accidental overdose in September 2018. And the album — which was released in January — presents a much-needed sign of closure for his fans. “Hand Me Downs” is the only full rap song on Circles and showcases Miller in a mental tug-of-war between the peace he so desperately coveted and the negative thoughts that had taken up residency. “I move carelessly, that’s why I’m always trippin’/ I guess it’s like electrolytes, you help me go the distance,” Mac said. “Not too efficient, but the way it’s always been/ Until the day we have to meet again.” Up until the very end, Miller never figured out life. But then again, who ever really does? Miller’s vulnerability made him a singular artist. Records like “Hand Me Downs” show why.
Future feat. Drake — “Life Is Good”
It’s been an active 2020 thus far for the duo who gave the world What A Time to Be Alive five years ago (and the subjects of a rumored follow-up). Future joined Jhene Aiko and Miguel for the untroubled ditty “H.O.E. (Happiness Over Everything)” and Moneybagg Yo’s “Federal Fed” (that may have included a veiled shot at NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen). Meanwhile, Drake’s care package of “Chicago Freestyle” and “When To Say When” confirmed the Billboard king was indeed very much in album mode. Rap’s Starsky and Hutch even dropped a collaborative record in “Desires.” But it’s “Life Is Good” that stands above the class — even though the title does feel a tad bit oxymoronic right now. And hands down the best video of 2020. So far.
Don Toliver feat. Travis Scott & Kaash Paige — “Euphoria”
With everything that’s going on in the world, if you haven’t heard Don Toliver’s Heaven Or Hell, don’t be too hard on yourself. The project dropped on March 13, two days after the NBA suspended its season and the same day as Jay Electronica’s A Written Testimony. Toliver is poised to join the next class of breakout stars and “Euphoria” is the proof. Travis Scott’s cosign is a valuable stamp, while Kaash Paige’s melodies serve as ideal complements to Toliver’s crooning. It’s a drunkenly exotic record, one that’s perfect to pair with a bottle of wine (or whatever libation or other vice you have in stock). Be careful, though. It could get you into some trouble.