There’s only two weeks left in 2020, and while the end of this pandemmy may be within sight, the state of America is still in shambles. Take a break from the stress of, well, everything—protecting yourself and others from COVID exposure, unemployment and financial issues, taking to the streets in protest of racist policing, and more—by exploring some of the new music being released during this strange moment in time.

“South of Nowhere Funk,” Fountaine

Today Rose City rapper/singer/producer Fountaine dropped a new track and music video for his highly anticipated “South of Nowhere Funk.” After repeatedly singing “I’m in a south of nowhere funk” in the song’s chorus, Fountaine raps over the top of the ethereal production from I’m Broke: “A lifetime ago I was like you / thought my dreams had faded and nothing in life was new.”
The video perfectly portrays the loneliness of 2020, when one of the only things we can do to get out of our own head is to go for a drive (or walk), and then return to making stuff at the crib. At the start of the Stone Jarboe-directed video, Fountaine is frustrated in his solitude as he drives around town in an old Monte Carlo and then arrives back at home. He dinks around on his laptop, spits some bars, makes a snack, and thumbs through the mail, presumably looking for a check. As the song progresses, Fountaine continues to talk his shit, silencing the self-doubt, and finds his happy place with a pep in his step. The video’s beautifully shot and edited, and depicts the satisfaction of unlocking creativity for better mental health, making for a perfect visual to the complex, persevering anthem.

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Holiday Stuff, Alessia Cara

In my opinion, Canadian Pop singer Alessia Cara is one of the most underrated pop vocalists of her class, but maybe that's because she always keeps things lowkey, and never flashy. Cara's latest project is a four-track Christmas EP titled Holiday Stuff. Cara’s warm, velvety vocal is well suited for the stripped down Yuletide release, particularly on songs like album opener “Make It to Christmas - Stripped,” the extremely cozy “The Only Thing Missing,” and a lovely live rendition of “Moody’s Mood For Love.” All of it is the perfect vibe for the 2020 holiday season, which will be celebrated on a smaller, more intimate scale than normal.

Nightmare Vacation, Rico Nasty

Raspy-voiced rapper Rico Nasty recently dropped her latest full-length, Nightmare Vacation, on December 4. It starts out gritty, witty, and braggadocious with “Candy,” a sign that the remainder of the album will be one to let off steam (and roll some weed) to—something I’m sure we could all use during this year of being cooped up in the house. In addition to previously released electronic single “IPHONE” and “OHFR?,” highlights include the extremely hard “STFU,” “Back & Forth,” featuring a guest verse from Portland-raised rapper Aminé, and the Mean Girls-referencing “Loser,” with an assist from Trippie Redd. It’s also delightful that the album includes the original and a remix version of Rico’s excellent single “Smack A Bitch,” the ladder featuring artists Rubi Rose, ppcocaine, and Sukihana.

“Tipsy” and “Sending My Love,” Chloe x Halle

In late November, Beyoncé protegés Chloe and Halle dropped two stunning Spotify Singles: the slow crawling, bass-forward “Tipsy,” and “Sending My Love,” which beautifully samples Zhane’s 1994 single “Sending All My Love.” As with every Chloe x Halle release, they’re packed with gorgeous harmonies and vocal flourishes, and that might distract you from the fact that, on “Tipsy,” the two are (facetiously) singing about maybe murdering a lover and their entire family if they don’t act better in the relationship. “Better, baby, better treat me better/Better than those other guys who change up like the weather, yeah / It is such a shame that they went missing, they can't find 'em now / Oh, I wonder how I accidentally put them in the ground, yeah.” “Sending My Love,” while just as pretty, makes for lighter, less murdery listening.