Introverts be warned: Thanks to vaccine science, the end of the pandemic is near and soon we won't all be confined to our houses for hours upon hours of Netflix binges that are only occasionally interrupted by long walks around the neighborhood. Here are a few new drops from locally based and nationally acclaimed artists that should get you excited for this summer, when live shows and concert tours are tentatively expected to resume.
“U Know Who It Is,” Maarquii
Portland-based high femme rapper/singer/dancer Maarquii (AKA Marquise Dickerson) unearthed a new single produced by JVNITOR on April 2. Over a grimy electronic beat with clunky and aggressive bass, Maarquii fiercely raps lines like "Pussycat invigorate the body and I think that shawty want a cleanse, yeah/and I never get too twisted bouta nigga cause the sea is full of plenty mens, yeah/You know who it is....You know who it is/when the body get to rolling like heads in war, yeah." I think I speak for all of us when I say I cannot wait for an accompanying music video and choreography—and for when we can catch Maarquii live again.
“MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” Lil Nas X
Welp, "Old Town Road" rapper Lil Nas X has done it again, going viral (while enraging homophobes and conservatives) with his new music video starring none other than Satan. Driven by a Spanish guitar, Lil Nas X's new single (and the accompanying video) is cause for queer celebration. With lines like "Never want the niggas that's in my league/I want to fuck the ones I envy, I envy," it's awesome to see a famous and mainstream cis-male rapper feel liberated enough to be his openly gay self. If you're living for the song, make sure to watch the very expensive looking music video which sees him embrace his queer and feminine side: seduced by a snake and following him into hell, sliding down a stripper pole, giving the devil a lap dance, and then taking his job.
Freedom., Justin Bieber
Almost immediately after releasing his latest studio album Justice, Justin Bieber has released a new six-track EP. If you don’t really enjoy religious music and can't ignore those kind of spiritual references, this is probably not the project for you. While his previous singles like "Pray" and "Holy" have often been included in his otherwise secular projects, the main theme on this one is Justin's devout Christianity, and the project is sonically very enjoyable. Most of the project's features are little known names with big voices like Brandon Love, Chandler Moore, who both recur on the EP. Familiar names include Tori Kelly on "Where Do I Fit In," and Pink Sweat$ on "Where You Go I Follow." Justin Bieber is heard rapping on the project, noticeably maturing in terms of his delivery (Remember his pubescent "Boyfriend" rap?). Highlights include "We're In This Together" (where his rapping is most earnest), the island-infused project opener "Freedom (with BEAM)," and "Where You Go I Follow" featuring Pink Sweat$, Chandler Moore, and Justin's pastor Judah Smith.
Dancin’ with the Devil: The Art of Starting Over, Demi Lovato
It's impossible not to feel for Demi Lovato while listening to her new 19-track album, written about her journey with addiction and bulimia that led to her 2018 overdose that almost killed her. There's a lot of variety of sound here, and unmitigated honestly throughout the project: from the heart-wrenching and lonely ballad "Anyone," to the titular single, to "Melon Cake," named after her infamous watermelon cakes she would have for her birthday celebrations while wrestling with her eating disorder, to the anti-party anthem "Lonely People," and my favorite track "The Art of Starting Over," which sees Lovato singing in staccato in the beginning and then building up to "I let the darkness/I let the darkness out." There's also some great features including Ariana Grande ("Met Him Last Night") and Saweetie ("My Girlfriends Are My Boyfriend").This is definitely Demi Lovato's best project yet, and after a long vocal rest in recovery, her voice is insanely stunning. The YouTube series of the same name is a riveting and intimate must-watch, including famous friends to the singer like Christina Aguilera and Elton John.