New Music To You: Leon Bridges, A$AP Rocky, and slowthai

With the Hummingbird Rotation, we hope to give folks a closer look at the songs that get the most play at Hummingbird HQ. This installment, hear about Leon Bridges, A$AP Rocky, and slowthai.

Beyond // Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges’ voice is phenomenal — we know this (and if you don’t, prepare to learn). There’s not much else to say, really. He deftly glides through high notes and swaggers through each bar. Every phrase and word is sung with tonal precision and honeyed ease. He does all of this while simultaneously injecting every line with emotion and expression, making his vocal performance wholly capable of filling a space and carrying a story all by itself.

You know how when you’re on the phone with a very happy someone, and you can hear the smile in their voice even without seeing their face? Bridges’ voice radiates joy with such luminosity that I can almost see him in the studio now grinning from ear to ear as he sings.

Bridges makes pop music — a category that can invite an air of condescension and dismissiveness from some listeners — but “Beyond” deserves none of the negative connotations often attached to the genre. Bridges is an expert at creating songs that are irresistible, and “Beyond” is proof —  almost genre-irrelevant in its universal appeal. It’s pop music for people who swear they can’t stand all pop music. “Beyond” is the best manifestation of pop: fun without being facile, simple without being lazy, and sweet without being cheesy.

Kids Turned Out Fine // A$AP Rocky

People really didn’t like Testing as much as they should have. Jam-packed with risky production that found immediate backlash from our reactionary music culture, fans and hip-hop-heads alike seemed to turn on Rocky after the release of this album. But upon further review, this album has aged like a fine cheese.

A prime example of this development is the track that brought me back to Testing, “Kids Turned Out Fine.” The music video, a masterpiece in its own right, brought new light to a song that had previously bored me. Words won’t really be able to do it justice, but just know you’re diving into a compelling conglomerate of psychedelic visuals.

Much of the track belongs as much on a Mac DeMarco album as it does on an A$AP one, as Rocky’s sole verse on the song is almost noncommittal on being an actual rap verse- he switches between the spacey vibes introduced on the song’s chorus and a few quicker bars that go along with the song’s lyrical theme.

While most may have forgotten “Kids Turned Out Fine” in the saturated rap market of 2018, don’t let that be your excuse for not giving it another chance. With summer coming in hot, this track could easily find itself in heavy rotation.

Doorman // slowthai & Mura Masa

As has been well-documented in hip-hop circles over the past month or so, slowthai is the Next Big Thing as far as grime artists go. His debut album “Nothing Great About Britain,” burst the gap-tooth bar-spitter onto the scene, and “Doorman,” encapsulates at least one element of “Nothing Great About Britain.” With frenetic flows, punk-rock attitude, and an entrancing baseline, this song is about as fight-club as it gets, at least in the modern grime scene.

This song seriously bangs. Tracing back to the punk roots of grime, slowthai and Mura Masa collaborate on a track that’ll have you pacing back and forth ready to start a fight with anybody that crosses you. Slowthai brings an energy that’s so infectious it’s scary. If you hear of a political revolution in Britain in the next few weeks, there’s at least one up-and-coming rapper that’s stoking the flames.

Whether or not you have a background in punk or grime, this is a track that could suck you right in. Watching the song’s video is uber-necessary for understanding slowthai’s artistic vision.

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