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Stream of the Crop: 5 New Albums for Heavy Rotation

New albums from GAIKA, Denzel Curry, and Tony Molina top this week's list.
L: C Flanigan/WireImage
R: via YouTube

Every week, the Noisey staff puts together a list of the best and most important albums, mixtapes, and EPs from the past seven days. Sometimes it includes projects we’ve written about on the site already; sometimes it's just made up of great records that we want everyone to hear, but never got the chance to write about. The result is neither comprehensive nor fair. We hope it helps.

GAIKA: Basic Volume

Murkage, the four-piece rap troupe in which Brixton-born GAIKA made a name for himself, were furious and frenetic, a tightly-wound group of revolutionaries standing at the front of a never-ending protest with a megaphone and an unblinking stare. And while he's still every bit the dagger-eyed civil disobedient BASIC VOLUME, his debut, both the tune of his ire and the way in which he delivers it have changed. His voice is more distinctive, a sludgy Caribbean drawl that can flicker into flames at the click of a snare, as it does startlingly on "Black Empire (Killmonger Riddim)." There's production from Jam City, Dre Skull, and Dutch E Germ, and—brilliantly—SOPHIE, all of whom nod to distorted, futuristic dancehall beats and trap rhythms in a way that feels truly international. That, like everything, is in service to the Message—"There's a story underneath every headstone," he sings on the standout "Immigrant Sons (Pesos & Gas)," and it rings like a mantra. But GAIKA's real achievement is crafting a record that presents an uprising with pride, personality, and originality, something that could usher in a new era of British rap music on its way to bursting down every megalomaniac's door. —Alex Robert Ross


Denzel Curry: TA13OO

South Florida SoundCloud sensation Denzel Curry's third LP is split into three sections: Light, Grey, and Dark. The opening song, the introduction to what's supposed to be the peppier side of things, deals obliquely—and at times awkwardly—with molestation and PTSD. And while "BLACK BALLOONS" and "CASH MANIAC" are both breezy throwback jams, he still seems in a rush to get to the bleak stuff with the aggro "SUMO." Some of the tracks in the middle-ground are indeed middling until the introspective state of the union track "SIRENS"—"Wise enough, advise the public, pistol bust, screamin' 'fuck it' / Donald Trump, Donald Duck, what the fuck is the difference?"—and the suicidal terror of "CLOUD COBAIN." The final third is mostly an attempt to settle scores rather than a further descent into solitary madness, but he pulls it off because, unlike a lot of the Soundcloud kids, he's a versatile rapper and an increasingly impressive technician. On "VENGEANCE," his brutal comic flow even manages to match JPEGMAFIA's, which is an achievement in itself. Curry is clearly an ambitious artist, and he hits far more often than he misses. He's also a 23-year-old kid whose seen too much awful shit already. Hopefully creation allows a little light in for him sometimes. —Alex Robert Ross

Tony Molina: Kill The Lights

Molina doesn’t really like that [his 2013 debut] Dissed and Dismissed got interpreted as a breakup record, despite the fact that he naturally gravitates to forlorn songs about losing love and losing touch. Kill the Lights, like his 2016 EP Confront the Truth, leans more heavily on acoustic instrumentation and more lushly realized arrangements than Dissed and Dismissed did. He doesn’t say this exactly, but it’s as if these easy stories—the ones that people tell when they want people to listen to new songs by a good band in 2018—are just a little too calculated. He wouldn’t make a concept album, or impose rigorous restrictions on his songwriting, he just does what he does, and that’s enough. —Colin Joyce, Tony Molina’s New Album Is a Low-Key Ripper, Like the Man Himself


RL Grime: NOVA

No longer concerned with working trap into his EDM-mix exertions, Henry Steinway's beats now deal with uncanny effects only in short bursts. Instead, he loads the top half of his second album up with as many guests as he can find: Miguel, Jeremih, Ty Dolla $ign, Chief Keef, etc. Each of those first six tracks have their moments, but none of them feel like essential additions to any artist's catalog. They're either too swamped by synths ("Take It Away") or too sugary and unobtrusive ("Light Me Up"). The trouble, as ever, is knowing precisely what RL Grime wants to be—is he summer festival fixture, a rap producer who holidays in Ibiza, or a pop musician with half an ear on the underground? NOVA doesn't clear that up, and by the end I find myself less interested in finding out. An album of muted beats, like "Shoulda" and "Run for Your LIfe," would be cool; an album of bombastic, hyped-up R&B party tracks like "UCLA" would make me want to steal a convertible. An album like NOVA just makes me want to skip, rearrange, and cull tracks with abandon. —Alex Robert Ross

Thin Lips: Chosen Family

Chosen Family covers a lot of ground. It’s about, as [frontwoman Chrissy] Tashjian summarizes, “ex girlfriends, my brother dying, quitting smoking, panic disorder, self-doubt, living as a homo and a butch woman in a world that’s not great for being either of those things, being vulnerable, and loving and living despite the modern hellscape.” But at its heart, Chosen Family is Tashjian’s love letter to the people who made all these things easier to face, and those who made the album’s existence possible. —Dan Ozzi

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