“Fair Chance” — Thundercat (feat. Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B)
Thundercat’s long-awaited follow-up to 2017’s “Drunk” is finally here — “It Is What It Is.” The album’s standout track is easily “Fair Chance” for many reasons, the first being that Thundercat killed the chorus and instrumental. He’s a known multi-instrumentalist in the R&B and hip-hop community and the ability to do more on a song than just provide vocals serves him well on both the album and this song. “Fair Chance” comes with a beautiful Ty Dolla $ign feature that wasn’t entirely about sex, as well as an offbeat, but fun Lil B verse that rounds off the song nicely, in my opinion.
“Cayendo” — Frank Ocean
This song is going to be playing in the bedrooms of a lot of angsty teenagers with ceilings crowned in colorful LED lights, not understanding a syllable of the Spanish lyrics, and rightfully so. It’s smooth, unique and irreplaceable — it is simply phenomenal and everything we have come to adore about singer Frank Ocean. “Cayendo” is a soft ballad all about love and heartbreak, one that the “slowed + reverb” side of YouTube is likely to have a field day with. I have always valued Frank’s vulnerability as an artist, and that really shines through on this song, and as well as on “Dear April,” a single that accompanied “Cayendo” on release day April 3.
“Turks” — NAV & Gunna (feat. Travis Scott)
Nothing else can be said about “Turks” other than the simple fact that this song is going to bully plenty of speakers during this time we are all spending indoors. I had speculations about taking NAV seriously as an artist after his first album, but with successful features on every song he touches, he he has now fully changed my mind. This song sees cameos from rappers Gunna and Travis Scott, and they combined with NAV to create a strong trio I did not know would sound this good together. “Turks” first picked up attention after a snippet of the track circulated around social media, before thankfully being released.
“Ghost of Soulja Slim” — Jay Electronica (feat. Jay-Z)
Who would have thought Jay Electronica would release music this year? I’m a big fan of “A Written Testimony,” and I now believe that even with such a limited catalogue, he’s one of the best rappers on the planet right now. I was a little disappointed that his introductory album was so Jay-Z-heavy, especially at the beginning of it, but at the same time, who am I to complain about getting to hear Jay-Z rap? I think this will end up being one of my favorite rap songs by the end of the year, largely because of clever and witty lines from one of hip-hop’s best: “I came to bang with the scholars / And I bet you a Rothschild I get a bang for my dollar.” Nonetheless, “Ghost of Soulja Slim” is easily the best track on Jay Electronica’s album, and this is one of the best songs of 2020 to date.
“Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America”— The 1975 (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
This is the fifth single released from English band The 1975’s forthcoming album, “Notes on a Conditional Form,” and it makes me even more confident in the record. Phoebe Bridgers of the two bands boygenius and Better Oblivion Community Center makes an appearance on the track and adds a calming feminine touch that raises it to a new height. The feeling that this song and similar ones emit is one that I have had trouble describing for weeks. I believe it to be nostalgia, or the stillness of a summer home. If I knew how to play an acoustic guitar or a ukulele, I would be spending this stay-at-home order in my room playing this melody and humming the chorus over and over.