The Playlist: Kanye West’s Breakout Star 070 Shake, and 10 More New Songs

Posted June 10, 2018 5:28 p.m. EDT

Pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on new songs and videos.

070 Shake, ‘Mirrors’

Quick to leverage her widely praised exposure on Kanye West’s “Ye,” the New Jersey singer and rapper 070 Shake gets even more depressive on “Mirrors”: a slow, two-chord, rap-inflected track about absolute suicidal despair. “I just can’t escape from the demons/I think I gotta end them,” she incants. The video shows her driving a Mustang along a coastline, but it’s not a romantic road trip: it’s self-immolation, and let’s hope it’s only a fantasy.


serpentwithfeet, ‘seedless’

Recording as serpentwithfeet, the songwriter Josiah Wise has forged a private, idiosyncratic mysticism from gospel imagery, personal obsessions, androgynous vocals and productions that turn the studio into church, fun house and asylum at the same time. His first full-length album, “soil,” is released today; it includes “seedless,” a slow, surreal march — complete with church bells and throngs of shape-shifting backup vocals — that grapples with sexual impulses even as it promises, “I’ll comfort you.”


Kane Brown, ‘Lose It’

A heaping slab of power country from Kane Brown, one of Nashville’s most promising young stars and also one of its most flexible. “Lose It” begins sorrowful, turns urgent and saucy, then explodes into broad-spectrum ecstasy — Brown navigates them all with cool aplomb.


Dej Loaf and Leon Bridges, ‘Liberated’

The bass line has a steel-drum shimmer and an old-Motown sense of uplift; the drums spatter like 2010s trap. And the positive thinking of “Liberated” uses the superficial as a springboard to idealism. Dej Loaf raps about “girls that need no makeup” and Leon Bridges applies his Sam Cooke fervor to thoughts like, “Don’t aspire to be what you see in the magazines.” But they’re both on their way to a larger message of proud self-acceptance: “Get up on your feet/If you got the feeling you can be free.”


Snail Mail, ‘Let’s Find an Out’

Nothing is resolved in “Let’s Find an Out” — not the chords, not the melody, not the situation. It’s mostly just guitar picking and Lindsey Jordan’s voice, with little flickers of percussion and reticent lyrics: “Let’s find an out/We can start anew.” The third verse feels more like a bridge than a conclusion, and where it leads is uncertain.


R+R=NOW, featuring Omari Hardwick, ‘Needed You Still’

If major-label jazz still worked like it did in the 1950s — when top-tier musicians would constantly take turns appearing on each other’s albums — we might see more records like “Colagically Speaking.” Due June 15 on Blue Note, this is the debut of R+R=NOW, comprising a cross-section of young musicians working to keep mentholated, electric improvising cool in 2018, including Robert Glasper on piano and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah on trumpet. On “Needed You Still,” Terrace Martin sings wistfully of love’s uncertainties, then the actor and rapper Omari Hardwick comes in, grumbling and purring a romantic plea. “I put faith in no man, but in you I trust.”


88rising featuring Joji, August 08, Rich Brian and Higher Brothers, ‘Midsummer Madness’

“Midsummer Madness” is a soothing, tender posse cut from the 88rising collective, a group of (mostly) Asian and Asian-American rappers and singers from locales far and wide. In the soft-focus video, the whole crew lets loose at the beach, a combination of exuberant and silly. It’s a charming representation of a song about fickleness, anchored by Joji, who sings the hook, one of his best, about dystopic nights and the feelings they engender.


Jorja Smith, ‘Blue Lights’

The English R&B songwriter Jorja Smith could use her supple voice and pearly, swaying electric-piano grooves to make her music a soothing escape, but she has other ambitions in this song from the debut album she releases on Friday, “Lost & Found.” The blue lights accompany police sirens, and in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood their arrival brings fear even to bystanders who might get swept into trouble. “Don’t you run when you hear the sirens coming,” she sings at first, “if you’ve done nothing wrong, blue lights should just pass you by.” But later she’s not so sure: “Better run when you hear the sirens coming,” she advises.


Angelique Kidjo, ‘Once in a Lifetime’

It’s not the same as it ever was. Angelique Kidjo releases her transformative remake of Talking Heads’ entire album “Remain in Light” on Friday, and it raises the ante on every parameter of the original. There are more layers of vocal melody, more percussion, more polyrhythm, more direct connections to the guitars and horns of African pop, more languages among the lyrics and, of course, enormous soul and annunciatory power in Kidjo’s voice. In a world that’s far more interconnected than when “Remain in Light” was released in 1980, the songs remain eerily contemporary.


Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, ‘Questions’

“Questions” may sound familiar. During the long gestation of “The Midnight Hour” — a collaboration by the producers and composers Ali Shaheed Muhammad (from A Tribe Called Quest) and Adrian Younge — Kendrick Lamar grabbed the track for his 2016 collection “untitled unmastered,” turning it into “untitled 06 | 06.30.2014.” Now it’s back as a retro smooth-soul song minus Lamar’s rap: a falsetto ballad with CeeLo Green advising, “Both sides of me are evenly odd” and urging “Let me explain” over a brisk Latin beat and suave strings. It’s an access point to an amiable throwback of an album that cherishes analog-style 1990s hip-hop, with a jazzy studio band and guests including Bilal, Raphael Saadiq, Ladybug Mecca (of Digable Planets), Laeticia Sadier (of Stereolab) and Luther Vandross’ vocals from “So Amazing,” reimagined with a more organic backup track.


Thumbscrew, ‘Cruel Heartless Bastards’

Who says the tempo has to hold steady in order for a song to rock? When the chords break down altogether, do the instruments have to stay together neatly in order to form a coherent whole? On “Cruel Heartless Bastards,” written by the bassist Michael Formanek, Mary Halvorson’s guitar goes from charging muscle to snarled melody to overdriven fuzz. Formanek’s big, expressive instrument remains unfixed but supportive underneath. This tune comes from “Ours,” a disc of originals by Thumbscrew (the trio also features the drummer Tomas Fujiwara) that comes out Friday, along with a covers album, titled “Theirs.”