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So Necessary: Tyler, the Creator’s Playboi Carti Assist, Skepta’s Precision, and Megan Thee Stallion’s Realness

Also: GoldLink’s secret weapon, Pharrell and Timbaland’s compliment battle, and the energy of Stunna 4 Vegas

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Because he has nothing better to do with his time, each Friday Micah Peters riffs on the most awe-inspiring, confounding, addictive, or otherwise hilarious moments from the week in music. This week:


Maleek Berry’s Harmonizing on GoldLink’s “Zulu Screams”

GoldLink’s earlier music was weightless, innovative, and infectious, so much so that the designation he gave it—“future bounce”—actually stuck. It was either house-leaning rap or rap-leaning house, and sounded as if the turn of the Willennium were hermetically sealed off from the relentless march of time. That’s a fancy way of saying that GoldLink’s music was somehow current, futuristic, and nostalgic all at once. His major-label debut album, At What Cost, was more focused on vignettes than vibes—each song a callback to a different texture in the musical fabric of his hometown of D.C.

For his sophomore album he left D.C., for the reasons anyone else might strike out from home: to explore the world, obviously, and also himself. “Zulu Screams,” the latest single from this album cycle, is a return to future bounce, but with a worldlier sensibility that’s finely traceable in the production—is that a lute? Also, British Nigerian producer and singer Maleek Berry is pure sunlight on the hook. “Na, na, na,” he sings, “’cause you can’t catch me no more on the cellular.”

Pharrell and Timbaland Trying to Out-Compliment Each Other

One thing you could do with your time is watch this episode of Snoop Dogg’s GGN web talk show in which he and Pharrell reminisce about the many times they pulled off alchemy—e.g., P got a contact high while they were laying “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” and that’s how the track turned out so well. They also talk about the “Happy” phenomenon, if you care about that, but the absolute best part is how often Pharrell breaks out into note-perfect song, or drums out a snare-perfect kit on the news desk, to say nothing of his supernatural beat-boxing. He is never less than overjoyed to be there, and he’s performing even when he’s just talking.

This is also one of the best things about his Beats 1 show, Othertone, especially the latest all-VA episode starring Pusha T, Chad Hugo, and, of course, Timbaland. There’s a charming segment in which the two super-producers politely protest over which of the two is most super by having an imitation beat battle, and I would watch four more hours of it were it available.

Skepta on Slowthai’s “Inglorious”

In one of the few documentaries Noisey featured Skepta in, after his Western advance in summer 2015, the North London rapper describes the distinction between his own voice and, well, pick any American rapper on terrestrial radio. The cadence of conversation is slower here than in Britain, which he illustrates by stretching a “yooo what up” all the way to a crawl, and thenspeedsupthenextparttoshowhoweasyitistomisssomethinghejustsaid. Yet, Skepta is precise, and deadly, and fast, though not in a hurry. One line—like “she was never your girl it was just your turn”whooshes past, and then you look down at the floor, and realize that oh, you’re bleeding. It’s appropriate that before he said a word on 2016’s Konnichiwa, there was the sound of a katana being unsheathed.

His samurai sword is a bat on Slowthai’s “Inglorious,” and again, Skepta, in leather pants, delivers death by a thousand cuts. He also does a whole sheet of acid by himself, and returns with some perspective: “It’s just me, my laptop, and my bank card.” Also: “I’m directin’ movies like Gaspar.”

Everything About Megan Thee Stallion’s “Realer”

Rappers have been finding ways to subvert close-minded positions held about them forever, but Megan Thee Stallion is uniquely committed to that ethos. Her stage name, even, is a reclamation of catcalls she was fielding from much older men at just 15—“Stallion”—with the extra “e” in “Thee,” I’m assuming, for emphasis. The first thing she does on her debut album is tell a would-be suitor to meet her at the bank instead, and for the next 13 songs she relinquishes basically none of her power. There are better songs, but maybe no more exciting moments than when, at the end of her second verse on “Realer,” almost as if even she can’t believe she’s saying it, Megan says: “I’ll knock the shit out a bitch like a enema.”

Playboi Carti Showing up on Tyler, the Creator’s “EARFQUAKE”

IGOR, the sixth album from Tyler, the Creator, has even richer and more complex soundscapes than his fifth, Flower Boy, and features even less rapping. It’s gorgeous and confusing, and meant to be digested as a whole—on the eve of the album’s release, Tyler tweeted out listening instructions advising against second-screening, talking, and texting during IGOR’s 40-minute run time. I broke all three rules on Thursday night when Playboi Carti peered out of a play break halfway through “EARFQUAKE” and muttered a Woah Vicky reference over a winding piano riff. Let me be on record as saying that after this and his appearance on Solange’s album, I’m ready for the high-art, critic-baiting Playboi Carti project.

BONUS: Stunna 4 Vegas Blitzing on “Intro”

Stunna 4 Vegas was the taller, ski-masked figure on stage in all the DaBaby live footage, on the balls of his feet, ready to either dance or pounce. In the video for the first song off the North Carolina rapper’s first project, Big 4x, he bounds around an abandoned house admiring his Jordans in the full-length mirror and … banging the keys of a piano with a hammer. He freely admits that he ain’t eem tryna rap. What he lacks in finesse? He makes up for in raw energy.