First Listen: J. Cole Debuts New Single, ‘Cole Summer’

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In a Cole World, there’s bound to be a Cole Summer, right? Whatever, men. After a couple of tweets earlier this morning (Nigerian time), J. Cole released a new rap single that’s as chilled as they come. The Roc Nation rapper sounds pretty darn serious on Cole Summer, even doing a little singing of his own (and spitting a couple of benign lines Drake’s way). ‘Course, some woman’s behind it all.

Cole’s next album, Born Sinner, should pop out the oven on June 25. In the meantime, go listen to his monologue about a certain Miss Summer. Seriously.

First Listen: Rihanna Recruits Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Juicy J & T.I. For The Remix Of ‘Pour It Up’

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This is hands down the most ‘rapped up’ RiRi track ever! With solid verses from Maybach Music boss Rick Ross, Taylor Gang’s Juicy J and past Rihanna collaborators Young Jeezy (‘Hard’) and T.I. (‘Live Your Life’), ‘Pour It Up’ (off the incredible ‘Unapologetic’ album) goes from chilled out thug angel jam to bona fide gangster thumper in this heavyweight remix. Crank it up a lil’ bit, will ya?

First Listen: On ‘Kush Coma’, Danny Brown Has Never Been More Awake

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Listening to Danny Brown rattle off one-two punchlines and verbal dropkicks on the high-speed ‘Kush Coma’, you can almost visualise the marijuana smoke wafting around him, a crazed look in his wide-open eyes. No, Brown’s not in a coma on this Skywlkr-produced bump fest, unless ‘coma’ implies a state of extreme cerebral stimulation generating oodles of mental energy.

‘Kush Coma’ is an unfinished cut (the final version is said to feature A$AP Rocky) off Danny Brown’s upcoming LP, ‘Old’.

Off The Beaten Path: Beyoncé Changes Direction Dramatically On New Music, ‘Bow Down/I Been On’

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“Keep moving folks, ain’t nothing (awfully new) to see here.” That, along with the usual involuntary cheering from her fans,would be the normal reaction to the release of a Beyoncé song. But just in case you didn’t get the digital memo, ‘normal’ isn’t in vogue anymore. Mrs. Carter’s unusual new music as showcased in the twin-track teaser, ‘Bow Down/I Been On’ is a loud testament to that fact.

Put together by increasingly popular HS87 marquee producer Hit-Boy, the trap music-influenced ‘Bow Down’ is hinged on the offensively audacious line, “Bow down, bitches”. With all that attitude and more: “I took some time to live my life, don’t think I’m just his little wife”, Blue Ivy’s mama sounds about as domestic as a fully loaded AK-47.

And even (much) more hardcore is the second half of the two-part teaser, ‘I Been On’. Beyoncé goes full on street on the Timbaland-produced chopped and screwed track, rapping about “gold ass chains” in a pitched-down voice and making references to rappers (Willie D, Pimp C and UGK). Seriously.

The bottom line? For an artiste who has stuck faithfully to pop-tinged R&B throughout her celebrated 11-year solo career,  all of this comes off as pretty phony. Thanks for trying, Bey, but never again.

First Listen: Kendrick Lamar Slaughters Jay-Z On The Remix Of ‘B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe’

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High profile remixes don’t get any more high profile than Jay-Z spitting a verse on the remix of a Kendrick Lamar hit, and even bigger is Kendrick Lamar showing up Jay-Z mercilessly on said remix.

First heard at SXSW where Roc Nation sound engineer Young Guru previewed it to the delight of bootleggers the world over, this reworking of the ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ track, ‘B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe’ was supposed to be hip hop’s equivalent of a Kobe Bryant slam dunk off a Micheal Jordan assist (ergo the cover art above). What it ended up being, really, is hip hop’s version of a Kobe slam dunk in the face of MJ. Ouch.

Here’s the official version, complete with potent, well-placed swear words. Keep both ears cocked for the murderous third verse.

Mack Maine Brings Out Talib Kweli, Lil Wayne For ‘Celebrate’

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Just when we were beginning to forget that Young Money Entertainment president Mack Maine is also a rapper, he pops up with ‘Celebrate’, a solid feel-good hip hop track on which he is assisted by labelmate Lil Wayne and the timeless Talib Kweli. Video’s below, but it’s all about the music.