2. Young Thug, “Slime Season 2”
And here he comes with another brain-scrambler, his third mixtape this year, crammed with torqued rhymes, elastic riddles, maniac intellect and infinite wild styles. Last year, Young Thug was showing us what rap could sound like. Now, he seems to be showing us what it should sound like.
3. Eric Church, “Mr. Misunderstood”
Surprise! Country singer Eric Church recently dropped his fifth studio album with no advance warning — an increasingly common practice for pop’s A-listers, but a rarity in Nashville. No surprise: The macho-softie magnetism of Church’s singing, storytelling and song-craft continues to grow stronger with every album.
4. J Balvin, “Ginza” and “Sorry” remixes
This young reggaetonero is prepping for a highly visible 2016 and this month, he launched two excellent warning flares: a slick refurbishing of his already-slick “Ginza,” courtesy of Miami producers Atellagali; and a “Latino Remix” of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” in which Balvin instantly makes his duet-partner’s presence feel refreshingly unnecessary.
5. Hieroglyphic Being, “The Acid Documents”
This prolific and outspoken Chicago DJ-slash-producer hears his highly evocative brand of techno as part of the greater continuum of American music. The rest of us might hear “The Acid Documents” as something more ancient, or more futuristic, or hopefully both.
6. Maren Morris, “Maren Morris”
If we’re to take the standout tune on her eponymous debut EP as fact, one of country music’s most stylish new voices is actually an old soul. On “My Church,” Morris sings about catching the holy spirit by surfing ye olde secular airwaves: “Roll down the windows and turn up the God.”
7. XL Middleton, “Tap Water”
Maybe there’s a lesson to be gleaned from this sticky-sweet-neo-electro-funk platter: Revivalism doesn’t sound like a snooty rebuke of the present when the revivalist sounds like they’re having a total blast.
8. Ty Dolla $ign, “Free TC”
Can the success of a party be measured by who shows up? If so, all you need to know about this smug R&B singer’s debut album is that it includes notable cameos from Jagged Edge, E-40, Kanye West, Future, Babyface, Trey Songz, Sevyn Streeter, Diddy, Y.G., Fetty Wap, the kids from Rae Sremmurd and more. Party on.
Listen to selections from the month’s best music in the playlist below:
WARNING: Some songs contain explicit lyrics.