Each week, Music Director Don Yates shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases for KEXP's rotation. These reviews help our DJs decide on what they want to play. See what we added this week below (and on our Charts page), including new releases from SZA, Seun Kuti & Black Thought, Darbet Shams, and more.
SZA – SOS (Top Dawg/RCA)
This New Jersey-bred artist’s impressive second full-length is a generous 23-song set blending R&B with hip hop, folk-pop, pop-punk and other styles, combining an expansive, genre-hopping sound with her soulful, elastic vocals and introspective lyrics of heartache, desire, anxiety and retribution.
Seun Kuti & Black Thought – African Dreams EP (SKE80)
Nigerian artist Seun Kuti (who’s also the son of the legendary Fela Kuti) teamed up with Black Thought from The Roots for an excellent three-song EP featuring remixes of songs from Kuti’s 2018 album Black Times. All three remixes are hard-hitting blends of hip hop and Afrobeat, with vocals alternating between Black Thought’s fiery rapping and Kuti’s deep, slightly gravelly singing and lyrics of struggle, resilience and hope.
Darbet Shams – Sho Bedor Elamal (Snowball Artistic Growth)
This Palestinian band’s debut album is a well-crafted blend of folk-pop and traditional middle eastern styles, combining a variety of traditional and electric instrumentation with modern pop arrangements and traditional melodies.
KIRBY – I Thought I Would EP (self-released)
The latest release from this Mississippi-bred artist (who’s written songs for Beyoncé, Rihanna and other notables) is a potent five-song EP of intimate R&B inflected with southern soul, gospel, folk and other styles, combining spare, gently ringing guitar lines with her soulful, dynamic vocals and lyrics of love and desire.
Leland Whitty – Anyhow (Innovative Leisure)
The debut solo album from this Toronto-based BADBADNOTGOOD multi-instrumentalist (who's also worked with Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, Kaytranada, Ghostface Killah, Kali Uchis and many other notables) is a well-crafted set of cinematic jazz fusion incorporating elements of ‘70s-era library soundtrack music, ambient, rock and other styles.