Also: New tracks from Beck, Big K.R.I.T. and Big Baby Gandhi
Huge week for hip-hop! Also a huge week for chill trax. So if you refuse to give new rap songs a try you might as well scroll down halfway for some chill trax. Everyone else: Let's get it!
Odd Future - "Oldie"
Just when you thought Odd Future was an awkward phase you could put behind you now, they do this. Not sure which is most momentous: (1) the return of Earl Sweatshirt, who uses his extra bars to perform stunning linguistic Olympics, (2) Frank Ocean rapping almost as well as he sings or (3) the group returning to the sort of low-key clowning that made them so appealing in the first place. "OF Tape Vol. 2" is out this week on Odd Future Records. (See also: The new Ocean tracks "White" and "Whip Appeal.")
Big K.R.I.T. - "I Got This"
Here's K.R.I.T. how I like him best, chest-thumping over funky Southern stomp.
Nas - "The Don"
On the heels of last year's super-dope comeback single comes more nastiness from Nasir Jones, rapping over a beat by the late Heavy D.
Big Baby Gandhi featuring Fat Tony - "Lurkin'"
Das Racist's Himanshu Suri is using his success to bring another brainy, absurdist Indian rapper into the spotlight. Big Baby Gandhi, signed to Suri's Greedhead label, does well for himself here, but the real star on this track is Fat Tony. "Lurkin'" comes from Gandhi's upcoming "NO1 2 LOOK UP 2" mixtape.
Nicki Minaj featuring 2 Chainz - "Beez in the Trap"
One of the cray-est young ladies in hip-hop raps over a hiccupping Neptunes-inspired beat with assistance from 2 Chainz, who's suddenly the most in-demand guest star in his genre. Minaj's sophomore effort, "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," is coming April 3 on Young Money.
Norah Jones - "Travelin' On"
Here we have the second tease from Jones' Danger Mouse-produced "...Little Broken Hearts" -- the one with the wowza cover, the one she played in its entirety at SXSW last week, the one that's coming out May 1. "Travelin' On" is a wispy little ballad, but not lighthearted in the slightest.
Beck - "Looking For a Sign"
Speaking of "not lighthearted in the slightest," here's a "Sea Change"-sounding Beck ballad from the new Jason Segel/Ed Helms flick "Jeff Who Lives At Home." Though not nearly as good, this carries on the grand tradition of "Sea Change"-sounding Beck songs in movie soundtracks that began with "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" from "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
S. Carey - "Two Angles"
S. Carey did this with Jagjaguwar label-mate Bon Iver, but he also makes his own goregeous, glacial music. The "Hoyas" EP is out May 8.
Zammuto - "The Shape of Things to Come"
For those wondering what the new self-titled project from The Books' Nick Zammuto would sound like: It sounds like The Books, only with more singing. Points of interest: "The Shape of Things to Come" is an H.G. Wells novel from 1933. It's also one of my favorite episodes of "Lost." Zammuto's self-titled album is out April 3 on Temporary Residence.
Mount Eerie - "House Shape"
For the uninitiated, Olympia, Washington analog twee dude Phil Elvrum used to record as The Microphones. In 2001, he released the masterful "The Glow, Pt. 2," a whispery and occasionally explosive collection built mostly from wobbly analog loops. Then he released an even odder album called "Mount Eerie." Then he changed the name of the band to Mount Eerie. Then he changed his own name from Elvrum to Elverum. The (appropriately) eerie, pulsating "House Shape" is the first single from Mount Eerie's new album "Clear Moon," out May 22 on Elverum's label P.W. Elverum & Sun. A companion album, "Ocean Roar," is coming later this year.