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    Lil Keed, Up-and-Coming Atlanta Rapper, Dies at 24

    The musician, a protégé of Young Thug, died on Friday in Los Angeles, his label said.Lil Keed, a budding, melodic rapper from Atlanta with a delicate voice that he often stretched into a helium-high, Auto-Tuned falsetto, died on Friday in Los Angeles. He was 24.His death was confirmed on Saturday by a representative of his record label, 300 Entertainment, who did not specify a cause. Keed had been scheduled to perform at a music festival in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday night.Born Raqhid Jevon Render on March 16, 1998, he hailed from the neighborhood known as Cleveland Avenue, for its main thoroughfare, where southwest Atlanta meets the suburb of East Point in Fulton County. He chronicled his turbulent upbringing there, surrounded by poverty, drugs and violence, in the three-part mixtape series “Trapped on Cleveland.” Its final installment was released in 2020.“I dig deep into my story and let everybody see what I went through, how I came up, and give them an insight on my life,” he said in an interview with Complex at the time.Lil Keed signed to 300 and Young Stoner Life Records, or YSL, in 2018, under the tutelage of his mentor, the melodic rapper Young Thug. Earlier this week, Young Thug and 27 others, including numerous rappers from the label, were charged in a major RICO indictment handed up by a grand jury in Fulton County. The indictment portrays YSL as a criminal street gang responsible for murders, robberies, drug dealing and more.Keed, who was not charged, responded in a graphic posted to social media that read: “YSL is a family, YSL is a label, YSL is a way of life, YSL is a lifestyle, YSL is not a gang.”In 2020, he was named to XXL magazine’s annual Freshman Class issue, a prominent launchpad for rappers, appearing on the cover alongside acts like Jack Harlow and Fivio Foreign. The year before, his breakout single, “Nameless,” a raunchy number with a singsong stickiness that became a regional radio hit and a streaming success, was certified gold.Keed, who released seven full-length projects in two years, worked widely with artists from his city and beyond, including Lil Yachty, Gunna, Future, Lil Uzi Vert and Roddy Ricch.His brother and frequent collaborator, the rapper Lil Gotit, reacted to his death Friday night on Instagram. “I did all my cries,” he wrote. “I know what u want me to do and that’s go hard for Mama Daddy Our Brothers.”Keed is also survived by his daughter, Naychur, and his girlfriend, known as Quana Bandz. “What am I supposed to tell Naychur?” she posted. “What am I gone tell our new baby?”Confident and winning, with a wide smile and an open-minded eagerness, Keed was frank about his ambition to grow beyond the often grim Southern street rap tales that first got him noticed. “I wanna be a megastar,” he said to XXL. “I don’t wanna be no superstar. I wanna be a megastar.”Through his unlikely friendship with the advertising executive and motivational guru Gary Vaynerchuk, whom Keed name-dropped in song, he nearly appeared in a 2019 Super Bowl commercial for Planters with Mr. Peanut and Alex Rodriguez. However, the role fell through. At a studio summit later that year, Mr. Vaynerchuk encouraged Keed to expand his presence on TikTok to reach new audiences.“I’mma do this,” Keed said, energized by the advice. “And I’ll be like, he told me.”His new music was starting to reflect that, Keed said. “Back then, I was talking about stuff like typical rappers: shooting, killing,” he told Complex of his beginnings, “because that’s what everybody wanted to hear.”He continued: “I was just talking about the stuff that happened in the streets and stuff around me. Now that I done grew from all that and I done moved myself out of that situation, I’m letting folks know why I was so trapped on Cleveland, as far as me going to the hood every day and all the shootouts. I just had to move myself out of the situation to better myself and my family.” More

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    Kendrick Lamar Is a Mortal Icon on ‘Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers'

    The Pulitzer Prize-winning social commentator rapper returns after five years with “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers,” an album about what’s broken on the inside.Kendrick Lamar has long extracted maximum power from his blend of the interior and the global, making him a particular kind of generational superstar — one who shoulders the weight of others. In a few places on “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers,” the rapper’s fifth studio album, he laments from the top of the mountain he’s spent the last decade climbing. These are depleted, lonely incantations: “I can’t please everybody,” “I choose me, I’m sorry.”Lamar, 34, is an astonishing technician, a keen observer of Black life, a proletarian superhero, an artist who reckons with moral weight in his work. But judging by “Mr. Morale,” which was released on Friday, he is also anguished, ravaged by his past and grappling with how to make tomorrow better, besieged by a collision of self-doubt and obstinacy. And fallible, too.Five years have passed since Lamar’s last album, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “DAMN.,” and even that gap has the air of the moral to it — Lamar as pop culture refusenik, a thinker who discourses at no one’s pace but his own.But maybe five years is just how long it takes to shake free of the long echoes of other people’s perceptions and expectations. The Lamar of “Mr. Morale” sounds lonely and tense, increasingly aware of the burdens placed upon him by his upbringing and potentially unsure about his capacities for overcoming them. He does these calculations over some of the most desolate production of his career. He is withdrawing in more ways than one.If “To Pimp a Butterfly” from 2015 was Lamar’s social polemical peak, and “DAMN.” from 2017 was his anxiety album — the product of realizing how his very private thoughts were becoming very public and scrutinized — then “Mr. Morale” is about retreating within and pondering your accountability to the person in the mirror, and to the handful of people you keep closest. (A recurrent voice on the album is that of Whitney Alford, Lamar’s longtime romantic partner, though perhaps no longer, depending how you read “Mother I Sober.”)The Return of Kendrick LamarThe five-year wait for a new album by the Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper is finally over.New Album: Kendrick Lamar’s fifth studio LP, “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers,” is one of the most ardently anticipated albums in years.Review: “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” is an album about what’s broken on the inside, our music critic writes.Pulitzer Prize: In 2017, Lamar became the first rapper to receive the Pulitzer Prize for music, winning the award for his album “DAMN.”2014 Profile: Eight years ago, a young M.C. from Los Angeles was on a quest to become the best rapper in the world.This begins with family, and two of the most moving songs on the album deal with Lamar’s parents. On “Father Time” he details how his father raised him to be unforgiving of himself, and to bury his uncertainties: “Men should never show feelings, being sensitive never helped/His mama died, I asked him why he goin’ back to work so soon?/His first reply was, ‘Son, that’s life, the bills got no silver spoon.’”“Mother I Sober” — which features sagging vocals from Beth Gibbons of Portishead, a missed opportunity — traverses domestic abuse and Lamar’s frustration at his own childhood inaction, but then telescopes out to his own failings, in the form of infidelity. Hearing Lamar apparently confess to this kind of intimate disloyalty is part of an immolation of the ethical persona he’s cultivated for years (or perhaps had thrust upon him — “Like it when they pro-Black, but I’m more Kodak Black,” he raps on “Savior”).He goes even further on “We Cry Together,” an outlandish tit-for-tat about a profoundly broken relationship, with the role of his partner vividly speak-rapped by the actress Taylour Paige. The song pulses with a startlingly raw toxicity, even if construed as character work. It is also, perhaps perversely, one of the most musically successful songs on the album, a shuddering alignment of rhythm and sentiment.The opposite is true of “Auntie Diaries,” in which Lamar raps about two people close to him who came out as transgender. He does this in an earnest but clunky way — there is misgendering, and there is deadnaming. And in his retelling of his childhood ignorance, he invokes, and repeats, a homophobic slur several times. These are faux pas, and so is the airless, joyless production — it is as sonically uncommitted as it is apathetic.Lamar is the rare popular musician who receives almost universal acclaim, not only artistically, but often as a kind of paragon of virtue. But there are all sorts of complexities and heterodoxies that are suffocated by uncomplicated embrace. “Mr. Morale” appears to be a corrective for that — it is an album that aims to repel, or if not quite that, then at least is at peace with alienating some of its audience.It is also a reminder of how rare it is these days to encounter popular music with unstable politics, and a gut punch to the presumption that progressive art and ideas always go hand in hand.On two different songs, Lamar expresses a kind of sympathy for R. Kelly, who has been convicted of sex trafficking and racketeering. And one of the voices that appears throughout the album is that of the Florida rapper Kodak Black, who has in the past faced sexual assault charges. (He later pleaded guilty to lesser assault charges.) Opting to work with Kodak is both creative and political provocation — it suggests Lamar believes in redemption (or perhaps that everyone is flawed, some more publicly than others), but also feels like an implicit rebuke to those who don’t see poetry, pain or progress in the work of Kodak or his peers. (Indeed, it has plenty of all of that.)These are dares of a kind — in a way, they are the most public-minded decisions on this album, which often feels insular, lyrically and musically. “Mr. Morale” is probably Lamar’s least tonally consistent work. Unlike on “DAMN.,” where Lamar tried to smooth the edges of his songs and arrived at his most commercially appealing album, “Mr. Morale” — on which Lamar works with his frequent collaborators Sounwave and DJ Dahi, Beach Noise, Duval Timothy, and others — is rangy and structurally erratic, full of mid-song beat switches, sorrowful piano and a few moments of dead air.At his best, Lamar embodies the deep creative promise of the art form of rapping — he provides hope that there are ways of agglomerating syllables that haven’t yet been thought of, that word and cadence and meaning can still collide in unanticipated ways. His voice is squeaky and malleable, and it’s often most riveting when untethered from simple rhythms. But there is a difference between effort and achievement. And when Lamar is under-delivering — say, on “Crown” — the air fills with expectancy: Surely more is just around the corner?That said, one gift of the Lamar aura is the way he frees those around him to reach for transcendence. Ghostface Killah, a veteran so accepted as a lyrical hulk as to be taken for granted, appears on “Purple Hearts” with an astonishing, floating verse. Lamar’s cousin Baby Keem also shines on “Savior (Interlude),” as does Kodak Black on “Silent Hill.”Such is the enviable house Lamar has built over the last decade, one that demands more of everyone who visits. But “Mr. Morale” reveals him to be a titan who is a victim of idolatry. Lamar knows that in truth, no one is a hero, and maybe no one should be. He is just a man. Allow him that.Kendrick Lamar“Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers”(pgLang/Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath/Interscope) More

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    Bad Bunny Has the Biggest Week of 2022 on the Chart, for Now

    Future broke the record last week; Kendrick Lamar is poised to set a new bar next week. Blockbuster season on the Billboard album chart has finally arrived.The blockbuster stage of the year’s music release calendar has arrived, with big numbers for Bad Bunny’s latest album on this week’s Billboard chart, and even bigger sales expected for Kendrick Lamar’s long-awaited, just-released return to next week’s chart.“Un Verano Sin Ti,” the new album by Bad Bunny, the mega-streaming Puerto Rican superstar, opens at No. 1 with the equivalent of 274,000 sales in the United States, according to the tracking service Luminate. That is the biggest opening of any album so far this year — beating the record set last week by the rapper Future — and Bad Bunny’s second time at No. 1.Bad Bunny has been Spotify’s most-streamed artist for the last two years running, so it’s no surprise that “Un Verano Sin Ti” racked up a huge number of clicks: 357 million, more than any release so far this year, and the best streaming week for any Latin album ever.But what counts as a blockbuster these days? The numbers have been steadily declining, and what was once the universally recognized milestone of a megahit — one million sales in a single week — looks increasingly unlikely ever to be reached again.The streaming total for “Un Verano” — which accounted for about 95 percent of its consumption in the United States — was certainly big, but it was less than half that of Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy,” which opened with 744 million last September. As a digital album, “Un Verano” sold only 12,000 copies.Not so long ago, a common chart tactic was to bundle copies of albums, as downloads or CDs, with sales of concert tickets or merchandise. But after an industry uproar that such deals were distorting the picture of fan demand and skewing the charts, Billboard changed its rules two years ago to prevent most such deals from affecting chart positions.Even without the rule change, appetites for albums, purchased whole, have been declining for years. Adele’s latest, “30,” opened last year with 839,000 “equivalent sales units” — a measurement that incorporates both sales and streaming — of which 692,000 were for sales of complete albums; in 2015, her previous album, “25,” opened with 3.4 million. No new album has sold a million copies in a single week since Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” had 1.2 million in 2017.Among other notable new releases on this week’s chart, the rapper Jack Harlow opens at No. 3 with “Come Home the Kids Miss You,” which had the equivalent of 113,000 sales, including 137 million streams, and Arcade Fire’s “We” arrives at No. 6.Future’s “I Never Liked You,” last week’s chart-topper, falls to No. 2, while Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous” is No. 4 and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” is No. 5. More

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    My Chemical Romance’s Prog-Emo Surprise, and 12 More New Songs

    Hear tracks by the Smile, Julia Jacklin, black midi and others.Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at theplaylist@nytimes.com and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.My Chemical Romance, ‘The Foundations of Decay’My Chemical Romance — the New Jersey band that fused the momentum of pop-punk, the crunch of hard rock and the opulent productions of glam — announced its breakup in 2013 and released its last new song in 2014. Although the band reunited to tour in 2019, “The Foundations of Decay” is its first new material since then. There’s no punk sarcasm for now; as the music builds from measured dirge to pummeling anthem, the lyrics both recognize and rail against the ravages of time, even on the verge of a new tour. JON PARELESThe Smile, ‘The Opposite’On its debut album, “A Light for Attracting Attention,” the Smile is Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead joined by a different drummer: Tom Skinner from Sons of Kemet. The new band’s ingredients add up largely as expected: a leaner take on Radiohead’s longstanding thoughts of alienation and malaise, pushing rhythm into the foreground. Skinner starts “The Opposite” by himself, with a sputtering, shifty funk beat that’s soon topped by an accumulation of overlapping, stop-start guitar riffs, each one adding a new bit of disorientation. Yorke might be describing the track itself when he sings, “It goes back and forth followed by a question mark.” PARELESblack midi, ‘Welcome to Hell’“Welcome to Hell” announces the third album by black midi, “Hellfire,” due July 15. It’s a jagged, funky, speed-shifting mini-suite, by turns brutal and sardonic, with lyrics about the dehumanization of a soldier. “To die for your country does not win a war/To kill for your country is what wins a war,” Geordie Greep sings. The music is exhilarating; the aftertaste is bleak. PARELESKendrick Lamar, ‘The Heart Part 5’Kendrick Lamar has made a series of songs called “The Heart” to preface his albums. “The Heart Part 5” arrived a few days before his new one, “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.” As always, Lamar’s work is multilayered, self-questioning, thoughtful, rhythmic and bold. The track’s jumpy, insistent conga drums, bass line and backup vocals come from Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You,” a title that Lamar repurposes to address his fans. On the sonic level, Lamar’s fast-talking vocals challenge the congas for syllable-by-syllable momentum. His mission is to “Sacrifice personal gain over everything/Just to see the next generation better than ours.” The song’s video clip uses deep-fake technology to make Lamar look like charged cultural figures including O.J. Simpson, Kanye West and Nipsey Hussle. This is hip-hop working through its own implications, contradictions and repercussions. PARELESFlores, ‘Brown’Flores’s voice has luster, but she can also envelop messages of pain and pride into moments of gentle acuity. On “Brown,” from her debut EP “The Lives They Left,” she meditates on her upbringing on the El Paso-Juárez border: the violence of government agencies like ICE and C.B.P., as well as the small joys of quotidian life, what she calls “brown trust” and “brown love.” A lonely saxophone resounds under the production, as Flores reflects on the resilience of the Indigenous ancestors that preceded her: “When they ask you where you people come from/16,000 years we here/Valleys stained of blood and tears/Mexica let ’em know/ This the land we’ve sown/Laid the seeds that grow.” ISABELIA HERRERARemi Wolf, ‘Michael’“Michael” is a relatively subdued song for an artist as antic and kaleidoscopic as Remi Wolf, but she puts her stamp on it nonetheless. Written with the Porches mastermind Aaron Maine — their first time working together — and Wolf’s touring guitarist Jack DeMeo, the track is a sing-songy depiction of romantic desperation, with Wolf singing from the perspective of someone clinging to an obsessive relationship she knows is doomed. “Michael, hold my hand and spin me round until I’m dizzy,” she begs atop a murky electric guitar progression. “Loosen up my chemicals.” LINDSAY ZOLADZJulia Jacklin, ‘Lydia Wears a Cross’The Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin’s music is a gradual accumulation of small, sharp lyrical details, and “Lydia Wears a Cross,” the first single from her forthcoming album “Pre Pleasure,” is full of them: Two young girls “listening to ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ soundtrack”; a child “singing every single word wrong” on a parade float; a catechism teacher instructing her pupils to pray for Princess Diana. Such snapshots create a larger atmosphere of religious indoctrination and Jacklin’s youthful questioning: “I felt pretty in the shoes and the dress/Confused by the rest, could he hear me?” The arrangement is sparse — drum machine, echoing stabs of piano — to spotlight Jacklin’s storytelling, but a subtle unease creeps in when she gets to the haunting chorus: “I’d be a believer, if it was all just song and dance/I’d be a believer, if I thought we had a chance.” ZOLADZDeath Cab for Cutie, ‘Roman Candles’Ben Gibbard sings about numbness and detachment, claiming “I am learning to let go/of everything I tried to hold,” in “Roman Candles,” the preview of an album due in September. But the music belies any claim to serenity. Drums, bass and guitars all overload and distort, pounding away in a relentless two-minute surge. PARELESThe Black Keys, ‘How Long’There’s usually some angst tucked between the brawny classic-rock riffs on a Black Keys album. The duo’s new one, “Dropout Boogie,” includes “How Long,” a betrayed lover’s confession of desperate devotion. Just two descending chords, a cycle of disappointment, carry most of the song, with layers of guitar piling on like heartaches. “Even in our final hour/See the beauty in the dying flower,” Dan Auerbach sings in the bridge, but the obsession isn’t over; the song ends with the narrator still wondering, “How long?” PARELESJoy Oladokun, ‘Purple Haze’It’s not the Jimi Hendrix song. “You and I know that love is all we need to survive,” Joy Oladokun insists in her own “Purple Haze,” preaching togetherness in the face of dire possibilities. A syncopated acoustic guitar and Oladokun’s determined voice hint at Tracy Chapman as the song begins; more vocals and guitars join her, insisting on optimism even if “maybe we’re running out of time.” PARELESAmbar Lucid, ‘Girl Ur So Pretty’Ambar Lucid may be known for her brassy, arena-sized voice, but on her new single, she ventures into new territory. “Girl Ur So Pretty” glitters like pixie dust: in an airy, gossamer falsetto, the 21-year-old artist serenades her crush over sparkling synths and ’00s girl group handclaps. It’s a welcome spin on the bubble gum pop of a bygone era, and she brings her tongue-in-cheek humor along, too: “Can’t tell if I’m in love or high,” she sings. “I’m not usually into Earth signs.” HERRERAChes Smith, ‘Interpret It Well’There’s a nervy, bated-breath feeling about the music that the drummer and vibraphonist Ches Smith is making with his new quartet featuring Mat Maneri on violin, Craig Taborn on piano and Bill Frisell on guitar. It’s not fully dread, but not simple anticipation either. For an LP led by a drummer, “Interpret It Well” is full of extended passages with no drumming; latent tension hangs where the percussion might have been. On the title track, Smith taps the vibraphone in a pattern of resonant octaves, and the rest of the quartet grows restless behind him. A bluesy aside from Frisell sends the band into silence, and Taborn plays a long cadenza. By the end of the nearly 14-minute track, the four are charging ahead together. This is the peak, but the stench of expectation still lingers, as if something else even louder — or completely peaceful — waits just ahead. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLOJacob Garchik, ‘Fanfare’The trombonist and composer Jacob Garchik treated his new album, “Assembly,” as a canvas for some impressive formal experiments, and there’s rarely a dull moment. Its tracks include spontaneous improvisations reframed via overdubs; complex compositions mixing two different tempos; and dissections of pieces of the jazz canon. On the fast-charging “Fanfare,” as Garchik and the soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome harmonize on a series of descending and ascending patterns, the rhythm section’s off-track backing gives the illusion that things are speeding up. Then suddenly a long, cooled-out passage begins, just trombone and piano, with Garchik sounding as buttery as Tricky Sam Nanton over changes borrowed from Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood.” RUSSONELLO More

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    Kendrick Lamar Returns With ‘Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers’

    Since his 2017 album, “DAMN.,” the California rapper has won seven Grammys and the Pulitzer Prize for music. “Mr. Morale,” his fifth LP, is expected to make a big splash on the charts.The five-year wait for a new album by Kendrick Lamar — the Pulitzer-anointed, voice-of-a-generation rapper — is finally over.“Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers,” Lamar’s fifth studio LP and one of the most ardently anticipated new albums in years, was released overnight on digital services, with big hopes from fans and big questions looming about his next career steps.Lamar, 34, is one of the few major figures in the contemporary music scene — where a regular flow of new content is seen as a necessity — who can keep fans waiting for such a long stretch without sacrificing fan loyalty or critical prestige. Even after Lamar’s extended absence, “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” is expected to make a sizable opening-week splash on the Billboard albums chart.Lamar cemented himself as one of the most ambitious rappers of the millennial generation with his major-label debut, “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” (2012). For his follow-up effort, “To Pimp a Butterfly” (2015), he brought in a host of players from Los Angeles’s fertile jazz scene, including Kamasi Washington and Thundercat. That album, “a work about living under constant racialized surveillance and how that can lead to many types of internal monologues, some empowered, some self-loathing,” as the Times pop music critic Jon Caramanica wrote, includes “Alright,” which became an unofficial Black Lives Matter protest anthem.His 2017 album, “DAMN.,” won five Grammy Awards, though it lost album of the year to Bruno Mars’s “24K Magic.” (The rapper has 14 total Grammy wins.) Lamar, who grew up in Compton, Calif., and has made that area’s culture and struggles a central part of his music, also became the first rapper to receive the Pulitzer Prize for music. “DAMN.” was cited in 2018 as “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.” Lamar embraced the accolade, appearing in concert with a “Pulitzer Kenny” banner behind him.Also in 2018, Lamar and the head of his record company, Anthony Tiffith (known as Top Dawg), were the executive producers of a companion album to the film “Black Panther.” A track from the LP, “All the Stars,” by Lamar and SZA, was nominated for an Academy Award for best original song. The visual artist Lina Iris Viktor sued, saying her work was used without permission in the track’s video; the lawsuit was settled in late 2018.Since that eventful year, Lamar has kept a low public profile, making a handful of guest appearances on other artists’ songs and, last year, joining the Las Vegas rapper (and his cousin) Baby Keem for two songs on Keem’s album “The Melodic Blue,” including the Grammy-winning “Family Ties.” In February, Lamar took the stage at the Super Bowl LVI halftime show alongside Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Eminem and Mary J. Blige, which put him in the odd position of being either the only relative youngster in a hip-hop oldies show or — performing songs up to a decade old — perhaps already being a bit of a throwback himself.Last Sunday, Lamar released a new music video, “The Heart Part 5,” as a teaser for “Mr. Morale.” It has a spoken prologue stating “life is perspective” and then shows Lamar’s face melding with those of a series of Black men of varying levels of cultural heroism or controversy: O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, Nipsey Hussle. The deepfake effects were created by Deep Voodoo, a studio from the “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, which is planning further projects with pgLang, a new company founded by Lamar and Dave Free, a longtime collaborator.The lyrics in “The Heart Part 5” have already been scoured for meaning, as has the image that Lamar shared on Wednesday of the album’s cover, photographed by Renell Medrano. It shows Lamar, in a crown of thorns, holding a child while a woman on a bed nurses a baby, like an allegorical religious painting.To some extent, those may also serve as clues for the next stage of Lamar’s career. “Mr. Morale” will be his last album for Top Dawg Entertainment, or TDE, Lamar’s home since the beginning of his career, which has released his music in partnership with Interscope. He has not announced a new label deal, but has instead begun new projects with pgLang, which was announced two years ago as a “multilingual, at service company” that will work on a range of creative and commercial projects, from the video for “The Heart Part 5” to a series of new Converse sneakers. More

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    Future Earns an Eighth No. 1 Album With ‘I Never Liked You’

    The Atlanta rapper’s latest release had the largest numbers of the year so far, but big new LPs from Bad Bunny and Jack Harlow will register on next week’s chart.For most of the year so far, sales of new music have been pretty unremarkable, with even the No. 1 album posting modest numbers week after week. But those doldrums may now be over, with a hit new LP by the rapper Future and a slew of high-profile releases coming — including a surprise release by the Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny that is poised to make a big splash on next week’s chart.This week, “I Never Liked You” became the eighth chart-topping album by Future, an Atlanta rapper who has been a mainstay on the charts for a decade. With guest appearances by Kanye West (now known as Ye), Gunna, Young Thug, Drake, Kodak Black and others, the album had the equivalent of 222,000 sales in the United States, more than any release this year, according to the tracking service Luminate. That total is a composite number attributed mostly to streaming, with songs from the album getting nearly 284 million clicks in its opening week.Those numbers may well be eclipsed next week by Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti,” which was released on Friday with little advance notice. Bad Bunny is a global streaming colossus — he has been Spotify’s top streaming artist for the last two years — and “Un Verano” broke that service’s record for the most clicks around the world for an album in a single day (topping Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” last year). Another big new album released last week: “Come Home the Kids Miss You,” by Jack Harlow, the Kentucky rapper who joined Lil Nas X on last year’s No. 1 song “Industry Baby.”Also this week, the Weeknd’s “Dawn FM” rises 33 spots to No. 2 after its arrival on vinyl, matching the album’s chart high from when it was released in January. Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous” is No. 3, Miranda Lambert’s new “Palomino” is No. 4 and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” is in fifth place.Other major albums on the horizon include Kendrick Lamar (Friday), Harry Styles (May 20), Post Malone (June 3), BTS (June 10) and Luke Combs (June 24). More

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    A Decade of Drill Rap

    Subscribe to Popcast!Apple Podcasts | Spotify | StitcherIn the early 2010s, a novel sound emerged from Chicago’s rap scene. Drill music was immediate and brash, relentlessly local and yet easily accessible. It became a template that would be borrowed from widely.It has iterated several times in the years since. Lil Durk, one of the Chicago scene’s earliest stars, is having a career peak now with the recent release of his album “7220,” his first to top the Billboard album chart. New York drill, which found an sonic identity with the work of Pop Smoke, who was killed in 2020, is expanding as well, as heard in the music of Fivio Foreign, who on his debut album “B.I.B.L.E.” is seeking to translate the sound for a broader audience.On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about drill’s origins, its many global permutations, its intermittent embrace by the hip-hop mainstream and the directions it may still head in.Guests:Joe Coscarelli, New York Times pop music reporterDavid Drake, longtime chronicler of Chicago hip-hopConnect With Popcast. Become a part of the Popcast community: Join the show’s Facebook group and Discord channel. We want to hear from you! Tune in, and tell us what you think at popcast@nytimes.com. Follow our host, Jon Caramanica, on Twitter: @joncaramanica. More

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    Black Star’s First Album in 24 Years Arrives, and 11 More New Songs

    Hear tracks by Sharon Van Etten, Carly Rae Jepsen, 070 Shake and others.Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week’s most notable new songs and videos. Just want the music? Listen to the Playlist on Spotify here (or find our profile: nytimes). Like what you hear? Let us know at theplaylist@nytimes.com and sign up for our Louder newsletter, a once-a-week blast of our pop music coverage.Black Star, ‘O.G.’Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) have reunited as Black Star — 24 years after their first and only previous full album together — with “No Fear of Time,” abetted by an ideal choice of producer: the crate-digging, funk-loving Madlib. Most of the new album is exclusive to the subscription podcast app Luminary, but the opening track, “O.G.” — “On God” — is on YouTube. Over an insistent bass line and swelling organ chords, the rapping is equal parts boasting and worship, insisting “the time is relative, ’cause the truth is everlasting.” Both rappers juggle mortality and persistence, rightfully flaunting their own “Encyclopaedia Britannica flow,” mixing Brooklyn pride and reggae references (and samples from “The Ruler” by Gregory Isaacs), sounding self-congratulatory but still determined to instruct. JON PARELESDoja Cat, ‘Vegas’The most soulful voice in “Vegas” — by far — is the sample from Big Mama Thornton, rasping “You ain’t nothin’ but a” from “Hound Dog,” the song that Elvis Presley would latch onto. “Hound Dog” was about a materialist masquerading as a sweetheart, and the rapping and multitracked vocal harmonies of Doja Cat’s “Vegas” — from the soundtrack to Baz Lurhmann’s “Elvis” — update it to the life of a 21st-century star: “Sittin’ courtside with your arm around me.” The underlying three chords are a classic blues structure; Doja Cat borrows their archetypal power. PARELESCarly Rae Jepsen, ‘Western Wind’Carly Rae Jepsen’s bright, bold pop takes an impressionistic turn on her new single “Western Wind,” thanks in part to production from Rostam Batmanglij. A hypnotic beat and Jepsen’s entranced, closed-eyes vocals make the whole thing sound like a pastoral reverie — an intriguing new direction for her. “First bloom, you know it’s spring/Reminding me love that it’s all connected,” Jepsen sings dreamily. The solar power is strong with this one. LINDSAY ZOLADZHolly Humberstone, ‘Sleep Tight’Holly Humberstone, 22, is the current opening act on Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour Tour, and the two share a penchant for emotionally resonant songwriting and music that sounds like whatever was on the radio shortly before they were born. “Sleep Tight,” which Humberstone co-wrote with the 1975 frontman Matty Healy and her longtime collaborator Rob Milton, is a tale of mixed emotions and that gray area between pals and lovers, set to rushing acoustic guitar chords that conjure ’90s pop-rock. “Oh my God, I’ve done it again, I almost killed our friendship,” Humberstone sings. Her delivery is at once as casually conversational as a text message and as shyly secret as an internal monologue. ZOLADZLady Gaga, ‘Hold My Hand’Lady Gaga is possibly the only contemporary pop star who could convincingly cover Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” and Kenny Loggins’s “Danger Zone,” so it’s fitting that her theme from the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” channels a little bit of both. “Hold My Hand” is as bombastic and romantic as any of her torch songs from the soundtrack for “A Star Is Born,” but it’s also punched up with soaring electric guitar and gigantic ’80s drums that sound like they were recorded in an airplane hangar. “So cry tonight, but don’t you let go of my hand,” she belts as if her life depended on it, pulling off gloriously earnest pastiche like only Gaga can. ZOLADZ070 Shake, ‘Web’Danielle Balbuena, the singer and rapper who records as 070 Shake, overdubs her voice into a cascading chorale in “Web,” a cryptic call for personal contact and honesty. “This thing isn’t working/Let’s be here in person,” she chants. “I want to get through to you.” Maybe the song is a reaction to too many Zoom meetings; it’s a gorgeous response. PARELESSharon Van Etten, ‘Come Back’Confessions of need and uncertainty lead to monumental choruses in the songs on Sharon Van Etten’s new album, “We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong,” which ponder how to reconcile the life of a performing artist with motherhood, relationships and self-realization. A humble acoustic guitar strum starts “Come Back,” as a tremulous-voiced Van Etten muses about “Subtle moments of past/What a wondering time.” But the chorus arrives in a giant wall of sound — drums, keyboards, guitars, vocal harmonies in cavernous reverb — as Van Etten longs for a return to being “wild and unsure/And naked and pure.” PARELESKathleen Hanna, Erica Dawn Lyle and Vice Cooler, ‘Mirrorball’With Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill exhorting, “Put your finger in the socket!,” “Mirrorball” is the first blast of post-punk mayhem from “Land Trust,” a benefit album for North East Farmers of Color, which is acquiring land for Indigenous and minority farmers. During the pandemic, Bikini Kill’s current guitarist, Erica Dawn Lyle, and drum tech, Vice Cooler, collaborated with multiple generations of feminist rockers; along with Hanna, the pioneering riot grrrl, the album — due June 3 — draws on members of the Raincoats, the Breeders, Deerhoof, Slant 6, Palberta and the Linda Lindas. While “Mirrorball” flings sarcastic late-capitalism advice like “Stay true to your personal brand,” stomping drums and cranked-up guitars brook no nonsense. PARELESLeyla McCalla, ‘Le Bal Est Fini’The songwriter Leyla McCalla played banjo, guitar and cello in the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Our Native Daughters; her parents were Haitian immigrants, and she spent time with her grandmother in Haiti. Her new album, “Breaking the Thermometer,” started as a music-theater work commissioned by Duke University, which acquired the archives of Radio Haiti and has placed them online. The album mingles Haitian songs and McCalla’s own songs with snippets of broadcasts and interviews, examining Haiti’s history of exploitation, revolution, dictatorship and turmoil. “Le Bal Est Fini” (“The Party Is Over”) is based on an editorial by a Radio Haiti journalist in 1980, the year the government shut the station down. The music is upbeat, with syncopated undercurrents of rara carnival rhythms. Meanwhile the lyrics, in Haitian Creole, lash out at anti-democratic forces: “Arbitrary, illegal, anti-Constitutional.” PARELESASAP Rocky, ‘D.M.B.’For ASAP Rocky, “bitch” is an endearment. “D.M.B.” — “Dat’s my bitch” — is a love song; the video clip features glimpses of Rihanna, his girlfriend. “Bitch” is also a usefully percussive syllable in a multilayered production that constantly warps itself with woozy crosscurrents of pride, defensiveness, affection and machismo. Rocky raps and sings through “D.M.B.” with a shifting flow, and for all his aggression, he sounds genuinely affectionate. PARELESTirzah, ‘Ribs’The London-based artist Tirzah makes love songs in the abstract: free-flowing and amorphous meditations on intimacy and interconnection. As on her 2021 album “Colourgrade,” the first record she made since becoming a mother, the unconditional relationship she’s singing about on her hazy new single, “Ribs,” could be between a parent and child, though it has a welcoming universality about it too. “You see things I can’t see, you see love and in between,” Tirzah sings openheartedly. “Hold onto me.” ZOLADZGlasser, ‘New Scars’“New Scars” is an eerie, enveloping benediction from Glasser, a.k.a. the songwriter, singer and producer Cameron Mesirow. It begins with sparse, bell-like, electronically altered and harmonically ambiguous piano notes, a counterpoint as Glasser sustains and repeats a kind of mantra: “Try to remain with the love/there’s no room for shame.” Eventually, orchestral strings swell around her and her vocals grow into a choir as she moves on to a terse but somehow encouraging thought: “We carry through life.” PARELES More