Up-and-coming producer Khåen is one to keep an ear out for. Little information about him exists out there, but it doesn’t need to: his music speaks for itself. Khåen just dropped his new single ‘Kyrie’ through Lane 8‘slabelThis Never Happened. The track is part of the label’s upcoming compilation,Root to Branch, Vol. 1. The compilation is set to drop on August 25 and also features another Khåen track, ‘Whims’, as well as new tracks by Anderholm and Limara.
‘Kyrie’ is a dazzling deep house single with lush synth strings, buzzy synth leads, layered drum loops, and an insistent bassline that expertly build off of and interact with one another. It makes for a chill, hypnotic listen with well-developed builds and breaks over the course of its four-minute runtime. The track has a gorgeous fade out in the last minute, with various elements gradually dropping out, leaving behind only contemplative synth strings for a wistful finale.
J Balvin and Willy William’s “Mi Gente” was a certified banger from the moment it dropped—in the streets, the clubs, the airwaves, and the charts. Released during the summer of “Despacito,” it proved the Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi’s Spanish-language pop smash was no fluke. With the track’s latest remix, blessed by none other than Beyoncé, Balvin and William seem to be following the “Despacito” playbook, adding a feature from an English-speaking pop star singing in Spanish to expand the song’s reach. But the remix is far from a cynical booster pack to an already massive song: Beyoncé will donate proceeds from the remix to natural disaster relief in communities devastated by earthquakes and hurricanes in the last few weeks. And with a mastery of Spanish that will come as no surprise to those that remember Irreemplazable, she helps William and Balvin prime the party anthem for global domination.
While Bieber’s Spanish likely benefitted from studio wizardry, Beyoncé needs no such assistance here. Even more impressively, she’s not just singing, but straight up rapping. The English and Spanish flow are two different beasts, but Bey wields her fluency like a wand, effortlessly flowing lines like “Mi gente no se detiene/Aquí nadie se quiere ir” (“My people don’t stop, nobody wants to leave”) that would twist your favorite rapper’s tongue in a knot of syllables. The track’s infectious beat, borrowed from Williams’ “Voodoo Song”—a wailing car-horn melody laid atop the iconic reggaeton riddim—remains unchanged. But Beyoncé’s flexes (“I been giving birth on these haters ’cause I’m fertile”) push it over the top. Her bars are seamlessly woven into Williams’ and Balvin’s verses too: Bey cops Balvin’s autotune croon with aplomb, and in her verse with Willy, she tips her cap to his French-Mauritanian heritage with a few lines in French, for good measure.
The Atlanta singer-songwriter Abra makes 1980s-inspired R&B with bedroom pop production value. That D.I.Y. ethos has been a big part of her self-produced music since her debut album, 2015’s Rose. Her new song, “Novacane,” released as part of Adult Swim’s singles program, is an exciting departure from her retro-inspired previous projects. It’s cleaner, colder, and more fine-tuned than any of her work to date.
Abra’s vocals are largely absent on “Novacane”—instead, she focuses on sculpting the production. Staggered machine-like vocal samples bloom in the intro, eventually giving way to smooth, glassy synths big enough to fill a club. True to her hometown sound, she’s heavy-handed with 808 beats, but she uses her array of effects like venomous keys and cinematic drum fills to create an ominous mood. When her lilting voice does appear, she’s processed it into an unrecognizable bass tone. “Novocane” is almost like a John Carpenter movie score, though the vibe is even more suited for an illegal warehouse rave. That sense of scale is something Abra plays with well, making the track one of her most complex and illustrative productions so far.
Jamie xx is his band’s beatmaker and backbone—if he puts the right oomphbehind a song, it can feel both powerful and sublime. As a solo artist, his most aggressive moments are often his best, like “Gosh,” from his album, In Colour. But there are moments when his work can sound pleasantly anonymous, good for shopping at H&M. Some of the xx’s most recent album, I See Yousuffered from a similar lack of edge. “On Hold,” the record’s first single, seemed to try to toe the line between heavy and breezy; with a chipper sample from Hall and Oates running through it, the song may have been a bit too clever for its own good.
This remix reaches for some dynamism, by way of Ibiza. Three minutes in, xx singer Oliver Sim repeats the staccato mantra, “I thought that we could be lovers.” Digital chimes explode all around him, dramatic synthesizer burts pittering a little marathon across the track. It’s a perfect song for hearing everywhere. Knowing the origin story of a group like the xx—awkward teens recording songs about their broken hearts over Skype—a remix like this is incredible, if only for the fact of its simple existence, how it’s so far away from the dweeby London universe that bred them. If you’re an old-school xx diehard, this remix may not necessarily be something you choose to listen to, but chances are you are going to hear it (or something a lot like it) the next time you need new pants.