Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) reunited as Black Star – 24 years after their first and only full album together – with “No Fear of Time”, encouraged by an ideal choice of producer: the crate digger, funk-loving Madlib. Most of the new album is exclusive to the Luminary subscription podcast app, but the opener track, “OG” – “On God” – is on YouTube. Over an insistent bassline and swelling organ chords, the rap is equal parts boast and adoration, insisting that “time is relative, for truth is eternal.” The two rappers juggle mortality and perseverance, fittingly posting their own “Encyclopaedia Britannica flow,” blending Brooklyn pride and reggae references (and snippets of Gregory Isaacs’ “The Ruler,” seeming self- congratulations but still determined to educate. JON PARELES

The most soulful vocal on “Vegas” — by far — is Big Mama Thornton’s sample, grating “You ain’t nothin’ but a” from “Hound Dog,” the song Elvis Presley would latch onto. “Hound Dog” was about a materialist disguised as a lover, and the rapping, multi-track vocal harmonies of Doja Cat’s “Vegas” — from the soundtrack to Baz Lurhmann’s “Elvis” — bring him up to date in the life of a 21st century star: “Sitting at the edge of the pitch with your arm around me. The three underlying chords are classic blues structure; Doja Cat borrows their archetypal power. Pareles

Carly Rae Jepsen’s bright, bold pop takes an impressionistic twist on her new single “Western Wind,” thanks in part to Rostam Batmanglij’s production. A hypnotic beat and Jepsen’s rapturous voice and closed eyes make the whole thing sound like a pastoral daydream — an intriguing new direction for her. “First bloom, you know it’s spring/Remining me love that it’s all related,” Jepsen sings dreamily. Solar power is strong with this one. LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Holly Humberstone, 22, is the current opening act for Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour Tour, and the two share a penchant for writing emotionally resonant songs and music that sounds like anything on the radio shortly before their birth. “Sleep Tight,” which Humberstone co-wrote with 1975 frontman Matty Healy and longtime collaborator Rob Milton, is a story of mixed emotions and that gray area between buddies and lovers, set to guitar chords. rushing acoustics that evoke 90s pop. rock. “Oh my God, I did it again, I almost killed our friendship,” Humberstone sings. His speech is both as casual as a text message and as shyly secretive as an interior monologue. ZOLADZ

Lady Gaga is perhaps the only contemporary pop star who could convincingly cover Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” and Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone,” so it’s only fitting that her next channel theme “Top Gun: Maverick” a bit of both. “Hold My Hand” is as bombastic and romantic as any of his songs from the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack, but it’s also spiced up with booming electric guitar and gigantic drums from the 80s that sound like they were recorded on an airplane. shed. “So cry tonight, but don’t let go of my hand,” she says as if her life depended on it, performing a gloriously serious pastiche in the way only Gaga can. ZOLADZ

Danielle Balbuena, the singer and rapper who records as 070 Shake, layers her vocals in a cascading chorale in “Web,” a cryptic call for personal contact and honesty. “This thing doesn’t work / Let’s be here in person,” she chants. ” I want to talk to you. Perhaps the song is a reaction to too many Zoom meetings; that’s a wonderful answer. Talk

Confessions of need and uncertainty lead to monumental refrains in songs from Sharon Van Etten’s new album, ‘We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong’, which reflect on how to balance the life of a female performer with motherhood, relationships and self-realization. A humble acoustic guitar strum begins “Come Back”, as a trembling-voiced Van Etten reflects on “Subtle moments of the past / What a wonderful time”. But the chorus arrives in a giant wall of sound – drums, keyboards, guitars, vocal harmonies in cavernous reverb – as Van Etten yearns for a return to being “wild and uncertain/And naked and pure”. Talk

With Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill urging, “Put your finger in the socket!”, “Mirrorball” is the first outburst of post-punk mayhem from “Land Trust,” a benefit album for North East Farmers of Color, which is gaining land for indigenous and minority farmers. During the pandemic, current Bikini Kill guitarist Erica Dawn Lyle and drum tech Vice Cooler have collaborated with several generations of feminist rockers; featuring pioneering riot grrrl Hanna, the album – due June 3 – draws inspiration from members of the Raincoats, Breeders, Deerhoof, Slant 6, Palberta and Linda Lindas. While “Mirrorball” hurls sarcastic advice from late capitalism like “Stay true to your personal brand,” the drums and crank guitars tolerate no nonsense. Talk

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. His new album, “Breaking the Thermometer,” began as a musical theater work commissioned by Duke University, which acquired the archives of Radio Haiti and put them online. The album mixes Haitian songs and McCalla’s own songs with excerpts from broadcasts and interviews, examining Haiti’s history of exploitation, revolution, dictatorship and unrest. “Le Bal Est Fini” (“The party is over”) is based on an op-ed by a Radio Haiti journalist in 1980, the year the government shut down the station. The music is catchy, with syncopated undercurrents of carnival rara beats. Meanwhile, the lyrics, in Haitian Creole, attack anti-democratic forces: “Arbitrary, illegal, unconstitutional.” Talk

For ASAP Rocky, “bitch” is affection. “DMB” – “It’s my female dog” – is a love song; the music video features glimpses of Rihanna, his girlfriend. “Bitch” is also a helpfully punchy syllable in a multi-layered production that constantly warps with dizzying crosscurrents of pride, defensiveness, affection and machismo. Rocky raps and sings through “DMB” with a shifting flow, and for all his aggression, he sounds genuinely affectionate. Talk

London-based artist Tirzah makes love songs in the abstract: flowing, amorphous meditations on intimacy and interconnectedness. Like on her 2021 album ‘Colourgrade,’ the first record she’s made since becoming a mother, the unconditional relationship she talks about on her hazy new single, ‘Ribs,’ could be between parent and child. , although she has a welcoming universality about that too. “You see things I can’t see, you see love and in between,” Tirzah sings heartily. “Hold on to me.” ZOLADZ

“New Scars” is an eerie, enveloping blessing from Glasser, aka songwriter, singer and producer Cameron Mesirow. It begins with sparse, bell-shaped, electronically altered and harmonically ambiguous piano notes, a counterpoint as Glasser sustains and repeats a sort of mantra: “Try to stay with love / There’s no room for shame.” Eventually the orchestral strings swell around her and her voice turns to a chorus as she transitions to a terse but somehow encouraging thought: “We live on.” Talk