Last week I put three songs about the coronavirus on my playlist, and I figured that was enough topical material for now. But how was I supposed to resist Bobi Wine?
Bobi Wine & Nubian Li HD – “Corona Virus Alert”
A Ugandan political opposition leader records a reggae-tinged PSA with soukous guitars, and it’s done more to buoy my spirits in the past 24 hours than any music has over the past two weeks. “The bad news is that everyone is a potential victim,” Wine begins, adding “but the good news is that everyone is a potential solution” before settling on a slogan for the ages: “Sensitize the masses to sanitize.”
Run the Jewels – “Yankee and the Brave (ep. 4)”
El-P and Killer Mike return with a hard and intense teletype beat that breaks into heavy boom-bap, and lyrics highlighted by a description of Mike charging the cops who’ve got him surrounded. They followed it up with “Ooh LA LA,” a tribute to the Golden Age that samples Gang Starr and namechecks Jeru the Damaja. Welcome back, guys.
Azealia Banks – “Slow Hands”
My problematickest fave and favorite problematic rescues this song from a band whose stylized malaise I personally never had time for. Please, please, pleeeease do not tweet about the coronavirus, Azealia.
Tropical Fuck Storm – “Suburbitopia”
These dyspeptic Australians remain as good as their name, wailing about the tedium of isolated existences over a track that especially hits home now that quarantine has rendered us all essentially suburbitopians.
İzmirli Erco feat. Paris – “Mekanın Sahibi Geldi”
What can you tell me about this guy? This song slid into my recommendations on Spotify, which is streaming 11 of his albums, but Google offers no pertinent biographical info, even when it translates the results from Turkish. His groan is more charming than tuneful, the Balkan-sounding horns (perhaps one of which he even plays?) lively and unruly, and I have no idea who Paris is either. (Well, I know it’s not this guy.) Tonight I plan to dive into at least one of his full-lengths. Probably not all 11 though.
Beauty Pill – “Pardon Our Dust”
What the band calls “a rumination on the idea of oblivion” (timely!) wobbles along a shifting beat and skewed horn arrangements as new vocalist Erin Nelson (who also dances in the video) offers up lines like “There are so few reasons left” and the cherished Prince quote “I live inside my own heart, Matt Damon.” Artful and enigmatic stuff.
Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2020 playlist.