Kitty, “Second Life”
21-year-old young Florida rapper who became internet famous as Kitty Pryde and stubbornly—thankfully—refused to settle for meme-dom starts this one off with a whispery, ”You make me this quiet thing I’m not used to being.” But it’s only her voice that’s hushed: The whooshing drum & bass beat offers all the evidence you need that she does as she pleases, even when that means potentially confusing both rap and EDM fans. (Not to mention the harassers she has so eloquently dispatched in the past.)
Austin Mahone, “Banga! Banga!”
The 17-year-old singer who became internet famous and is now stubbornly—tryingly—pursuing genuine pop stardom starts this one off with a squeaky “shoot, shoot, shoot,” which I sincerely hope is not intended as an update on “skeet, skeet, skeet.” He does pledge to “make you mine,” which fails to even update the doo-wop-era discourse between guys and gals. The song itself sounds like radio hip hop constructed from Legos—busted ones, with bite marks.
Eminem, “Rhyme or Reason”
Because nothing’s ever easy with Eminem, he had to include this inventive track on the creatively self-annihilating Marshall Mathers LP 2. Virtually everywhere else, the past catches up and overtakes him. Here, with the help of the brilliantly craven Rick Rubin, he reanimates “Time of the Season” by the Zombies and perfectly sums—and sends—up his childhood by rapping, in response to the “Who’s your daddy?” refrain, ”I don’t have one—my mother reproduced like a Komodo dragon.” Those lizards reproduce asexually, if you didn’t know—but of course, Eminem just schooled you.
Hospitality, “I Miss Your Bones”
With all the indie bands operating out of the borough, you’d think there would countless poppy Brooklyn trios on par with this one, with a singer as captivating as Amber Pampini and a sound that’s bittersweet like European soda (so, like, noticeably bitter). But that would be confusing appeal for easiness. And in fact, it’s an undercurrent of unease that distinguishes this song, which will appear on their second album, due out Jan. 28.