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Fall Music Roundup: What’s Old is New Again

Every year fall comes again, reminding us that life is cyclical, transitioning from spring’s verdant bloom to high summer’s lush greenery to fall’s cool harvest. Music is like that too. What’s old is often new again. And this fall is no different. From up-and-coming rappers like Maliibu Miitch paying homage to her South Bronx roots to old school vets like Ghostface Killah making one more stand on the mic, this season’s new musical releases have something for everyone. And that includes a little bit of rock, from both newer talent like former Smith Westerns frontman Cullen Omori to the seemingly ageless Lenny Kravitz. For fall 2018 music, what’s old is new again and vice versa. Pull up chair, pop on your headphones, and get acquainted.

Photo via Johnny-Nunez/WireImage.com

South Bronx rapper Maliibu Miitch is on fire. She really started to make waves in the summer of 2017, when the notoriously difficult-to-impress Pitchfork asked “Is Maliibu Miitch NYC’s Best New Rapper?” This was right after the 27-year-old dropped her EP, “Top 5,” which featured bravely remixed hits of OG female rappers: Missy Elliot, Lil’ Kim, Eve, Lauryn Hill and Foxy Brown. Brown clearly approved of Miitch’s take on “Get Me Home,” the first single from Brown’s 1996 debut album, because the trailblazer has referred to Miitch, on numerous occasions, as “Baby Fox.” Another Maliibu Miitch fan? Nicki Minaj, who’s shouted Miitch out on Instagram and in interviews. The pint-sized MC is worthy of the love, and you’d know this if you’ve heard and watched the visual for her most recent single, “Give Her Some Money,” an unapologetic, empowering anthem for women, in which Miitch fires off head-turning lyrics in her magnetic baritone. With a forthcoming full-length project slated for a fall release, the world better get ready for this sizzling superstar.  

Diana Gordon

Photo via Benjamin Lozovsky/Rex Shutterstock

Diana Gordon is no music world newbie. During her dance artist days when she was FKA Wynter Gordon, she topped the Billboard Dance Club Songs with 2011’s bop, “Dirty Talk.” She also went on to write songs for several big-time artists including Mary J. Blige and Ciara. And in 2016, she co-wrote a handful of gems found on Beyoncé’s lauded LP, “Lemonade”—You can thank the scribe for that now iconic “Becky with the good hair” lyric. Also in 2016, Gordon officially hung up Wynter’s mic, instead going by her birth name, Diana. In the summer of 2018, she released a soulful, stripped-down EP, Pure,” which resulted in much press coverage from publications ranging from Pitchfork to PAPER, plus social media shout-outs praising the musician and the EP from musicians including SZA and Kehlani. (You must listen to the first single and watch the video for “Kool Aid.”) This pure talent is here to stay… and slay.  

Kevin George

Photo via artist’s PR 

Age ain’t nothing but a number when it comes to the insanely talented 20-year-old self-taught producer-turned-singer, Kevin George. Inspired by Prince and The Weeknd, George is the refreshing real deal. The Weeknd’s influence is heavily felt on George’s “High Like This,” the song responsible for getting the “Have you heard of Kevin George?” buzz circulating. “High Like This,” the first single from his debut EP, LOVELAND,” is the perfect intriguing introduction to the rising talent. George’s vocals possess this ability to sound drugged-out kinds of detached albeit with this melancholic, vulnerable intimacy. As for the beat, it’s both shadowy and sexy, and the track feels more like an experience—trippy and transcendent. This summer, George dropped his second EP, Fortina,” which provides more trippy and transcendent feels, surely resulting in listeners needing to hear more from the exciting artist.

Valee

Photo via Daniel Mendoza/Recording Academy

There must be something in the Chicago water. In other words, meet the Chicago born-and-raised Valee, the best new rapper you might not (but really should) know. While there’s a slew of distinctive voices out of the Chicago hip-hop scene, Valee’s is on another one-of-a-kind level. His rapping style is entrancingly quiet and subtle, which has a lot to do with his influences from his formative years, namely Sade and her soft, smooth pipes. Thanks to his singular sonic spitting style, he nabbed a record deal with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, and released his first EP, “GOOD Job, You Found Me,” in March 2018. Valee’s dropped several successful singles and music videos (the visual for “Miami” featuring Pusha T. has over a million views) while he works on a full-length album. It couldn’t come soon enough.

Cullen Omori

Photo via YouTube Music

Indie rocker Cullen Omori has returned with his eagerly anticipated sophomore album, The Diet.” As the former frontman of the acclaimed band Smith Westerns, who boasted a strong following and played major music festivals including Coachella, going solo was a wildly brave move. But, thank the rock gods, this move was ultimately rewarding. Signed to the iconic Sub Pop records, “The Diet” sounds like early, playful MGMT with a side of melancholic Beach House. It’s Omori’s catchiest tunes, the kind that proves that the solo star can shine on his own. For proof, listen to the foot-stomping “Happiness Reigns,” and go on and thank us later.

Lenny Kravitz

Photo via Getty Images

Lenny Kravitz needs no introduction. A reintroduction would be more appropriate, and it looks/sounds like he’s doing just that with his forthcoming 11th (!!) studio album, Raise Vibration,” which drops September 7th. “It’s Enough,” the first song he released from the LP, gives some Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On” vibes, both sonically and with its message — The smooth and soulful song addresses corporate greed, racism and political corruption. Then there’s the catchy as hell “Low,” the second single from the LP, which sounds like something Bruno Mars wishes he wrote and recorded. It’s a disco-drenched number, with blazing horns, Niles Rodgers-esque funky guitar riffs, and featured guest vocals from Michael Jackson. The visual for “Low” finds the multi-instrumentalist doing what he does best—rocking out (this time, on the drums) and, yep, raising many a vibration.  

Justice

Photo via Pedro Winter

The critically acclaimed French dance outfit Justice has provided the rave-ready jams since 2007. Thankfully, they’ve recently returned with another studio album, Woman Worldwide,” which finds them revisiting their classics in addition to jams off their last release, “Woman.”  But don’t judge an LP by its track list: The tunes, just like the Parisian duo’s live shows, are unpredictable and invigorating. A grimy and guttural, disco-meets-rock banger reworking of “D.A.N.C.E.”? Yes please! Leave it to Justice to once again get fans in a downright tizzy on many a vodka-drenched dance floor.

Ghostface Killah

Photo via Sarah Jacobs

On October 5th, Ghostface Killah will drop “The Lost Tapes.” There’s a lot to look forward to on the anxiously awaited LP, which is produced entirely by Big Ghost. Guest stars include Raekwon, Vic Spencer, Big Daddy Kane, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, Sheek Louch, and… Michael Rapaport?  Ghostface Killah hasn’t released a studio album since 2013, but if first track released, “Saigon Velour,” featuring Snoop Dogg, E-40, and La the Darkman, is any indication, then “The Lost Tapes” will be worth the wait. And most likely will cause listeners to lose their damn minds.

Words by Alex Catarinella


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