What Are You Listening To? is a weekly rundown of what A.V. Club staffers are streaming. Listen to these songs and more on our Spotify playlist, updated weekly with new stuff.
From its wild surreality and cutting humor to its pro-union message, there’s a lot to like about Sorry To Bother You, debut director Boots Riley’s dystopian workplace satire. Adding texture to the film’s wonderfully detailed world is its soundtrack, courtesy of Riley’s own hip-hop group, The Coup, and including guest appearances by Janelle Monáe, Killer Mike, and Tune-Yards. Lead single “OYAHYTT,” with its dirty, distorted guitar, driving kick drum, and exuberant trumpets, has enough funk-rock energy to go around, and the hook is as infectious as it is simple: “Oh yeah, all right, hell yeah, that’s tight.” And while Lakeith Stanfield’s character in the film stammers when pressured to spit, Stanfield himself has no such problem here, providing a hard-hitting second verse. Besides being a rousing, call-to-arms banger, the song’s a great reminder of what a committed artist and activist like Riley can do when he brings his many talents to bear in a single project. [Laura Adamczyk]
03 Greedo is one of the year’s great success stories, cobbling together an endless string of mixtapes into the superlative Wolf Of Grape Street omnibus, and also one of its great tragedies, getting sentenced to 20 years in prison at the exact moment he was about to take off. He spent his final weeks of freedom recording mountains of music to be released while he’s away, and the first collection, God Level, may be the best thing he’s ever done, a 100-minute display of the rapper’s scope and grace. Like all of his work, it’s the type of thing you should just live with for long periods of time, finding weird nuances in his liquid performances and largely self-produced beats. There’s a lot of great stuff hidden in the record’s back half, but something clicked for me on the hundredth listen of “100 100 100,” the way its pensive pianos gradually gain steam, the way his hooks and verses feed into each other, all creating a moment of hard-won stillness and reflection. Optimistic appraisals say he could get out in five years, but here’s hoping it’s a lot sooner. [Clayton Purdom]