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Listen Up: Remixes and almost mixtapes make up for Grammy flop

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I think I had too much faith in the Grammys. I was so sure that the best album award would go to Kendrick Lamar, who was inexplicably passed over in favor of Macklemore in the best rap album category in 2014. But I guess I shouldn’t have underestimated how much people love Taylor Swift, even though I am far from understanding it. There is some relief, though, in the fact that the Grammys mean pretty much nothing — they don’t have a finger on the pulse. Not my pulse at least. This week I have been listening to this:

“Waves (Tame Impala Remix)” by Miguel

Miguel has been teasing various remixes of his track “Waves” for a few weeks now, and last Friday he dropped a full EP of them. Joshua Tree, RAC, Kacey Musgraves and Travi$ Scott all gave their takes on the cut from last year’s album, “Wildheart.”

But the least likely and most entertaining version is done by Tame Impala, which adds its spacey, faraway guitars and synths to Miguel’s vocals.

Guitar music is a weird thing in 2016; rock in its usual form is far less prominent than it used to be — the last great guitar rock band was probably the White Stripes.

Tame Impala uses guitars but often strays away from rock ‘n’ roll and does its thing, which means stretching the weirdness to the limit. Remixing a song by an R&B singer like Miguel most definitely qualifies as strange, right in Tame Impala’s wheelhouse.  

“I’m Up” by Young Thug

It’s close to impossible to keep up with all the music that appears from Young Thug, both officially and leaked. The fact that his music could drop at anytime fits well with his unpredictable image, like how he might step out wearing pigtails, a dress or just about anything.

But even as the rate of releases stays high, so does the quality. Thug’s range, gift for melody and endless supply of great production make him one of the most consistent current artists.

Coming out of Atlanta, where many of the rap trends of the last 15 or so years originated, Thug is doing new things in a scene where everyone is innovating.

“I’m Up” might be a mixtape, it might be an album, but either way it is the first official release from Thug this year. Coming in at nine tracks, it is a succinct project, stuffed full of guest verses and Young Thug’s magnetic charisma.

“Hercules” gets production from Metro Boomin, while various members of Migos stop by to lend their voices. The sound is bass-heavy and cohesive, but Thug’s ever-changing preferences are likely to shift again before his next release. Until then, it is all but a guarantee that there will be plenty more chances to hear new music.

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