Songs of the Week: Killer Mike Lives Up to His Name, Grizzly Bear Wakes Up, and Michael Jackson Lives

Michael Jackson, “Don’t Be Messin’ Around”

This Bad-era demo will be seeing release on another posthumous MJ album dropping in September, this one a purposefully unfinished collection of odds and ends. According to Jackson’s recording engineer Matt Forger, “One of the main intentions is to show that these are works in progress. To pull the curtain back. To actually see Michael in his natural work environment, how he directs, his sense of humor, his focus … His spirit and emotion are totally there. He knew in demos he didn’t have to be totally perfect in his execution. So he’d be loose. He’d throw in ad libs and dance or sing or pop his fingers or clap his hands. You just hear him enjoying himself.” Sounds great: Instead of trolling for one more radio hit, as they did with 2009’s Michael — where Akon was pulled in to awkwardly plug in the many holes of maligned lead single “Hold My Hand” — the MJ estate now seems cool with just letting this stuff out, letting it be prodded and poked just as it is. More of that, please.

Hit-Boy, “Jay-Z Interview”

You wouldn’t be remiss in assuming that producer Hit-Boy — who, as he wastes absolutely no time reminding us in his debut video, made the beat for “N***** in Paris” — might just be letting all that massive success go to his head by attempting to make the perilous jump to MC. You would be wrong, though: Here, over a lush beat from Bink! (who also whipped up Kanye’s gorgeous “Devil in a New Dress”), Mr. –Boy does a damn fine job of introducing himself.

LCD Soundsystem, “Dance Yrself Clean”

As this too-brief snippet reminds us, the LCD documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits makes its way into theaters July 18. This is an important question: Couldn’t you do with another hour and a half of this kind of thing in your life?

Frank Ocean, “Channel Orange”

Speaking of snippets announcing things that are happening in July — here’s a new Frank Ocean clip pointing our attention to his first official album, Channel Orange, which drops on the 17th, soundtracked by a little touch of a new song. Whatever this track is, it’s totally great, so this teaser video is way too short. But if you’re upset that we keep pointing you to tiny bits of awesome things, remember: You now have minutes more of your day with which to get shit done. Truly, deeply, Grantland cares about your productivity.

Danny Brown, “All Grown Up”

I didn’t think it was possible, but you know that little kid from the fan video for Kanye’s “Cold”? The one who bopped around Fifth Avenue in shades with a shorty on his arm acting like he owned the damn place? Somehow, some way — he’s just been bested. Congrats, lil’ Danny Brown: Your lil-swag is unsurpassable.

Killer Mike, “Big Beast”


OK, so the Drive-inspired vigilante-justice murder spree that Killer Mike goes on is great and all … but somehow, I cannot take my eyes off T.I.’s hoodie. It’s not even that crazy of a hoodie. Just a really spot-on fit coupled with an understated referential design, I guess. Call me crazy but I am telling you, the secret star here is T.I.’s hoodie. Oh yeah: There are boobs and tongues-being-cut-out-of-mouths in this, so watch carefully.

Grizzly Bear, “Sleeping Ute”


Not only are Grizzly Bear, the unassailable all-time heroes of Brooklyn indie-pop, back, but they are back with a track that drifts between their sterile and pretty stuff to a rowdier, messier, radder place. So this is an occasion, goddamnit — one that requires more fanfare than just you and your Grizzly Bear-stan friends exchanging e-mails with multiple “:) :) :)”s in the subject lines. Meaning: BRB, off to start a Kickstarter to raise enough money to hire DJ Drama to scream all over this.

Jens Lekman, “Erica America”


Sweden’s Jens Lekman returns with the greatest usage of the titular couplet since Ghostface wasn’t entirely sure whether or not the Black Miss America on whom he was hollering’s name was, indeed, Erica.

The-Dream feat. Pusha-T, “Dope Bitch”

I bet The-Dream’s ladies are probably always just like, “Ah, The-Dream, you sure do know how to talk to a woman!,” and then they go shopping and he buys them $5,000 Gucci handbags while explaining how no one in the mainstream of today’s music criticism fully understands his genius.

Haim, “Forever”

Yes, Corey Haim is forever. No, the fact that Corey Haim is forever isn’t what this particular music video concerns itself with. Still well worth your time, though.

Filed Under: Danny Brown, Frank Ocean, LCD Soundsystem, Michael Jackson, Songs of the Week, The-Dream

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Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ AmosBarshad