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Despair monsters! Stultifying insecurity! Mary J. Blige! It's the week's best new songs.

Mary J. Blige & Tink

Mary J. Blige & Tink Associated Press/publicity photo

After taking last Monday off, I’m back to share the week’s best new songs with you. Except this round it’s the last two weeks’ best new songs—plus I snuck in something released much earlier this year. It’s almost like there are no rules anymore and anarchy has been unleashed.

The Scary Jokes (feat. Louie Zong) – “Community Gardens”

“Full disclosure: I am a monster” is the opening line of the year, because really, when it comes to love and sex and feelings, aren’t we all? Pert-voiced and self-described “transmasc nonbinary clown from the garden state” Liz Lehman sells this ramble on despair and desire and Zong’s guitar fills in the gaps between keyboard parts. This one’s from January, poached from Matthew Perpetua’s Spotify playlist.

Palehound – “Worthy”

Ellen Kempner’s earliest Palehound songs sketched out the sort of charmingly unkempt melodies you back into while you’re trying to figure out where that cool riff you were fiddling with should lead next. But Kempner has since streamlined that gift, as on this compact, precisely crafted song about the kind of desire that makes you question your own lovability.

Mary J. Blige with Nas – “Thriving”

Our Lady of Perpetual Personal Growth returns to welcome us to the latest first day of the rest of her life. The title rhymes with “not just surviving,” though this being Mary there is also striving, not just in her voice but in that grind of a beat. There’s also Nas, if that’s what you’re into.

Denzel Curry – “RICKY”

Curry pretty much left SoundCloud rap behind with last year’s Ta13oo, and this track is even more polished and accessible. A screwed baritone booms a monstrous chorus while the Florida MC shares some home wisdom from his parents: “My daddy said, ‘Treat young girls like your mother’/My mama said, ‘Trust no hoe use a rubber.’”

Tink feat. Dej Loaf – “Ride It”

Two simpatico Midwestern singer-rappers team up for a ride, and as you might guess, the “it” in question ain’t a car or a bike or a scooter. The track is more of a slow grind than a banger, a cross-country road trip instead of a pedal-to-the-floor drag race, as the melody descends like a leaf on a breeze to give it that classic Isleys quality.

Les Amazones D’Afrique – “Amazones Power”

Many of the higher profile singers in this all-female ensemble of African performers have eased out of the picture since its 2017 formation, but the crew that remains still belts out its cry for women’s rights with plenty of soul and gusto, since this project was always more about the collective than the individual.

Every week, music editor Keith Harris scours the vast musicscape for six worthy tracks to add to City Pages' ever-expanding 2019 playlist.