The best new tracks, picked by our staff

Rated by THE FACE: a playlist featuring Lil Nas X, 21 Savage, Ariana Grande and Erika de Casier.

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Lil Nas X – J Christ

The video for J Christ is the spiritual sequel to the controversial visuals for Lil Nas X’s 2021 single Montero (Call Me By Your Name), in which he rode a stripper pole down to hell and gave the devil a lapdance. This time, Nas sides with God. We see him greeting Michael Jackson in heaven, beating the devil at basketball, rapping from a crucifix and leading Noah’s Ark through the floods. Nas has claimed that he’s returning to God” after the music industry made him Satanic and that he’s enrolled on a Biblical studies course at The Liberty University in Virginia. Of course, it’s pretty hard to believe that this notorious piss-taker is for real (the university confirmed that they have no record of him applying).

So what about the song itself? The punchy trap beat has menacing piano stabs that bring to mind Kendrick Lamar’s Humble, while he refers to his power to go viral in the hook. It’s catchy enough to be a hit – that’s if the divisive rollout doesn’t ruin his chances of mainstream radio play. DR

21 Savage – Redrum

In the mid-late 2010s, 21 Savage established himself as an Atlanta trap superstar – before ICE arrested him and revealed that he was actually born in London, where he lived until he was 12. After confirming his status as a permanent resident of the US last year, 21 has been capitalising on his strange and stressful ordeal. His gig at London’s 02 was billed as a homecoming show, while the video of this single from his new album American Dream was filmed in Brixton. Produced by London on da Track (who’s definitely American, although his real name is actually London), Redrum features hypnotic female choir vocals and plenty of darkly comic bars (“Take my chopper everywhere, that’s bae”). Could well be a staple for the UK’s rap DJs in 2024. DR

AntsLive – Cutlery

There’s one thing you can count on when it comes to AntsLive: a decent music video. The visuals for Cutlery shows Ants through CCTV-style footage of the North Londoner rapping in a barbershop, marching down Oxford Street and playing pool down the pub. The laidback beat is bolstered by Ants’ usual braggadocious lyricism: She let me hit because of these followers, cause of this music, cause of this blue tick”. Right now, Ants will have his fingers crossed for victory at next month’s MOBO Awards – he’s nominated for Best Newcomer, and, of course, Best Music Video. JW

Erika de Casier – Lucky

Erika de Casier’s star is rising. The Danish singer-producer has remixed Dua Lipa, featured on a Mura Masa single and recruited Shygirl and Blood Orange for her forthcoming third album, Still. And her signature silky melodies have reached many more ears thanks to the buzz around NewJeans’ critically-acclaimed song Super Shy, which de Casier co-wrote. Lucky, the first single from Still, is a blend of sparkling R&B and featherlight drum n’ bass. Copenhagen’s so grey /​But see, whenever I’m with you, it’s okay”, de Casier sings, toeing the line between melancholy and unabashed sensuality. JW

Ariana Grande – yes, and?

Ariana Grande returns with her first solo single since 2020, a deliciously playful clap back at her critics. From its titular lyric to lines such as Why do you care so much whose **** I ride?”, Ari shoots out digs then rises above it in the chorus, the lyrical equivalent of a nonchalant hair flip. The shimmering house beat, which was co-produced by Swedish hit machine Max Martin, is bolstered by a sample of Madonna’s Vogue. A little Blonde Ambition never hurts, eh? OP

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