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March 10, 2014 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Quick Listen

Le1f – Hey EP

Le1f sounds effortless. The New York–based rapper/producer has recorded an impressive catalogue over the last few years, but with this EP he finally ‘arrives’, confident, polished and, as ever, openly gay (but Macklemore is the only rapper for the gayz!!!). There are very few seconds on this five-track EP in which you can’t hear his intensely seductive voice, floating above and within trappy beats that bubble and click all over your headphones. Every track is a keeper, but ‘Sup’, ‘Boom’ and 2012 mainstay ‘Wut’ (which basically featured the beat to ‘Thrift Shop’ a long while before ‘Thrift Shop’ came out) are particular highlights, as well as the phrase “LGBTQties” and a line in ‘Boom’ where he compares the guy he is with to a web browser. Wow.

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Pharrell Williams – G I R L

Pharrell is 40. It may not show on his face (like, at all), but it’s starting to become apparent from his output. His last solo album, 2006’s In My Mind, featured Pusha T, Snoop, Kanye West and Jay-Z; G I R L features Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus, and Pharrell never gets close to rapping. G I R L is at all times intensely pleasant; each track would fit right in with ‘Happy’ on a summer blockbuster’s soundtrack.

But this is a little unfair. Pharrell has always felt a bit doe-eyed, even among the drugs and strippers of In Search of…, and he did produce Justin Timberlake’s debut solo effort. Your boring flatmate might love G I R L, but that doesn’t mean you can’t too. Like everything Pharrell makes, the album is bursting with sex, but it’s a whole lot less lecherous than last year’s rapey ‘Blurred Lines’, although Pharrell recently told Pitchfork that he thinks the criticism was “misconstrued”.

Standouts are hard to pick, since they all kind of blur, but opener ‘Marilyn Monroe’ and the Miley Cyrus–assisted ‘Come Get It Bae’ are both stuck in my head right now. Pharrell’s been pushing the envelope for over a decade, and he’s hard at work producing a new Pusha T album – he deserves this comfortable stable of bangers.

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Albums you should look out for in 2014 – by Salient’s music contributors

2013 was a banner year for music. Here are the upcoming releases that could make 2014 just as good:

Alt-J’s second album

Azealia Banks – Broke with Expensive Taste

Band of Skulls – Himalayan

Bill Callahan – Have Fun With God

Brand New’s fifth album

Chance The Rapper’s debut album

Chief Keef – Bang 3

Chlöe Howl – Chlöe Howl

Cloud Nothings’ fourth album

Coldplay – Ghost Stories

Common – Nobody Smiling

Frank Ocean’s second album

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – Piñata

Grimes’ fourth album

Johnny Cash – Out Among the Stars

Kanye West’s seventh album

Lana Del Rey – Ultra-Violence

Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

Nicki Minaj – The Pink Print

Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Pusha T – King Push

Real Estate – Atlas

Riff Raff – Neon Icon

Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

TNGHT’s debut album or second EP

TV on the Radio’s fifth album

War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

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