Pick Six is a half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view.
Ali Elabbady, DJ and host of the web series “Tacos & Tastemakers”:
1 Open Mike Eagle, “Anime, Trauma & Divorce.” I’ve been an ardent fan of Mike’s work since “Unapologetic Art Rap,” and this one is unflinchingly focused deeply inward regarding exactly what the album’s title is. Really love the songs with his son Little A$e on “Asa’s Bop” and the live closer “Fifteen Twenty Feet Ocean Nah.”
2 “The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited the Soul of Black America” by Marcus J. Moore. This book examines Kendrick’s ascent from being a kid from Compton to being the voice of a generation, viewing it all through the lens of his music. It’s a really incredible read.
3 Safy-Hallan Farah’s “Hip to Waste” newsletter. Safy is one of my favorite writers. I really enjoy reading her takes on pop culture and the way she profiles artists, and weaves necessary narrative during historical moments, especially in her recent pieces she has had published for Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue and Elle. You can subscribe at hiptowaste.substack.com.
Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune critic:
1 Shameika featuring Fiona Apple, “Shameika Said.” It’s a great story and a pretty good song: After sticking up for future rock star Apple in middle school and inspiring her namesake song, Shameika Stepney has now stepped out as an aspiring rapper and even got her ex-classmate to guest on one song.
2 Megan Thee Stallion, “Good News.” After being shot, landing the unlikely song of summer and racking up Grammy noms — all this year! — the Houston rapper tops off 2020 with an album as wild as expected. There’s plenty more where “W.A.P.” came from, but also serious hooks behind the raunch.
3 Choux, “Super Moon.” Mere babes when they played in the Minneapolis teen band Total Babe, Lizzie Carolan and Howler’s Jordan Gatesmith channel the Cocteau Twins and other swirly shoegaze pop with lush and sophisticated results on this debut EP.