Alan Cross’ weekly music picks: Drake vs. Pusha T and more

Drake performs at The SSE Hydro on March 23, 2017 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
Drake performs at The SSE Hydro on March 23, 2017 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. Ross Gilmore/Getty Images

The real action this week isn’t with albums but with singles, including one that pours more gasoline on the fire of rap’s biggest current diss battle.

Let’s take a look at this week’s picks.

1. Drake, I’m Upset

Drake loves dropping fresh tracks on us with zero notice. Such was the case with I’m Upset, which will apparently be on his new album reportedly entitled Scorpion. But this isn’t the news story in which we find ourselves immersed. Upset came just a day after the Pusha-T and Kanye West diss track, Duppy Freestyle, which followed Drizzy’s Two Birds, One Stone back in the fall, which called out T for pushing drugs. Which leads us to…

2. Pusha-T, The Story of Adidon

Pusha-T has been in Drake’s face for years and this new tune, rapped to the beats of Jay-Z’s 2017 single, The Story of O.J., takes all kinds of shots at Drake’s parentage, his racial identity, his producer Noah “40” Shebib (whose MS is cited), and even an accusation that Drake is hiding a son he had with a porn star. To make matters even more incendiary, Pusha T chose a photo of a young Drake (c. 2007 when he was just Aubrey Graham) in blackface for the cover of his song. (Drake says the photo is taken out of context.)

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This war has just begun.

3. Monowhales, Control Freak

The cute-as-a-button Toronto four-piece has a shot at being one of the country’s breakout indie bands of 2018. They’ve come a long, long way in just the last 18 months, modifying their name (from the unwieldy “Ginger Ale and the Monowhales”) to polishing their image to really upping their songwriting game. Watch for them to come on strong through the latter part of 2018.

4. Ghost, Prequelle

The Dave Grohl-approve satanic(ish) metal band already has a couple of Grammys and can fill arenas in certain parts of the world. Their fourth album will certainly keep them on this trajectory. There is one very notable change, though. Ghost used to be fronted by various incarnations of Papa Emeritus (think of him almost like a metal Dr. Who). Now, after three manifestations, Papa is dead and has been replaced by Cardinal Copia. It’s all the same guy — one Tobias Forge — but knowing that takes all the fun out of it. Kinda like when KISS dropped their makeup. Just go with it. Fun fact: Ghost release the first single from the album as an Instagram Story.

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5a and 5b. Weezer, Rosanna and Africa

After months of being trolled by a fan asking the band to cover the Toto hit from 1984, Weezer trolled right back, releasing a cover of another hit from that same album.

After letting that sit for a few days, Weezer went ahead and released Africa, too.

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London Calling: Johnny Marr, Hi Hello

You probably don’t need me to tell you who Johnny Marr is. The guitarist in The Smiths and Morrissey’s former songwriting partner. Former member of The Pretenders. One-half of Electronic. Guitarist with The The, The Cribs, and Modest Mouse. Revered as one of the greatest indie guitar heroes ever produced by Britain — if not THE greatest. Marr also releases solo records from time to time, and one of those occasions is coming up on June 15 with the debut of Call the Comet. Meanwhile, though, we have this advance single.


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Undiscovered Gem: Magic Wands, Realms

This boy-girl duo is originally from Nashville but is now working out of LA. Magic Wands have been releasing records for about a half-dozen years and count Mazzy Starr, The xx, and the Jesus and Mary Chain among their first. A just-released album called Abrakadabra (see what they’ve done there?) contains some lovely dream pop, including this track.

Throwback Thursday: Silverchair, Tomorrow

When Silverchair released Frogstomp, their debut album in March 1995, the average age of the band was 15. Starting with a number one record at home in Australia, they ended up with a Top 10 platinum record in post-grunge North America. This launched a long period of affection for the group on this side of the Pacific. Even today, a lot of 1990s kids remember the band very, very fondly.

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The final Silverchair album came in 2007 with the breakup becoming official in 2011. And don’t hold your breath for a reunion, because singer Daniel Johns said this past week that he is just not interested. By the way, Daniel and rest of the band are now 39 years old. Sorry if that was a bit of a kick in the gut …

Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.

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