The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new?
Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by genre and can include anything — it’s a snapshot of what’s on our minds and what sounds good. We’ll keep it fresh with the latest music, but expect a few oldies (but goodies) every once in a while, too. And this week, in honor of June being Black Music Month, we’re shining the spotlight on Black musicians making art that feels vital to this moment. Some tracks have just been released; some are old favorites we’re revisiting. But all of it matters.
Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.
Juicy J: “Hella Fuckin’ Trauma”
“Enough is enough.” That’s the takeaway from Memphis mainstay Juicy J’s new banger “Hella Fuckin’ Trauma,” and he makes sure to punctuate each line of the chorus with those direct words. In just three minutes, the Oscar winner goes in to smash police violence, his own issues with his label, COVID-19, and racism in general: “Freedom of speech, I got rich off of beats / I can get you impeached, you ain’t outta my reach.” —Patrick Hosken
Kaytranada ft. GoldLink, Ari PenSmith, Eight9FLY: “Vex Oh”
Kaytranada’s excellent second album Bubba slipped out at the end of 2019, so by the time many of us really felt the brilliance of this collection — an infectious set of slinky electronic, dancehall fusions — quarantine had locked all the clubs down. But blast “Vex Oh” in your apartment (which features Eight9FLY, Ari PenSmith, and an excellent verse from GoldLink) and you can almost feel the sweat beads. —Terron Moore
Azealia Banks ft. Lex Luger: “Black Madonna”
Lex Luger’s eerie production on Azealia Banks’s newest drop, “Black Madonna,” paves the way for the Harlem rapper’s undeniably slick flow. The frigid track resonates as a prayer to the rich and bad, hustling through lines about showing “some ass,” “bitches in the Jag,” and Birkin bags. “You want hell you can find it,” she spits, because in the church of Banks, we only honor the ice and the ice-cold. —Coco Romack
Naeem: “Stone Harbor”
A decade ago, Baltimore-raised Naeem was known as Spank Rock, an enthusiastic party rapper whose rhymes found a home on dance floors and music blogs. But the artist, going by his given name of Naeem now, sounds more realized than ever on his new album, Startisha, which features collaborations with Justin Vernon, Francis and the Lights, and more. “Stone Harbor,” a wonderfully glowing club track, finds Naeem reflecting, “Every love I’ve had, I think of you” as he asserts his truest self. Sounds like a different kind of party, but a party all the same. —Patrick Hosken
Tafari Anthony: “Live in a Dream”
“Yeah, live in a dream / But when you gonna wake up?” asks Tafari Anthony on “Live in a Dream,” his latest single. The Toronto-based indie act — who counts Prince, John Legend, as well as contemporary pop singers Lennon Stella and Charlie Puth among his creative inspirations — pairs sleek R&B vocals with soul-inspired instrumentals, resulting in an infectious self-empowerment anthem that is uniquely his. “Yeah, you hold the key / You hold it from me / ‘Cause you scared I’m the answer,” Anthony sings, invoking the institutional barriers that keep Black creatives out of positions of power. Inclusion never sounded so silky-smooth. —Sam Manzella
Kelechi: “Forever Tonight”
“Forever Tonight” takes me back to one of those hot, humid, and heavy summer evenings. Imagine: It’s mid-July, 3 a.m. on a Saturday night, and you’re at a dimly lit New York City club. The dance floor is packed, yet you’re one of the lucky ones, swaying in the arms of your weekend fling. Is this real? Is this love? Kelechi’s joyful midnight disco aches for that feeling to last forever. For now, sink into this track with a cocktail and twirl in your living room endlessly, tonight. —Daniel Head
Shamir: “On My Own”
Shamir penned “On My Own” after a breakup, but this electric slice of alt-pop plays just as perfectly during a year when people have largely had to stay inside. “Considering the pandemic, it’s also morphed into an accidental quarantine anthem,” he says, and he’s right. If you’re feeling alone, that’s completely fine; let Shamir’s shaggy guitars and irresistible melodies keep you company. —Patrick Hosken
Lonr. ft. H.E.R.: “Make the Most”
Soft, rolling drums and the strum of a guitar open Lonr.’s single “Make the Most.” It’s a sound that is almost ethereal, setting the emotional landscape for the kind of whimsical romance detailed in the chorus. “I wanna grow old with you, make the most with you, that’s the goal,” Lonr. croons. H.E.R. lends her buttery-smooth vocals to the track, transforming the song into a meditation, a mantra, urging the listener to state their intentions and desires plainly. It calls for connection that is certain and secure; one that you feel in your soul. —Virginia Lowman
Lil Yachty, Tierra Whack ft. A$AP Rocky and Tyler, the Creator: “T.D”
Here’s an experiment. Take The Neptunes’s hypnotic Tokyo Drift beat, muddy it up with crisp trap percussion, then let Tierra Whack, Tyler, the Creator, Lil Yachty, and A$AP Rocky make it their absolute playground. The result is enough to make an impression; this week, the head-spinning “T.D” became Whack’s first Hot 100-charting single. “If we cross paths, leave you cross-eyed,” she raps, like she knew all along. —Patrick Hosken