Pass the Aux: New Tracks by Gunna Goes Global, DÆMON, Kehlani, Ian Kelly and Nihar

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A still from Gunna Goes Global’s music video for “Blue Klux Klan.” (Gunna Goes Global)

Do you miss packing your friends into the car, playing your favorite tracks and dancing in your seat? Us too. Welcome to Pass the Aux, where every other week the KQED Arts & Culture team introduces you to new(ish) releases from Bay Area artists. Here’s what we have on deck.—Nastia Voynovskaya

Gunna Goes Global, “Blue Klux Klan”

San Francisco’s Gunna Goes Global started off Black History Month by releasing a song that stands as a statement: “Blue Klux Klan.” It’s a straightforward shot at white supremacy, police brutality and racism in America.

The actor and rapper begins the track with a monologue. “The most heinous acts of violence in American history have been committed against Black bodies with no legal ramifications, no apologies, no acknowledgement, no accountability; just more atrocities,” says Gunna. “Malicious acts do not come from fear, they come from hate. That shit is over with.”

The video, directed by Ace, shows Gunna witnessing a cop stalk a young Black child, much in the same way Trayvon Martin was reportedly followed by George Zimmerman before the young boy was killed. In this fictional depiction, Gunna gets to the stalker before the stalker gets to the child, killing the cop in cold blood. Both the song and the video are centered on the trial that follows the fictional killing. While on the stand, Gunna lyrically goes through the cop’s background and upbringing—turning the justifications typically used for police violence on their head.

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The track concludes with another monologue from Gunna, this one about tangible actions needed to change the reality Black people face in America. “Retroactive prison reform, marijuana conviction expungement, Black faces in tech spaces,” are among the objectives he names. Gunna tells me that while this song is art based in reality, it’s also part of a forthcoming documentary about some of the very real issues covered on this track.—Pendarvis Harshaw


Auton, “Beneath Paving Stones” (Nihar remix)

When the Ohio producer Auton performed in the Bay Area for a 2018 Honey Soundsystem party, she quickly caught the attention of local label Left Hand Path. Three years later, the San Francisco label is releasing Auton’s Without Hindrance, an album inspired by the May 1968 uprising in France, made up of four original tracks and four remixes. Among those remixes, San Francisco producer (and label co-owner) Nihar turns “Beneath Paving Stones” into a mental journey that’s as thrilling as it is deep. Starting with a simple high-C note on repeat, new elements slowly introduce themselves, one by one, pulling your brain into its moving tapestry. Two minutes later, the track no longer resembles its origins; the frequencies are lurching and buzzing and slicing. By the time you’re through, don’t be surprised if you don’t resemble your origins either.—Gabe Meline

DÆMON and Endgame, “Eye Teeth”

DÆMON is a hip-hop artist from Oakland whose style is what some might refer to as experimental or alternative. No matter the label, his music is definitely unique. His latest track, “Eye Teeth,” a single from the DXE EP, is a collaborative effort with Endgame of Precious Metals. The song’s uptempo drum pattern seem like it could’ve been used in a scene from Mortal Kombat. It’s matched with aggressive synthesizers that sound like they’re directly from 1984, and makes for a sound the artists describe as “cybernetic warfare melodies.”

The lyrics are about DÆMON’s pursuit of an attractive woman who won’t be stopped or limited by any man or occupation. But the icing on the cake is the video. Shot inside of the Home Depot in Emeryville by director Brandon Tauszik, the video uses 360-degree technology to turn a casual walk through the hardware store into a full-blown experience. The song and video are on par with the experimental stylings of DÆMON, who is not new to obscure videos. For the song “In-App Purchases,” he filmed a video inside of a vacant mall. And for the track “Sirenxe,” I can’t even explain what’s going on there. But it’s thrilling. Looking forward to more from DÆMON.—P.H.

Ian Kelly, “Gold Chain”

The concept of building a legacy is heavy on Ian Kelly’s mind on “Gold Chain,” a standout track on his latest album, Kells is D.E.A.D. The name of the song might have you expecting three minutes of braggadocio, but Kelly hits his listeners with a pump fake, rhyming instead about treasuring family heirlooms (in the forms of both gold and knowledge), and sacrificing temporary flashiness for long-term gains. The track is sunny and airy, with an 808 bounce punctuated by an organ loop, and lines like “I got my ancestors’ respect” make you perk your ears up as you bob your head, lest you miss any of the generations-old wisdom Kelly shares. Kells is D.E.A.D. is the Oakland artist’s latest release with Jamla, 9th Wonder’s independent label that also reps Rapsody, and it’s well worth your time.—N.V.

Lil Durk feat. Kehlani, “Love You Too”

Oakland born-and-raised R&B star Kehlani joins forces with Chicago’s Lil Durk for “Love You Too,” a somber three-minute track that dropped Wednesday night. With his signature drawling and crooning style, Lil Durk alternates between singing and rapping over a dark, brooding beat before Kehlani joins with her sharp pen and raspy vocals. “Never takin' love for granted / Many die young before they have this,” they sing together, emphasizing their gratitude for a once-in-a-lifetime connection.

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The song reflects on the importance of valuing your partner, intermingled with Lil Durk’s declarations of both admiration and attraction. He vows to never let his feelings go unknown, repeating the line, “So come through, I'ma show you.” With two weeks left before Valentines Day, “Love You Too” is a beautiful sonic reminder to show the people you love how much you care.—Samuel Getachew