Much like SOPHIE, Holmes is an artist who defies labels: they first came onto the Bay Area music scene with a glitchy, industrial sound and phantasmagoric aesthetic forged in the local avant-garde drag scene. But their abrasive musical approach belied their traditionally beautiful R&B singing abilities (think Blood Orange and Sade), which come into clearer focus among cellos and woodwinds on their upcoming album Nightmare in Paradise, out on Ratskin Records on March 26.—Nastia Voynovskaya
Young Shorty Doowop, “In My Reeboks”
Young Shorty Doowop’s song “In My Reeboks” samples the beat of the ultra-explicit classic track from Three 6 Mafia and Tear da Club Up Thugs, “Slob on My Knob,” and combines it with a snippet from a viral recording of a voicemail of an enraged employee, bringing it all together for a good cause.
Young Shorty Doowop, or Y.S.D., a youth coordination for the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, says she appreciates seeing people do the #YSDReebokChallenge (created by Yung Phil of the Turffeinz), but her real goal is to give pairs of shoes to people in need. So far she’s given away a handful, and she just launched a GoFundMe.
She’s banking on the song’s popularity to spread the word; as of now, it has nearly two million views on TikTok. Despite the pandemic, the track has been played in front of some pretty large crowds of people, including at a Super Bowl event in Atlanta. Just yesterday Shorty, whose other song “For Me” was recently featured on Real Housewives of Atlanta, announced an upcoming “In My Reeboks” tour, with shows scheduled in Pennsylvania, Miami and Dallas.—P.H.
Kelly McFarling, “Birds”
My best mornings come when I can stay in bed for a while and turn my mind off of the little things. As the late-sunrise birds outside chirp like they have for thousands of years, I think instead about the big things, like the passing of time, both before and after our blip of a life on this planet. So imagine my joy at finding Kelly McFarling’s “Birds,” an ode to that very fleeting moment, when all seems right—or at least manageable—with the world.
McFarling flips Leonard Cohen’s morose lyrical imagery into a bouyant, immediately catchy chorus—“Birds out on the wire / Like a bracelet on the blue”—and if you get a tinge of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” from the chord progression, you’re not off the mark. While McFarling came to San Francisco by way or Georgia, “Birds” doesn't shovel as much southern soil as the other songs on her new album, Deep the Habit, which marks a new, sometimes even Dire Straits-y direction (as on “Delicate”), with bluesy guitar, mandolin and pedal steel. But she can still sing a plaintive sad song (like “North Decatur,” a perfect fit aside Phoebe Bridgers on any playlist), and in “Birds,” when the slow, dreamy bridge veers into Cocteau Twins territory and transports me from my daily routine, I find myself thinking: is there any transient feeling Kelly McFarling can’t bring to life?—Gabe Meline
Beeda Weeda, “My Section”
Beeda Weeda is on a mission to bring back a certain era in rap music. Over the past year, the rapper from East Oakland has dropped multiple tracks featuring OGs in the game: C-Bo, Spice One, Yukmouth, Keak Da Sneak, E-40 and B-Legit. Just yesterday, he released “Back Against The Wall” featuring Richie Rich.
His latest album Hot Boy Top Boy is an ode to that special time in life, when Cash Money Records took over for the ’99 and the 2000. With multiple songs that remix classic beats and lyrics from the legendary Hot Boys, Beeda was intentional when he titled the album. The track “My Section,” (featuring Kye Kaszett) is a remix of Birdman’s 2005 hit “Out The Ghetto,” and is full of lyrics that honor the neighborhood where Beeda Weeda was raised. “Gentrification ain’t did shit, we still here / get high on the 8, and then go shop down on Fruitvale,” he raps over a beat that’s made for driving on a sunny day in whatever part of Northern California you call your section.—P.H.
Mac J, “SKOOP”