Mental escapes can take many different forms — settling deep into a calming meditation, binging Netflix's Tiger King in one chaotic seven-hour sitting — but for me, borderless music exploration always conjures up the type of daydreams and adventures my brain really wraps itself around.
Like the supersonic 2000s nostalgia of Kid Cudi's "Teleport 2 Me," these tracks pluck your mind up and plop it into spaces and places of relatable comfort, camaraderie, strife and even insanity.
We're going to do a little digital globetrotting this week. Enjoy Ghanaian trap, South African soul, Barbadian pop, U.K. rap and a few stateside tracks that call on far-off travel goals and memories of gathering before we even knew what social distancing was.
Bongeziwe Mabandla, "masiziyekelele (14.11.16)"
Bongeziwe Mabandla's six-minute chorale about love's moonstruck phase is a gorgeous saving grace in trying times. The South African soul singer transports you to the streets of Johannesburg to tag along with him and his new love, creating a rushing montage of flirtation, harmonies and butterflies. It's definitely a world worth getting lost in.
Ghanaian upstart Odartei's three-song EP, cool., slinks along with the kind of trappy Soundcloud production you might link to the likes of Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti. Odartei's sing-song flow on "YSL" offsets the theatrics of jolting woodwind and bass. A melodic moshpit awaits.
Don Toliver, "After Party"
"After Party" thrashes with a familiarity we're all eager to get back to — the exhilaration of a really good night out that's not done just yet. The ice cream truck instrumentals and easy-to-catch chorus place this joint in the top of Cactus Jack releases.
Alina Baraz, "Morocco (feat. 6LACK)"
Ahead of her debut album, It Was Divine, Alina Baraz's feather-light vocals serenade a last minute escape of the mind.
"Yeah you take me to another time zone / Without ever even leavin' my door / Steady ridin' to another life though / Oh, I look up and we in Morocco," Baraz assures.
Young T & Bugsey, "Don't Rush (feat. Headie One)"
Young T and Bugsey are a hip-hop duo hailing from Nottingham, U.K., whose latest album, Plead the 5th, is getting a well-deserved boost thanks to a recent social media challenge.
"Don't Rush (feat. Headie One)" has become the chosen track for a Black British beauty blogger challenge where women magically transform from satin-robed couch potatoes to certified baddies with just a stroke of a makeup brush. I aspire.
Ayoni, "Too Good"
Hailing from LA by way of Barbados, Ayoni is accustomed to pulling double duty. Nailing both RiRi and Drake's playful sparing verses, she still manages to add her own island kick to this cover of 2016's "Too Good."
Jenevieve, "Baby Powder"
With Cuban, Bahamian, Spanish and French heritage, Miami's Jenevieve is carving out her identity as new wave pop outlier in the best way possible. Silly, hazy and self-deprecating as hell, Jenevieve's "Baby Powder" is the track you leave on replay during an aimless joyride with your girls to distract yourself from texting your ex.
Orion Sun, "Coffee For Dinner"
Orion Sun's wide-eyed innocence and grounding timbre in her tone have always given her lyrics a sense of closeness, like you're right on her bedroom floor with her trying to make sense of all the conflicting signs.
"Workin' two jobs 'til I finally got a whip (whip) / Crossing state lines hoping I could feel something / I can't breathe, suffocating so close."
Uno Hype, "Elevate"
As the universe tests all your strength, Maryland's Uno Hype doubles down on his faith in the next generation by kicking game through a waterfall of horns.
"I ain't mean to lecture ya / But your bro want what's best for ya / Cause I was once you / That's why I'm checkin' ya / And I ain't in the best position / Young, dumb and never listened / All the work I resisted / And the people around man they didn't get the vision."