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Notable new songs and videos.

Drake, "War." Drake was relatively quiet for most of 2019. "War" is the sort of in-between-hits song that has become almost as much a Drake stock-in-trade as the hits themselves. Over a U.K. drill beat (by AXL Beats) full of mellow menace, Drake channels the slang and patois of that scene for a blend of boast, threat and make-nice. Whatever you believe about Drake, it is remarkable that at his commercial peak, rather than double down on the sort of songs that have kept him at the forefront of mainstream hip-hop, he takes time to study and absorb influences from around the globe. Occasionally he's accused of appropriation, but he has also become an ambassador, accelerating the spread of sound around the world.

-- JON CARAMANICA

Sunday Service Choir, "Souls Anchored." When video of Kanye West's Sunday Services began to trickle out in 2019, they were striking for several reasons: the radical shift in presentation for West, the sheer power of the choir, and some of the group's musical choices, taking pop and R&B hits and remaking them as sacred music. On "Jesus Is Born" -- released on Christmas and credited to the Sunday Service Choir -- one powerful example is the remake of Ginuwine's sinewy flirtation "So Anxious," which becomes "Souls Anchored," a praise song with the intensity of an 18-wheeler.

-- JON CARAMANICA

The Secret Sisters, "Hold You Dear." In this benevolent close-harmony piano hymn, gently buttressed by strings, the bulwark against mortality is love: for lovers, for aging parents, for children. The Secret Sisters, Laura and Lydia Rogers, sing, "I know these days will pass away/So I will hold you dear."

-- JON PARELES

Burna Boy, "Money Play." Nigerian songwriter Burna Boy describes "Money Play" in a news release as a "word of advice/stern warning to never lose the hustle mentality"; its lyrics are a pidgin of English and Yoruba. The song is understated and insinuating, cycling through just two chords as it fuses dancehall syncopation with West African drumming. The message may be materialistic, but Burna Boy delivers it like an incantation.

-- JON PARELES

Kehlani featuring Keyshia Cole, "All Me." "When you see him, know that that's all me right there," an ethereal Kehlani sings in this pledge of absolute oneness with a lover. Keyshia Cole joins her to confirm some practical benefits: "I been eating right and sleeping through the night for the first time in a long time." Loops and rippling arpeggios suspend the song in blissful infatuation.

-- JON PARELES

Your Old Droog, "Jewelry." The third album in 2019 by the Ukrainian-born Brooklyn rapper Your Old Droog, Jewelry was released the first night of Hanukkah, and it flaunts his Jewish heritage. He's a proud devotee of dense, scruffy, quick-tongued New York City rap from the 1980s and 1990s. He piles up samples -- the title track of "Jewelry" juggles electric-piano jazz and pitched-up Hebrew-language pop -- and slings polysyllables and puns with the raspy conviction he learned from Nas: "In elementary, my favorite subject was PE -- Public Enemy," he raps. Your Old Droog used to be jokier; "Jewelry" makes clear he's not kidding.

-- JON PARELES

Style on 01/05/2020

Print Headline: Drake's global influences drive 'War'

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