Bop Shop: Songs From Epik High, The Tallest Man On Earth, Wizkid, Skyzoo, And More

Unexpected bagpipes, a battle cry, a new take on Shakespeare, and more

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. Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.

The Tallest Man on Earth: “Every Little Heart”

Kristian Matsson stands 5 feet 7 inches tall. Pick your metric — he is not the tallest man on earth using any of them. But the folk music he’s made under that moniker for the better part of 20 years now sounds tall. The way redwoods and cathedrals scrape the sky, Matsson’s fingers pluck and strum his strings with a higher purpose, and his secret-weapon voice has remained a potent tool in the emotional arms race of modern music. Enter “Every Little Heart,” where he imbues all that folk history with jazz drums and a medieval rhythm that reveals even more mystery from a guy with no shortage of it. He’s entered his Tim Buckley phase and he’s already running laps around outliving him. Surprises abound; the most staggering one is how “Every Little Heart” sounds so down to earth. —Patrick Hosken

Wizkid ft. Arya Starr: “2 Sugar”

Like his biggest hit, "Essence," Wizkid knows how to lean back and let a woman take the lead. There, it was rising singer Tems, and here, Arya Starr runs the groove, a relaxed call out against bad energy — "ma gbe sunmomi," which can be interpreted as "keep it away from me." The song flows between Yoruba and English dipped in Jamaican patois with easy confidence, like the beat itself anchored by thumping African rhythms that flirt with bright pop melodies. "Man, I fight my own demons," Wizkid boasts, and he makes swatting them away sound like a breeze. —Terron Moore

Caroline Polachek: “Blood and Butter”

Caroline Polachek is gearing up for the release of her latest LP, Desire, I Want to Turn into You, and fitting to its title, it drops on Valentine’s Day. Polachek is all about exploring and deconstructing the pop genre, but based on her already premiered singles, this album is going to be one grand experiment with instrumentation and impulse. “Blood and Butter”' is thick and rich in its production layers. Polachek’s ethereal voice and gentle percussion immerses us in a world of serene exuberance. Never have I rocked out to a bagpipe solo until the one she seamlessly instills midway through. —Gwyn Cutler

Epik High ft. Hwa Sa: “Catch”

Epik High have always been honest. On “Catch,” the first single of their new EP, Strawberry, group members Tablo, Mithra Jin, and DJ Tukutz discuss their success as a group with candid tenacity. After 20 years in the industry, they know they are accomplished, revered, and have earned the right to announce that fact unabashedly. The track features Mamamoo’s Hwa Sa, a fellow Korean starlet who has experienced her fair share of both struggle and success. Her airy, yet confident vocals live in perfect harmony with the rap group’s rich and robust bars and soundtrack the single’s primary theme: “Even if I go slowly, even if I fall out of breath, even if I fall for a while, you’ll never catch me.” Despite the song’s pointed lyricism, the addition of a groovy, bass-heavy melody allows for some sunshine to peek through and lets the song become an anthem for confidence and self-assurance, rather than arrogance. In the same light, Tablo utilizes the track’s bridge as an outstretched hand to anyone listening who may need a bit of support. Regardless of their highest highs, Epik High will never forget their lowest lows, and they find strength in such juxtapositions. —Sarina Bhutani

Carly Rae Jepsen: “No Thinking Over the Weekend”

In feeling, what Carly Rae Jepsen wants for you isn’t complicated: She’s usually trying to make you happy. Her signature work swirls the joys of connection and the mess of heartbreak into blissful, swelling anthems. The best songs push the words against the sounds, holding conflicting emotions together, with the murky phases of being gleeful and miserable at the same time. It always stems from those earnest, often naive ways in which yearning can drive us towards happiness or sadness, which is why “No Thinking,” a bonus track tacked onto The Loneliest Time, is such a curious one. “I’m in the spirit for dreaming, no thinking,” she confesses against softly waning flutes, reaching for a feeling of peace with a loved one that hangs a bit sad. The down notes of the sound make it hard to tell what she’s dreaming for, what she wants, or what she’s avoiding inside her mind, but it’s one of the rare moments where she isn’t trying to force you into joy. —Terron Moore

Skyzoo, The Other Guys: “Panthers & Powder”

Skyzoo’s impressive lyricism demonstrates how he can boast his new album title, The Mind of a Saint. In his verses, he channels the ethical allegiance of the Black Panther Party and its righteous policies. On the production side, The Other Guys foster solemn jazz that elevates Skyzoo’s words to their full potential, capturing the sound of the insurgent streets while the Brooklyn rapper represents them. Excerpts from the Black Panthers’s Ten-Point Program play intertwined with the hearty blow of the saxophone; it brings the civil rights era into present day, still plagued by the same injustices and  blanketed modern deception. The evils of white supremacy continue to reign while we’re still in desperate need of what the Black Panthers demand — community, resources, and equity: “Pancakes for evеryone who need to get their platе filled / Pistols in the kitchen for whoever feel a way still / Younger me, taught that the world is under me / And to stand above it is to never stand comfortably.” —Gwyn Cutler

pH-1 ft. Umi: “Juliette”

In true east-meets-west collaboration, Korean-American rapper pH-1 is joined by Japanese-American singer Umi on “Juliette!,” a Shakespeare-inspired love song for the modern-age situationship. Marking the midpoint of the H1ghr Music star’s sophomore album, But for Now Leave Me Alone, “Juliette!” is the purest example of the K-rapper’s storytelling ability and allows for his lyrics to speak for themselves. The track layers a soft trap melody, filled with delicate 808s and whispered ad-libs, with the duo’s perfectly balanced vocals that sound like pure harmonized magic. Unlike that of other hip-hop artists, ph-1’s music focuses on the truth of his experiences rather than explicit, dramatized depictions of reality. Though he sometimes “hates being the nice guy,” his kindness and honesty shines through his music and sets him apart from the rest. —Sarina Bhutani

JGrrey: “Theirs13”

London singer JGrrey has returned to the music sphere after some extensive reflection, dissecting her personality from her persona. She’s taken the time to address internal truths that’ve determined her priorities, one being her significant other who inspired the song. Described as “an ode to queerness,” “Theirs13” depicts her devotion to her nonbinary partner and how their relationship has revealed JGrrey’s innermost thoughts on themes like family, community, love, and identity. “Theirs13” exhibits the wholesome expression and evolution of values and how they can be unearthed in the comfort of another. Like her lyrics, her music video skillfully balances sentimentality, sexuality, and uncertainty. —Gwyn Cutler

Man-Made Sunshine: “Big”

There are things you lose in life: a person you love, a future you wanted, your own innocence. “Big” is a somber song about the pitiful strife of growth in the face of everything that gets left behind, picking up the remains to become a better version of yourself, or at minimum, a version who has accepted losing what can never be replaced. There’s something about the song’s main assertion — ”It ain’t so big to me now, I’ll be big for you now” — that is childlike and aged, triumphant and pleading at the same time. Because maybe that pain gets smaller with time, but it’s hard to know when you’ve grown through it. Sometimes you never do. —Terron Moore

Kaleah Lee: “Out of Body”

If I had to succinctly convey my depressive and dissociative thoughts, I would just hook this one from Vancouver's Kaleah Lee up to the aux, crank the volume, and drown in my sorrows. The amount of space this song grants to actualize the present within its languid sound and within lyrics like, “But I'm breathing 'cause it's all that I can do, and there's no control to lose,” is extremely cathartic. It’s soft and sedating for Lee’s undulating vocal runs, but her words incessantly circulate my mind — just like my intrusive thoughts, but far prettier to hear and more reassuring to know (that I’m not alone). The guitar strums along to the beat of strained breathing that struggles to feel natural again, and it’s all very real to me. —Gwyn Cutler

Latest News