Hear tracks by Tems, Idles, Adrianne Lenker and others.

Thirteen years ago, on her debut studio album “Pink Friday,” Nicki Minaj recruited her Young Money labelmate and fellow rising star Drake for the galvanizing hit “Moment 4 Life.” They join forces once again on “Needle,” a noticeably more laid-back and atmospheric track from Minaj’s long-teased “Pink Friday 2,” which demonstrates how both of these rappers — and the sound of rap music itself — have changed in the intervening years. Drake calls back to the island cadences of his “Views” era, lilting a somewhat strained metaphor: “You’re like a needle, life’s a haystack.” Minaj raps as if on cruise control, characteristically dexterous (“Poppin’ out like a cork/duckin’ ’em like Björk”) if zoologically confused; Nicki, it was a swan dress! LINDSAY ZOLADZ

Afrobeats turns inward in the Nigerian songwriter Tems’s “Not an Angel” — an emphatic good-riddance song with lines like, “I was alone when I was with you,” “All you did was give me nothing” and “Right now it’s going nowhere but the graveyard.” Programmed percussion and a moody guitar lick carry her rising resentment and self-realization: “I’m not an angel — I’m just a girl that knows the truth,” she sings, moving into sync with the beat as she pulls away from her ex. JON PARELES

Can a band be classified as shoegaze if its head is in the clouds? Such is the delightful paradox posed by Wishy, a promising new group from Indiana releasing its debut EP “Paradise” next Friday. Echoing the spirit of millennial dream-pop acts like the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Wishy’s latest single “Spinning” layers textured guitar, a driving breakbeat and Nina Pitchkites’s airy vocals to create a sumptuous sound. “Spinning around on the kitchen floor,” she sings. “I don’t know what I’m dancing for.” Prepare to do the same. ZOLADZ

The British band Idles generally play sinewy, irascible post-punk songs, but every so often the singer Joe Talbot confesses to vulnerability, as he does in “Grace.” It’s a secular prayer: “No God, no king/I said love is the thing,” Talbot sings. He both longs for and offers refuge and compassion; behind him, the band gnashes and clatters and eventually erupts, but his determined humility lingers. PARELES

Elephant Gym, a bass-guitar-drums trio from Taiwan, plays a nimble, jazzy kind of math-rock, paced by the hopscotching bass lines of KT Chang and the guitar counterpoint of her brother Tell Chang. “Happy Prince” is loosely based on a children’s story by Oscar Wilde. With bright-eyed guest vocals by Yile Lin, from the band Freckles, “Happy Prince” breezes along, shifting meters and taking chromatic turns; every so often, it explodes. PARELES

A snippet of children singing “We’re all going crazy” led the Chicago pop experimentalist Nnamdi to come up with “Going Crazy.” It appears at assorted speeds, over assorted chords and drum-machine beats, as he croons in falsetto about how “I been up working harder every night” and “I just want to have a little fun” — a workaholic’s jovial complaints. PARELES

It hardly gets more old-school than “Risk It All,” a duet from Usher and H.E.R. — from the soundtrack to “The Color Purple” — that’s happy to risk vocal close-ups: call-and-response, tag-teaming, overlapping, sharing. Little more than piano chords accompany the duo, who sound like they were singing to each other in real time throughout the song, though they couldn’t resist overdubbing some extra harmony vocals. Even so, there’s an unadorned, intimate physicality to the romantic sentiments. PARELES

This sparse, movingly fragile song from the Big Thief frontwoman Adrianne Lenker is a dispatch from the most devastating kind of obsession: “Can’t get enough of you,” Lenker sings in a warbled falsetto. “You come around, I’m ruined.” Accompanied by just a haunting piano and eerie, echoing effects, Lenker’s plain-spoken vulnerability becomes, by the end of the song, a kind of strength. ZOLADZ

Eliza McLamb, a songwriter who’s also a podcaster, revisits a period of severe teenage trauma — her mother’s mental illness, her own self-destructive compulsions — in “16”; it’s from her album due in January, “Going Through It.” Deep, sustained synthesizer tones accompany her breathy voice, offering the stability — or numbness — she longs for. PARELES

Layers of wordless, echoey vocal loops, with hints of modal melody, are the makings of “We Coalesce,” one of the eerie, undulating pieces Karen Vogt recorded while mourning her cat. PARELES

If Vijay Iyer’s music was big for you this year, it was probably thanks to “Love in Exile,” the much-beloved album he released with Arooj Aftab and Shahzad Ismaily. Though cool-blooded and almost ambient, that LP was swept by an undercurrent of disquiet — a feeling the pianist embraces even further in his other working trio, with the bassist Linda Oh and the drummer Tyshawn Sorey. Their 2021 debut, “Uneasy,” was an itchy and stimulating affair inspired, as Iyer said ahead of its release, by the awareness “that this thing Americans love to call freedom is not what it appears to be.” Well, wait. Is there some paradox lurking here? How is instrumental music that sounds so elevated and indirect supposed to upend our most basic assumptions? To which another question might provide the response: Processing the news these days, have you felt angry, frustrated or helpless? If that resonates, this trio’s music would like to help you make some sense of that sensation — and maybe even sidestep it, pushing toward some kind of confrontation. (“Uneasy” includes “Combat Breathing,” a rhythmic call-to-action inspired by Black Lives Matter organizers.) The new, tempo-slurring “Prelude: Orison,” is languid, diaphanous, harmonically canted. Whenever it briefly resolves, it starts the cycle over again. It’s as if this band wants to both seduce you and discomfit you, stripping you of everything but the ability to think and see for yourself. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

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