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. And all February long, in honor of Black History Month, we shine the spotlight on Black musicians making art that feels vital to this moment.
Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.
Dawn Richard: “Bussifame”
Little can prepare you for the force that is “Bussifame,” a space-funk celebration from Dawn Richard. In the song’s video, which she directed herself, Richard embodies her persona as King Creole, an “assassin of stereotypes, a Black girl from the South at a crossroads in her artistic career,” according to a statement. The beat is infectious against the backdrop of New Orleans, and Richard is here to make you move. —Patrick Hosken
Wizkid ft. Skepta: “Longtime”
Made in Lagos, the fourth album by Nigerian singer Wizkid, is an Afrobeats-infused dance album that feels notably subdued. While it’s not outside his typical sound, it feels particularly soothing to sit in when you’ve got nowhere else to go. “Longtime” is the perfect example of its groove, where he trades lines with rapper Skepta about reuniting with a former flame. The track itself flickers with a certain sensuality, but also a simmering comfort: There’s no urgency in the commands to “whine it up, balance it up.” It’s a rhythm you can sit in for quite a while.—Terron Moore
Genesis Owusu: “Gold Chains”
The molasses groove of Genesis Owusu’s “Gold Chains” is as decadent as its title implies, even when the 22-year-old singer is processing the pitfalls of success and fame. The song’s structure echoes the metaphor, vacillating between shimmering falsetto highs and rumbling, gravel-throated raps about depression and substance abuse. His debut album Smiling With No Teeth, out March 5, promises more lustrous, multi-layered funk. —Coco Romack
Quami.xyz: “Running Away”
Punxsutawney Phil called for another six weeks of winter, but thankfully Quami.xyz has the perfect soundtrack for your winter blues with “Running Away.” The moody and dramatic track bounces and dodges genre like its creator evades demons in the theatrical video. But despite the inherent heaviness, what really sells the song is the air of optimism the Ontario singer slips into the refrain: the realization that one “can’t keep running away.” —Carson Mlnarik
Jazmine Sullivan: “Lost One”
A classic R&B ballad requires the absolute loss of pretense: not trying to convince the listener of what you don’t yet know — that everything will end well — and striking the heart-wrenching, guttural center of a primal feeling of the very moment, whether in the throes of falling in love or in the pitiful depth of loss. “Lost One” is devoid of anything but pure sorrow, wherein Sullivan gets drunk, has sex with strangers, and loses all restraint in the name of coping with the consequences of her actions. “Please don’t forget about me, try not to love no one [else],” she wails, before reconsidering her request. “I know that’s too much to ask,” she says. “I know I’m a selfish bitch.” —Terron Moore
Robert Glasper ft. H.E.R. & Meshell Ndegeocello: “Better Than I Imagined” (DJ Tunez Remix)
Unlike the moody original and the taffy-pulled Kaytranada take, DJ Tunez’s take on this triple-threat stunner maximizes the bass and background rhythms, gradually removing elements until all that’s left are some chords and the vapor of suggestion. You’re just gonna have to listen again. —Patrick Hosken
Yung Baby Tate ft. Flo Milli: “I Am”
I spend an embarrassing amount of my free time these days on TikTok, which is to say that I have it on the good authority of multiple WitchTokers that “I Am” is the song to manifest to in 2021. A bright-voiced Yung Baby Tate wills her own health, wealth, and confidence into existence via infectious rhymes, affirming she is indeed “that bitch.” The best part? Tate wrote her recipe for success right there into the song: “Yeah, look in that mirror / Tell yourself everything that you wanna hear.” —Sam Manzella
Nasty C ft. Ari Lennox “Black and White”
There are a number of really good lines in South African artist Nasty C and Ari Lennox’s lastest track, “Black and White,” but “I got some land inside of my ribs beatin’ for you, can you hear?” is by far my favorite. The song simplifies the complexity of loving someone by laying the ground rules for a successful relationship. Lennox lends her soulful vocals to the track contrasting Nasty C’s velvety bars, reminding the reader that love and intimacy can be as simple as “Black and White.” —Virginia Lowman
Lianne La Havas: “Please Don’t Make Me Cry”
There’s an army of feelings that may swell in the wake of starting something new: heart-bursting excitement, blood-rushing fear, paralyzing apprehension. But there’s something remarkable about the rather cautious approach on “Please Don’t Make Me Cry,” a delicate ask over humbled drums and guitar that feels emboldened by its subtleties. There is excitement, and fear, and apprehension, but it’s all calmed into a five-minute exhaling, a release into whatever is to come. “I’ll show you my prettiest scars,” Lianne La Havas offers. “They make us whatever we are.”—Terron Moore
British R&B singer Cocoelusive slows it down to lament an irresistible romance in “LoveJam.” While she can’t seem to make up her mind about a lover, crooning candid lyrics like a stream of consciousness, it’s the combination of a hypnotizing beat and her honeyed voice that will have you lost with her, only to be pulled out by tongue-in-cheek teases like “I’m from England, so my blood is colder.” —Carson Mlnarik
Serpentwithfeet: “Same Size Shoe”
Ahead of the gorgeous, exploratory Deacon, Serpentwithfeet is back with another preview of the album. This time, it’s a lovely melody based around a repeating hook: “Me and my boo wear the same size shoe.” Like on “Fellowship,” it wrings beauty from a simple mantra, a concept Serpentwithfeet sums up in the press release: “I prefer to date and love on Black men. I don’t want to be with anyone who can’t go to my barber or walk a mile in my shoes.” —Patrick Hosken