Mina Tavakoli

Part of the thrill of Kelela's work, I suspect, has always been her ability to cast erotica against any form.

When Cut 4 Me, a 2013 mixtape in collaboration with UK bass corps Fade to Mind, showed us what spiked, proggish grime against the silk of her voice could possibly do, the impact was surprisingly sumptuous, if not flat-out hot.

First, know that Yiyun Li is not exactly a comforting author. Those who have read her fiction may recognize her tone: calm, but not soothing, matter-of-fact, yet dreamlike; a voice dedicated to seeing the world clearly and without sentimentality. Across two collections of short stories and two novels, this voice is both chilly and elegant, like a 19th-century Russian novelist, or a snowfall. Paired with Li's legion of characters — often near-biblically afflicted with a deep powerlessness — the overall effect can leave you with a mix of wonder, awe, and pain.

Like any good pair of twins, Run the Jewels have a freaky sort of unspoken fraternity. When El-P and Killer Mike strode in with their usual uniforms — Mike in a gold chain as thick as a garter snake, El in a fitted Yankees cap and pair of blue-mirrored sunglasses — the two didn't have to do as much as nod to one another before upending three tracks from their latest LP, RTJ3, in strange and perfect symbiosis.

Look, the debut collection of poetry from Solmaz Sharif, opens with all the grace of an unpinned grenade: "It matters what you call a thing." But this comes as less a warning than a war cry.