Earlier this year, slowthai released his debut album, Nothing Great About Britain, to critical acclaim across the board. Its autobiographical nature and nuanced pronunciation of the state of affairs within the UK is mesmerizing and hard to look away from; given his mercurial nature and excitable style, Nothing Great About Britain has been nominated for the 2019 Mercury Prize because of the great work housed within. Similarly, the visuals for “Toaster” are just as unique as the album. You’ll find slowthai revisiting his Northampton home, reminiscing about his upbringing, while interjecting a live performance throughout his walk around. It’s a simple, yet beautiful video that displays the dichotomy between his aggression as a rapper and and vulnerability as a person.
Moël is an Ethiopian singer-songwriter from Addis Ababa who is now based in Toronto. His latest single is called “Votk” which stands for “Valley of the Kings” in reference to the famous burial grounds found in Egypt. And between the spiritual overtones, Moël’s piercing voice, sublime lyricism, and soulful production, “Votk” is quite a beautiful song. So, if you love your family, stream it below:
Flohio is really starting to grab everyone’s attention with visuals and songs like this. “Hell Bent” is exactly what the name implies and shows the South-Londoner simply spazzing. Directed by Duncan Loudon, the video looks and feels like a spastic interpretation of fire and brimstone personified by Flohio herself. The energy is contagious, check it out.
Released on Valentine’s Day, “Short” is the first single and formal introduction to UK-based producer, J Rick. While this might be considered his first solo outing, J Rick is most notably known through his work with Octavian as part of their collective, Essie Gang, previously producing “Party Here,” "Hands,” and “Lightning.” The video for “Short” — directed by Armin Druzanovic — is a conceptual piece looking to capture the essence of summer; scenes revolve around a house party, a half-pipe, and a general sense of thrill-seeking. It’s the perfect precursor for the warmer months to come. What’s more: last year, I described “Hands” as being somewhere between a James Blake and Mount Kimbie production, and “Short” holds true to that statement with a glitchy, samba-inspired, instrumental. Look out for J Rick’s upcoming mixtape, No Retreat No Surrender, coming out soon.
Baby Keem probably isn’t someone you’ve heard of before and he’s seemingly appeared out of thin air, but after a few placements on TDE’s Black Panther soundtrack, and Jay Rock’s Redemption, Keem is slowly becoming more of a household name.The Sound of Bad Habit is his newest release — executively produced by CardoGotWings — and it’s a short but sweet project that immediately grabs your attention by how ignorantly fun it is. The high energy production complements the knucklehead lyrics perfectly, and to be honest, it’s hard to stop listening with a replayable runtime of 22 minutes.
Conceptually, Col3trane's new joint video is a hallucinogenic trip linking his latest singles "Fear & Loathing" and "Britney" together. The video begins with Col3trane entering a car with the Man With Flowers walking away; the scene then cuts away to a desert and the two come across each other in an endless psychedelic loop. Director Oscar Hudson describes the video as "a BIG stop motion contrazoom in the Kazakh desert ... [with] 30 people who let us bury them in the sand." So from what I can tell, filming this would have been a huge headache to set up, and after watching it half-a-dozen times, the visuals are still as mesmerizing as they are meticulous. Col3trane's next project entitled, BOOT (Breathing Out Of Time), comes out soon. Stay tuned.
A few weeks ago, Mura Masa released a nice likkle dance tune for the remainder of the summer featuring my new favourite artist Octavian.
Directed by Dexter Navy, ASAP Rocky's latest music video is a cinematic work of art featuring an expert usage of match cuts throughout. "Praise The Lord" shows the parallels between New York City and London as Rocky and Skepta take turns counting their blessings. Fittingly, Navy uses the match cut technique to compare and contrast the similarities between the two cities.
"Raise your head high, the World Cup is upon us / Camden-based artist Bakar knows just what we wanted / Do you call it soccer? Do you call it football? / All I know is that Germany's out and it's just get started / Belgium, Belgium, Belgium / Look out for the British / France is pretty young but they're not playing Quidditch / Russia's kinda far away / Perhaps even a Million / Maybe hit the Siii-ling / Ronaldo's probably reeling / This tune is a killer / BK is a villain!"
^^*Sing to the tune of "Million Miles" by Bakar*^^
More of a dance track than anything else, "Hands" is a song by London-based rapper Octavian that quite obviously has him singing and not rapping. Compared to his last two releases ("100 Degrees" and "Party Here"), it's a complete change in what you might've expected from the up-and-comer but not in his sound aesthetic. The emotion-evoking distortions are reminiscent of James Blake—or perhaps, more accurately, Mount Kimbie—combining gospel, soul, and electronic elements bubbling into a shuffling, bass-heavy, and dynamic production.
Each frame of LA Timpa's "2;ep1" is captivating and carefully curated as the beat pulsates with gliss from location to location; occasionally rumbling alongside the lyrics aimed at the monotony of existence.
Col3trane is a London-based artist whose debut mixtape, Tsarina, recently released in November.
Stream it here:
What a time, what a time: Today, Daniel Caesar received two Grammy nominations for Best R&B Performance ("Get You") and Best R&B Album (Freudian). And as if to cap things off, he also released the music video for "Freudian" with added vocals. Above, watch the duality unfold.
Sonder is a group composed of singer Brent Faiyaz and producers Atu and Dpat; recently, they released their debut music video for "Too Fast" off of their Into EP. The video, directed by Noah Lee, beautifully depicts birth (the boy), death (the man) and rebirth (the baby) as Brent walks through a flock of sheep. More interestingly, however, the video ends with the man returning to the Earth as "a fetus enclosed in a transparent orb of light" lowers from the sky. Stream Into below, and buy it here.
The Emptiness, as Alex puts it, is "the music itself" and "Alex Bent is the Emptiness." In other words, it's the creative void that he feels as a singer-songwriter based out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Last week, his newest single, "Vanilla Blue," was released alongside its very own music video directed by Riley Deacon. The song itself was inspired by different interpretations of the words "Vanilla Blue," one of which struggles with "a sweet kind of sadness." The video begins with a brief intro before it is properly interrupted with guitar-driven, occasionally barking production where Alex's voice cuts through. Enticingly, everything holds up and complements each other rather nicely (seriously, like my text to Riley said: “this ... is really fucking good”). From the song itself to the video, "Vanilla Blue" is a bona fide hit — the type of thing I show to others to try and put them on to an artist. That being said, I've definitely become a fan. Keep watch as Alex Bent + The Emptiness have an upcoming album releasing later this year. You can download and stream "Vanilla Blue" here.
"She see money all around me
I look like I'm the man, yeah
But I was down and out like last week
Tell me where have you been?
You came out of hiding, girl
Don't act like I'm your man
You just a fan, you don't hold rank
Don't hold no rank"
Last year, director Makoto Shinkai returned to the silver screen with his latest work entitled, Your Name, a film depicting two youths inexplicably switching bodies in a romantic fantasy drama. It received universal acclaim and I am still patiently waiting for a Western release or fansub to appear. However, in 2007, Shinkai released another emotionally-driven film, 5 Centimeters Per Second, and it focused on the relationship between a boy and a girl in Japan. The story itself reminds me of "On Seeing The 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning" by Haruki Murakami—and the even more recent film La La Land (directed by Damien Chazelle) to an extent—wherein a man and woman end up passing each other by on the street, and ultimately, passing each other by in life.
While all of the aforementioned stories depict a bright, piercing romance, they perhaps even more so depict the disheartening inevitability of fate. Similarly, all of these stories and themes cry parallel to Frank Ocean's momentous release of Endless and Blonde last summer. On the former, a song called "Wither" plays after eight other excellently crafted tracks. The song's title itself is a homophone between "Wither" and "With Her"; while the subject matter describes the revivification of another relationship between two lovers. Frank sings about his time spent with his significant other, and as all good things must end, he reflects upon his time with her and how he has undeniably "enjoyed sunshine." In sum, the pairing of Makoto Shinkai and Frank Ocean is not that far of a reach at all.
The soundscape in Canada has unquestionably changed over the last decade and the music in Saskatchewan is no different. Based in Regina, groups like the Queen City Stoop Kids and affiliated collective, Out My Mind Music (OMM), have appeared and are affecting and changing what it means to be a rapper in the Canadian prairies. Although, being from the proverbial fringes of what's good in Canadian culture is usually considered a negative by insiders and outsiders alike—that's not the case here.
For instance, OKM (Okmoz) is one of the members of Queen City Stoop Kids and is also a part of OMM.
Mozzy has made it really easy for the listener; it only takes about 30 seconds to decide whether or not you like his song. Conceptually, "Oldfriends" pushes one of the truest of truisms—an aphorism: "when old friends surface / you know you doing work." It's a timeless saying, yes, but there's more to it than that. How do you deal with all the fakeness in the world? The thirst? The wackness? All of the people who switched up on you? "Fuck 'em / fuck 'em / fuck 'em"—that's how. Moz' immediate response sums it up perfectly. It's preemptive and an example of how to retaliate first. After all, you'll always need to cut certain people off.
The eternally pleasing Daniel Caesar released two new singles today after a well deserved break following the release of Pilgrim's Paradise last November. The first entitled, "Get You," features Kali Uchis and boasts a smooth groove highlighting Caesar's falsetto and Kali's ravishing vocals. The second, "Japanese Denim," is a rework of a previously-released song and provides a great indication of what Caesar is capable of when cooking up with a group of talented musicians and producers.