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South London artist Yxng Jynn steps up to the plate with his debut solo single. After attracting attention this year for production credits and features with NOTAROLEMODEL and Reservoir & 237 affiliates Kish! & Virgil Hawkins, the gifted rapper & producer takes the limelight for himself on “Ghostride”. A tripped-out, g-funk infused trap effort with irresistible energy, the track will no doubt soon live up to its self-proclaimed billing as a ‘certified hood classic’.
Murkage Dave’s long-awaited debut album has been well worth the wait. Across 14 tracks, the east Londoner fuses soulful golden era RnB with UK grime and garage sounds in allusion to his origins as a successful DJ, as bumping percussion and warm strings draw comparisons to long-time collaborator Mike Skinner and The Streets. Driven by his distinctive socially aware witty lyricism, Dave’s gentle crooning melodies are delivered in hushed tones like reflective asides muttered from the back of the night bus home from the club, as his melancholic introspections channel the loneliness of a hedonistic life on the road between events into a muted morning-after mood that is sombre yet refreshingly honest throughout, leaving a surprisingly uplifting afterglow.
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After meeting at fine art college, Clara Cappagli and Armand Bultheel quickly bonded over their shared love of trance music, and began writing music together as Agar Agar, leading to the release of their breakout 2016 EP ‘Cardan’. Since then, they’ve built a dedicated fanbase through their distinctive sound and impassioned live shows, and they’ve consolidated this ascendance on their debut full-length album ‘The Dog and the Future’. Singer Clara Cappagli’s delicate vocals flits over sultry, down-tempo disco beats, progressing from their established dancefloor territory into darker introspective themes as her lyrics tackle ideas of virtual reality and simulated life. Sonically, the album is filled with fat, squelching synths and booming drum machines, condensing the murky energy of classic techno and electro to build a mysterious after-hours atmosphere driven through by indie pop structures and melodies. From brooding opener “Made” to standout tracks like the sinister “Fangs Out” and irresistible hit “Lunatic Fight Jungle”, the record is filled with unique gems, marking the body of work with a depth that underlines the development of this truly original act.
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Hailing from Ireland and Australia but based in Berlin, Evvol’s music is irresistible. With a glimmering cosmic sound driven by ethereal 80s synths and dark rock’n’roll grooves, the duo comprise sonic influences of electronic pop and disco and political themes of feminine sexuality and queer experience to create their own distinctive style. Their latest visuals underline the inherently danceable energy of their music, as moonlit bodies twist and contort to single “Song For The Broken Hearted (Rollin’)”.
In a scene where hype can build and fall dangerously quickly, A2 is an artist who has been slowly burning away, honing his sound and building a dedicated following over the last six years. After the success of his 2017 debut full length album ‘Blue’, the south London artist returns with a brand new 5-track EP that takes on a warmer shade; the rapper sets the tone from opener “Flex Luthor”, as his distinctive croaky flows ride soaring RnB-infused trap production with celestial synths and pads creating an uplifting atmosphere. Standout track “Flair” sees him link up with Octavian, Suspect and Yxng Bane for an irresistible banger, underlining his status amongst the UK’s upper echelon of elite artists who are pushing the culture forward.
Despite not having a single official record released, the excitement around artist Unknown T has been bubbling away for months now. Finally, this week he released his long-awaited debut track ‘Homerton B’, sending ripples through the UK drill scene just in time for carnival season. First heard previewed on one of the infamous DJ Tim Westwood’s legendary Crib Sessions, the track sees the east London rapper shelling ice-cold flows in his distinctive, instantly recognisable deep voice, as his memorable chorus adds an unexpected danceable energy to the track. Drill is arguably Britain’s most controversial genre of the moment, with many artists making headlines for criminal activity and police even going as far as to block tracks from YouTube and ban acts from recording or performing, but Unknown T draws the focus back to the musicality as his booming melodic delivery and crystal clear enunciation inject a startling fresh energy, illustrating the enduring power of innovation.
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On her debut full-length album ‘Devotion’, Tirzah establishes herself as one of the UK’s most intriguing artists. Entirely produced by the esteemed underground producer Mica Levi (aka Micachu), the record builds on Tirzah’s previous dance-infused releases by introducing elements of contemporary alternative RnB, creating a distinctive other-worldly atmosphere through warped samples and looped percussion led by her husky vocals. Her distinctive candid delivery is at once warm and mysterious, driving each track as her melodies are pitched up, multiplied and twisted to create a sound that is truly original in its tripped-out, ethereal intimacy. This graceful electronic sound is highlighted on lead singles ‘Gladly’ and ‘Affection’, but each of the 11 tracks here introduces a fresh dynamic, resulting in a record of genuine depth that showcases the 30-year-old’s versatility and natural chemistry with long-time friend and collaborator Levi.
Eritrea-born, Amsterdam-based RIMON is a multi-faceted artist with a bright future ahead. The 20-year-old announced herself on the scene in the last few months, capturing her audience by releasing three diverse singles with accompanying visuals, highlighting her versatility in harnessing a range of musical styles. “Realize”, the last in this trilogy of releases, is a vibrant, melodic bashment-infused tune driven by RIMON’s husky, emotive vocals, providing the perfect energy to soundtrack the end of the long hot summer.
Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins announced his new album by sharing powerful new banger ‘Bruce Banner’. The 27-year-old flexes his lyrical muscle as he unleashes his inner Hulk, channeling his aggression into a dense, intricate flow spat over a menacing instrumental from producers NEZ and RIO. A track packed with endless quotable bars, his declaration that “honestly, can’t nobody come for me except Kendrick” has already created a significant buzz, and will only heighten the anticipation for the release of his sophomore LP ‘Pieces Of Man’ this coming autumn.
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Tinyman continues to build the momentum with the dynamic video for his banger the ‘The Mountains’. The South London rapper flows effortlessly over Subcultures’s bouncing production for an infectious headknocker, as the visuals depict the ORPHGANG collective member exploring tropical climes. Moreover, the video’s outro showcases this artists versatility as he switches up the style, crooning soulfully over a slow acoustic guitar accompaniment.
Innanet James has been keeping things lowkey for a minute now. Following the breakout success of his 2016 debut project ‘Quebec Place’ and its hit single ‘Summer’, the Maryland rapper has taken his time to perfect his follow-up record, and the 22-year-old does not disappoint with his long-awaited return. ‘Bag’ is an undeniable banger from the first kick drum, as James flows effortlessly over soulful keys and a playful trap percussion infused with a bossa nova rhythm, serving to build the excitement for his forthcoming EP slated to feature the likes of Pusha T, Rexx Life Raj and Mac Ayres.
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London-based Aaron Taylor returns with a pair of irresistibly smooth new tracks. After winning fans across the world with the slick, timeless neo-soul sound of his breakout EPs ‘Still Life’ and ‘Better Days’, Taylor’s star has grown steadily over the last couple of years as he has developed as both a songwriter and producer. D’Angelo-esque soulful RnB jam ‘I Think I Love You Again’ follows the vein of his past releases, but he showcases his versatility on ‘Spaceship’ as his impassioned falsetto drives a psychedelic funk-infused jam that would be guaranteed to light up just about any midsummer dancefloor.
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Atlanta native Father makes a powerful return with his first drop of 2018. The alternative trap artist and founder of independent label Awful Records has been off screen for minute now, but revives the energy that catapulted him to notoriety with two brand new tracks that will only build anticipation for his forthcoming album. Alongside ‘Lotto’, a collaborative effort with ABRA, ‘We Had A Deal’ is a stripped-back, direct trap anthem with an undeniable slap to it, as Father showcases his distinctive left-field delivery over fat, bass-driven production.
The UK’s resurgent contemporary jazz scene is smouldering with incredible talent. After making waves as a member of celebrated duo Yussef Kamaal with their hugely successful 2016 record ‘Black Focus’, the highly-respected drummer Yussef Dayes set off to pursue a different direction as a solo artist. Here he returns to link up with pianist Alfa Mist for ‘Love is the Message’, a hazy, ethereal tune filled with warm keys and infectious percussive grooves as well as a scene-stealing guitar solo from Mansur Brown.
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Following up from the release of his breakout debut album ‘Milly Rocking to the Wrong Things‘ back in March, Virgil Hawkins returns to link up with NOTAROLEMODEL’s CWBY once again for a fresh new two-track release. ‘The 5eason’ is a slick, uplifting trap anthem, as Hawkins’ trademark woozy melodies are complemented by a powerful verse from CWBY over production from Yxng Jynn, before the pair up the energy levels on the barnstorming ‘Planet Pod’, going back-to-back as they exchange charged-up verses over a high-octane beat produced by CWBY himself. Irresistible raw chemistry from two of London’s most exciting young talents.
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G.O.O.D. Music have had one hell of a month. After five consecutive weeks of dominating the hip-hop agenda with the releases of 7-song albums from hip-hop legends Pusha T, Kanye West, Kid Cudi and Nas, last weekend the label’s run finally reached its climax with Teyana Taylor’s sophomore record ‘K.T.S.E.’ (standing for Keep That Same Energy). Despite being perhaps the least hyped up of the five releases, the Harlem-born singer takes her moment in the spotlight with relish, delivering a record of slick, timeless RnB jams. Smooth soulful production comes courtesy of West and Mike Dean, who for the most part leave aside the more abrasive electronic experimentation that they have explored on the previous records, opting instead for a palette of warm keys and classic soul samples allowing Taylor to showcase her powerful vocals, exemplified on the album’s standout track ‘Rose in Harlem’.
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Leon Vynehall made his name crafting deep, elegant contemporary house, becoming one of dance music’s most talked-about names in the process. However, his latest full-length effort ‘Nothing is Still’ sees the British electronic producer move away from club-oriented music into broader, progressive conceptual territory; it is perhaps notable that despite the success of previous projects ‘Music for the Uninvited’ and ‘Rojus’, he describes this release as his first proper debut album. Following the narrative of his grandparents’ emigration from London to New York in the 1960s, Vynehall vividly scores their journey through rich, instrumental compositions, expertly harnessing his gift for percussion with a gorgeous musicality alongside soaring synths to create a fluid, cinematic piece that has as much in common with classical symphony and ambient electronica as it does with booming house or techno. One of the year’s most adventurous, forward-thinking albums, this is one to be savoured.
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Yxng Bane has been carving his own lane within the UK’s diverse music landscape. Incorporating elements of trap, RnB and dancehall to create a dynamic blend of styles, his latest visual sees the east Londoner allude to his previous hit ‘Vroom’ as he flexes in a gold motor, showcasing his dexterity as his woozy vocals switch flows either side of an infectious hook.
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LA record label Top Dawg Entertainment has produced some of contemporary US hip-hop’s biggest new stars in the last few years, developing the likes of Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Isaiah Rashad and SiR. Amongst such a wealth of fresh talent, west-coast rap veteran Jay Rock has at times perhaps been overlooked; despite being one of the label’s earliest signees way back in 2005, he has thus far struggled to emulate the same level of international commercial success as his label-mates. However this is due to change with the release of his third album ‘Redemption’, a powerful, direct record that expertly fuses Rock’s roots in classic hip-hop sensibilities with the trappier contemporary sounds of the modern-day scene. In the midst of a host of stellar guest appearances from hip-hop royalty like Lamar, J. Cole, Future and Jeremih, the 33-year old Rock more than holds his own, showcasing his arsenal of slick flows and imposing delivery over a diverse range of styles, tied together by a consistent dark energy. Touching on a range of themes including religion, race and gang life in Los Angeles, ‘Redemption’ is a truly enjoyable rap album that is due to elevate Jay Rock to the status that he has perhaps long deserved.
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Jorja Smith’s rise over the last couple of years has been meteoric. From the success of breakout hit Blue Lights, the Walsall-born singer-songwriter’s emergence as one of music’s most exciting new talents has transferred into real star power as she’s scored global successes with singles ‘Teenage Fantasy’ and ‘On Your Mind’, working with US rap royalty and receiving critical acclaim along the way. She’s consolidated this ascendance in her debut album ‘Lost & Found’, capturing the moment perfectly as her silky smooth vocals glide over warm soulful production from the likes of Charlie Perry, Cadenza, Tom Misch and Felix, showcasing her songwriting ability with a grace and maturity that belies her youthful 21 years.