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’.
Lillebittebock is a unique Danish artist breaking the conventions of hip-hop. With a breakthrough song about the suicide of his father when he was just 12 years old, the dark themes in the lyrics are accompanied by hyper-melodic, endorphin-filled beats. “Fortabt” (meaning “lost” in Danish), the rapper’s newest track, is a melancholy, emotive effort with a prominent guitar riff, describing the feeling of being caught in-between phases.
Born parallel to the 2016 US presidential election in response to xenophobic declarations and actions against Latin immigrants, Tulengua identify themselves as “a bilingual hip hop supergroup from both sides of the most crossed border in the world”. Tulengua seeks to demonstrate how Mexicans and North-Americans, Spanish and English speakers, can be combined through the universal language of music to reflect the beauty of the neighbouring countries and dissolve political, geographical, linguistic and racial boundaries.
All the profits from their latest record ‘Baja Funk’ were donated to an immigrant rights organisation. With lyrics denoting awakening and conscience, the protest tone is evident, yet they maintain a message of hope and positivity; the band’s aim is to recover the humanity that unites people instead of dividing them, using music as medicine to heal the world of hatred and excessive division.
Smokey The Ghost has been a pioneer in the Indian hip-hop scene for the past 15 years. A socially conscious artist from Bangalore, Smokey has been involved in all aspects of the culture, from participating in rap battles to rendering his voice for commercial movies and giving due importance to collaborations. His raps emerge out of his observation and tackle various social issues; ‘Her Name Is?’ is a concept mixtape to be heard in sequential order, hailing from a personal experience that led to the realisation of the dishonourable oppression faced in various subtle forms by women on a regular basis. While the tracks form a coherent theme, the production is an amalgamation of the work of different producers based on different ideas emerging from the same concept of abuse of female identity.
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France’s Ash is a mysterious figure. Notoriously elusive, his scarce interviews can be counted on the fingers of one hand, as he would rather express himself through his music. The Strasbourg rapper has a confident and intriguing voice and a distinctive brand of melancholy poetry. On ‘Score’, he abandons the “Kidd” he used to be as he nonchalantly delivers a smooth, detached effort.
HAON celebrated the release of his debut project last month, encapsulating the development of a talented newcomer with huge potential. The winner of Korean hip-hop TV competition “High School Rapper Season 2”, the 18-year-old demonstrated ambitious determination and a youthful spirit to impress audiences across the nation, and has transitioned from amateur to professional rapper with ease. His first EP ‘TRAVEL: NOAH’ alludes to the biblical figure of Noah (also conveniently HAON’s name spelled backwards), as he describes his journey across seven songs. On the titular opening track, HAON delivers his mischievous vocals over a Latin-infused melody, holding his own as he ably exchanges verses with elite Korean stars Jay Park and Hoody.
Brussels trio L’Or du Commun are gathering momentum. “Sur ma vie”, the second effort from their forthcoming album ‘Sapiens’ scheduled to release this fall, sees Loxley, Primero and Swing deliver an inspirational message of manifesting ambitions and achieving success. The Belgian group is steadily developing their sound, with lively flows, sharp bars and an uninhibited sense of humour that will no doubt give them the keys to their own success.
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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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Mumbai-based MC and producer Tienas is a breath of fresh air in the city’s hip-hop community. Bringing to the forefront a Nujabes-inspired sound that hasn’t been seen before in a region dominated by ‘gully rap’, Tienas’ ability to craft together complex narratives on fluctuating, chaotic beats has earmarked him as one of the most interesting new artists to emerge on the Indian independent music scene this year. His debut mixtape ‘Unavailable’ is a brazen showcase of his mercurial talent, oscillating between old school, chaotic hip-hop beats and a future-soul sound that showcases his songwriting ability. The project was released to widespread critical acclaim, and a show-stopping performance at the Azadi Records Roster Showcase has ramped up anticipation for his debut full-length album, scheduled for release next year.
GLGV politely use the Japanese courtesy and say “Itadakimas” before devouring a beat. Offering melodic bars peppered with pop culture references over sweet yet powerful production, the Parisian crew comprises five rappers and a DJ, balancing between different worlds as an eclectic group with a genuine original energy and sound. Their name is an acronym for “Good Life Good Vibes”, and together they’re determined to shine with their second project ‘EscXale’, releasing September 21st.
Chicago emcee Elton makes a profound and soulful introduction with his debut EP, “Elevated”. Sitting at 6-tracks deep, the breakout project is packed with soulful jazz-infused production and introspective lyricism, with the young newcomer’s powerful versatility making it one of 2018’s most impressive new hip-hop offerings. Featuring a slew of his peers in fellow Chicago artists Phoelix, Akenya, Blake Davis and Luke Titus, with this effort Elton has created an impressive foundation for his inevitable ascension.
Hailing from the Paris neighbourhood of Argenteuil, Jewel first found a means to express himself though dance before falling in love with rhythm and poetry. On the soulful “High School”, the lyricist is all in his feelings as he finally reveals his secret love to his high-school crush. Effortlessly switching between a precise flow and a harmonious hooks, he offers a upbeat, lilting energy to create a striking piece with real replay value.
Indulge in Code Kunst’s rich and deep music world. Over the last five years he has become one of Korea’s most successful hip-hop and RnB producers, with an internationally-renowned reputation inspiring projects such as “Hood” with Joey Bada$$. 2018 has been a big year for him, after signing to rising label AOMG and appearing as a judge on South Korean TV rap competition ‘Show Me The Money 777’; building on these successes, Code Kunst shares new double single “BLESS” collaborated with Loco & Woo Won Jae. The low-pitched melody and Woo Won Jae’s indifferent style of rapping creates a tranquil and relaxed vibe, alongside melody variation and support from Loco, while B-side “11” is driven by dream-like acoustic guitar ethereal vocal samples, showing Code Kunst’s skill of controlling tempo and deftly putting the right factors in the right place. The producer explained the message behind the release; “We always pursue our own BLESS and do explore, but usually, find ourselves getting more depressed in the progress. However, despite the desperate situations, we are still blessed existences that can constantly try to reach for the bigger dream.”
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Almost a decade ago a dub legend, Mad Professor, originally from the tip of South Americas belly, Guyana, joined forces with the Uruguayan Alicia Dal Monte Campuzano known worldwide as Alika to give life to an iconic album in the history of dub: ‘Mad Professor Meets Alika’.
The complex work, entirely produced by Mad Professor, has seven tracks with their respective dub version of each. Alika’s powerful voice contributes direct, clear lyrics in both English and Spanish that speak of respect, dignity, and self-confidence as she rejects the oppression, consumerism and corporate dominance of Western society.
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‘Léticia’ finds Jazzy Bazz at his most romantic. The Parisian lyricist makes a declaration of unrequited love to the apple of his eye on this light-hearted serenade, poetically expressing his helplessly obsessive desire for a woman who does not seem interested in his advances. After long months of silence, the rapper from the French capital’s 19th arrondissement will be back with his highly anticipated sophomore album “Nuit”, releasing September 7th.
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Paris’ Guizmo is a complex figure, with a personal life troubled with self-destructive tendencies and struggles with vice and addiction. In his music he painfully describes his experiences in this dark environment and his slow journey to redemption, revisiting the iconic Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin classic “Je t’aime… Moi non plus” as he explains to his lover how tortured he is and warns her to stay away from him.
Paloalto takes his name from the city in California’s San Francisco Bay Area where the veteran rapper used to live when he was young. After moving back to Korea, he became a founder of Hi-Lite Records, the heavyweight hip-hop label that has been so influential in the country’s scene over the last decade. His reflective messages are delivered in a baritone voice which embodies the depth of his music, built by sincere experience and growth over his lengthy career. Paloalto demonstrates his technical ability and mastery of flow on ‘Joy’, the first track of his newly-released album ‘Summer Grooves’, a laid-back summer anthem with an uplifting vocal melody courtesy of guest Korean American singer-songwriter Ted Park.
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.
OLNL has been making waves in the Korean hip-hop and RnB sphere, establishing his own fairytale-like world through imaginative lyricism and escapist imagery. Now he’s teamed up with the childlike rapper and producer Cosmic Boy to create a new collaborative project under the name of ‘Areyouchildish’. On their single ‘Merry-go-round’, OLNL’s characteristic slurred pronunciation floats over Cosmic Boys’ uplifting melodic soundscapes, as they lament the immature behaviour of adults.