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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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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.
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.
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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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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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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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.
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South London artist Gregor the Blue has honed his unique sound over the last few years; a classically trained violinist as a child, he taught himself to play guitar and keys, and soon his bedroom productions started to accumulate a substantial online following. Gregor’s new EP builds on the themes of his 2016 debut album ‘Estate’, taking up where the last project left off in conjuring the same distinctive moody, swirling world but adding a sharper, electronic edge, as the 24-year-old’s sound has matured; tackling themes of longing and insecurity as well as his struggles with darker emotions, the tape is tied together with his trademark woozy, after-hours atmosphere. Enlisting guest vocals from rappers Ant Lavelle and Carl Blarx as well as a feature from long-time collaborator Thieta on lead single Faults, he incorporates elements of alternative blues, ska, RnB and contemporary hip-hop together to create a nuanced, unique sound with genuine depth and texture.
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West London hip-hop artist Lava La Rue returns with another smooth banger. Blessing a timeless old-school groove with her own refreshingly distinctive style, the NiNE8 founder showcases her skill and versatility on the track, equally comfortable dishing out bars on the verse as she is handling soulful melodies on the hook. Taken from her forthcoming EP ‘LETRA’, this is one to simply lean back and enjoy.
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Reservoir’s Theodor Black returns with his sophomore EP. The south-east London rapper approaches themes of race, romance and the transition of growing into adulthood, weaving his trademark rich lyricism over staccato, jazz-infused production. Setting the tone from the titular opening track, the project’s distinctive hazy, dream-like atmosphere is the perfect sound for his vivid introspective bars, painting a picture of the world through his lens.
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When two of the most exciting talents from London’s bristling underground scene link up on a track like this, the heat is inevitable. 237/PxC mastermind Kish! flexes his lyrical muscle over CWBY’s aggressive trap production that harks back to classic grime sounds, while MasterPeace brings his trademark infectious energy to the track on his verse.
With hits like these in the locker, it’s well worth keeping an eye out for both of these MCs over the next few months.
UK-based singer Yiigaa enlists the assistance of E/M rapper Louis Culture for her powerful new single. The two south London artists exchange instropective verses, dealing with memories of past relationships and the struggle of moving forward and growing. Production comes courtesy of Shax Maja, with dynamic drums and distorted horns creating an uplifting, nostalgic tone.
The track is the second single from her forthcoming mixtape ‘Blue Rivers in My Wrist’, due to release in June.
One of the UK’s most elusive and intriguing talents, electro-soul artist Ben Khan returns with his brand new single ‘2000 Angels’. Progressing within the soundscapes that speak toward his previous 1992 and 1000 EPs, the song is a crisp yet dark offering that weaves together his signature distorted vocals and dynamic guitar-driven basslines.
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Electro-pop and R&B duo WESLEE share their daring new single ‘Sweat Dreams’. The effort combines infectious synths and danceable vibes, hinting at what’s to come from their debut EP due out this year.
Mysterious alternative hip-hop artist Lausse the Cat is one of the most original artists to come out of the UK in a minute. Weaving tales of youthful, hedonistic debauchery alongside brutally honest introspection, the Leeds-based, London-born artist is capable of switching languages from English to French as easily as he does subject matter. His dense wordplay and matter-of-fact delivery provide an unorthodox contrast to the sweet and soulful instrumentation he spits over, as the infectious knock and smooth melodies of the rich production combine to make for genuinely intriguing music from this unique artist.