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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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.
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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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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After the success of his 2017 debut album ‘blkswn’, St. Louis rapper Smino returns with his first single of 2018. The track sees him delivering his distinctive melodic falsetto vocals and trading slick verses with Chicago’s Mick Jenkins over a slow, bumping groove produced in collaboration with with THEMpeople. The contrast between the two lyricists style is a lethal combination, Jenkins’ smooth, laidback flow serving as the perfect complement to Smino’s unorthodox, staccato energy, skipping across pockets in the distorted beat as the infectious bassline keep the listener’s head knocking.
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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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.