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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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“Rosa” is a stunning single from Danish duo WIINSTON. It unfolds with all the moody atmosphere of a classic movie, with a blurry, strangely nostalgic feel and a gorgeously sleepy groove. Made up of a pair of longtime friends, producer Alfred Thomas and singer/songwriter Daniel Richards, most of WIINSTON’s music is recorded in Thomas’s tiny apartment. “Rosa” embodies their sound perfectly; a cinematic and nostalgic take on electronic R&B that stirs up intense emotion and captivates the listener with its memorable melody.
- The Norwegian creative comet Lil Halima makes alternative pop evoking melancholic feelings. The 19 year old popstar writes, produces and makes her own cover-art. Lil Halima ́s short videos of herself playing and singing on Instagram have attracted a significant following and led to her signing with Def Jam Norway last year. Her new single Train blends crunchy, electronic elements with a smooth soulful groove, adding an airy, easygoing pop-song to her catalogue before her debut EP drops in October this year.
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East London-based, Danish-born singer/producer and Wu-Tang collaborator Mont Jake 5-track EP2 fuses a diverse range of music cultures to create a fresh and original sound. On standout track ‘Come Closer’ the artist (born Jacob Hammershøj) collaborates with saxophonist Leland Whitty of Badbadnotgood and rapper Gene Fisher, showcasing Jake’s innate ability to absorb a broad range of influences and bring them into his sultry and soulful world. A triple-threat, Jake writes, produces and records his own music which has led him from his home in Copenhagen to sign with Island Records in the UK.
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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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Muddy Monk’s music is driven by poetic nostalgia, romantic torment and a need to escape, whether through long motorcycle rides or by traveling within through his soul and thoughts. Using his voice as an elegant melancholic instrument, the Swiss artist offers ‘Ocean’, a mermaid’s song that hypnotizes and immerses the audience into mellow waves made of sliding laments and celestial synths.
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Dive into the world of Sabina Ddumba. One of the most prominent figures in Sweden’s pop scene, her effortless, natural vocal tone makes her stand out from the crowd. At the age of 16 she joined Stockholm’s prestigious Tensta Gospel Choir (which has produced the likes of Lykke Li and Kristin Amparo), and it was here that she honed her talent and the star we see today was born. With a powerful voice and a charismatic aura, the listener is drawn into Sabina’s universe; her latest single ’Small World’ is a melodic story about finding hope in the commotion of everyday life, making the world seems to be a lot bigger than it really is; ”Maybe it’s a small world? You are not alone.”
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19-year-old Danish artist K-phax released his latest single ‘Punk’ last Friday. K-Phax does everything himself – writing, singing and production – and uses his music as a medium to explore themes of being an outsider, trying to fit in and promoting a message of self-acceptance and being the best version of yourself. In 2016, he won the Danish competition ‘KarriereKanonen’ – Danish national radio DR P3’s music competition for upcoming artists, and has built on this momentum to push the frontiers of hip-hop in Scandinavia; combining elements of hip-hop with alternative rock, he’s one of a new wave of artists bringing a new sound to Denmark.
Hailing from northern Paris, 21-year-old Lord Esperanza released his first album at the end of 2017. Only mid-way through 2018, the prolific rapper has already followed up with two projects, the latest being a 7-track drop entitled ‘Internet’. On this EP, the self-proclaimed “kid of the century” shares ‘Boulevard’, a powerful track that illustrates a ludicrous picture of the world that surrounds him. He expresses his distress through carefully constructed rhymes and vivid metaphors, laying his emotions bare over a delicate beat, a touching cry for help coming straight from his heart.
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Swedish/Somali rapper Ozzy is a rising star, transferring his life experiences into lyrical excellence. His debut album ‘Ett Öga Rött’ (One Eye Red) is inspired by a Swedish novel of the same name. Growing up in Rosengård, southern Sweden, with all the odds against him, he found an escape in music and literature; as a kid he was often bullied and called names – in which he uses to introduce himself on the first track of the album, reclaiming the abuse he was subject to: “Det är jag som är Ozzy, stor svart tjockis” – (“It is me Ozzy, big black fatty”). Writing songs gave him a lifeline during this troubled upbringing; the song ‘Några Gånger’ (A Few Times) tracks his deep love for the music and the many sacrifices he made for it over the years.
Not satisfied with producing one of France’s hardest trap projects of the year in 13 Block’s “Triple S”, Ikaz Boi returns with “Brutal”, a debut album of his own that welcomes the audience into his eclectic universe through a portal of diverse instrumentals, features, and interludes. The project counts Ateyaba (fka Joke) amongst its guests, a voice that has become increasingly scarce over the past few years; building on their past collaborations, the pair offer up ‘Pyramid Tokyo’, a vibrant performance that serves as a reminder of why the French scene misses the Montpellier rapper’s unique flow.
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Using her music as an expression of the Afropean movement, the Ghanaian-Swedish singer Aurelia Dey has a unique ability to capture everyday, real-life moments and transfer them into her own sound. Her latest release ‘Sweet Love’ is an infectious summer anthem, paying homage to an unconditional romance, a first class upgrade compared to her past relationships, as she sings “my ex-man boring” over a bashment-infused rhythm.
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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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With a sound that falls somewhere between contemporary hip-hop and French chanson, Strasbourg’s Arthur ELY enters the fray with a refreshing debut single. On ‘Le Dernier Homme’ the multi-instrumentalist introduces himself with a skillful performance, as his confident vocals ride silky electronic production. One to watch.
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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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Fricky is the sparkling new voice from Sweden’s “dirty north”. One of the most exciting new artists to emerge on the country’s music scene, he has long been an acclaimed rapper but recently transitioned into RnB territory, unleashing a velvet smooth singing voice. His debut EP ‘Aqua Aura’ is the result of his reflections on life, and kicks off with the titular opening track, a slick, melodic trap affair.
Di-meh is standing up for Geneva. As much at ease on a skateboard as he is on the mic, the young artist has been seen sharing the stage with Slimka and Makala as one of SuperWakClique’s Xtrm Boyz over the past few years, providing high-octane, powerful trap music. On ‘J’Aime Trop Ça’ he brings his usual brand of pure, fierce energy, accompanied by raw visuals of him and his affiliates running wild in their hometown.
Without rain, there can be no flowers. Since 2015’s ‘Negus’, Brussels’ Moka Boka has often returned to the motto that that every cloud has a silver lining and the need for pain to find happiness. Never one to be afraid to speak his truth, on his latest full-length project the rapper shares an honest message of hope, showcasing his surgical flows and melancholic lyricism as he nonchalantly drops spirited bars over soulful productions.
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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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Over the last few years Parisian artist Myth Syzer has built a reputation as one of France’s finest hip-hop producers . On his debut album ‘Bisous’ he rises to the challenge of using his own voice on his beats for the first time, creating a melancholic yet sensual style inspired by 90s French pop and using the music as a therapeutic means to move on from a painful break-up. On Full Metal, the beatmaker links up with Aja of rock band La Femme to deliver a smooth, passionate lullaby, imploring a lover not to leave.