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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.
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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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Paris neo-pop group Isaac Delusion pay tribute to French rock legend Eddy Mitchell with a stirring version of 80s classic ‘Couleur Menthe À L’Eau’. The mysterious quintet inject a new elegant electronic ambience to the original track, which tells the tale of a shy man intimidated by the charms of a mint-eyed woman being carried away by the Hollywood dream.
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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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Combining a unique mixture of rumba, funk and hip-hop, veteran Belgian rapper Baloji’s new album ‘137 Avenue Kaniama’ infuses its irresistible groove with an introspective, soulful core. Drawing inspiration from his unique journey, juggling between Brussels and Kinshasa, between French and Lingala, between loving and leaving, he cultivates his original sound through drawing contrasts and parallels between his experiences, bringing us into his complex world of conflicting feelings.
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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Stockholm’s Cherrie is back at it once again. After the viral success of last year’s anthem ‘163 För Evigt’, the Swedish-Somali singer returns to deliver another smooth dose of R&B. An empowering testament to feminine strength and a declaration of love to family and friends, Cherrie’s honeyed vocals are the track’s driving force, creating a sound reminiscent of the early 00’s golden era, yet with a slick modern sheen.
Follow a band of Parisian art thieves through this high-octane heist, as Alpha Wann dishes out a feast of sharp bars, slick flows and pure energy. The ambitious visual is lifted from the French rapper’s new EP ‘Alph Lauren 3’, giving a taster of what to expect from his highly anticipated forthcoming album, scheduled to release this coming autumn.
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This poetic song from Dinos sees the Parisian rapper transcribe an heartbreaking message left by an ex-girlfriend on his voicemail, with each verse channelling the development from love to hate. The melancholic effort, lifted from his debut album ‘Imany’, features mesmerising vocals on the hook courtesy of Yseult.
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.
Never one to stand still, the French singer Jeanne Added has been on a constant path of growth and development, and on ‘Mutate’ she is once again reinventing herself. The first single from her forthcoming sophomore album finds her looking for freedom, serenely weaving her magnetic voice over delightful electronic production.