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Atlanta native Father makes a powerful return with his first drop of 2018. The alternative trap artist and founder of independent label Awful Records has been off screen for minute now, but revives the energy that catapulted him to notoriety with two brand new tracks that will only build anticipation for his forthcoming album. Alongside ‘Lotto’, a collaborative effort with ABRA, ‘We Had A Deal’ is a stripped-back, direct trap anthem with an undeniable slap to it, as Father showcases his distinctive left-field delivery over fat, bass-driven production.
While some musicians are born with an instrument in hand, Prateek Kuhad was a relatively late bloomer. Growing up in the small city of Jaipur, he went to the USA to pursue a university degree at New York University, where musical discoveries such as Elliott Smith, Bob Dylan & Woody Guthrie inspired him to get serious about the guitar and write his own songs. A pair of early EPs – one in English, one in Hindi – put him on the map with a sound that blurred the lines between organic folk intimacy and lush pop appeal, and his full-length debut was an instant hit. ‘did you/fall apart’ showcases Kuhad’s poignant and introspective approach through his rich, vivid lyricism, transcending genres and borders in order to speak to the deeper truths of shared human experience in all it’s messy splendour. His mesmerising vocals tap into deep wells of emotion, floating over gently fingerpicked guitars and ethereal synthesizers. Having garnered a slew of international accolades and honors through a recent publishing deal with LA-based Cutcraft Music (alongside the likes of Chet Faker, Izzy Bizu, and CP Dubb) Kuhad has cemented his status as a breakout star not just in his native India, but across the world.
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Mexican producers YOGUI and Dan Solo, members of the band Technicolor Fabrics, collaborated to give rise to a more dramatic sound in ’16: 20′. Released back in 2014, the single is characterised by a marching rhythm, imposing guitars and grooving synths, accompanied by lyrics describing breathless vertigo.
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While Baraka’s energy on stage is wildly contagious, his vocal control on record is skillfully composed. He sails across heavyweight beats with a light tongue, perpetually crafting a free-flowing stream of consciousness. Touching every consonant with clear articulation in an effortless delivery akin to unique wordsmiths like Smino, Baraka carves the wave of his signature “future bounce” beats produced mostly by Bahati Bookings – a collective he founded with fellow Nairobi artists Ekumbo & Stephane. Gathering a fast-growing following with their consistently evolving content online and passionate live performances, Baraka and Bahati Bookings are being paid close attention by established acts in the Kenyan alternative scene, excitedly supporting their unstoppable rise.
Jojo Maronttinni scored a huge hit last summer with ‘Que tiro foi esse?’, a song with such an infectious chorus that it became a meme, spawning countless parodies and even appearing in some adverts. After this viral success, expectations were high for the singer’s follow up. And Jojo just released ‘Arrasou, Viado’, another pop-funk effort with a memorable hook, with the song’s title referring to LGBTQ congratulatory slang. Since it’s release, the track became an automatic hit and has divided opinions all over the internet. Some have said the artist was exploiting ‘pink money’ to boost her career, while others have praised Maronttinni’s courage to make a mainstream song with a visuals full of celebrities and personalities related to both pop culture and the LGBTQ community. In spite of the controversy, this song is another sure hit from a singer who’s fast becoming one of the biggest names in Brazil’s mainstream pop-funk scene.
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Nights of Rizal (also known as Migi de Belen) is a singer-songwriter dedicated to his chilled out electronic sound. The solo artist has released one full-length album to date, entitled ‘summer/salt’, a project reminiscent of days in the beach and life in eternal vacation. Migi explains the album as having “moody lyrics contemplating on the nature of forgetting & remembering.” The album name refers to an 2012 incident where an injury from a failed somersault forced the artist to re-learn how to walk and eventually, run.
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Adding the perfect feature to a song is a delicate art-form, and SHAUN knows how to caramelize artists as an ingredient to enhance his up-tempo songs. ‘생각나’ (Thinking Of) is the third track of his newly released EP ‘Take’, as the Seoul based DJ/producer serves up a springy and fast-paced beat for his guest vocalists to paint the picture of a hollow and empty relationship. Rising singer-songwriter SUMIN contributes a sweet, angelic voice to deliver the lover’s frank confession without weighing in sorrow, while freshman rapper Ovan strikes back his feelings for her with heavy bars as he admits that he can’t help but think of her.
The daughter of a renowned exponent of Argentinian tango, Juana Rosario Molina was raised with classic record collections and guitar lessons. In the mid-70’s, due to military disputes, the Molina family fled the country to go into exile in Paris, where teenage Juana’s musical scope expanded vastly. Nonetheless, when Juana was able to return to her native Argentina, she followed her actor mothers steps by beginning a television career. Her popularity rose exponentially and within three years she already had had her own successful comedy show, airing across Latin America and making her one of the most popular comedians in Argentina. Suddenly, at the peak of her fame, Juana took the hard decision to leave her successful work as an actor in order to pursue a career in music. After multiple releases, in 2017 she delivered her seventh and most solid LP ‘Halo’, which derives its name from one of the most famous folklore myths of Argentina and Uruguay; a halo of “evil light” that floats above the ground where bones were buried. The record evokes the occult in its music as much as in its lyrics. As in previous deliveries, her sound oscillates harmoniously between nature, folklore, humanism and fearless electronic experimentation.
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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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The producer Stephen Of Kent has linked up with rapper 2Lee Stark to create some of South Africa’s most cutting edge contemporary hip-hop. Kent’s first commercially released body of work, ‘There May Be Wolves’ is a joint EP project between the two that draws inspiration from the popular TV series Game Of Thrones; 2lee’s name references the House Stark, whose symbol is a wolf, with the tape’s concept revolving around the fable of “the boy who cried wolf”, framing this project as the genuine breakthrough they’ve prophesied so often before.The pair worked on this album in the OFF BOYZ Recording Label “Winter” campaign, which will also include two upcoming individual singles from each from the artists.
“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.
Ondi is a Kenyan artist who considers her poetry as important as her music. Her voice is reminiscent of the soft, husky haze we attribute to classic blues legends like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, and although Ondi looks young enough to be a high school student she performs with a soberly mannered, delicate movements of someone twice her age. While she is considered a cultural outlier, moving indiscreetly through the shadows of the alternative scene since parting creative paths Nairobi based funk/soul band Yellow Light Machine some years back, she has continued to influence the city’s collective growth in independent artistry through self-released music, pop-up art installations and impactful community-focused events that challenge traditional societal norms through musical gatherings. Her forthcoming crowd-sourced album is composed mostly on the ukulele, featuring stripped down compositions of bare instruments and vocals, much like the spacious atmosphere of her beloved song ‘Empty Pages’.
Aditi Ramesh quit her job as a corporate lawyer and set forth on pursuing a career as a full-time musician. An exemplary vocalist with a herculean voice complemented by a range of techniques and tonal modulations; her inspiration stems from blues, jazz and traditional Carnatic music in which she trained in her childhood. A remarkable rise in her career was instigated with the launch of this year’s EP ‘Autocorrect’, demonstrating her true calibre as a composer, showcasing her classical training and strong musical sensibilities. The EP’s strongest track ‘Efflux of Time’ is a masterful exercise in building looping melodies, and contains one of the most deliciously unexpected vocal transitions; conveying a message of time being the healer of all wounds.
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Botswana born singer-songwriter Mpho Sebina incorporates hip-hop, soul, jazz, traditional Setswana music and folklore into her sound. Authentic and experimental, the self-taught musician has built a loyal audience through her signature a cappella mash-ups including Brenda Fassie with the The Fugees and Boom Shaka with Erykah Badu. She’s performed in venues across Botswana and South Africa, as well as hosting a monthly live music co-operative ‘NakedSoul Sessions’, curating a performance line-up of yet to be discovered local music and merchandisers.
Sebina released her debut EP titled Neo in October 2017 with the first single ‘Black Butterfly’ a soulful hip-hop track with sonic facets of the new generation of melancholic trap-soul. “My music is autobiographical; the stuff I’ve written is self-reflection time for me,” she says. “As a 28-year-old African woman my music is about the journey to discovering one’s self through this world. I would like to stir up that quest for self, to bring about a healing type of vibe. It’s a lot about overcoming and focusing on the personal stuff. Sometimes we get wrapped in anxiety, myself included. My music is about providing an outlet for listeners to forget.”
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- 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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Polo Reyes, frequently known as Mellow Fellow, is an independent dream-pop artist based in the Philippines. Describing his music career as a “project to release sad shit,” he already has three albums under his belt and is in the process of producing a fourth; on his latest single, ‘Don’t You Dare’, the singer explores the feeling of mistrust in relationships. He has also collaborated with foreign acts such as Clairo and Floor Cry, reflecting his status as a promising act with a growing profile in the international music scene.
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Sincerity thickens when a veteran rapper confesses his deepest feelings. Born and raised in Busan, South Korea, Simon Dominic was a former member of hip-hop duo ‘Supreme Team’; now joint-CEO of independent record label AOMG, he returns with new album ‘DARKROOM : roommates only’ three years on from the release of his last project ‘₩ & Only’.
On his past records, Dominic was known for embodying various characters and aliases; however, this time around he narrates candid conversations without any guest features, channelling all of his struggles into a melancholic album with the smooth power of his delivery, tackling themes such as the pressures of his environment and his fear of being left behind. On ‘Jung Jin Chul’, he broods over loss of his uncle who disappeared when he was a child, weaves remembrance, yearning, and his distress at reality together through his lyricism.
However, this story of the grief of separation had a remarkable happy ending; two weeks after the album’s release, Dominic shared a picture on Instagram of his father side by side with Jung Jin Chul himself, announcing that they had found and reunited with the long-lost uncle.
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Celebrating 10 years deep into her music career, Bárbara Eugenia’s fourth album is imminent. Over the last decade the Rio de Janeiro-born singer has explored several musical styles, although always retained a consistent Tropicalia flavor throughout. With such local, nostalgic energy so well established in her music, the artist decided to join forces with Felipe Cordeiro, one of the most prominent names within the new wave of Guitarrada, the genre from the northern state of Pará where guitars and percussion combine to make a sound resembling a mix of Afro-Caribbean Calypso infused with a tropical flavour unique to Brazil’s north. Together the pair created ‘Confusão’, an irresistible tune that invites the listener a hot summer’s night of dirty dancing.
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Omar Banos, better known as Cuco, is a teenage prodigy. In May, the 19-year-old chicano producer already delivered his third album: ‘Chiquito’, a record that floats through the movements of summer love. With uniquely calibrated synths and lyrics sung in both English and Spanish, his deft mixture of R&B, hip-hop and psychedelic pop has won him the support of Kali Uchis, Kevin Abstract and Steve Lacy, not to mention his loyal band of fans known as “Cuco Puffs”, who have turned him into something of a modern day dream-pop icon.
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.