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Jason Kalinga’s music is a unique combination of spirituality, wisdom, and street-level realism. Though he remains on the fringes of the burgeoning Nairobi scene, his intricate lyricism makes him one of the most exciting talents in contemporary Kenyan music; his songs speak on youth, love, success and struggle in an honest, emotionally articulate style, with influences from the classic hip-hop era and contemporary RnB melodies. ‘Ego is the Enemy’ features compatriot Kahvinya, who lends her powerful vocals to the track’s outro.
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Jack Grace’s unique compositions have been making waves on the Australian underground scene for a couple of years now, and the electronic singer/producer has consolidated on this momentum with the release of his latest EP ‘IF I TREMBLE’. Fusing classic piano soul with elements of UK bass and footwork production, the distinctive sound of brooding, melancholy tracks like ‘us’ and ‘waiting’ showcases Grace’s ability to create forward-thinking, multi-layered music with a chilling emotional touch.
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Sudanese artist AKA Keyz comes roaring into the game with his debut project, ‘The Seed’. At just 21 years old, the eight songs demonstrate a level of skilled lyricism that belies his youth, touching on a range of mature subject matter from mental health and introspection to childhood reminiscence. Lead single ‘No Options Left’ is a track that carefully balances a smooth, timeless hip-hop groove with serious comment on the socio-economic and political state of his country, all tied together around an infectious hook.
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Oakland’s own multi-talented artist Elujay comes with brand new energy on his fresh soulful single ‘Starchild’. Though more commonly known for his approach to melody through the rap lens, Elujay is no stranger to classic crooning, and his husky vocals take the lead on this love letter written with sensuality and vivid imagery.
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.
In 2013, Dreamville rapper Bas released Pinball, a song that hinted at his hunger for success; five years on, its sequel is a testament to how far the Queens artist has come. With his last album ‘Too High to Riot’ debuting in Billboard’s Top 50, Bas has steadily climbed up from his humble beginnings – and he isn’t stopping. Pinball II boasts punchy bars delivered with a racing flow and features the heavy vocals of LA artist Correy C.
The burgeoning Sudanese hip-hop scene is producing some of the most exciting talent right now: rappers like TooDope and MaMan’s ability to merge the influences of Western hip-hop with local cultural references is demonstrated on ‘Alright’, as Omar Majid’s bouncing production is blessed with an infectious hook and humorous lyricism.
Moody, luscious, and smooth. Maryland’s Dijon Duenas of Abhi//Dijon delivers a third solo single, a classic love song with beautifully fluid instrumentation to create a dreamlike environment for his audience.
Lose yourself in the blissful world of ODIE. The 21-year-old singer’s debut album, ‘Analogue’ is an expertly crafted body of work, showcasing his own slick, original brand of contemporary RnB. The album incorporates a wide range of influences and subject matter, from tales of longing on classic guitar ballads like ‘North Face’ and ‘Little Lies’ to paying homage to his Nigerian heritage on the infectious ‘Faith’, all held together by his warm and soulful vocals, creating a vivid, dream-like atmosphere.
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.
California’s Keith Tutt II is heaven-sent. On his debut single, the multi-instrumentalist and composer explores the ‘sometimes overwhelming distance fear puts between our dreams and our actions’, as his sumptuous vocals effortlessly put the mind at ease.
Sit back and enjoy the journey on this first-class acoustic excursion.
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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.
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Fena Gitu grew up in a musical family in Kenya, exposed to gospel, soul and jazz from an early age, and while her music has explored the contemporary sounds of hip hop, R&B and dancehall, her original influences can be heard in church-style chorus vocals and consciously positive lyricism. Honing her craft through collaboration with an array of producers across the African continent, Fena’s music combines powerful production with a careful blend of live instrumentation and soulful backing vocals. Her skilled pop songwriting retains a playful edge, often rapping in quick cuts of Swahili before switching back to English choruses intoned with fearless energy.
Chicago artist Saba’s sophomore album CARE FOR ME is dedicated to his cousin John Walt who was fatally stabbed in February 2017. His discography boasts a range of diverse material, exploring a fusion of elements of hip-hop, jazz, and neo-soul; on LIFE, the production morphs from a smooth head-knocking double bass sample to darker, distorted synth sounds as the mood develops, with Saba’s melodic raps brooding over his personal struggles with grief and the hardships of life as a black man in America.
With only a handful of singles released, Still Woozy a.k.a. Sven Gamsky is already garnering acclaim as an all-round artist with a gift for skillfully blending contrasting elements in his music. Gamsky’s production on songs such as 2017’s ‘Vacation’ finds solid balances between space and intimacy, electronic and acoustic, melancholy and optimism.
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Ray Fuego has been making waves in Amsterdam for his devil-may-care attitude and high-energy live shows, while his SMIB crew have been spreading the movement internationally through their music, visuals and fashion releases. Fuego harnesses this momentum in this latest video from his debut full-length album ‘Zwart’, as he vibes out in a mirrored chamber, flowing effortlessly over Garrincha’s irresistible melodic trap production.
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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.
Kijo is a Kenyan artist known her strong and sensual vocals as a member of Nairobi-based group Yellow Light Machine. While her magnetic presence has brought soulful songwriting and vocal skill to the band’s live performances, her solo releases are establishing her as an artist in her own right. She’s attracted attention for her new music, a blend of tripped-out beats banging fearlessly beneath a bed of sweet live instruments, as her fusion of hip-hop rhythms and jazz melodies creates a dreamy vintage futurism all of her own.