Denzel Curry – TA13OO Trilogy Review

Denzel Curry is one of the true originals left in the hip hop game. Where everyone is becoming a mumble rapper, producing merely 2 minute tunes, Denzel is releasing tantalising tracks, with lyricism rich in diversity and intelligence. This sees the dispatching of Curry’s 3rd album, which he has split into three Acts and proceeded to drop on three different days. At first this seems weird, but as a complete project, it makes sense, with the album getting progressively devilish.

Act 1 (light) merges psychedelic rhythms and vibrant production, utilising features from the likes of Goldlink to cement an atmospheric tone at the start of the record. As colourful as the instrumentation may seem, Curry’s intense lyricism focuses on molestation and suicide, creating a hellish and demonic mood. In tracks like ‘BLACK BALLOONS//13LACK 13ALLOONS’, there’s a real OutKast vibe; the catchy chorus could have come straight off ‘Stankonia’, but this doesn’t last for long. ‘Sumo//Zumo’ is a ferocious end to the first act, utilising punchy one-liners and Denzel’s gritty vocals to lure you into the next part of the record.

DENZEL TA13OO

‘SUPER SAIYAN SUPERMAN//ZUPER ZA1YAN ZUPERMAN’ is an incredibly intense start to the second act (grey), manipulating synthesisers and haunting echoed vocals to emphasise this Halloween fixated world Denzel manufactures. ‘SWITCH IT UP//ZWITCH IT UP carries on the chilling atmosphere ‘if life is hanging by a thread, then a n***a might just be dead’ raps Curry in an uncomfortable and psychotic manner. The J.I.D collaboration shows the Florida rapper is an advocate for provocative music, the track expressing a political angst in the lyricism. Comparing Donald Trump and Donald Duck seems fitting and shows an intelligent and poetic mockery of one of the most powerful men in the world.

DENZEL CURRY TA13OO 2

The third Act is definitely the most hard hitting and thought provoking. Taking digs at the music industry and mumble rappers, in one of my favourite songs ‘PERCS//PERCZ’, the 23 year old draws on elements of heavy metal, whilst maintaining his unique ‘Soundcloud rapper’ style. However, the album as a whole, shows Denzel will be here beyond any streaming service; his music is more universal now, and this album will be at the core of any success he gets in the future.

Stream the LP below and go see him on his UK tour this December, definitely not one to miss.

Buddy – Harlan & Alondra review

I only became aware of Buddy a few months back, when he released his highly anticipated collaboration with A$AP Ferg. The hard hitting melodic trap banger ‘black’ was a catchy introduction to his music for me. On this album however, Buddy shows he is much more than your average American rapper, blending a variation of Afro-soul and funk instrumentation into one of the most pleasant albums of the summer. ‘Trouble on Central’ could slip very fittingly onto an album by the likes of Goldlink or even BROCKHAMPTON. ‘The Blue’ transports you to a world full of beaches, sunshine and general happiness. Do I need to sell it to you anymore? It’s a brilliant debut album and one I will have on rotation for a while.

My favourite track has to be ‘Trippin’, his collaboration with popular vocalist ‘Khalid’. As one of the more vivacious songs, touching upon the problem with drugs and mental health, it champions a blissful psychedelic melody, which sits so fittingly on top of a hard beat, that works simultaneously with his natural flow.

I was slightly sceptical when coming into this album, but only for the reason that I thought it would be another rap album full of trap beats, and with no real variety or story behind it. This was not the case. What Buddy has created is very exciting and deserves more praise than it will probably get.

The Internet – Hive Mind review

Syd the Kid has come along way since her more provocative days in Odd Future. Legend has it that Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and the rest of OFWGKTA would go to her house to make their early mixtapes. Now though, Syd, Steve Lacy, Matt Martians, Patrick Paige and Christopher Smith are making music so effortless and funky; blending genres like R&B and Jazz to distinguish themselves from the cult-rap collective they were once associated with.

THE INTERNET

Lead single ‘Roll (Burbank Funk)’ combines tantalising textures of soulful vocals with an incredibly infectious baseline; strong enough to get anybody grooving.  Steve Lacy’s imperative lyrics are luring and invite us, as listeners, to join their party of unravelling rhythms. The album was created “all over the world” said Syd in a Reddit Q&A, this really comes through – especially in the last three tracks. Made in Australia, the tunes have a hazier vibe and show a switch in mood for the LP. Relaxed, soothing and breezy, ‘Beat Goes On’ and ‘Wanna Be’, especially, sound a lot more carefree than the other tracks.

Key themes addressed in their lyrics, like homosexual love, are uniquely interweaved into scintillating synths, which sit fittingly throughout the whole record. This project is the strongest sign of all of the member’s solo projects coming together to produce an exclusive sound that their family like following craves. The lack of features on this LP is probably the only initial downfall I can think of. Previously, we have been treated with features from the likes of KAYTRANADA and Tyler, the Creator. Often, this takes their music to the next level, adding an element to their music that makes it more out of the ordinary. You could therefore, maybe, say that this new album feels slightly safe; Syd and Co don’t heavily experiment with the sound they are known for. However, considering how good their previous album ‘Ego Death’ is, this doesn’t necessarily matter, and can consequently be an aspect we hope to see in their future LPs.

 

Lovebox festival review 2018

London’s most popular weekend of musical festivities returned this year with arguably it’s strongest line up ever, and their new Gunnersbury Park location. After cancelled and delayed trains, as well as a lunatic trespassing on the tracks of Holborn’s undergroud station, it was fair to say that my mates and I could have had a better start to our journey. However, this soon became highly irrelevant when we felt the thumping bass of various djs pumping through our drunken veins.

Lovebox champions a carnival atmosphere and this is what makes it like no other weekend festival. You can guarantee a euphoric crowd of 50,000 people looking to party; as soon as we stepped into our first arena this was instantly apparent. The Kopperburg Outsider was curated by none other than certified legend Mike Skinner; we were lucky enough to catch Sian Anderson, a 1 Extra DJ, getting the party started with her set of ferocious grime bangers and hard trap – setting the scene nicely for Skepta’s inevitable headline slot. Star.One were equally as enticing and mixed a host of underground sounds; from Bassline to grime  and American rap. £6 for a Kopperbug though? Seems a bit steep to me Lovebox.

As the day progressed, the standard of Acts got better and better. Dave’s set felt like a landmark in his undeniably impressive career. At the age of 20, it bewilders me how much he has achieved and he whipped up a frenzy with his blend of hardcore grime beats and mellow afro trap. Crowd favourites were ‘100 Ms’, one of his most enthralling singles, but I loved the response he got for ‘Calling Me Out’, a chilled out choice on his perfect setlist. Failing to see Mike Skinner, because of a cue that stretched the equivalent length of the great wall of China, filled us with momentary annoyance, until we remembered it was only half an hour until Diplo was to grace the main stage. The multi-talented  American artist, best known for being part of Major Lazer and Silk City, caused chaos with his intense blend of Trap and pop bangers. He was the perfect warm up for Skepta, getting the audience more gassed than an exploding petrol station and even causing a girl to dislocate her knee.

As the rain smashed down on 50,000 eagerly waiting Skepta fans, you could feel the anticipation forming in the air. Being one of the most unpredictable artists in the UK, I was interested to see what world Skepta would create for his performance. The set design of giant fans and steel pipes created a scene as if he was about to escape from prison. The weather suited this setting hugely and all hell broke loose once he dropped one of his latest singles ‘Pure Water’, once again fitting the weather perfectly. He stormed through his hour set, playing Konnichiwa classics like ‘Crime Riddim’ and ‘It Ain’t Safe’ whilst bringing out acts like Suspect and Jesse James Solomon for Suspect’s hit single ‘One Way’. The show was a true celebration of the UKs biggest export of music, grime is here to stay and finishing with his recent A$AP Rocky collaboration proved this. ‘Praise The Lord’ has barely been out a month and has clocked up around 80 million Spotify streams; not bad if you ask me.Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 21.30.51

I need to give a special shout out to the fits Skepta was wearing too, there is not a better dressed man in the UK. Apparently Vince Staples and Wu Tang Clan equally stole the show; the American’s helping to ease the pain of us English getting knocked out of the World Cup and seeing Donald Trump over in our Isles.

Overall Lovebox was a huge success, when really It’s change of location could have made it a disaster waiting to happen. I am thoroughly jealous of anyone returning today.

Brockhampton release single ‘1999 Wildfire’ in lead up to new album

3 albums in 7 months? Brockhampton are a rap collective who have made the seemingly impossible very much possible. The recent departure of Ameer Vann could have created a chaotic atmosphere in the boy’s camp but the first single off  their fourth coming record shows the boundaries they are willing to push.

Kevin Abstract and co invent a soundscape of safaris and exotic wildlife whilst harmonising in a way very similar André 3000 and Big Boi in Outkast classics like ‘Miss Jackson’. The squelchy beat perfectly complements the hypnotic flutes and dreamy guitar rhythms and expresses just how versatile of a group the Texas based group can be.

This is a tune made for the summer. The chorus’ psychedelic guitar breaks emphasises the idyllic tone to the track and makes it one of the most catchy rap songs of the year. Dom McLennon absolutely kills it on this one, his vocals seem best suited to the beat, but you’d be lying if you didn’t say that they all smashed this one.

Bakar releases debut album ‘Badkid’

It’s been over a year since Bakar released his momentous single ‘Big Dreams’, a contagious 3 chord instant indie classic that won the hearts of so many. Now the finale to his first LP, ‘Big Dreams’ completes a body of work exciting enough to compete with any rock outfit out there at the moment. But this record only scrapes the surface of the indie sphere, Bakar combines elements of garage and grime with synths that Foals would have welcomed with open arms on their debut album ‘Antidotes’.

Cutting between post punk distorted bass-lines and a chorus of psychedelic guitar riffs, BADlands is definitely one of my favourite tracks off the new album. Released as the final single before the LP, it justifies the praise he has received from Skepta, Rejjie Snow and even Elton John. If the mention of Elton isn’t enough to make you listen to this album then I don’t know what will.

‘WTF’ is another stand out tune, which captures manipulated vocal pitch tones that  Archy Marshall would have craved for on his ‘A New Place To Drown’ album, which is still one of my favourites of all time. The Camden based artist creates a beat that flips between garage influences from Mike Skinner and electronic house that could be likened to Jamie XX. Definitely one you could kick back and bun a zoot to in the summer.

Arguably, the only missing element from Bakar’s game, at the moment, is a concrete run of tour dates. Described by NME as ‘one of Britain’s most exciting new acts’, his show at Live at Leeds made waves around the internet for its explosive energy and ‘electrifying performance’. It’s time for Bakar to break big and this album is sure to be the root of his inevitably meteoric rise to fame, especially among the sounds of the underground.

This is a truly unique body of work, an album that will hopefully get the praise it deserves. Give it a listen below.

Songs of the month – April 2018

Yellow Days – The Way Things Change

Yesterday I came to the brutal reality that 19 year old Yellow Days, being only a few months older than me, has probably achieved more in his life already than I ever will. With an EP, full length album, a sold out show at the KOKO and performances over in America all under his belt, at such a young age, could he have achieved anymore? In a recent interview with Notion magazine, George Van Den Broek described himself as a ‘fool’ in his early years of adolescence, choosing a ‘wild time’ over his many friends. However, this has only fuelled the lyricism of his work and ignited a newly nurtured psychedelic sound that his new single pursues. If you like your Mac Demarco or Thundercat, give this single a listen.

Bakar – All In

Also known as Badkid, Bakar recently filmed himself performing in LA for his instagram account; this is the first time I’d been able to catch him perform and the lad has a real presence. It is no shock that the likes of The Great Escape have snagged him to perform at their festival and with his first ever solo show at the Camden Assembly, sold out of course, his music is finally taking to the stage. Bakar has established a very eloquent sound;  ‘All In’ infuses lo-fi synths with punchy guitar and drum patterns, producing a dreamy soundscape – yet another indie heart warmer from the increasingly prolific Londoner.

A$AP Rocky – A$AP Forever

Featuring the forever eclectic Moby, ‘A$AP Forever’ expresses a maturity to Rocky’s music that I feel everyone has been craving recently. Not to say that ‘Lord Pretty Flacko’ hasn’t killed it on his string of trappy features but this song feels like a renovation of the A$AP sound, and one fans should be breaking arms and legs to hear more of. The assortment of scintillating strings, a euphoric ‘boom clap’ beat and dreamy female vocals makes this one of the most accomplished rap tracks of the year. Rocky has proven he is one of the biggest innovators of postmodern rap.

Novelist – Smiles

Novelist’s debut album ‘Novelist Guy’ was always going to be one of the most unique grime projects of the year. ‘Smiles’ is a track that differentiates the Lewisham boy from the crowd and justifies the praise he has received from the likes of Skepta and Julie Adenuga. Glazing a mellow beat with his self-reflective bars, giving us an insight to his upbringing and establishment of success, the tune is definitely one that goes against the grain of your typical grime banger. Definitely one for the summer.

Roll (Burbank Funk)

The evolution of the Internet has been a fascinating one. Even though Matt Martians, Syd the Kid and Steve Lacey have had successful solo releases, they seem their most comfortable and overt together. What a groove this track has, the jazzy instrumentation and acapella of vocals are the definition of funky and a great taster of just how great their new album will be. This is actually my favourite cut they have ever released, the most musically interesting for sure. Check back for a review of their full length LP when it is released.

Rejjie Snow + Slowthai & Ebenezer @ The Cambridge Junction

It is fair to say Rejjie’s Cambridge based fans had been waiting a long time for this gig. With an inconvenient reschedule delaying potential carnage in March, it felt as if everyone was twice as hyped for this date and ready for the uncharacteristic, for Cambridge, Saturday night chaos. The unusually warm and sunny April weather complemented the tunes off of the Dublin Rapper’s euphoric debut album, which he proceeded to play most of throughout the night.

Before the 24 year old graced the stage, Ebenezer and Slowthai provided a perfectly composed warm up, teasing the audience with their individual sounds. Personally, I was extremely excited to see Slowthai. In terms of 2018 breakthrough rappers, nothing has topped his blend of experimental grime and swagger filled lyrics. The snarling angst that encroaches on tunes like ‘North Nights’ and ‘T N Biscuits’ created a riotous atmosphere and sent the pissed teens in attendance into a proper frenzy.

After a brisk 15 minutes of attempting to recover from the Northampton rapper’s set, Rejjie Snow came storming on stage to ‘Hello’ and ‘Rainbows’. As chilled out as these songs are, with unexplainable reasoning, the crowd proceeded to divide and create the first of many mosh pits. Blending the low-fi hits off Dear Annie with oldies but goldies ‘Blakkst Skin’ and ‘1992’ made the set near on perfect. The only minor disappointment, for me, was he didn’t play ‘Snow (my rap song)’ but even then this would have felt out of place in the narrative of the set.

Cambridge hasn’t been blessed with a gig like this in a while. There is a huge demand for hip hop artists coming to the city and so it is nice to see The Junction venturing out and booking more acts like this.

Bilk bang out another belter with ‘Spiked’

With the support of Lauren Laverne and 6 music recommends, Bilk’s stunning debut track ‘Give Up’ has racked up a fair few streams on the likes of SoundCloud and Spotify. Hailing from Essex, the trio combine lyrics full of truthful teenage tendencies with bulky basslines and contagious guitar riffs.

Likening Bilk’s sound to early Arctic Monkeys and Jamie T would seem a very credible comparison, their DIY and working class ethos is not dissimilar and makes their lyrics easily chantable for someone my age. Being ‘bilked’ is Essex slang for when someone ducks from a cabbie without paying the fare for their journey. Although where they are from has influenced their name, in a separate interview, they have claimed the music scene in Essex is, for the large part, ‘proper dead’. However you have to say that if Bilk carry on the way they are then success should be imminent, catapulting themselves up festival bills and propelling them onto headline tours all over the country.

Give ‘Spiked’ a listen, it will be in your head for the rest of the week, if not the rest of the month. Or maybe even until they release another single for you to get infatuated with.

Songs of the month – March 2018

1. Slowthai – North Nights

Pinning down Slowthai’s unique Northampton flow is difficult, with the 23 year old mixing constantly between double-time and half speed rhymes with unquestionable fluidity. ‘North Nights’ blends early 80s New York rap with the grittiness of pre-modern pirate radio grime. The rapper has hoped for a ‘scorcher’ this year and with singles like this one, I feel this is simply an inevitability.

2. CZARFACE and MF DOOM – Phantoms

I could have chosen any song from this album to be in my favourites of the month. Released only a couple of days ago, I nearly overlooked the project despite the all star line up of one of the most underrated rap collectives and arguably the most important rapper of all time: MF DOOM. Phantoms combines an uncharacteristic futuristic beat with distorted female vocals and the mouth watering flows of some of America’s best rap exports. Definitely one to carry you into April.

3. Goat Girl – Throw Me A Bone

In recent years Brixton has been known for its services to the London grime scene and being the home of multi-talented electronic producer Jamie XX. However, signed to Rough Trade records, Goat Girl are a 4 piece indie rock outlet bucking the trend and proving there is a much broader music scene in the area than many may think. Transporting you into a medieval universe, ‘Throw Me A Bone’ exemplifies why their is so much hype for the quartet’s debut LP and combines howling vocals with sinister bass lines and guitar progressions. Listen to a track by one of the UK’s current most unique outlets.

4. Jon Hopkins – Emerald Rush

As my A Level exams are looming near, I have been looking for songs that are a little calmer and easier to listen to. This track is perfect, it’s extraterrestrial nature makes it intriguing, whilst taking you to a new world that I have frankly found easier to revise in. Tom Ravenscroft has been viciously spinning the track on his late night 6 music show recently, which means it can only equate to greatness.

5. Cabbage – Postmodernist Caligula

The politically driven Fat White Family enthusiasts made some unbelievable singles  the leading up to their debut album and, as of Friday, we have been able to hear the project in full. In my opinion this is the best track off of the cut, a gut punching anthemic chorus crawls over the band’s distorted undertows. I have pure admiration for the sheer chaos Cabbage have caused for the indie scene over the past year. In an era of indie uncertainty, Cabbage have and will continue to stamp their sound on the face of the independent music industry.

6. Chris Lorenzo –  Don’t Stop

Lorenzo has been making waves with his night bass mink for a long while now. Tampering with the housy tones on his debut album ‘Destroy The Image’, the Birmingham artist has managed to create one of the best basshouse/line sounds the world has witnessed. Subtlety filthy, ‘Don’t Stop’ is a collaboration with Taiki Nulight, an equally interesting electronic prospect who will be accompanying Lorenzo at Boomtown for what will become the legendary Night Bass takeover of the famous Bangai Towers. This song will get a lot of play on the festival circuit this summer so be sure to check it out beforehand.