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.

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‘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.

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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.

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.

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.

Jimothy Lacoste releases new single ‘Subway System’

Lacoste’s lower than low-fi sub urban indie rap has been gaining an extraordinary amount of attention in 2018. At the age of 18, the artist has already achieved a great deal and in such a short amount of time. It was only a couple of days ago he featured on DJ Semtex’s legendary radio 1 extra show and Dazed magazine were lucky enough to debut the video to his new single on their website. He recently announced a cosign with Giggs, arguably the biggest rapper in the UK, and I feel the Londoner is only just starting to scratch the surface of his true potential.

Watching and indulging in Jimothy Lacoste’s music transports you to his very own dimension, which is one of playful political simplicity, unique skanks and unbelievably catchy lyrics. On ‘Subway System’, we hear his intrinsic formula of looped synths and hypnotic monotone vocals, which amplify his unquestionably cool dance moves and black cat-eye sunglasses. I genuinely feel as if I am in a more desirable world when I listen to Lacoste, he makes life simply seem fine – even if ‘tickets are expensive [and] shit ain’t cheap’, which he rightfully raps on the track.

If you feel a little musically confined at the moment, then look no further than Jimothy Lacoste; skank your way into his world. I can assure you it is a way happier than the one we live in.

Bakar is back at it with ‘Million Miles’

It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what Bakar is, you may have seen him on TopMan billboards, hanging out with Rejjie Snow or as part of Milkavelli’s 616 Laigon crew but it turns out he is also a very talented musician. Bursting onto the scene with 2017’s indie smasher ‘Big Dreams’, it was hard to ignore the London based Artist’s simplistic but unique sound. If Pete Doherty and Skepta were to ever interact sexually, Bakar would be the product. Although this is a disturbing analogy, it is one that you will come to grips with very quickly if you listen to his material.

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After a short hiatus following the release of track ‘Small Town Girl’, the man is back with the instantly groovy ‘million miles’ – his biggest showcase of the musical talent we all know he has. Tampering with echoey synths that could be likened to Tame Impala has amplified his innovative qualities and will hopefully be a feature of his future tracks. I’m a sucker for a cow bell anthem too; he uses it brilliantly in this song, similarly to how you would imagine The Specials to back in the day.

Bakar is definitely one to watch this year. You can bet on at least a couple more new tracks to come soon but, for now, go and check out ‘Million Miles’.

Rich Brian – Amen album review

Rich Brian, formerly Rich Chigga and 88Risings breakout star, has proved he is more than capable of making an enticing debut.

The immature fun of tracks like ‘Dat $tick’ and ‘Gospel’ is unfortunately gone, but his name change clearly shows his more mature direction, which is shown excellently on this album.

That’s not to say there are no bangers, ‘Chaos’, ‘Kitty’, and ‘Trespass’ are just some of the bragadocious, infectious tracks on this album which will most definitely hype you up. But the album shines most with its more reflective and self aware moments, the opening track speaks on how he’s the ‘stereotype’, who stresses over not getting Straight A’s, and how he’s doing it for the kids that look like him.

‘Occupied’ has a nasty, menacing trap beat that clearly shows his evolution. Whereas songs like ‘Cold’ sound heavily inspired by Kid Cudi’s ‘Man On The Moon’, and these influences help him shine. Tracks like ‘See Me’ capture the sound of youth and innocence, in fact the album is really about a young boy finding him self in his new found fame. And when Brian gets on his ‘Mac Demarco shit’ on love songs like ‘Glow Like Dat’, he definitely has our attention.

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The smooth, silky production is most definitely a strong point, and Brian’s personality shines through with his catchy hooks. The features are a little one dimensional, Offset delivers, whereas 88Rising’s Joji sounds as uninspired as ever. But luckily, no tracks overstay their welcome, and Brian is always the main star.

The album is a little confused as to whether it wants to be ignorant, or aware, and at points, it becomes a little repetitive in terms of subject matter and flows, but the production switches up enough for Chigga to ride the beats with confidence.

Many thought, in the era of ‘meme rap’ that there was no place for a teenager with an offensive stage name, but this album will likely let people know he’s grown passed this. We get a lot more sense of his backstory and personality on this album. He’s no longer just flexing on Hip-Hop culture, he’s found his place.

Rating: 7.5/10

Rejjie Snow releases his best track yet with ‘Egyptian Luvr’

The undisputed king of Irish hip hop last night released 4 new songs when speaking to Annie Mac for Radio 1. Featuring a single from upcoming album ‘Dear Annie’, the mini EP  is titled ‘Dear Annie: Vol 1’ and if the album sounds as beautifully blissful as this then it will certainly be worth the long wait fans have had to endure.

Produced by Kaytranada and featuring Aminé, as well as some soothing female vocals, the track is both rich in vintage Kaytranada soundscapes and Rejjie Snow’s goofy, sinister eloquence. His tone matches Amine’s perfectly and they create an undeniably sunny and springful world that should help us survive this horrid, typical, British weather. I have been saying for a long time that Snow is the most underrated rapper of recent years, he excels on any tune he makes. Whether it is the trappy ‘Flexin’ or the stoner banger ‘Loveleen’, he is one of the most versatile rappers out there. If you disagree, listen to his brilliant feature on Yellow Day’s track ‘Lately I’.

There is an overlying theme of love running throughout this mini EP, which may disappoint those who say they want Rejjie’s bangers back. ‘Snow (my rap song)’ is still one of my favourites of his and I would love him to make more tunes like this but you have to respect the creative direction he is taking and the maturity he is adopting. Also when I saw him at Secret Garden Party he played a few unreleased trappy stinkers so I wouldn’t be surprised if these feature on the album, ‘Milk and Honey’ certainly shows promise in this sense.

For now though, go and check out the Dublin Lad’s latest synthy hit and indulge in the whole EP, ‘The Rain’ is also especially great.

Shame – Songs of Praise album review

Coming into 2018 as one of British Indie music’s hottest prospects, Shame are destined to reach the dizzy, gritty and scuzzy heights their South London based mates Fat White Family have of recent years. Shame’s raw ethic harks to everything from new wave grunge acts like Drenge and Girl Band, to even some classic early 90s Manchester scene bands like Happy Mondays.

Charismatic, politically driven and spoken frontman Charlie Steen has one of the most beautifully abrasive voices I have heard, its provocative tone could make anyone become as anti-establishment as themselves. Songs like ‘The Lick’ are best examples of this, complimented by the droney bass lines and melodic guitar swings that are becoming so intrinsic to the boy’s unique sound.

My favourite cut from the LP has to be ‘Tasteless’, it is a track that you simply cannot fault. It has everything from subtle guitar lead breaks to visceral drumming patterns and the cascading vocals of Steen.

Go grab yourself an album that could well end up being one of the best of the year. 2018 is looking like a lively one for Shame.

Rating: 9/10

 

Rejjie Snow’s ‘Virgo’ will brighten up your summer

At 24 years of age, Rejjie Snow’s music continues to surprise and push the boundaries of hip hop. It seems every track he releases blends sub genres, proceeding to leave a statement on his audience; ‘Virgo’ is no different. Opting for a tropical trap beat this time round, the Irish rapper creates a scummy but beautiful contrast between the visuals of the video and the colourful production; the dreariness of an estate is given a carnivalesque makeover through the cheery nature of the song.

I caught Rejjie Snow at Secret Garden Party this year and he was definitely one of the best acts across the week, gracing the main stage with new fire and old classics from Rejovich. As for this track though, it features ‘Pell’, who offers soothing vocals that neatly fit over the beats and helps to bring out Rejjie’s purposely goofy vocals.

Overall this is definitely a song that should be on your summer playlists, turned up to the max as you crack open a cold one with a bit of African heat smothered on your face. I’d still say I prefer the direction Snow was going with in ‘Crooked Cops’ and ‘Pink Beetle’, but we can only wait for the album now after these countless singles.