Sometimes music can move you. It can touch your soul with the darkest of concepts and creep into your thoughts, consuming your being with a relentless yearning to dwell and implore until you disappear for moments of your life and feel truly at one with the art you’ve witnessed. This is not one of those times. Terry Swan brings impressive rapping to a fun and energetic track with She Textin Me.
She Textin Me populates a simple beat and a captivating sine-wave pattern with layered call and response vocals that are as entertaining as they are carefree. While music can cross into high art, sometimes you just need to let go and enjoy yourself. Terry Swan sets up this track for plenty of good times to be had. It’s light-hearted, it’s silly, it’s catchy, and most importantly, it’s good. This track won’t go out of its way to change your world, but it can give some momentum to a good night out. What more can you ask for?
One third of Montreal’s musical collective Blckcoke, here Prince Akeem delivers a track which looks into a dark corners of everyday life. Rap music has always been good at shining a spotlight on the street and the underworld characters that populate it, at the struggle for power and the hustle to stay in control.
What is refreshing here is that in his own gritty and realistic language Prince Akeem looks at the closed-door realities of conflict in relationships, the escalation of emotions and the grim results that can be borne out of passion. This is music embracing the hip-hop ethic that gave birth to it, music as social commentary, music that talks about everyday life. Sometimes the smallest and simplest stories are the most powerful.
Cave Upgrade sounds like a rap opera complete with all the inherent drama and tension, Wagnerian oppression and dark intensity. A heavy salvo of vocals sits over a claustrophobic backdrop; one that plays with sonic dynamics moving from playful riffs to a wall of synth wash and finally a wasted dystopian drift.
If you are used to rap music following tried and tested pathways, this is where the road stops, you get out of the car and head out into the unknown, into new musical territories and totally unexpected terrain. This the sound of rap as a sound track to a horror movie, of rap as theatre noir, rap as the prelude to the end of the world. Music historians always like to talk about those days when the course of music changed for ever, Elvis, Bowie, punk, hip-hop…Chi Body may very well be on such a list one day.
One of the great aspects of hip-hop and rap is its ability to mix a street vibe with informed and intelligent lyrics, to play the fool but do so with a knowing wink, subvert the listeners expectations and mix the rough with the smooth. This is exactly why Origin’ works so well. It is a balance of groove driven lyricism and skittering beats, it mixes classicism with modernity, deep thought with throw away comments.
Musically it also confounds in the best of ways, tight clinical beats hold everything together but on it is hung smooth distant jazz saxophones and plaintive piano lines. This is the sound of up town sophistication drifting into the workspace of the struggling bedroom artist, of the self-educated street kid with no money but a ton of ambition. It paints a very real picture of the strange collisions and juxtapositions of the modern city and how music itself is often built of such fascinating interactions.
It’s easy to be impressed by how music production has evolved and become so accessible. Superstar talent can spring up from anywhere at any time. With so much emphasis on achieving sound quality, a lot of artists end up neglecting their craft of performing. Dylan shows a side of rapping that often gets neglected in modern rap: the actual rapping.
Dylan’s verses on Bounce are casual and often tongue-in-cheek, but that doesn’t discount him from being taken seriously. There’s a lot of work put into these verses (in both setup and execution). There’s a decent loop built around hi hats and some brass, but the highlight of the music is likely the well-timed stops used to enhance certain verse lines. Some panning and filtering on backing vocals keeps everything interesting enough while you wait for the next clever stanzas.
Bounce is a track that brings back simplicity in production as a method of showing off the fronting talent. Could Dylan be as impressive in front of live orchestras and designer drums that take months to perfect? Maybe, but that would defeat the purpose here. We’re here for the appreciation of something raw. As the adage goes, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. Well, Dylan’s roots have a different motion. This track doesn’t need a big budget either. It has heart (and bounce).
ADZ recently released a brand new remixed version of Silence, one of his most compelling tracks to date. With this thought-provoking remix, he set out to reinvent the groove of the song with a really unique creative concept.
This remix has got some refreshingly new textures and some stunning atmospheres that add depth to the music.
The song begins with a rather mellow vibe, but eventually the groove picks ups and acquires a very uplifting texture, particularly due to the unique tone of the vocals and the drum machine beats, which have a really dry, punchy groove to them.
ADZ has managed to build quite a big following for his conscious and direct approach to rap. His lyrics and sonic aesthetics are conscious and direct, often giving his music a really strong focus on social themes and other issues, inspired by artists as outspoken as Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, J. Cole and many more. Not unlike these aforementioned talents, ADZ is always ready to speak up agains social issues, particularly with a focus on the UK scene. This song, in particular, was inspired by the recent times of political unrest and events such as Brexit, which had and will have a massive impact on the lives of millions of people, not only throughout the United Kingdom, but throughout the whole world.
Absonetti is the sound of modern day rap meeting slow grove R&B and a taste of West Coast glamour washing up on Southend’s sea front. This is like Tumblr as a record, the piecing together of divergent fragments to make a cohesive whole, the collecting of musical fragments to fit together in a new sonic jigsaw. The groove and is sultry and soulful but the vocal treatments cool and threaded through with studio gloss, the beats are lazy and staccato but the rap deliveries spark with energy.
It is England’s answer to the American rap dream, when faced with the sun-drenched West Coast bling or the edgy East Coast grit, the answer is simple. If you can’t join them, beat them.
Funk and rock have had a chequered history, when it comes to cross over experiments, for every successful fusion there are probably ten bands that you would rather forget. To say that The Gyro’s Rollercoaster fits into the former category is an understatement. Not only does it blend funky grooves with soaring guitar driven rock but also the vocals seamlessly switch from earnest rap to smooth soulful deliveries. That seems a lot to fit into one song but The Gyro do it brilliantly.
It neatly references the past whilst pushing on towards its own future; it weaves iconic sounds with its own original ideas and is packed with energy, verve and vitality. In short they are the perfect band for the post-genre world.
We tend to regard pop music as being on one side of the music spectrum – shiny and reletivley new, whilst world music, traditional cultural sounds are at the opposite end. Karol Conka is on a mission to unite the two factions. This Brazilian firebomb effortlessly blends rap, R&B, pop and the traditional sounds of her homeland and the result is spectacular. She became “Karol with a K” at her first high school show and since dropping her debut album Batuk Freak in 2013 has gone on to take the rap world by storm.
And whilst visually she has a striking and memorable outward image with shocking pink hair and an iconic bling style, it is her lyrics that are causing the most attention. Driven to write about self-esteem and female empowerment, Karol shows that there is more to her than the glitz and glamour of her outer projection. But it all starts with the music and LaLa in particular captures her perfectly as she weaves her Brazilian musical heritage through pop beats and sultry dance grooves. Karol Conka, an artist proving that it is possible to be both big and clever.
A stone throw away from international prominence, Cheekz, an up-coming American hip-hop artists from Springfield, Massachusetts has announced the release of his newest track ‘Banga’, and it is an exciting sound to add to the top of your playlist for 2017.
Like many of his inspirations that include Tupac and Wu Tang Clan, Cheekz patently combines a passion for material truths in conjunction with carefully strung hip-hop music. Cheekz describes what has inspired him to his own personal experiences, “As once a victim of being bullied and seeing others be bullied I tried to reach out listeners in a vocal and visual way to help stop the violence and put more focus on positive ways to occupy the youths time and educate them on retaliation”. After selling over 20,000 copies of his last independent project ‘Mass Destruction’, Cheekz already has a strong presence in the hip-hop community, mostly well known for defining a personal depth behind his lyrics and addressing crucial issues involved across society.
Cheekz efficaciously highlights the problem of how youngsters easily turn to gun crime so easily in a conscious effort to combat bullying. Taking a step away from the traditional lyrical tropes of hip-hop artists focusing on the themes of money, crime and sex, Cheekz merely transforms this type of culture into a learning curve for his young fans. By introducing a social educational comprehension on the matter, Cheekz’ message engages right and wrong with rap as a contrivance.
The track is set to be released through his own label Massworkz Inc on the 9th June 2017 and will be available via all major media providers. More information about Cheekz can be found on his social media pages and official website.