West London rap icon in the making Zush showcased a luminary on the cusp of great acclaim by unleashing his high-octane hit, Playing for Keeps, which flavours UK drill with a Caribbean kick while exhibiting his ability to hold his own against the charisma of Stormzy and Dave.
By bringing cultural flavour into the dark and ensnaring atmospheric Drill tones, the depth of the track is enhanced to the nth degree; from the first beat you are immersed in an adrenalizing aural visualisation of his infectiously visceral sonic signature.
After the success of his seminal single, We Got the Sauce, which saw his talent recognised by Pulse 88, Itch FM, GRM Daily, UGM, The Beat London, Westside FM, Bound 2 Blow and many more, Playing for Keeps is an impossible-to-ignore statement of intent from an artist who exhibits his determination in every facet of his captivating expression.
By honing his talents from a young age as a high school beat-maker, DJ in a rap group and percussionist in a steel band, Zush was primed to make an unforgettable entry into the domain of UK rap. The influence of hip-hop legends like Nas, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot, and Pharrell, coupled with the Caribbean beats from his upbringing, is evident in Playing for Keeps, which fuses his reverence for sharp flows with his affinity towards his Caribbean roots, which pull through when he asserts his Caribbean accent in the chorus as a juxtaposition of the drill bars which exhibit his command of flow and cadence.
Playing for Keeps dropped on the 30th of November; stream it on Spotify and never miss another seminal release from Zush by following him on Instagram.
Taking influence from Dave, Lotto Boyzz, MoStack, and Wu-Tang Clan and turning that inspiration into a brand-new urban fusion, the London-based up-and-coming artist, Mr Asap, is ensnaringly fresh on his new track and music video, Heathrow.
By bringing cinematic elements into his instrumentals, including evocatively weighted minor key piano progressions and classical strings, Mr Asap went beyond the drill beats to deliver a track that will consume your consciousness whole while he flexes his skills with wordplay in a way that makes lyrical bombs out of mic drops.
It may be early days in the industry for Mr Asap, but his determination to step out of the ordinary with every bar has established him as a luminary the spotlight deserves to shine on. Expect even bigger things from Mr Asap in 2024; with his swathes of charisma and his gritty true-to-form intellectualism, he won’t disappoint.
The official music video for Heathrow premiered on November 24th; stream it on YouTube.
Mizzery Jones established himself as a master of rhythmic magnetism while battling his introspective demons in his seminal rap track, Yes, which pulls listeners into a space where old-school hip-hop meets a new era of sound.
The track is a testament to Mizzery Jones’s ability to honour the genre’s roots while allowing his bars to flow into uncharted territories with his distinctive style. Vocally, there are touches of Eminem as Jones blends the foundational beats of hip-hop with fresh cinematic production stylings. If you can imagine being sonically guided through a vibrant bazaar of sounds, where each beat and note is infused with a sense of exoticism, you’ll get an idea of the colourfully layered complexity within Yes, which is prised from Jones’ EP, I’ll Be Back Before Too Long.
This sharp and esoteric indicator of Jones’ ability to intellectually stimulate through his wordplay and deliver verses with a hypnotically assertive cadence won’t fail to capture your attention and keep hold of it with a vice-like grip until the very last note. It’s impossible not to be ensnared by Mizzery Jones’s culturally cultivated distinction as he allows his lyrics to unravel as a panoramic picture of determinism, candour and emotional intelligence.
Mizzery Jones’s biography adds another layer of depth to his artistry. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, this producer and artist spent a significant portion of his life in the vibrant cultural landscapes of Chapala and Guadalajara, Mexico; experiences that have clearly seeped into the textured layers of his music.
The climactic track, Higher Self, from Solomane’s latest LP, The S.O.L.O. Tape, Vol. 1, is a profound meditation set to music; a contemplative dive into the essence of self-actualisation and the pursuit of authenticity.
The Franco-Moroccan artist, who is a self-made man in the world of music, brings a rich tapestry of cultural experiences to his work, and it shines through in this latest offering. Having honed his craft in various cities from Brussels to Barcelona, Solomane’s worldly perspective is embedded in his lyrics, which he delivers in a mellow tempo that’s as reflective as the message itself.
The track speaks to those striving for something more meaningful than mere imitation, advocating for autonomy and originality. In a time when it is all too easy to see an image on social media and lament the disparity between you and who you think you see, the message is as necessary as it is powerful.
Solomane’s eclectic influence—from the golden era of New York rap to the rhythms of reggaeton and the soulfulness of R&B—is masterfully blended into a backdrop for his sound which effortlessly transcends genre constraints. The production of Higher Self is undeniably contemporary, echoing the thoughtfulness of artists like Oddisee. His flow is seamless across the succinct instrumental layers as he demonstrates his versatility as a rapper and his reverence for the craft.
Higher Self is a testament to his journey, an anthem for the genuine, and a celebration of the inner self in a world where external facades are all too common. This track will resonate with anyone on the path to finding their true self amidst the noise of societal expectations.
Stream Higher Self with the rest of Solomane’s latest LP, The S.O.L.O. Tape, Vol. 1 on Spotify.
After racking up over 206k streams on the official music video for his debut single, PTSD, and becoming a viral sensation on TikTok in the process, East London’s Lil Zino stormed into the rap scene with one of the strongest debuts of 2023.
With melodic minor key pseudo-trap instrumentals setting the cinematically melancholic tone, the atmosphere was set for Lil Zino to pour vulnerable candour into the track with his stonily steadfast vocal delivery which runs through in a magnetically paced cadence. While some rappers wear their trauma like a badge of honour, Lil Zino is adding nuance to the narrative by exhibiting the weight of scars, becoming one of the most authentic drill voices in the process.
There’s no understating the evocative pull of the track that projects an intimate vignette of the violent event, which led him to finding a necessary means of expression. By keeping his composure while painting a stark picture of the harsh realities of East London’s streets with his blunt bars, Lil Zino delivered a hauntingly affecting release, which will stay with you long after the outro.
Shea’s latest hot and steamy RnB pop track, U Mine, is a rhythmic aphrodisiac that invites you to lose yourself in its intoxicating groove. Collaborating with Peckham’s own CARTERTHEBANDIT, the track is a masterful exhibition of raw synergy and explosive musical chemistry. Shea, with his background in theatre and performance, brings a performance to the track that’s both glittery and soulful, encapsulating the essence of his queer and devilishly evocative artistry.
Between CARTERTHEBANDIT’s fiery bars that add a palpable heat and the meticulously stylised production choices, which set the verses up like foreplay to tantalise and tease before erupting into the climactic choruses, U Mine is a red hot remedy for the heart, libido and soul.
U Mine not only sets the mood but embodies it, from the rhythmically charged beats to the intoxicating vocal deliveries. It’s a testament to Shea’s versatility as an artist who can hold his own alongside the gritty authenticity of a rapper like CARTERTHEBANDIT. This track stands as a shining example of what independent artists can achieve, echoing Shea’s accolades and experiences from his performances at Pride festivals to his recognition on BBC Introducing. It’s a song that captures the essence of a night out—sultry, dynamic, and utterly unforgettable.
Jamão Dos Santos made a bold entrance into the music scene with his debut single Tarzan, an audacious piece that mirrors his self-proclaimed identity as a “Scottish communist wordsmith.” Right from the start, the single is a captivating blend of cultural sounds, with Dos Santos’ Scottish lyrical diction providing a gripping contrast to the rhythmic foundation of the track. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition that’s as striking as it is unexpected.
Musically, ‘Tarzan’ is a robust tapestry woven with exotic Eastern rhythms, giving it an almost mystical allure. Yet, it’s grounded by a decidedly garagey edge—a gritty, dub-heavy backbeat that anchors the song’s more ethereal elements. The single wouldn’t be out of place in a smoky underground club or a festival stage, appealing to a wide range of listeners with its genre-blending bravado.
There’s a clear stylistic flair shared with Lyran Dasz, hinting at a musical kinship that thrives on innovation and eclecticism. Dos Santos’ approach is fiery and distinctive, ensuring that Tarzan is not just a song but a statement. In an unexpected twist, ‘Tarzan’ also serves as an homage to the world of footballer worship. The lyrical narrative becomes a powerful metaphor for survival and triumph, resonating with the song’s primal energy and raw passion.
It’s an assertive first step for an artist unafraid to show his roots while simultaneously branching out into the rich soil of global musical influences. This track is not just heard; it’s felt as a resonating declaration of Dos Santos’ arrival on the music scene.
Black Silver dropped one of the biggest hip-hop collabs of the year by unleashing the gritty old-school rap track, Silver Linings, featuring Rakaa Iriscience, Griffen, Mykill Myers, and DJ Skilz.
With plenty of record scratching and wavily saturated distortion around the solid and steady beats in the dark and chillingly cultivated production, Black Silver (AKA the Navigator) and his band of lyrical alchemists paid a fitting ode to the 90s hip hop while showing they’re more methodical than Method Man, wittier than Nas with wordplay and boast all the cinematic charisma of Conway the Machine.
When Black Silver isn’t dropping his seminal solo rap tracks, the Las Vegas-hailing trailblazer is at the helm of his independent record label, Sterling World Records and contributing to hip-hop groups, including Analog Brothers, Tha Likwit Crew, 2000 Crows, and Black Ice with Ice T.
Silver Linings hit the airwaves on October 20th; it is now available to stream on Spotify.
Hip-hop’s darkest hour struck when the UK alchemist of boom bap, _sicko delivered his PLAY MEEP on Halloween. After a chilling horror score of an intro track, which sets the tone for the rest of the EP, the standout single, A MODERN HORROR STORY, kicks right into macabre gear, following an anachronistic haunted music box prelude.
By painting himself as a twisted protagonist to portray the sickness that breeds online when the worst impulses of the human psyche are vindicated by nefarious echo chambers, _sicko (AKA Aaron Terror) provided a spine-chilling exposition on the proclivities of perversion that are worryingly prolific.
With a twisted lyrical style that isn’t out of the ordinary in death metal projected through a rap flow, which makes it all too easy to lock into the sickness within the horror imagery, A MODERN HORROR STORY is plagued with sickness that will make you stop, shiver, and think.
While some would undoubtedly rush to cancel _sicko, we can see the ingenuity within his creativity, which is on par with some of the greatest horror writers out there.
Massive Cranes went beyond proving all monsters wear human skin with their latest chillingly raw single, which pulled the masks from the most nefarious entities in the UK and revealed them as Tories. Jacob Rees Mogg won’t approve of this message, but everyone left disenfranchised by their reign of late-stage capitalism will revel in the vindication so piquantly delivered.
If Massive Cranes don’t reach the same heights as John Cooper Clarke with their gritty expositions of reality in the UK, it will add to the long list of injustices covered in this sonically macabre, lyrically mesmerising release which doesn’t shy away from the darkest facets of our contemporary reality. It meets them face-on with a sardonic grin.
The sinisterly deep synth lines against the unearthly backbeat in Monsters create the perfect atmosphere for spoken word laments to sink into as they speak on battles with malady, futility, and ennui. We couldn’t be more obsessed with this track if we tried.
Monsters was officially released on November 10; stream it on SoundCloud.