Hip Hop, Jungle, R&B, rap, Reggae, Urban

Celebration of Life – Legends of UK Jungle, Drum & Bass and Dance come together on Charity Single

 

Celebration of Life, a collaboration between some of the UK’s premiere talents from the worlds of jungle, drum & bass, reggae and dance; including Demolition Man; Jr. Dangerous; Navigator; Tippa Irie; General Levy; Alaska MC and Cowboy Ranger, not to mention it being mixed by Liondub at his own New York studios.

The is in support of Demelza, a hospice which provides support and respite for the parents and families of terminally ill children with special needs. The project is inspired by a little boy called Jaden who is suffering with an incurable brain disease. Despite his prognosis, he celebrated his 11th birthday in August, against all his doctor’s expectations, which has further inspired the project to achieve even greater exposure for the cause.

Watch the documentary about the project Below:

https://youtu.be/fuXbDleb310

Catch the artists headlining Jungle Fever at Ministry of Sound in London on December 22nd, where they will also be performing a second track in support of the project, “Think Positive” (produced by FLeCK, and also featuring the talents of Sweetie Irie, Ragga Twins, Joseph Lalibela & Johnny Dolla)

 

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Hip Hop, Industrial

Kanye West- “Yeezus” Review

Now four years old, “Yeezus” remains a fascinatingly complex and problematic aberration, even in the career of relentless stylistic experimentation and contrarianism of one Kanye Omari West. A work of wild invention, brash vulnerability, slurred ugliness and almost farcical hubris, its antagonistic rawness was inevitably met with a bemused, polarised reaction.

Its true distinction, however, is that the furore over “Yeezus” never really abated, only escalating into West’s increasingly erratic behaviour and a slew of “I miss the old Kanye” memes. As much as the album is a superficially, perhaps deliberately repellent work in its harsh industrial babble and the obnoxiousness of West’s braggadocio, its divisiveness is inherently rooted in West himself, whose work and personality are virtually inseparable.

So, read as a character study, “Yeezus” makes for bleak listening. The album is cloaked in a fog of paranoia, misplaced grandiosity and perpetually impending doom, West’s reference on “Black Skinhead” to “Middle America packed in/Come to see me in my black skin” feeling more troublingly prophetic by the album’s end. However, the Kanye circus only perpetuates itself here. The celestial beauty of “Hold My Liquor” shrouds a stream-of-consciousness tirade, its acrid introspection folding into the sallow lechery of “I’m In It”—“You know I need that wet mouth/I know you need that reptile”: hedonism compacted into the nihilism that is its logical conclusion.

However, despite West’s boorish vulgarity, rampant egomania and almost defiant tastelessness, something about him remains inexorably, grudgingly likeable. His regular lapses into self-parody, however unintentional they may be, at least endear the listener to him in the complete sincerity with which he beatifies himself—his now-infamous barked order to “Hurry up with my damn croissants” on the pulsing “I Am A God” belies a total, enviable lack of self-awareness. This sparks the album’s captivating openness but also a handful of truly hideous lines, of which “I be speaking Swaghili” leaps out as notably grim.

The clouds briefly part for final track “Bound 2”, which serves as a nostalgic evocation of West’s earlier “Chipmunk Soul” era, complete with affable humour: “OK, I don’t remember where we first met/But hey, admitting is the first step”. However, it’s just a feint in an otherwise heaving, pneumatic, bitterly cynical album that, for better or worse, only deepened public perceptions of West as an unhinged megalomaniac. Perhaps its closest comparative, in its mix of brutish electronic squalls, uneasy confessionalism and scattered fragments of melodic beauty, is Nine Inch Nails’ “Pretty Hate Machine”. The thought that such a title could also aptly describe “Yeezus” is difficult to shake. CO

A

Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q604eed4ad0

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Funk, Hip Hop, Jazz

Action Bronson- “Blue Chips 7000” Review

Kevin Bacon. Kevin Hart. Kevin Spacey.

These are just the celebrities named Kevin that Action Bronson name-checks in “Blue Chips 7000”, his latest mixtape and perhaps his most inseparable from the pop cultural zeitgeist. Formerly a respected New York chef who now peppers references to food into his songs, Bronson emerged as an independent rapper in the early 2010s. By this point Bronson is an entertaining inflation of his own personality, David Byrne in “Stop Making Sense” transposed onto character. His quirks have come to dominate his persona, right down to his “Ancient Aliens” viewing parties and Viceland show “Fuck, That’s Delicious”.

“Blue Chips 7000” is the third in Bronson’s “Blue Chips” mixtape series, and it effectively ossifies the style that emerged throughout these previous releases: bouncy, faintly cartoonish samples reminiscent of P-funk and hip-hop’s golden age topped by Bronson’s hoarse, raspy flow, which is vaguely reminiscent of MF Doom in voice if not lyrics. Despite liberally littering the mixtape with topical cultural references, its sound remains stolidly retro, which Bronson himself acknowledges with his “It’s 1986 again in Flushing, Queens” (a reference to his childhood home) on the languid “Chop Chop Chop”, or his “I was hatched in ‘83” on “Durag vs Headband”.

The mixtape’s supple, jazzy backdrops provide a fairly stock setting for Bronson’s raps about virtually anything that enters his head. He impatiently orders a car on “La Luna” and bellows “The full moon make me loco, like I sniffed a whole baseline of cocoa” on “The Choreographer”. While there is a likeable playfulness to his sloppy non-sequiturs, “Blue Chips 7000” sometimes buckles into tawdry laziness or generic braggadocio. The “I’m on a plane to Russia with a hard dick and a tank top from target, why this blunt taste like Starburst?” of “Tank” is a particular high/lowlight of the at-least-it-rhymes Bronson school of lyricism, but even that has an endearing ridiculousness.

It’s a pity Bronson sequesters himself in sophomoric frat-boy quips, because the quieter moments of “Blue Chips 7000” are surprisingly effective. “My Right Lung” is a gorgeous travail into rainswept jazziness that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm”, and the unexpected reggae stylings of “Hot Pepper” are at least a change of pace. However, the mixtape remains exasperatingly unrealised and formless—closer “Durag vs Headband” is truncated into Bronson’s random exclamation that “I want to die by machine gun!” before “Blue Chips 7000” abruptly cuts off. It’s a muddled conclusion to what is ultimately a muddled mixtape. Bronson’s absurdist excess is ultimately his Achilles’ heel as well as his defining feature. CO

C+

Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I77bqvCIQN8

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Hip Hop, Pop

DJ Khaled- “Grateful” Review

The prevalence of DJ Khaled in modern pop and hip-hop is perpetually puzzling. A man who doesn’t produce his own beats, and who is, to put it kindly, a limited MC and lyricist has nonetheless been heard bellowing his own name on radio hits for over a decade. By his own admission, Khaled is closer to an organiser and promoter of the music that is released in his name, generating a reputation through his bullish self-promotion and seemingly endless connections. A brief scroll through the track listing of “Grateful” will reveal endless famous names: Beyoncé, Jay Z, Rhianna, Drake, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj just to name a few.

Khaled’s status as a meme is also probably a contributing factor in his fame. His escapades, including famously getting lost on a jetski, leaking his own sex tape and live-streaming the birth of his son have all drawn bemused incredulity, as well as the easy dilution of his brand down to a handful of hollered phrases—“Another one”, “We The Best Music”, “Congratulations, you played yourself”. In this noisy and transient zeitgeist-defining, his actual music is often lost.

“Grateful” itself is primarily defined both consciously and unconsciously by excess. The record bloats horribly at 23 songs, loosely defined as a concept album about Khaled’s thankfulness for his “blessings”, namely his fame, his money and his son. An Apple interview before the album’s release provides a surprisingly insightful glimpse into his mentality in producing “Grateful”: “This is my 10th album so I’m going all out… there’s no album cuts on there, these are all anthem singles”. Indeed, tracks often seem to mirror recent rap hits: “Iced Out My Arms” bears a strong resemblance to Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA” and “Good Man” sounds a bit like Desiigner’s “Panda”.

Ironically, as the album wears on, the endless guest spots that were probably intended to obscure Khaled’s lack of talent become its greatest weakness. Songs like “Whatever” are ruined simply through overcrowding, various guests virtually shouting over one another to be heard, and this is mirrored in the glossy clutter of the production. This problem is compounded by Khaled’s desire to make the album into a non-stop hit-fest, meaning that there are no subtle, reserved moments on “Grateful” in which the listener can catch their breath. Despite being 23 tracks long, the record still feels strangely truncated and rushed.

In amongst the unfocused clutter and noise there are glimmers of potential. One of the best moments on “Grateful” is the relaxed, sunny and (at least comparatively) spacious “I’m the One”, which will probably become one of the biggest songs of the summer. “Wild Thoughts” is a dreamy Spanish guitar reverie with a passable Rhianna guest spot, and “I Love You So Much” is a catchy enough to survive the typical pointless overproduction, a sweet Jackson 5 pastiche glorifying Khaled’s son with likeably ridiculous Khaled hyperbole (“you’re a mogul, you’re an icon, you’re a legend”). However, most of the rest of the album is lost in a din of headache-inducing excess, soullessly clinical production and Future’s ridiculous comatose flow. CO

D+

Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weeI1G46q0o

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Alternative, Electronic, Hip Hop

Album of the week: ‘Rain’ by M3staken

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This week we’ve got something a little out there for you: If you like your hip-hop then it’s one for you, but if you like something that gives a challenging listen, then wrap your ears round this one too!

Hailing from South Carolina, young producer, M3staken (M3) creates a unique blend of hip-hop with jarring electronic beats, making for a complex, yet intriguing listening experience.

‘Rain’ is his latest, and arguably the best of his ‘trilogy’, which also began with ‘Apex’ and continued on with ‘Water Colors’.

There’s a real dark feel to M3’s work, but also a compositional quality that poses the question: are artist like M3 the Mozarts of the modern day? Of course, his music is a million miles away from Mozart’s, but he has been know to dabble with blending classical piano with his beats.

Listen to ‘Rain’ here on bandcamp:

https://m3ssi.bandcamp.com/releases

 

Check out more on M3staken here:

Links:

https://soundcloud.com/m3staken

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeJtRw31YnOdiDgsNhyhKyQ

https://m3ssi.bandcamp.com/releases

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Dance, Hip Hop, House, rap

Tony Banks: genre creator

With his latest single ‘Run!’, from his upcoming EP, Yes Homo, LGBT artist Tony Banks has seemingly created a style of his own that lies somewhere in between hip-hop, rap, house and dance.

It’s an eclectic mix of styles but the talented musician has found a way to make it work, which owes much to the many hours spent in recording studios when he was growing up. However, before this, Tony’s career in music began when he sang in his local church choir! Church choir to urban rapper is quite the leap, but everyone has to start somewhere.

With ‘Run!’, Tony has created a groove-led track with a high danceability factor, but this isn’t all – pertinent and cleverly crafted lyrics add another layer whilst the vocals from JwlB bring a soul-pop edge to what is already a song of many styles.

Tony tells us how the idea for ‘Run!’ came to him whilst he was travelling: ‘I was composing beats on a plane ride. I had started a few and kept going. But when I started ‘Run!’ I knew within minutes I had something and it excited me. I didn’t know the concept right away. That came in time. After that I shopped it to a number of LGBT artists. EarthTone jumped on board first, but others weren’t so sure. But I believe everything happens for a reason. So when I brought it to JwlB she immediately said yes and asked if she could sing. I said she could do whatever she wanted. It’s JwlB. And that’s when she brought her magic!’ 

 

Find out more on Tony Banks here:

Links:

www.facebook.com/musicbeartonybanks

https://twitter.com/MusicBearTonyB

https://www.instagram.com/musicbeartonyb/

https://www.youtube.com/MusicBearTonyBanks

https://soundcloud.com/musicbeartonybanks

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Hip Hop, R&B, Uncategorized

KADI: ‘Turn U On’

It takes a strong musician to write about something meaningful with a purposeful agenda and KADI is one of those musicians.

Her new single ‘Turn U On’ is fighting the stereotypical and often sexist nature of the media and music industry that believes “having a big ass or showing your breasts gets you attention”. KADI doesn’t think this is the sort of image we should be projecting, especially to young girls and it is this issue that she is combating through her music.

From working alongside artists such as Moorish Delta 7, producers like Baby J and supporting Omar, KADI changes the game with ‘Turn You On’. The female rapper creates music with a message, fusing RnB, hip hop and pop. KADI aims to push a new movement of keeping the music industry sexy yet classy, using ‘Turn You On’ to portray that message.

Find out more on KADI here:

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/KADIofficia1

https://twitter.com/Kadiofficial1?lang=en

https://instagram.com/Kadi_official1

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