I’ve been trying to think of something profound to say about 2020 as an introduction to this post, a wrap up of the rest of my month-by-month album reviews of the year, something I started during the first lockdown, and in synergy to how this pandemic has gone; those posts started with much fluster, meandered, and has now come back with renewed enthusiasm, and a new string (strain) to its bow. The new strings in this post are simply a more rushed approach to getting these album reviews done, or simply sharing what albums I enjoyed listening to each month, much like the UK governments approach to getting the Pfizer vaccine approved, or quickly hashing out a last minute trade deal with the EU.Continue reading “Album Reviews: Wrap Up of 2020, June – December”
By the time May came around, each month had started to blur into one, and a feeling of doom and gloom lay rife in the air, as everything that we had looked forward to slowly withered away and was being cancelled, or rescheduled for what would be either the first or second time of many more. Completing a Netflix series had become the norm and no longer an accomplishment, and having walked the 5 mile radius surrounding my London flat a good ten times over, it all started to feel like a Deja Vu. New lockdown hobbies and interests started to fade, and the constant battle to stay motivated was a fortnightly crisis. Even new music wasn’t quite hitting the mark, and some of the albums in this post were listened to retrospectively.Continue reading “Album Reviews: My Top 5 Albums Released in May”
Here we go again! As I continue to look back through my albums of the year, month by month. This time I’ll take a look at April, which saw the return of The Strokes after seven years, the wonderful collaboration between Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes, amongst fantastic new albums from Enter Shikari, Fiona Apple and The Used. April once again saw an abundance of new music, and as always it was hard to pin down what my top five albums were. This list could have easily included Thundercats ‘It Is What It is’, and new releases from R.A The Rugged Man and Dance Gavin Dance, but alas I can only pick five, and these are the beautiful albums that I have chosen.Continue reading “Album Reviews: My Top 5 Albums Released in April”
Kanye West & Kid Cudi – Kids See Ghosts
Whatever your opinion of Kanye West is, you can’t deny that he has made some great music. The enigmatic figure, love him or hate him, loathe his manipulation of the media and outspoken personality, his relationship with Kim Kardashian, he’s an artist who has consistently released good music, whilst pushing boundaries and often changing perspectives. On ‘Kids See Ghosts’ he is joined by long-term collaborator Kid Cudi, who like Kanye is returning to music after battling depression.
Escapism is an important part of life. Whether that comes from sport, film, art or something else, the escape from the daily rigmarole of work and routine can often be the release that we need. Nothing embodies that notion of escaping the reality more than psychedelic rock, the captivating imagery, and the wandering larger than life sounds, the grandiose vocals and lyrics, it’s a genre bursting with imagination and other-worldliness.
A little over two years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Rag’n’Bone Man at The Joiners in Southampton. He was touring his latest EP, ‘Disfigured’, and was preparing for another sold out show.
As I walked to the venue I remember being very nervous, it was my first ever face-to-face interview and I was unsure what to expect. The interview time was arranged a few hours before the opening of the doors, so my first task was to figure out how to get in… After a few trial and errors I found a fire escape round the back and to the side, this was my opening. Rory and his team were in a meeting, discussing various subjects about the night ahead. After an awkward hello and a brief explanation of what the hell I was doing there, it was established that an interview had been scheduled… Rory abruptly came over with a beaming smile and introduced himself. All the nerves and built up tension that I had been feeling slowly eased away, as we entered into deep conversations about his roots in the hip-hop scene in Brighton with Rum Committee, attending open mics at Slipjam B and forming friendships with local MCs and DJs. Speaking fondly of his time in Brighton, he explained how he quickly became embedded in the hip-hop community.
Faze Miyake steps into the spotlight on his self-titled debut album, bringing everything we love about his weekly Rinse FM shows and previous productions into one beautifully crafted body of work. Its woozy bass driven style of beats, twisting and turning from dubstep to grime, make for a chilling and sharp listen. Winter is coming and Faze Miyake will be your soundtrack.
Little Simz is one of the few rappers in the UK who currently could handle the beat on opener ‘The Nest’, its switch up in styles and wonky beat patterns displays Faze Miyake at his very best. Little Simz moves and adapts to the beat, as she impeccably varies her boisterous flow, boasting and flaunting her highly impressive rapping abilities. When second track ‘Burciaga’ kicks in with an equal amount of swirling body shuddering bass lines it’s clear a journey will commence. ‘Ice Cold’ and ‘Below Me’ show the versatility that Miyake offers; on the one hand you’ve got the frosty vocals of Inga Copeland layered over a truly chilling instrumental on ‘Ice Cold’, and then you’ve got the frenetic trap inspired ‘Below Me’, with Chicago rapper Sasha Go Hard featuring on the track. Instrumental song ‘Ocean Drive’ is placed in between the two contrasting styles and provides the perfect transition between the two.
According to many eminent scholars, authors and theorists of the English language, ‘cellar door’ is a phrase which is beautiful pure in terms of its sound – regardless of its meaning. It’s a weird juxtaposition then that the young and gritty rap duo The Underachievers, hailing from the urban outlaying of Flatbush, Brooklyn have decided to name their latest project after it. The frenetic rhymes, hazy and dark beats; that type of hit-you-in-the-face, hundred mile an hour flow. This is a gnarled and darkened beauty, one which someone may revel in a full moon on a clear, warm summer night, or appreciate the beauty of a graffiti-layered backstreet alley. The rhymes are hard hitting, the rappity-rap ganja-toking archaic style of MCing prominent on all tracks.
It’s been a couple of years since Ghetts has released any material, and when he announced that a new album was on its way last year, everyone knew that he had been cooking up something special, and after listening to the album several times already, it’s safe say that he has successfully produced one of the finest albums ever by a UK MC. In a recent interview with MTV, Ghetts explained what he wants listeners to take away from the album: “the substance – I want them to listen and relate to it, rather than it just be another CD to listen to.”
The problem with Rick Ross is that he lacks any star qualities. His flow is good, his lyrical content is good, the beats are good, and that is how the album really plays out – it’s just good. There’s no wow factor where you might listen to a track and immediately have to rewind it and play it again, or a string of lyrical wordplay that makes you sit back and take notice. The album just goes by without any much thought or attention paid to it, like a background soundtrack to a long boring car journey on the M25. Innovation and creativeness isn’t exactly what Ross is about, but in terms of consistency the rapper can take all the plaudits, solidly delivering good album after good album, and Mastermind is no different to previous projects.