New Breed feat. Little Simz, Q-Tip, Idris Elba
Have re-ordered the title of this so Little Simz appears first, because she utterly fucking RULES this track, just as she ruled 2019. French producer James BKS follows up the superb 'Kwele' with this ode to Africa and empowerment, BKS' Cameroonian roots coming through strongly in the Afro-inflected production, Q-Tip as ever spitting with total authority and Elba displaying a surprisingly tight control of the steel-mesh. ALL about Simz though for this fanboy — surely the greatest artist of 2019, here showing that 2020 is only going to see her awesomeness grow. Love this little banger.
'Autumn Nights feat. Confucius MC '
Oh maaan, it's SO good to have Jehst back, a voice you can rely upon and trust to startle you, and 'Autumn Nights' proves no exception. Not quite beatless (thank fuck), but as close to Robert Wyatt as I think I've ever heard hip-hop get. The guest spot from Confucius is typically twisted and engrossing, but it's the sheer VIBE of this that sets you reeling, the low sun, the damp step, the cold, the red, gold and brown leaves — autumn conjured in a magical wefted warp of wonder. Essential.
'Deception & Woes (feat. Clear Soul Forces) '
Mello Music Group
Clear Soul Forces' 'Still' and AB's 'Sincerely, Detroit' were two of 2019's highlights, so it's inevitable that this hook-up would be awesome. A gorgeously weighted arrangement, pearlescently balanced between a peal of loungecore radiance, a subtle yet insistent beat and some Rhodes so damn lit from within it's on fire. OF COURSE amazing lines from AB, but the cameos from the lyrical Votron that is CSF really take this track beyond brilliance and into wonder. Superb.
Blu X Damu The Fudgemonk
'Ground & Water '
Damu really is becoming one of the unsung heroes of hip-hop production from DC — genuinely pushing beyond his clear inspirations to forge his own unique shadowy shapes. This is the single from the full-length project of the same name, and it's sublime. Blu, as you can guess, pushes the story along with venom and verve, while Damu cooks up a gorgeously hung together peal of summery aquatic funk that focuses you on both the words and the sumptuously hooky chorus. Great, and the album's just as good. Seek it out.
Always a pleasure to welcome this psychopoetic national treasure back into the fray. 'Nite Time' is the first we get to hear of BJ's soon-dropping next full-length 'Mannyfornia', and it's perhaps one of his most accessible tracks yet, thanks to a lovely, neon-smeared, trap-paced, dubstep-wonky production from Metrodome. Love the layers of reverse-echo AutoTune, and how Josh's voice punches through the smooth textures with graininess and intent. I'm glad he's not shot his bolt with a 'monster' track — this is subtle, suggestive and hints at bold new directions for BJ onwards. Keep 'em peeled.
'Tight Rope/Hold It Down'
The 'Pathways' full-length from which this single comes is absolutely BOSS — Morriarchi on the mix, and striking out into intriguingly smooth and atmospheric territory. 'Tight Rope' is also touched up by Chuck Enzo, and the result is a bass-heavy quiet storm slice of bliss, somewhere in-between hip-hop, jazz and R&B. On the flip, check the even better 'Hold It Down', Norm Oddity collaging subtle yet hypnotic loops together with a beautifully minimal back beat, as Verbz floats out into space. Excellent, grainy neon night-time music.
'U 2 Funny'
Pegged as Chicago's newest teen-rap star, the flamboyant queer-core 16 year old rapper Kidd Kenn drops his latest — and it's damn well irresistible. Not just 'cause of the peach-perfect low-end-heavy trap beats and bass, but also 'cause of the DELIBERATE irritation KK's aiming for in the vocal. The hip-hop equivalent of 'OK boomer', 'U 2 Funny' is guaranteed to irritate real-rap arseholes, old farts and anyone in your life who needs bringing down a peg or two. Play it loud. Play it often. There's a lot of arseholes out there who NEED their blood-pressure booting up a few notches.
Do check out the full-length project of the same name from Brum-born, Bristol-based producer Percy Filth. No less than Guilty Simpson, Geechi Suede, Maylay Sparks, King Kashmere, Bil Next, Kosyne, Redbeard and a whole host of others spit the rhymes, King Kash offering imperious sci-fi touched vocals on this, the title track and lead-off single. A heavy, dubby, science-friction feel to this, with extra jazz-funk keys and juddering bass extremely akin to Strange U's oddest moments. Highly, and I'm not even high, recommended.