Rounding up the finest new innovation from the galaxies of hip hop, jazz, grime, psyche, and electronics...
Finn ft Faultsz - Iya
Finn has just dropped a 5 tracker of fizzypop grime for Local Action – at times the relentless sweetness of the chipmunk vocal samples may prove divisive, but, at the very least, the collaboration with Faultsz, an MC you may know from Lewisham crew The Square, offers something that any grime head can rate. Over a beat that’s reminiscent of the Dip Set influenced pitched up soul stabs that Ruff Sqwad rinsed in the mid-00s, Faultsz gives a laid back shout out to South London. His flow’s effortless, and unlike a lot of grime kids he doesn’t feel the need to topload his delivery with empty bluster about guns and cash he ain’t got. Fans of the strange, emotional grime being produced by the likes of Mr Mitch need to give this a spin. Tasty looking orange vinyl as well.
Murlo – Odyssey EP
Sticking with UK producers pushing grime into squiggly new shapes, Murlo continues his rise to complete domination with an 8 track EP on Mixpak. True, I’m a bit gutted there are no vocal cuts, but when you’ve got a producer who can pull things this crazy with a lead line, I guess vocals are only gonna clutter the place up. Over 40 minutes (which is basically an album, right?) Murlo explores all aspects of the Grime/ UK Funky axis, utilising a full kitbag of square wave melodies, synthetic wood wind warbles, gleaming plastic horn samples and breakdowns that are wide eyed with precise prettiness. The EP sounds like the bounding glee of Godzooki next to the Godzilla of old skool grime – a junior rendition hyped up on manic happiness. Not as aggy, perhaps, but a lot more fun.
Young Thug – Best Friend
Young Thug is one of those MCs who inspire devotion and loathing in equal measure. I fall firmly in the first camp – personally I think he’s doing more to push music in bizarre new directions than the entire Def Jux back catalogue ever did (bracing myself for the incoming hate…). So, when Young Thug’s Slime Season mixtape finally made it out I was pleased to discover it was nothing but wonky cosmic trap designed for jacking UFOs to. Perfect. The beats offered up by the tapes sole producer London On Da Track have condensed into these alien botanies of harp, piano, submerged bells and keyboards that sound like they were stolen from the Mysterons, all conspiring to drag Thug’s vocals to sunken sonic depths. Meanwhile Thug chats whatever madness runs through his mind, never knowingly offering a rhyme scheme you’ve ever heard, and quite often making no sense (to these ears) whatsoever. That is far more enjoyable than it sounds. There are almost no guest MCs, there are absolutely no filler tracks, and- other than the occasional pointless, predictable burst of misogyny- this shit is still going to sound like the future 10 years from now. Plus, just watch him. Man's a star.
Louie Lastic – Reactions EP
This has been out for a moment now on Soulection, and I’ve entirely missed it til now. Louie Lastic drops a rubbery, playful jazz that’s as charming as it is unpredictable. There are plenty of quick hip hop touches; the sample taken from P.Diddy’s Need A Girl, the tight rolling hi hats he deploys to pick up energy, sudden drops to bass heavy kick drums, but Lastic takes these and turns them into something light and breezy as a beach afternoon. His ability to switch direction keeps his sound from straying into Hed Kandi territory – crucially it’s fun without being inoffensive. Although he may be pushing it a bit with the smooth sax on Say Yes..
Awate – Fever
Back to the UK and this banger has just flown in from UK-based, Eritrean born MC Awate. Over swinging horn samples that wouldn’t shame a Gangstarr classic, Awate breaks down that most topical of subjects, living as an immigrant in England. He’s on point as well; in a perfect world George Osborne would be forced to listen to Awate intoning “living just enough for London// trickle down doesn’t function” any next time he wants to make some bait economic policy based on the myth of trickle down wealth. Quoted on Okay Africa, Awate had plenty more to say on the issue of making it in the smoke;
“The city is full of pressures weighing down on you and people can’t talk to each other. The school steals your history and raises you to have no pride in your identity. The police prey on you and make you fear stepping out of the dwelling you can’t afford. But nonetheless, people survive. We remember our history and greatness and I like writing quite tongue in cheek critiques about the powerful. I came here as an Eritrean refugee, already in diaspora, born in Saudi Arabia and was always made to feel like an outsider. My perspective is different as I see the ridiculous everywhere.”
Hopefully we’ll hear a lot more of this kind of thing on the forthcoming EP dropping via Dcypha Records…
Rionegro – Rionegro
And finally, one to look out for. Forthcoming on the Cómeme label comes Rionegro, a collaborative effort between Sebastián “Sano” Hoyos, Gregorio “Gladkazuka” Gomez, Natalia Valencia, and Matias Aguayo to run the pulse and rhythm of Columbia through electronic processes. Whilst such fusion projects often end up a big hot mess of good intentions and terrible songs, Rionegro truly delivers, with a series of sprawling late night jams that shuffle and funk far more than digital music has a right to. Recorded in Rionegro, a town on the outskirts of Medellín, Colombia, the sounds and atmosphere of the surroundings have squeezed themselves into every corner of the recording, lending a loose wildness to proceedings, a sense that this is dead of night dance music for prowling wrong uns’ looking for a thrill. The PR has come with a good quote, which, in lieu of any preview music, I’m going to present in full –
“The night came and with it, Aguardiente and smoke. We listened to salsa records and played along on the MPC. Wilson the dog saw us working, dancing and singing. A little more than a month went by. We were joined by a piano player, some singers, a percussionist, and recorded day and night, with more Aguardiente. We recorded, with delay and distortion, adding layers of melodies and rhythm. We call it RIONEGRO, like the place where it was created, like the river that flows down and crosses Medellín on its way to the ocean”