The Latest News From Neptune#12: Novelist, Visionist, Gaika, Mike Q, More..


Towkio – Playin Fair

Last June I went out to Chicago to write a story on Vic Mensa- while I was there I got to meet the various rappers and producers he had come up with. The talent in this tight knit group was crazy (its worth noting that this is the same crew that Chance the Rapper came out of), and I fully appreciated the range of that talent while watching Towkio open for Mensa at the Pitchfork Festival. At the time Towkio had his first (or what I think was his first) mixtape out, .Wav Theory, a collection of tracks that saw him spitting over electronica, funk and sudden splinters of jungle. On stage he took these tracks and amped them to another next level, working the crowd with a charisma that seems to be getting rarer at hip hop shows. Since then I’ve been a Towkio fan, and I’m glad to say that his latest single, Playin Fair is a killer. It’s got a real old skool/new skool vibe – the beat has a slightly electronic and entirely modern pulse, but the mob-handed chorus is pure classic Onyx. Towkio’s flow sounds sick, cracking on the edge, with a sly wit sparkling away, and Joey Purp’s bars maintain the pressure. Basically, there’s just nothing too serious about this – it’s a throwback party jam for the man dem, harking back to an era where rappers barked hooks rather than sang them, and right now I’m loving it. 

Gaika – 3D

There’s nothing easy involved in listening to Gaika. He preaches uncomfortable truths over uncomfortable beats whilst looking and sounding like the fifth horseman of the apocalypse. Imagine Death Grips if they’d grown up on Bashment rather than Beastie Boys. Once you’ve reset you’re jaded sound palate and let his music rinse through you’re sluggish brain, his wheezing industrial break down and hellfire preaching become addictive – I’d personally say essential. On 3D he’s taking on a racist system, ‘sick of our televised grief,’ vengeful as a wronged spirit. It’s protest music where the music itself sounds as much of a protest as the lines he’s spitting, yet still situating itself in a dancehall legacy, spitting “true me love jerk chicken/ and me love thick women/ and me love pon a lickle bit of weed,” in between hard bars about being caught “knee deep in concrete.” He’s just signed to Warp, and the signs for the album are looking strong…

Visionist – Never Forget

I’ve always been really suspicious of any ‘grime at the Proms’ nonsense – I hate the way that there’s this suggestion of wild iconoclasm about *gasp* grime! being allowed on stage with proper! Musicians! Total shite.  Grime doesn’t need patronising- it’s moved into neo-classical territory with ease. This latest from Visionist is a complex, emotive 3 minutes that carries more weight than half the light classical faff I imagine David Cameron hums himself to sleep with. The grimy elements –portmento’d synth squeals and the occasional industrial clank, dovetail with soaring pads and choral fantasies to make a thing of mournful beauty, a track that could soundtrack a million fantasy films yet to be made. Free download is currently available, grab it quick.  

Novelist- Girls Around the World

Sticking with grime, I’m glad to hear Nov finally delivering a scene staple; the overly sentimental grime love song. There’s been so many of these over the years that they’re as much a part of the scene as eski clicks and Adidas trackies, but the current lionisation of classic grime has tended to pretend they don’t exist. Following Skepta having a fair crack at a sentimental banger on Konnichiwa with Text Me Back, Nov’s made a decent attempt at some heart-on-sleeve action – is it as good as Ruff Sqwad’s all time greatest sentimental banger Together? Will, no, obviously not. It’s still decent though, and a timely reminder that even roadmen get emosh..

Mike Q & Romanthony – Get Sum

There’s never a time I’m not up for hearing Mike Q on the track – chuck in Romanthony and you’ve got house music gold. Get Sum drops the tempo from Mike’s normal 130 bpm-ish thrills, mixing his vogue smashes with a beat that sits between soca, reggaeton and UK Funky. As vogue tracks go this is a definitely at the more accessible end; there’s a discernably sung hook, a melodic synth line, it’s been produced to a crisp standard, and no one is shouting kunt… It’s taken from the forthcoming Qweendom compilation – a look at the tracklist suggests it’s gonna be sick; Beek, Byrell the Great, Koppi Mizrahi and LSDXOXO are all on there, alongside more names that I’m less familiar with – that’s dropping in a couple of days, pre-orders are available over here


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