Aaron Levitt

New Release: Rashaan Ahmad – Pain On Black

As emotive hip-hop songs go, Raashan Ahmad’s Pain On Black is up there with the best. On a hiatus from rap-group the Crown City Rockers, the New Jersey born rapper has used the time to focus on making jazz-infused Hip-hop. His most recent album, For What You’ve Lost was released rather discreetly last year and Pain On Black is its second single. And what a gem. In Ahmad’s own words it was written as the world was crumbling around him, and you get the sense of his heart and soul being poured into the lyrics. Rapping in one continuous verse, Ahmed barely pauses for breath, so pressing is his desire to tell the listeners about his struggle. But this is no ego-trip and Ahmed seems truly thankful for where he is now. Musically, Pain on Black is made by the triumphant trumpet sample, which compliments the song’s message. The struggle that made the song is the listener’s gain, and by this reckoning Raashan Ahmed’s next release will be a much better-known affair.

New Release: Drake – Dreams Money Can Buy

Following our previous post on Jai Paul, we wanted to express our pride that his brilliant BTSTU has been sampled by Drake in a song leaked this week off his forthcoming album. In terms of composition and sound,Dream Money Can Buy doesn’t differ too much from previous work, but the sample choice indicates a more experimental direction for the Canadian rapper. He has decided not to reproduce the formula that made his debut so successful, but rather form collaborations with UK bass artists that make his music more interesting. He has recently worked with producer SBTRKT and will seek the help of Jamie xx on LP Take Care, due in September. It is an encouraging sign both for a UK music scene going from strength to strength, and also the integrity of an already-successful rapper.

New Artist: Grey Reverend

Fans of The Cinematic Orchestra will be familiar with singer-songwriter Grey Reverend, who remixed the band’s To Build A Home in 2007 and has supported them live numerous times. For everyone else… Grey Reverend is made up of the modest voice and guitar-playing of L.D. Brown, but represents a much bigger talent. He was discovered by The Cinematic Orchestra front man Jason Swinscoe at the coffee shop run by Brown’s sister. He has since joined Swinscoe’s Motion Audio label and this month released his first single, One By One, under their banner. Similar to Fink and Jose Gonzalez, this is stripped down acoustic singer-songwriting at its finest and Motion Audio have latched onto a talent. We look forward to hearing more in his upcoming album Of The Days, released in July.

Live Review: Monument Valley & Daughter @ Old St Pancras Church, London

Part-founded by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, it’s no surprise that Communionare gaining quite a reputation for unearthing excellent folk and soul artists. Stamp The Wax has already featured Communion’s Michael Kiwanuka and Matt Corby, but two more are also deserving of our praise. In tune with the family feel of their label, Communion put on monthly music nights in unique venues around London. Given the success of the evening and the quality of music, it was therefore surprising to learn this was independently organised. Communion or no Communion, Monument Valley and Daughter are certainly worth taking note about.

New Artist: Jacques Greene

Since Joy Orbison’s iconic Hyph Mngo emerged onto the Electronic scene in late 2009, producers worldwide have been attempting to replicate such an effective sound, steeped in raw personality and sheer vibrance. Jacques Greene is one artist that successfully delivers on both fronts. Mary Anne Hobbs featured the Montreal-based producer’s first release The Look EP on her last ever BBC show, a sign of the great things for Greene that has now progressed into the dazzling new song Another Girl. Injected with a contagious R&B hook, floating pads and a climbing rhythms, it is sure to be the Future Garage summer anthem of 2011.

Jai Paul – BTSTU

Jai Paul has to be one of the most enigmatic artists in new music. Since the incomparable BTSTU blew up on the blogosphere last year, Jai has signed to XL Recordings and was long-listed in the BBC Sound of 2011. Yet no more than this is known about him: he’s 22, from north-west London and he’s displayed three disapprovals of his music on his Myspace. How wrong those critics are. Like nothing you’ve ever heard, there really is no easy way to pigeonhole BTSTU; The Guardian’s Paul Lester perhaps does the best job, describing it as J Dilla remixing Hot Chip. Made through a combination of manipulated samples, beats and harmonies, BTSTU shouldn’t work, but it just does. We would recommend you monitor Jai closely for more information or music in the future, but there really is no second-guessing him.