Record sales or artistic integrity? It’s the perennial question…
Studying medicine whilst simultaneously launching your hip-hop career is not an enviable task…
“Nu brand flexxx is not just a group, it’s a lifestyle”. So reads the about-box on the group’s Facebook page – an elaborate claim, but one that is justified in the video of their latest release, Spellbound. In a world where rappers have a lot to say for themselves, the message of this drug and Haribo fuelled affair is simple: sit back, relax and take time to enjoy life. With a chilled, hypnotic beat and lyrical flow to match, Spellbound creates the perfect soundtrack for such an occasion. Given their approach to music, Nu Brand have drawn comparisons to Wiz Khalifa, but these guys have been doing their thing for much longer. If any connection is to be made, it should be to Outkast, simply for the variety of material they produce. With a Conservative Party anthem, a poppier ode to London Fashion Week, and more traditional grime tracks backing up Spellbound, all are produced with a touch of style and humour that makes Nu Brand a very interesting prospect.
By now, every Hip-hop head in the world should be well versed with the movementsof OFWGKTA, a young collective of L.A. rappers/skaters, steered from the front by 19 year old luminary shepherd Tyler the Creator. Within this extraordinarily talented pack are two wolves, Hodgy Beats and Left Brain, entertaining a shared vision of laidback and upbeat Hip-hop vibes, hence their name MellowHype. Left Brain’s beat science melts dream pads with fresh coast drum hits, whilst Hodgy provides the L.A. flow and sharp wit to make this a truly righteous duo. In fast-paced Odd Future style, they released two albums in 2010 and will also be releasing Numbers, their debut album on Odd Future Records, later this year. You can download YelloWhite and BlackenedWhite for free here, and watch this space for more updates on the next big thing to storm out of the Odd Future house of Hip-hop. Below we’ve posted a track off their YelloWhite album and an exclusive live performance of 65, a track off future releaseNumbers.
Defining himself as both a rapper and a graphic designer, it is no surprise that DELS’ productions marry these talents. Trumpalump, with its accompanying music video and ‘Quiet Remix’, is the best example of this artistic union. The song is all about blurring boundaries, both lyrically – between the idea of dreaming and reality, and musically – through two contrasting beats, one discordant, one catchy and soothing. In the song’s video, DELS explores the boundaries of reality with a set of half monochrome, half colour. This artistic trickery is given greater insight in the ‘making of’ video and certainly demonstrates his commitment to having visual lyrics. The final complement to the Trumpalump release is Joe Goddard’s ‘Quiet Remix’, featuring master of calm Hip-hop, Ghostpoet. Here, the trio focus on the smoother sounds of the original to produce a dreamy end-product, well worth a listen. With the debut album Gobs hitting the shelves last month, and the June release of another Joe Goddard collaboration, now would be the time to investigate this multi-talented musician.
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.
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.
Since entering the music scene, Ghostpoet has been showing Hip-hop how to calm down. His debut LP Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam is so refreshing in its approach you would have to go back as far as Original Pirate Material for an album of similarimpact on UK Hip-hop. Survive It is Ejimiwe’s latest release and acts as a reminder that the 24-year-old is refusing to conform to the blueprint of brash and boastful lyrics. With a lisped voice and storytelling stlyle, Ejimiwe adopts the persona of a modest 44-year old and transforms a tale of a mundane existence into a hopeful tune, aided by Fabiana Palladino’s uplifting chorus. This is a track that will certainly fit various moods, and if you’re interested in hearing a style less conventional, then don’t let Ghostpoet go unnoticed.
Coming from the South Bay area of Los Angeles, it’s clear TOKiMONSTA’s surroundings…
Toronto-based producer Sunclef released his debut mini-album a few weeks back and it’s slowly but surely taking over the world. The Tesseract is Instrumental Hip-hop at its finest, with throbbing pads, warm fuzzy basslines and MPC groove. This guy really has come out of nowhere and is now fast establishing himself as THE producer to watch. Go and support Sunclef by buying The Tesseract here, so he can make more music (it’s ‘name your price’, so name it high). Below you’ll find the opening track off the record, dripping with swag.