hip hop . r'n'b . trap

WEEK STARTING 17 Sep

Genre pick of the week Cover of And Then Life Was Beautiful by NAO.

NAO

And Then Life Was Beautiful

    While Nao's previous project propelled the singer-songwriter into a new stratosphere with its cosmic, coming-of-age themes, the songstress is now entering a brand new chapter with ‘And Then Life Was Beautiful’ - where ‘Saturn’ untangled the knots of late twenties soul-searching, ‘And Then Life Was Beautiful’ goes a step further by setting out a clarified sense of purpose. Now a mother of a young daughter, NAO is more confident in herself and her voice than ever. A pandemic album, written and recorded throughout never-ending lockdowns, the project celebrates life’s ups and downs, reaching out a hand to guide listeners through what hurdles may confront them next. It includes previously released tracks ‘Antidode’, featuring Nigerian superstar Adekunle Gold, ‘Woman’, featuring Lianne La Havas, which she recorded with her new-born daughter strapped lovingly to her chest, as well as ‘Messy Love’, a stunning offering loaded with strummed guitar grooves and drum rhythms rooted in 90s R&B.  

    Other notable stand-out tracks include ‘Wait’, a stripped-back track which takes an intimate look at how you make mistakes to develop a relationship, and ‘Postcards’, highlighting a gorgeous vocal interplay of NAO and serpentwithfeet, who features alongside her on the track. For ‘Good Luck’, R&B crooner Lucky Daye jumped on board.

    She says: “Life isn’t perfect; we still go through ups and downs, but it can be beautiful as a whole. I do think it’s a hopeful album, in an honest way – it’s not shiny or all ‘isn’t this great!’ and ‘party party party.’ But it’s hopeful in that through every rough patch, every dark patch or struggle we always come out again. That’s what life is. You keep going. But most of all you try and step into a place of gratitude so that you can see life in all of its beauty.”


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: A silky smooth mix between soaring synth pop and grooving R&B, wonderfully bringing together Nao's gorgeous vocals and a distinctly modern mash-up of styles into a cohesive and jubilant whole.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. And Then Life Was Beautiful
    2. Messy Love
    3. Glad That You’re Gone
    4. Antidote (feat. Adekunle Gold)
    5. Burn Out
    6. Wait
    7. Good Luck (feat. Lucky Daye)
    8. Nothing’s For Sure
    9. Woman (feat. Lianne La Havas)
    10. Better Friend
    11. Postcards (feat. Serpentwithfeet)
    12. Little Giants
    13. Amazing Grace

    Quintin Copper & Nas Mellow

    Paradise (Erobique Remix)

      Back in spring, Quintin Copper & Nas Mellow dropped their debut album throught Sonar Kollektiv, winning plenty of fans amongst friends of soul, jazz and hip hop.

      Now the sound from the university town of Tübingen can begin its triumphal procession around the entire globe. Therefore Sonar Kollektiv enlisted no other than the International Pony member and furious solo entertainer Erobique to contribute a remix of "Paradise".

      As is his want, Erobique managed to turn the album track into a world-class banger. "Paradise" is now a summer hit, warm-up classic and radio ear-worm at the same time. He put so much soul into his version that some might think this version comes straight from a lost modern soul 45.

      What more could you ask for?


      TRACK LISTING

      A1. Paradise (Erobique Remix)
      B1. Paradise (Erobique Remix Instrumental)

      Disco Bits emerge from lockdown with two fat slabs of Hip House featuring two of the finest MCs ever to grace the mic riding over brand new disque-o rhythms...
      A sure fire party starter! BDK sets it off with killer rhymes over an up tempo prime time disco groove. DBS provides the perfect disco rhythm for an all time great to rock any disco tech.
      On a slower tip in that 80's Afro Cosmic Italian vibe. RKM let's the rhythm hit 'em over a chugging beat.

      TRACK LISTING

      A. Rok The Disco Tech
      B. Ritmo Italo

      Marlowe

      Marlowe

        L’Orange & Solemn Brigham are Marlowe. “An artist afraid to overreach himself is as useless as a general who is afraid to be wrong.” Over a half-century later, the axiom remains true for hyper-kinetic hip-hop innovators, North Carolina’s L’Orange and Solemn Brigham—the hard-boiled duo behind the fun house fever dream, Marlowe. Released on Mello Music Group, Marlowe is a triumph of ambition, a rap bricolage blending prohibition and civil rights-era samples with Asian psychedelic rock flourishes.

        An old soul with original ideas, tapping into the eternal reservoir of Sam Cooke to Ice Cube, Otis Redding to Chuck D, Curtis Mayfield to KRS-One. Over the course of 17 tracks, Solemn hurls sharp darts at counterfeits trying to crack his religion, the onslaught of time, and prevaricating rappers—all while paying homage to those who paved the road for him. He bounces off the beats like a trampoline placed in a speakeasy, doubling up on the vocals, burrowing into dense cryptic tangles of slang and then stretching them out with melodic ease. With dazzling cinematic mise en scene, L’Orange crafts a world that sounds like an old-time medicine show dropped into 90s Brooklyn, with Solemn summoning the holy spirit of Big L. Cymbals crash, drums pound, fuzzy guitars ride out, a bronze rain of horns cascade.

        This is gorgeous celestial dust, high-powered fuel with every syllable meticulously ordained. Marlowe cracked the case, but how they did it can only become clear under deeper investigation.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Medicated
        2. Cold Open
        3. Lost Arts
        4. Eddy Appetite’s House Of Definitely Legal Oddities
        5. Things We Summon
        6. Honest Living
        7. Tall Tales
        8. Demonstration
        9. Tales From The East
        10. Fred Sanford
        11. Not So Paranoid After All
        12. Magnificent Slim’s Friendly Tip Off
        13. The Basement
        14. Mayday
        15. Palm Readers
        16. Gone Believer
        17. Vagrant
        18. The Places We Stay

        Mello Music Group

        Persona

          If the soul of hip-hop belongs to the culture, the skeleton belongs to the independent label. From Sugar Hill to Def Jam, Tommy Boy to Rawkus, Fondle Em to Def Jux, the genre’s best music has been birthed by imprints that brazenly defy the status quo, those who champion fearless artists and always prize quality over commerce. For the last eight years, Mello Music Group has lived by that ethos. If you’re reading these words, you’re inevitably well aware of its ascendance and growing legacy. But more importantly, you know the artists—those singular voices channelling the spirits of the past and spitting premonitions of the future. Boom-bap at its best: evolving and expanding the art form, capturing stories of the struggle, upholding the tradition, and keeping the crooked honest.

          Persona unveils the murderer’s row that is the Mello roster of 2015. Oddisee, Apollo Brown, yU, L'Orange, Red Pill, Open Mike Eagle, Rapper Big Pooh, Quelle Chris. The stars of the present teamed with timeless innovators like Phonte (Little Brother), Blockhead, Ras Kass, Gift of Gab (Blackalicious), Oh No, Masta Ace, and Bilal Salaam. The result is something that binds current greats with the pioneers who paved the asphalt. It’s both a historical moment and hard as hell. If most compilations are nothing more than a loosely thrown together collection of songs, Persona boasts meticulous focus. “Requiem” finds Phonte and Oddisee indicting American racism and Xenophobia with fury and precision. On “Homicide,” yU and Nottz leave blood dripping all over the canvas. There’s “Celebrity Reduction Prayer,” where Open Mike Eagle lampoons our Hollywood obsession, our overzealous idol worship over Oddisee’s warm Wonder keyboards.

          But there’s ultimately no need to do the track-by-track breakdown. This is an anthology in the most traditional well-curated sense. Turn here if you want to find the best hip-hop artists of their generation in raw and unfiltered form. The bars are brimstone; the beats force your neck to swivel. Through all the discontent, rays of hope begin to emerge. If you remember the feeling you got when you first heard Soundbombing, stop searching. The slang has changed, the style remains indelible, the latest personas have emerged. The new sound is here.

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Word To The Wise
          2. Requiem
          3. Homicide
          4. Dark Comedy Late Show
          5. PNT
          6. Circles Around Circles
          7. No Future
          8. American Religion
          9. You First
          10. Hustle Off
          11. Sometimes I Feel
          12. Darlin'
          13. Troubles
          14. All I See Is You

          Mos Def Vs Marvin Gaye

          Yasiin Gaye - The Return: Side Two

            Amerigo Gazaway liberates the second installment in his highly praised Soul Mates blend project, bringing together Brooklyn rapper Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) and soul legend Marvin Gaye for a dream collaboration aptly titled “Yasiin Gaye” for a second hip hop soul outing. Building the album’s foundation from deconstructed samples of Gaye’s Motown classics, the producer re-orchestrates the instrumentation into new productions within a similar framework. Carefully weaving Bey’s dense raps and Gaye’s soulful vocals over his new arrangements, the producer delivers a quality far closer to Gaye’s famous duets than that of a “mash-up” album.

            'Yasiin Gaye. The Return: Side Two' gives us 18 new mash-ups of Mos Def and Marvin Gaye classics.

            Nina Simone & Lauryn Hill

            The Miseducation Of Eunice Waymon

              With his latest Soul Mates Project, Amerigo Gazaway imagines a studio session between The High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone, and living legend, Lauryn Hill. Continuing the “collaborations that never were” theme of his previous releases, the producer seamlessly connects the dots between Hip-Hop and the genre’s predecessor, Soul. 

              TRACK LISTING

              A1. Feeling Good
              A2. Ready Or Not (feat The Fugees)
              A3. Doo Wop (That Thing)
              A4. To Zion (feat Carlos Santana)
              B1. Fu-Gee-La (feat The Fugees) 
              B2. The Sweetest Thing (feat John Forte)
              B3. Take It Easy
              B4. Peace Of Mind
              C1. Lost Ones
              C2. Killing Me Softly
              C3. If I Ruled The World (feat Nas) 
              C4. How Many Mics (feat The Fugees)
              D1. So High (feat John Legend)
              D2. Care For What
              D3. Angel Of The Morning 
              D4. The Miseducation Of Eunice Waymon
              D5. Fu-Gee-La (Refugee Camp Remix - Bonus Track)

              Speiz Boiz

              Speizbanger / Breakbottle

              Speiz Bois is a trio of three seasoned Hungarian musicians active in countless other projects (think of the already cult Jazzbois outfit) playing a unique fusion of hip-hop, spaced out psychedelic grooves and melancholic 80's guitar sounds.

              'SpeizBanger' on side A is one of those timeless songs that are hard to be described, but we are pretty sure this is what an imaginary demo by random members of BadBadNotGood and Khruangbin, recorded in a smokey Budapest home studio would sound like.

              'BreakBottle' on the flip starts off as a more conventional live groove until the ethereal synths and guitar harmonies come in, from then it sounds like the fictional demo described above.

              The single is limited to 300 copies

              TRACK LISTING

              A. Speizbanger
              B. Breakbottle

              Your Old Droog X Tha God Fahim

              Tha YOD Fahim

                Your Old Droog & Tha God Fahim’s second joint release, Tha YOD Fahim, is a celebration of the immense talents of its creators. They have an undeniable chemistry that started as guest appearances and has now blossomed into something greater. And while the world got an amazing appetizer in the form of ‘Tha Wolf On Wall St’ in January, the two like-minded artists are back just weeks later with this full-length release. The connection of YOD and Fahim is a pairing that simply works. Both have their roots in raw, unpretentious hip-hop that also pushes the music to its boundaries, and you can hear those qualities running throughout all 14 tracks. As unadulterated as the music is, the album represents something even greater from both Droog and Fahim. It’s a testament to their creative synergy and their gifts as artists who never compromise or hold back.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Icee Shop / Entrées
                2. Stretch
                3. Charles Barkley
                4. Mailman
                5. Slam Dunk Contest (feat. Pharoahe Monch)
                6. Brrt Simpson (feat. Left Lane Didon)
                7. Reign Man
                8. WNBA
                9. The Dunking Dutchman
                10. Long Time Coming
                11. Disney World
                12. Lost Smile
                13. Questions
                14. 90 From The Line Remix (Šarūnas Marčiulionis)


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