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Inspired by the frenzied energy of Kendrick's "DAMN" tour, J. Cole set about cooking up a new LP, "KOD" ,while he was out on the road himself. Musically inspired by Soundcloud rap, the beats (mostly produced by Cole himself) combine the bass weight and skipping hats of trap with his favoured jazz samples. Lyrically, the album deals with America's enthusiasm to medicate, Cole's own battles with addiction as a means of escape and the ultimate goal of living free from fear and anxiety. As ever, Cole manages to explore complex themes without losing his voice, the smooth beats and technical flow keeping things accessible despite the subject matter. Alongside K. Dot and Childish Gambino, Cole is one of the most important voices in rap today, and his latest LP is another classic.  

First thing's first, Kdot's the greatest rapper alive. Through the hype-heavy new school G-shit of "Good Kid M.A.A.d City", the politically charged 'Martin Luther King Jr meets Miles Davis at a cypher' stylings of "To Pimp A Butterfly" and the free-wheeling, string of consciousness expression of "Untitled Unmastered", the West Coast rapper has embarked on a creative period comparative to Stevie Wonder in the 70s. Not concerned with setting the bar at Olympic record heights, Kendrick follows the 'voice of a generation' vibe of "To Pimp A Butterfly" with a move straight out of the Bob Dylan playbook. Much like the folk great going electric and swapping the protest songs for personal reflections, Kendrick finds the middle ground between the hard hitting car bumpers of "GKMC" and societal rage of "TPAB" with a fourteen track examination of his place within contemporary America. Over a series of whip beating, bass heavy beats, Kendrick muses on religion, the media, whack rappers and relationships, inviting mega stars Rihanna and U2 along for the ride. Beyond the massive singles "Humble" (better than Drake's whole album) and "DNA" (FEAT. bowel emptying bass!) we get a faultless LP of diverse moods and themes, culminating in the sublime "Duckworth". Taking us back to the early 90s, Kdot explores a chance meeting between his father and TDE's Top Dawg, which could have resulted in Ducky's death, Top Dawg's prison sentence and no Kendrick. Chillingly deep yo.


Millie says: Kendrick Lamar brings us his fourth studio album. We all told you to watch this space after previous releases and well here he is. ‘Damn’ is bold and fierce, and judging by the tracklist alarmingly shouty but as Kendrick said himself it represents the loudness of the record. LOYALTY, PRIDE, FEAR; though their titular semantics are simplified to one word, the songs are incredibly layered and submersed in raw emotion. Having said this, the album is very accessible. Fragmented lyrics are drenched in energy from the heavy bass throughout, the complexity of consciousness and storytelling is absolutely mind blowing. There isn’t much justice I can do express how essential this album is, but he has done it again by releasing a rap album which is so relevant you need to sit up and listen. ‘Damn’ is a powerful and political statement, and Kendrick is dominating the hip hop world with the most significant albums of modern times.

Kendrick Lamar has released a surprise eight-track album, 'Untitled Unmastered', comprising outtakes from the Grammy-winning 'To Pimp A Butterfly'. Filled with jazz solos and politically-charged lyrics, it appears to be a companion piece to 'Butterfly', rather than a standalone record. All of the tracks are untitled, save for the date they were recorded.

Rush-released due to Internet leakage, Kendrick Lamar's 'To Pimp A Butterfly arrives in double quick time. 

With Lamar's previous album, 'Good Kid M.A.A.d City', lauded as one of this fledgling Century's best, the level of expectation on its follow up was sky-high. How do you proceed after such a triple A-rated straight-up hip hop smash? Get afflicted by the (P)funk, that's how. Channelling the psychedelic stew of Parliament / Funkadelic, 'To Pimp A Butterfly' positions Lamar along the higher branches of rap's genre-busting evolution (see also The Roots’ 'Phrenology', Common’s 'Electric Circus', Q-Tip’s 'Kamaal the Abstract', André 3000’s 'The Love Below'). The expansive scope of Lamar's vision also runs to a live studio band featuring Robert Glasper, Flying Lotus' fretless bass maestro Thundercat and producer /sax player Terrace Martin, who add free jazz backing, pulling the music in another direction.

Lyrically the album walks in the footsteps of the socio-political commentary of Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye, but in the post-Ferguson era of continued police brutality towards African-Americans, Lamar's anger burns bright. Less 'What's Going On', more ' The Predator'. He offers a thoughtful and thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be a black man in America today, often introspective, but never naval-gazing.

Inspired and inspiring, 'To Pimp A Butterfly' is an adventurous and challenging album, and one that can be added to the essential hip hop list.



    Beck hires his dream team to remix the entire "Guero" album. So Hansen favourites such as Air, Boards Of Canada, Homelife, John King (Dust Bros.), Adrock (Beastie Boys), El-P, Diplo, 8Bit, Octet, Islands, Dntel, Mario Caldato Jnr and more reinterpret tracks as they see fit, plus a few bonus extras such as live show fave "Clap Hands".

    "Guero" is already being heralded as one of Beck's finest albums and it sees a return to collaboration with producers The Dust Brothers (who last worked with him on "Odelay"). Gone are the melancholic acoustic vibes of "Sea Change", well mostly anyway - there is still some melancholy (and a few guitar twangs!) in amongst the "Odelay" style funky loose grooves, hip hop loops and samples. But don't think that this is by any means a step backwards, the reference points and influences on "Guero" are much wider and more refined than "Odelay" and the whole feel of the album is more cohesive. We love it!


    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead

    The Secret Of Elana's Tomb

    Fantastic rocket-fueled five tracker from the Trail Of Dead, featuring all new tracks and enhanced media incorporating two videos. A raw slice of guitar abuse that still brings to mind early Sonic Youth and yet still sounds fresh!!!

    Unwritten Law


    This sort of band must be ten a penny in the US at present, that's not to say Unwritten Law are bad - they're not, but compare them to another young band like 12 Stones (whose debut album is out this week) and they are just another bunch of also-rans.

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