Feature: 10 Spanish-speaking artists that you need to know right now

In my quest to learn the Spanish language I have often turned to music to help me. This has mostly been a futile attempt, but has led me to discovering many great bands and artists. Beyond the well-known stars such as Shakira, Daddy Yankee, Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin and Alejandro Sanz, there’s a vibrant and well-supported scene with some absoloute gems to be found. Whether it’s to aid your learning, or simply for your own enjoyment, the Spanish-speaking music scene has a variety of styles and genres to tickle your fancy. From indie-rock to Spanish trap, here’s a list of 10 artists that you need to know right now:

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Feature: Emo

Sometimes it’s hard to describe feelings, or a moment(s) that happen in our life. Feelings of wanting more, or a moment of deep depression that you can’t figure out. Like many, I turn to music to help me through times like these. Sometimes all it does is extenuate the problem and increase the feelings that were being felt, but often this can be the release of emotion that you were after. After dragging yourself to get some much-needed sleep, the next day is always there, and often that can be a reassuring state.

One of the genres that I’m turning to more often than not is emo. A very loose term for a genre that has many different connotations, and is constantly changing and reinventing itself. Since being coined in the mid-eighties to describe a flurry of hardcore bands, such as Rites of Spring, Beefeater and Embrace, the genre has had a mixed and turbalent history. It inspired many regretable fashion trends, but gave a space for people who felt alienated by society. Bands such as My Chemical Romance, Panic! At The Disco and Paramore all came out of the emo scene, but that’s not where my personal journey with the genre began.

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Interview Feature: Rag ‘n’ Bone Man

A little over two years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Rag ‘n’ Bone Man at The Joiners in Southampton. He was touring his latest EP, ‘Disfigured’, and was preparing for another sold out show.

As I walked to the venue I remember being very nervous, it was my first ever face-to-face interview and I was unsure what to expect. The interview time was arranged a few hours before the opening of the doors, so my first task was to figure out how to get in… After a few trial and errors I found a fire escape round the back and to the side, this was my opening. Rory and his team were in a meeting, discussing various subjects about the night ahead. After an awkward hello and a brief explanation of what the hell I was doing there, it was established that an interview had been scheduled… Rory abruptly came over with a beaming smile and introduced himself. All the nerves and built up tension that I had been feeling slowly eased away, as we entered into deep coversations about his roots in the hip-hop scene in Brighton with Rum Committee, attending open mics at Slipjam B and forming friendships with local MCs and DJs. Speaking fondly of his time in Brighton, he explained how he quickly became embedded in the hip-hop community,

“I used to go to Slipjam B, which was just like a monthly open mic in Brighton for rappers, you know you do whatever you want basically, the DJ would play a beat and I would freestyle over it, but I would sing as well, and that’s how I met everyone really, that little community, sort of hip-hop community, you know you get to know everybody really quick…”

The connections he made during this time were integral to kick-start his life as a musician, and from there he released a series of mixtapes and EP’s, with ‘Bluestown’ (2012) being the most significant of these, his staggering vocal capabilities and jazz, blues and hip-hop style stood out from anything else that was on the market at the time.

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Feature: Your introduction to Spanish trap

If you’ve never heard of Spanish trap then don’t worry, I’ve got you. Whilst out here in Spain I’ve discovered many beautiful things, the weather, the food, the unlimited sangria, and of course, the delightful and often humorous sounds of Pimp Flaco, amongst many others in the Spanish trap scene. The origins of this music entering my domain lay through a friend called David, David explains:

“I was watching funny videos on YouTube one pleasant Monday evening when I came across this guy called Pimp Flaco, automatically I checked it out, I couldn’t believe what I was listening to, it was like trap music, but it was Spanish, my mind was blown and I’ve been hooked since…”

His, and my, introduction to Spanish trap was Pimp Flaco’s track PORFI, an instant banger –

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Feature: 10 UK hip-hop/grime artists that you need to check out

So, if you’re a fan of hip-hop you’ve probably heard Drake’s new album/playlist ‘More Life’. If you haven’t, then I recommend checking it out. The blend of different musical styles and influences really work, and shows the love Drake has for all kinds of music. It’s a fun project, and should be treated as such. But alas, this is not a review of ‘More Life’.

If you’ve listened to ‘More Life’ then you would’ve noticed that it features UK artists such as Giggs, Jorja Smith, Skepta and Sampha, and has a distinct British feel to it. It’s no secret that Drake has been a huge fan of the UK hip-hop/grime scene for a while now, consistently showing his support for new releases and tours. The likes of aforementioned Skepta and Giggs, and up-and-coming artists such as Dave and AJ Tracey have all benefited from his love and support, allowing thier music to be opened up to a broader audience that Drake has.

In truth, the UK hip-hop/grime scene has been in a strong place for a number of years now and many artists are achieving mainstream success, with or without Drake. Does the UK hip-hop/grime scene need Drake? No. But it’s definitely a good thing that someone is appreciating the music and the culture, without simply exploiting it. With Stormzy smashing the charts with his latest album ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’ and prominent artists selling out venues up and down the country the UK hip-hop/grime scene has never been in a better place than now. It’s a scene rich wih new talent, and I for one am extremely excited by some of the artists that are coming through the ranks. On the back of that, here’s a list of 10 of the most exciting new artists coming out of the UK hip-hop/grime scene.

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Feature: The Changing Face of Rock Music

It’s a turbulent time for rock music at the moment, with the popular genre not proving so popular within the mainstream charts many bands are trying new ideas out to regenerate it into the spotlight. The biggest and boldest move thus far came only a few months ago with Fall Out Boy making their much anticipated return, after deciding to take a break in 2009, with the album ‘Save Rock and Roll.’ The American band hailing from Chicago, Illinois combine numerous amount of sounds from across several genres in comprising their latest album. The likes of Big Sean features from the rap world and Elton John also makes an appearance. The album title is a tongue and cheek take on the rise of watered down pop music with bassist Pete Wentz envisioning critical responses to it. In terms of a rock album it is nothing like that and would be considered more multi-genre than anything, but  most importantly did the album put the genre back in the spotlight? When looking at the sales figures you would have to say yes. The album sold more than 154,000 copies in its first week and debuted at number one in the Billboard charts. When looking at the style and sound however you would have to say no. They focus more on catchy choruses and synths rather than traditional hard rock sounds and the features, despite working on a pop level, do not work in a rock context.

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