Since 2008, National Public Radio have hosted an online live music series called ‘Tiny Desk Concerts’. Featuring artists from all genres, the show has starred musicians such as Chance The Rapper, Sampha and Cigarettes After Sex, to name a few. The format continues to routinely deliver, allowing artists to perform a few of their favourite tracks in an intimate office enviroment. After watching Jorja Smith‘s mesmerising performance in her latest Tiny Desk Concert, I decided to pick out five of my favourite sets from recent months.
Kanye West & Kid Cudi – Kids See Ghosts
Whatever your opinion of Kanye West is, you can’t deny that he has made some great music. The enigmatic figure, love him or hate him, loathe his manipulation of the media and outspoken personality, his relationship with Kim Kardashian, he’s an artist who has consistently released good music, whilst pushing boundaries and often changing perspectives. On ‘Kids See Ghosts’ he is joined by long-term collaborator Kid Cudi, who like Kanye is returning to music after battling depression. The album feeds off the two oposing personalities, the impulsive brashness of Kanye, as he raps “I love all your shit talking, you ain’t got nothing better to do with yourself” and the melancholy tones of Cudi, who croons his way through the album, ocassionally breaking out into verses reminding us as to why so many have been inspired by him.
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:
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.
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.
Bringing back those Channel U and Risky Roadz vibes Skepta teams up with A$AP Mobs Young Lord to deliver us his latest single in the build to his much anticipated album Konnichiwa. The second wave of grime is in full effect, but with the instrumentalists taking most of the spotlight this time around, it was time for the MC’s to respond. Wiley’s new album Snakes and Ladders is rising up the charts, and Skepta is ready to follow – it’s a good time to be a fan of grime. The track is a real head-bopper, the 8-bit bouncy beat combined with Skepta’s flow has a very nice old school feel to it. It’s a throwback, anyone who use to listen to Frontlinerz, Choong Family, or P2J Project, will definitely appreciate the sound – check out Giggs collaboration with B.O.B on ‘Don’t Go There’ for similar tracks. Young Lord sings the catchy chorus, with Skepta delivering the heat. Pure fire!
First published: November 10, 2014
According to many eminent scholars, authors and theorists of the English language, ‘cellar door’ is a phrase which is beautiful pure in terms of its sound – regardless of its meaning. It’s a weird juxtaposition then that the young and gritty rap duo The Underachievers, hailing from the urban outlaying of Flatbush, Brooklyn have decided to name their latest project after it. The frenetic rhymes, hazy and dark beats; that type of hit-you-in-the-face, hundred mile an hour flow. This is a gnarled and darkened beauty, one which someone may revel in a full moon on a clear, warm summer night, or appreciate the beauty of a graffiti-layered backstreet alley. The rhymes are hard hitting, the rappity-rap ganja-toking archaic style of MCing prominent on all tracks.