M.I.A.- Vicki Leekx Mixtape

The typically-unconventional (is that an oxymoron?) M.I.A. drops off her latest offering, specifically a mixtape hosted on a shady, distorted website.

From a ‘brand’ perspective, this mixtape does feel very necessary: her recent album didn’t gain anywhere near as much critical (and possibly commercial) success as previous efforts, and really didn’t give her the sort of career progression someone of her standing should be looking for with each album. Hence, I hope this mixtape helps to turn things around a little, as I’m personally a fan of her work (and general craziness). Free download over at the aforementioned odd website below.

M.I.A.-Vicky Leekx

Eminem-Syllables ft. Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Stat Quo & Ca$his

A fair few leaks coming out from the Shady camp recently, and (purely from looking at this lineup) here we have one that will send tongues wagging.

This is a track that’s having a pop at the state of the music industry, how hit songs just seem to be about catchy hooks and contain poor lyrical content. Unfortunately this is definitely not a recent song, and is believed to be around 4 years old. This is most telling from hearing Eminem’s flow and particularly the horrible southern accent that he displayed on the albums Encore and D12 World. For that reason this track isn’t really as good as I’d hoped it to be, but I must admit his ironic chorus on this is one I enjoyed.

Eminem – Syllables ft. Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Stat Quo & Ca$his

Eminem and Alicia Keys-Cocaine

Believed to be a cut from Eminem’s 2004 album Encore (though some of the lyrics and delivery suggest it could be a lot more recent), we’re treated to a huge collaboration that could have comfortably stood out on any of Em’s albums, particularly Recovery.

The production is very captivating, with a solid percussion line anchoring the track, whilst wistful and orchestral-style melodies create a backdrop that suits Eminem’s thoughtful lyricism perfectly. He’s certainly on good form with his raps here, as he details his ‘addiction’ to hip-hop, and the consequential ‘side effects’ of fame on relationships and personality: hence, I think it may be a more recent track, as it fits the subject matter and lyrical style of his newer material. Alicia is on great form as ever, taking on this atmospheric beat brilliantly with her smooth vocals for both the hook and a verse of her own. Top all-round track, and it’s a huge loss that it wasn’t included on any albums…unless it’s set for an upcoming one.

Edit (Indi): Replaced with a stream, as this is an unauthorised leak that the Shady camp are unhappy with!

OTU's Top 15 MCs of 2010: The Top Three

Hopefully by now, you’ve managed to have a look at who the OTU team rated as the rest of the top 15 Mcs, with numbers 15 to 4 being revealed last week. If not, catch up here.

Whilst I’m sure many can guess 1, 2 or maybe even all 3 of our remaining picks based on the omissions from the aforementioned list, the order in which they’re placed may be more difficult to pre-empt. Click on to see who the OTU team have voted as the top three MCs of 2010.

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Griminal-Supa Dupa Remix ft. Chipmunk, Ghetts, Nasty, Krept, Wretch 32 & Baby Blue

This premièred on Westwood earlier today with Griminal enlisting a strong line up to take on his recent single, which is one I enjoyed a lot. The talented artist signed to Universal a few months back, so we should hopefully be seeing more and more from him over the next year, as he prepares us a new album.

As I’ve stated before, I’m not too big on Chipmunk, but I’m pleased that he’s not gone too far in what seemed to be a complete transition away from grime to hip hop, it’s good to see him still feature and collaborate with his peers here in this industry. He opens up the song with a very likeable verse too. Baby Blue is probably one of the few female emcees in this country I have time for and she holds her own on this, which is pretty impressive as both Ghetts & Wretch 32 bring to the table of what we expect from the high standards they have set over the last few years.

Given the recent spate of quality UK grime and hip hop that’s flooded the airwaves over the past year – I haven’t been this excited about the UK scene since Kano released Home Sweet Home several years ago.

Horse Shoe Gang-Monster Freestyle

It’s been a while since we heard from them, and the HSG are back with a very enjoyable freestyle over Kanye West’s next single, Monster.

It’s always good to hear these guys on popular beats, and just like their older brother Crooked I they shred them pretty well, with this being another effort to add to the pile of top freestyle work from the COB crew. Not a great deal more to say here: click below to grab the track!

Horse Shoe Gang-Monster

Alicia Keys and Eve-Speechless

Swizz Beatz enlists his wonderfully-gifted wife for the latest, and possibly last, edition of #MonsterMondays. I say that as Swizzy has put up a voting system on the Monster Mondays site for fans to pick their favourite of the bunch.

As it turns out, this is quite possibly the best of the collection. Alicia delivers some of those typically superb vocals over Kanye West’s Devil In A New Dress, a soulful beat that is absolutely perfect for her style. The original had Kanye on a strong hip-hop vibe, and for Alicia to bring her soulful style and love-heavy perspective to the track makes for refreshing and enjoyable listening. Eve adds in even more diversity with her decent verse, and this is a remix that will certainly give the original a run for its money.

Alicia Keys-Speechless ft. Eve

Crystal Castles and Robert Smith-Not In Love (Sane Smith Remix)

I’m on the fence with this one. The original was a very enjoyable listen, and treaded that alternative and electro boundary comfortably, with injections and influence from both synergising into an addictive outcome.

However, this remix seems to really turn up that electro influence and warps the track into a loud, somewhat excessive effort. I like the idea of adding in more synths to fabricate more atmosphere, but it doesn’t feel very cleanly done and instead feels more experimental and cluttered, deviating a little too far from the original. Worth a listen for those with an accquired taste for the more eccentric side of dance/electro.

Crystal Castles-Not In Love ft. Robert Smith (Sane Smith Remix)

Nottz Raw and Asher Roth-Rawth EP

As promised, Asher and Nottz deliver the Rawth EP right on time. I’ve been looking forward to this from the day they first released a collaborative track and as Murray said recently, their chemistry is undeniable.

Every track they’ve put out has been very listenable, and crucially has established Asher as a more rounded and versatile rapper than many gave him credit for: there’s no question that he’s taken to Nottz’s diverse, eclectic beats with consumate ease and I hope for more of the same. Same goes for Nottz, who has proven just why he’s regarded as one of the better producers in the hip-hop game, and I fully expect him to deliver with the tracks we haven’t heard yet. It’s got the ingredients to be on the of the year’s better projects.

Asher Roth and Nottz Raw-Rawth EP

Skepta-Mike Lowery [Video]

On a different tip to Skepta’s recent more mainstream sounding tracks, here’s a return to the darkside. The video itself adds to the very haunting sound and is another great video for the UK scene.

Having watched these visuals, I, for one, will not be insulting Skepta on the internet….so if you’re reading this Skepta, I like your music loads.

R&B Fridays: Episode 80

Again, I’m aware it’s a Sunday…it is (or was) Christmas though, so finding a few hours to throw this together wasn’t really going to happen. I’m surprised there is enough material, given that the industry usually shuts down a little around this time of year, but it seems most artists are intent on continuing success they’ve found this year.

The week’s recap: Taio Cruz’s latest video, Chipmunk and Chris Brown’s much anticipated video, UK upcomer Talay Riley’s latest single, the mixtape debut of the highly-rated UK singer Bluey Robinson, and finally the official remix for Dirty Money’s Loving You No More. You know where to look and where to click for this week’s episode.
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Gorillaz-The Fall [Free Album]

Very nice Christmas present that Gorillaz have given us, a free album!

They’ve been on good form lately with their cover version of an excellent The xx track as well as tracks on their own projects like the brilliant Doncamatic.

Click here to get your hands on this free album, and click below to go check out the tracklist.

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Killa Kyleon-Quit Her In The Morning

Killa Kyleon flips the script and turns J.Cole’s and Drake’s collaboration into a song to vent about a failed relationship.

A line I liked in particular: “Thought she was Mrs. Right…she must be ambidextrous”

Really good effort by Killa, I’ll probably be bumping this one for a while.

Killa Kyleon-Quit Her In The Morning

Chipmunk-Champion ft. Chris Brown [Video]

A few things to get through on this lovely Boxing Day, and what better way to start with than the official video for Chipmunk’s big collaboration with Chris Brown!

The audio for this leaked just over a month ago and it’s testament to how good this track is that it still finds it’s way in my various playlists. The hook on this is really something epic and it’s supplemented with some very well done visuals, it should be a big hit in the US as well as here in the UK.

As Chris Brown stated when the actual audio did leak, he has a verse on this too in the final version, which you’ll be able to get hold from the iTunes store when the single is released.

Can’t wait for that? Well go on and grab the audio we posted back then by clicking here.

Taio Cruz and Travie McCoy-Higher Video

Looks like this was more than just an everyday remix, as Taio picks this version as his US single, leaving the Kylie version for the European markets.

The video isn’t bad, and Taio plays it safe with a video that will be digested easily by the mainstream.

Interesting (or cringeworthy, depending on where you stand) that Taio seems to have a strong resemblance to Usher in his mannerisms and general demeanour here, which may be a conscious decision to give him a more universal appeal. Audio for this is here.

Klaxons-Landmarks of Lunacy Free EP

As promised, Klaxons come through with their 5 track EP today. Recorded back in 2008, the EP has all-new tracks and should certainly be an interesting listen.

I was pretty disappointed with their sophomore album, Surfing the Void, which should have been one of the year’s highlights, but instead ended up being a real letdown. Outside of Echoes, it was a largely unremarkable effort, and hopefully they can recapture some of their former magic on this EP. Free download is below at the Klaxons’ place.

Klaxons-Landmarks of Lunacy

Lupe Fiasco-The Show Goes On Video

I said to someone recently that I hoped the video would improve my feelings toward this song, and thankfully that’s exactly what’s happened. Originally, I felt it was a little corny but after further listening and a simple, feelgood video that opinion is replaced, as the track is a positive message that certainly makes for good listening/viewing.

As I said, it is a simple video but fits the course of the track nicely, tracking Lupe’s movements toward the concert stage and injecting that with the customary special effects and visual representations of his ever-intricate rhymes. I think my criticism was borne out of a burning desire to hear Lupe on the darker stylings of The Cool, but further reflection and repetition has shown that this is an enjoyable song in its own right. Audio can be found here.

Soulfully, Me-Confessions of a College Kid (Mixtape)

“Soulfully, Me, has recently released his debut, highly-anticipated mixtape: Confessions of a College Kid. Soulfully, Me, has an addicting style not known to many Southern artists. This mixtape is journey a back into the glory days of hip-hop. Infused with melodic hooks, MC driven verses, and the dream of upholding the genre of hip hop that has began to tarnish, Soulfully, Me strives to push the envelope of creativity to new plateaus of musical genius.

While still being in the early stages of his career, Soulfully, Me plans to solidify a spot in the industry for years to come. Confessions of A College Kid is epitomizing the definition of timeless musical creation. Soulfully, Me crafted this mixtape to be a intricate body of work to give people an insight to the thoughts, emotions, and feelings of a normal college kid. With no further adieu, Soulfully, Me presents Confessions of A College Kid in hopes that the music will be the breath of fresh air that the musical industry so desperately needs.”

I’ve only had a chance to listen to a couple of tracks from this so far, but it’s certainly impressive stuff.

Soulfully, Me-Confessions of a College Kid (Mixtape)

Lethal B-Pow 2011 ft. JME, Wiley, Chipmunk, 2-Face, P Money, Ghetts & Kano [Video]

Finally we get the official video to the 2011 version of a grime classic! This track seems to have run of steam as of late, which is why it was a little frustrating waiting for them to get this video out there, but maybe the buzz will build up again now.

As you can see from the behind the scenes video (click here), all these guys had a lot of fun filming this and it’s great to see the genuine rapport they have. One disappointment was that Wiley didn’t come through and make an appearance for whatever reason (I’m going to assume time constraints!). Each artist has their own little role in the video and it’s certainly a vid that enhances the song (which some people were originally underwhelmed with).

Enough talking, go watch the visuals to the left of this post, and if you like what you hear go grab the audio from clicking on this glorious bit of red text.

OTU's Top 15 MCs of 2010

As the end of year lists begin to pop up everywhere, it’s only right that we enter the fray. Murray, Indi, Liam and myself have put our heads together to compile a list of the very best acts in hip-hop this year, and come up with shortlist of who we feel stood up and really did something worthwhile this year. With the differing tastes and perspectives of four writers, you’ll definitely find some good talking points amongst the commentary we’ve offered on our selections, for better or worse (hopefully better!).

Click below to see who ranked at #15 all the way up to #4. The top 3 will be released shortly afterwards. Without further ado, let the mayhem begin!

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Joe Budden-Ordinary Love Shit Part 1

Some new Joe Budden that he released himself over Twitter. A track that exemplifies his ability to tell stories over basic beats and yet keep you captivated. One would assume this is about his current girlfriend, Esther Baxter.

Already looking forward to part 2 (knowing Buddens there’s probably a part 3 and 4 in the making too!)

Joe Budden – Ordinary Love Shit Part 1

Rick Ross-Ashes To Ashes [Mixtape]

Yup, another mixtape for you to feast upon this Christmas! Just looking at the tracklist makes me think this is a must download. So go grab it by clicking here.

1. Intro
2. 9 Piece ft. T.I.
3. John Doe ft. Billionaire
4. Black Man’s Dream ft. Ludacris
5. Retrosuperfuture ft. Wiz Khalifa
6. Play Your Part ft. Wale, Meek Mill & D.A. of Chester French
7. Ashes To Ashes
8. Even Deeper ft. Barry White
9. She Crazy ft. Aaliyah & Ne-Yo
10. 10 Bricks ft. Birdman
11. Another One -Buggati Boyz (bonus)

Rick Ross-RetroSuperFuture ft. Wiz Khalifa

New leak from Rick Ross’ upcoming mixtape, Ashes To Ashes (which is released tomorrow anyway).

It’s Rick Ross and Wiz Khalifa, I think you can guess what sort of track this is. I’ll tell you what to expect anyway, something to smoke a blunt to chill out and relax to.

Download link over here: Rick Ross – RetroSuperFuture ft. Wiz Khalifa

Diggy Simmons-Past, Present, Future [Mixtape]

Another mixtape for you spoiled folks, this time from rising star Diggy Simmons. With DJ Premier of all people hosting, mixing and mastering this mixtape, expect this to raise a few eyebrows.

Recent freestyles over some legendary beats (like this one, oh and this one too) showcase how good this kid is – and you’d be a fool to sleep on him. Again, I’ve not had time to listen to this just yet (too busy getting it out there for you guys!) but I’m absolutely positive that this will be well received by your ears.

Click over here to get your download on.

Tech N9ne-Bad Season [Mixtape]

The legendary Tech N9ne (not heard of him? Well he probably makes more money from his shows than most of your favourite rappers!) gives us a delightful new mixtape.

I haven’t heard this mixtape (which is hosted by DJ Whoo Kid & DJ Scream) yet, but judging by his past material I expect this to be very good. With guest appearances from esteemed names like Jay Rock, Travis Barker, Cookin Soul and Dr. Dre, there’s a little something for everyone here.

Click here to get your hands on this.

Saigon-It's Cold [Video]

Ajay posted this excellent track recently, and now we have the visuals – pretty apt given the weather right now too!

Echoing Ajay’s statements, this along with other recent releases have been the strongest material I’ve heard from Saigon in quite a while, and I’m very much looking forward to the release of his much delayed album this February.

You can go see the tracklist for this album and also grab the audio for this song by clicking here.

Oh btw, (according to Just Blaze) a Saigon/Joe Budden collaboration should be dropping soon! I do love a good hatchet being buried.

Talay Riley-Sergeant Smash [Video]

“20-year-old urban pop artist Talay Riley will release his new single ‘Sergeant Smash’ on 31st January through Jive Records.

Despite his age, Talay is already a familiar name within the music industry. Along with his recently released debut single ‘Humanoid’ (added to the Radio 1 In New Music We Trust list 4 weeks upfront), a year ago, Talay had his first UK #1 single with Chipmunk’s ‘Oopsy Daisy’, which he wrote. He followed this with a UK Top 10 as a featured artist and co-writer on Chipmunk’s ‘Look For Me’.”

A good track that has a hook that’s very addictive to the ears. Below is the Roksonix dubstep remix, which you can also download for free.

Jamieson-Chasing This Dream ft. Joell Ortiz

From Jamieson’s forthcoming EP, I Came, I Saw Vol.II., UK emcee Jamieson collaborates with Brooklyn’s beast of a rapper – Joell Ortiz.

As you’ll hear from the stream below, this beat is really, really good. Very much something you’d expect Joell Ortiz to rap on, so it’s no surprise to hear him excel on this. Jamieson holds his own too, which adds to the burgeoning buzz he has been gaining over the last year or so.

Janelle Monae and Stevie Wonder-My Cherie Amour

The footage is from a recent concert, and whilst it seems quite far away, the audio quality is surprisingly good. Janelle’s clearly got the respect of some of the biggest names in the music world right now (rightfully so), and collaborations like this will hopefully become commonplace.

It’s a fantastic duet, and I’d love for a studio version to be released at some point, as there voices work brilliantly with one another. This video has certainly solidified my love for Janelle’s voice, particularly between 3:30 and 4:00: a great performance of a classic song!