I’m no expert on dance/electro, but one man I’ve certainly kept an appreciation for over the years is SebastiAn. He’s got the ability to craft some fantastically unique electro productions (with this being a highlight), and he’s come through again with a roaring track that will get the adrenaline flowing. Coming in at a little over 2 minutes, the track wastes no time with a boring, lengthy wait for ‘the drop’ and steams right in with a high-tempo medley of sharp, jagged synths and a thumping percussion, creating a buzz and an energy that makes for quick and addictive listening. You can grab the track for free below, but be sure to support good music and buy the track too.

Mickey Factz and Marsha Ambrosius-For The Culture Video

For a man who drops as much music as Mickey does, he has a serious dearth of music videos. Not really sure why, but regardless he’s picked a very solid all-rounder here for a rare visual.

It’s pretty difficult to dislike Marsha’s voice, and her soulful hook slides in smoothly alongside Mickey’s clear and witty raps, undoubtedly making for one of his more rounded, ‘complete’ tracks to date. That’s not to say it’s his best material as it isn’t, but it’s one of the few that feels more like a song than a rap.

Video is solid and cleanly produced, giving the ever-confident Mickey some valuable face time, alongside a couple of nice cameos from his peers. Fairly regular motif-wise, throwing in some artwork to highlight the ‘culture’ part of the track, alongside a few feelgood and celebratory scenes that give this a nice positivity. Nothing classic, but it correctly uses more simple devices to filter Mickey’s natural penchant for trying a bit of everything. Track can be found on the Heaven’s Fallout re-release.

Benga-United Kingdom

Assuming you have good headphones, prepare your eardrums for a bit of a battering. Benga comes through with a thudding, pulsating production that will seriously get your head moving, whilst slowly decimating your hearing. Menacingly slow paced and incredibly hypnotising, the thick bass has a pounding, driving vibe that makes for enjoyable, albeit somewhat repetitive listening. Definitely worth a listen.

Gil Scott-Heron and Cookin' Soul-The Revolution Is Being Televised Mixtape

Inevitably, there will be a ton of tribute tracks and mixtapes surfacing in the aftermath of the untimely passing of Gil, but if you’re to check out one you could do an awful lot worse than go with Cookin’ Soul’s effort. They’re simply superb at putting remixes together, and I have faith they’ll do justice to both the quality of Heron’s back catalogue, and justice to the legacy of the man himself.

I expect many of the younger heads will be largely disaffected by the passing of Gil having had minimal exposure to his music, hence I’d recommend this should be checked out by those of you in that category, as inevitably Cookin’ Soul will put a modern twist onto his many classics. Free grab below.

Gil Scott-Heron and Cookin’ Soul-The Revolution Is Being Televised Mixtape

Wale and Tiara Thomas-The Cloud Video

Probably my favourite track from his summer 2010 More About Nothing mixtape, and even if it is heavily delayed, it’s nice to have some visuals to refresh the song.

Nothing groundbreaking, and rightfully so as a lazy, relaxed house party vibe makes up the video content, and slides right into the easygoing, chilled out vibe of the song. The talented newcomer Tiara Thomas takes the winner’s title in this video, combining an effortless confidence with a great voice and solid guitar playing into a surprisingly captivating package.

Is it me, or is this one of the first times Wale isn’t wearing a hat? He does love a good beanie. Track can be grabbed on the mixtape here.

Arctic Monkeys-Suck It And See Album Stream

I’m not really a fan of these guys outside of the odd track here and there, but I’ve been neglecting the indie side of things as of late, so I’m sure the fans out there will enjoy this preview of their forthcoming album.

The whole album is available to listen to in full, along with buttons to pre-order and such. I’m actually looking forward to giving this a go, despite my aforementioned lack of fandom, purely to see how their sound has come on and whether they’ve made/are yet to make that ‘artistic integrity’ album that alienates the regular fans and wins over mavericks like myself. We’ll see, but for now enjoy the album in its entirety here.

Mickey Factz-Untie

When Spree Wilson sent this track over, I felt like I was in a bind and bound actually. Through his guitar strings, I speak from the heart about how I feel about life. Open your hearts.

You can certainly hear that Spree influence here, with a lively guitar-driven backdrop ensuring Mickey has a busy and active production to weave his raps into. Solid raps as always from Mickey, combining his conscious style with a clarity and simplicity that makes for very easy listening. Nice blend of alternative and hip-hop, and another solid entry in the May-Hem series.

Young Jeezy and DJ Drama-The Real Is Back Mixtape

The husky-voiced rapper returns to the limelight with his latest mixtape effort, hooking up with Drama for a 20-track mixtape with loads of original material.

It has to be said that this wasn’t released to much fanfare. Whether that’s because it was relatively unexpected, or because fans are impatient with the fact his TM103 album is repeadtedly delayed is unclear, but we’ll see if the Snowman can reel those heads back in with this one. Few solid features on this one too, grab the tape for free below.

Young Jeezy and DJ Drama-The Real Is Back Mixtape

Sir Aah, Crooked I and Royce Da 5’9″-I Wonder If The Lord Knows Video

I’d forgotten about this track. Released almost exactly 2 years ago, this was actually the track that probably got people familiar with Sir Aah, and to me still stands up as his best material.

All three artists come on a real conscious tip, with Sir Aah commenting on the political and social problems rife throughout many Asian states with honesty, and hence arguably delivering his career-best verse. Crook spreads his targets wider, as he trots across the globe with his verse, acknowledging a wide range of issues in a typically enjoyable verse, whilst Royce focuses on the American situation in a solid verse of his own. Enjoyable track, and worth a couple of listens.

R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

I hate doing these. For the second time in two weeks, someone I have a deep respect for has passed away, with the genuinely legendary Gil Scott-Heron unfortunately succumbing to illness last night. Our thoughts here at OTU are with his family and friends.

His contribution to almost every form of music was massive, and crucially Gil was certainly one of the original ‘ancestors’ of hip-hop. His brutally honest, often socio-poltical content was undoubtedly an inspiration to the early generations of rappers, as he effortlessly combined music, poetry and the spoken word to critical acclaim for over 30 years. A true legend of the music game, and he will be missed.

R&B Fridays: Episode 102

On we roll with the institution of institutions, and it’s probably fair to say that the highlight of this week’s R&B has already been posted: having finally got around to listening to The Weeknd’s debut project I was incredibly impressed by it, and would wholeheartedly recommend you R&B Friday fans checked it out.

In addition to that, the past week saw visuals for the latest T-Pain and Chris Brown collab, Frank Ocean dropped off some enjoyable visuals for one of his lesser-known tracks, and finally a big collaboration between Lloyd, Trey Songz and Young Jeezy.

Click below to grab what else we’ve got in store this week.
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Chiddy Bang-Peanut Butter and Swelly Mixtape

New work from the Chiddy Bang duo, coming through with a 15-track mixtape to satisfy the fans. Anyone else feel like they really missed the boat on dropping their album? This time last year their buzz was enormous, and they’ve possibly waited a little too long to release that debut album.

We’ll see how that pans out, but for now be sure to grab this mixtape and see if they can resurrect that hype. From a quick glance at the tracklist, I recognised Baby Roulette and Heatwave, though it appears the version of Heatwave on the tape has a few additional guests, namely Trae Tha Truth and frequent OFWGKTA collaborator Casey Veggies. Grab the mixtape below.

Chiddy Bang-Peanut Butter and Swelly Mixtape

Diggy Simmons-Copy, Paste

A technologically titled track from Diggy’s upcoming debut album, I’m a bit underwhelmed here. I let the pop vibe of Diggy’s previous track slide a little, purely in the knowledge that it was probably heavily dictated by his label. However, this carries on that relatively uncreative trend with a pretty generic effort that really isn’t going to help his development as a rapper or an artist: it’s clearly not strong enough as a hip-hop track, but also falls short as a pop hip-hop track, leaving it in a pretty pointless middle ground.

The verses are far from the level he’s capable of, whilst the autotuned hook feels very forced, with the only saving grace being a relatively solid production in the verses. I don’t really want to criticise the kid as he’s got bags of talent, but material like this really isn’t utilising him to anywhere near his potential. For the sake of his own creativity and development, I sincerely hope this is another example of label-fed material.

Diggy Simmons-Copy, Paste

Bad Meets Evil-I'm On Everything

It’s unusual when you can’t pinpoint an exact formula, yet anything these two do at the moment seems like they are pushing the envelope. The latest drop from Hell: The Sequel has Mr Porter behind the boards crafting a pulsating backdrop for Em and Royce to go back and forth, and whilst it takes a while for each emcee to get into things on this one, when they really decide to turn it on their long-rooted chemistry is evident as they weave in and out, almost toying with the bars Mr Porter delivers to them.

Probably not as enjoyable as the previous leak, but June 14th is the day hip-hop stands still in awe.

Bad Meets Evil-I’m On Everything

Lloyd Ft. Trey Songz, Young Jeezy-Be The One

Well, hasn’t this song got me hot under the collar! There’s too much sexiness here as Lloyd enlists the help of Trey Songz and Young Jeezy for his next single, Be The One, from his upcoming album King of Hearts, set to be released on July 5th.

Polow Da Don laces Lloyd with a hard, thumping beat that’s sure to be a hit in the clubs, whilst the track’s lyrical content is faithful to its title; sexually charged and bound to appease women. As we have come to expect with both Lloyd and Trey Songz, the quality of the vocals on show are of a high order, with the rap-influenced singing fitting into the song very comfortably. It’s not a competition of course, but I do prefer Trey Songz’s verse as his vocals feel more natural to the song than Lloyd’s. Young Jeezy anchors the track nicely, offering a change of pace and flowing onto the beat with pure ease.

Lloyd-Be The One ft. Trey Songz and Young Jeezy

Busta Rhymes ft. LL Cool J-Killin' Em

A rather random but welcome surprise as one of the G.O.A.T.s, LL Cool J, drops a verse, bringing the sort of aggressiveness that made him a star. Busta Rhymes does his usual shtick of rapping about nothing and making it sound good, but it’s LL who steals the show here, bringing the “OHH!” moment with his very last bar. The hook’s a rehash of LL’s Jingling Baby but captures none of the original’s appeal, and the track sounds unfinished generally as the vocals and beat sound as though they need working on. Nonetheless it’s worth a listen for LL’s verse at least.

Busta Rhymes-Killin’ Em ft. LL Cool J.


UK emcee Jehst is an interesting artist. I remember following him years back after his acclaimed The Return Of The Drifter EP (2002) and Falling Down (2003) and thinking to myself how his old-school, drum-heavy crafted beats combined with his characteristic British accent were miles ahead of anything out in the UK at that time. He then went under the radar for several years until now (and heads up to BrokenSoulBoy for the nod with this one) as we await the imminent release of his next album Dragon Of An Ordinary Family on June 27th. Hit the jump for the latest single and the brilliant viral campaign for the album itself…

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DJ Khaled, Drake, Lil' Wayne and Rick Ross-I'm On One

Before you get into a fit, I’m fully aware this was first released about two weeks ago. However, upon recently lavishing praise on another DJ’s mainstream stomper, it occured to me that a miscommunication in the OTU team means this enjoyable effort was oddly never posted. A rare slip-up!

Probably one of Khaled’s best songs ever. Why? Not only does he refrain from screaming all over it, but everything else seems to go right. The beat is absolutely superb, with a piercing melody in the verses being supplemented in the hook by a thick percussion that will undoubtedly get your neck snapping, whilst Drake stars with a very solid verse, along with a strong hook. Ricky Ross is bearable on this too (I guarantee you’ll find yourself copying his verse-opening grunt!), though Wayne is massively disappointing on this with a lazy, boring verse. Really enjoyable effort outside of that verse though. Sorry for the delay!

DJ Khaled-I’m On One ft. Drake, Lil’ Wayne and Rick Ross

Asher Roth and Akon-Last Man Standing

Superb artwork. A very solid music from this collaboration, and one that’s expected to be a single from Asher’s upcoming second album.

Asher and Akon have a good chemistry that meets somewhere in the middle of their respective styles: it’s not too poppy, but also doesn’t come on the slightly gritter hip-hop tip Asher’s been on at times recently. The result is an uplifting track that infuses a motivational vibe into every aspect, with a rousing hook from Akon accompanied by a lively production, and surrounded by some enjoyable flows from Asher. Accessible for the mainstream fans, but should also go down well with Asher’s backers.

Asher Roth-Last Man Standing ft. Akon

DJ Drama, Fabolous, Roscoe Dash and Wiz Khalifa-Oh My Video

As far as mainstream hip-hop goes, this is one of the better tracks to have been released in recent months. It’s got an enormously addictive quality that I just can’t put my finger on, though I’d hazard a guess that its probably down to Roscoe’s ridiculously infectious hook.

Pretty standard mainstream hip-hop video in terms of theme, with lots of naked girls and plenty of disposable income being casually utilised. It a generally busy and active video, which plays off the natural energy and intensity of the song, and adds that little bit of #swag to each verse. Nothing special otherwise, but nice to have some visuals to the song regardless.

This track knocks pretty damn hard when cranked loud (brotip: put it in your car), and can be grabbed from here.

Kendrick Lamar-HiiiPOWER [Video]

Visuals from the industry’s latest torch-carrier, Kendrick Lamar.

With the track analysis taken care of by Ajay last month, there’s no need to open any new cans here. The video complements the “slightly unsettling, vintage-inspired production” by setting Kendrick up in the first scene on his own, staring out of a warehouse window (Ja Rule’s Clap Back springs to mind here) which combined with sporadic socially-conscious clips really drive home the subject matter in question.

I’m pretty sure from the still-shot (left) that some women makes an appearance later on but unfortunately this was as far as I got before my Internet decided not to load YouTube videos anymore.

Watch it for yourself and then read Ajay’s track analysis here.

Yelawolf-Kill My Nightmare Video (...sort of)

Would this constitute a music video? He mouths/performs the song, but it’s not really your typical video and is largely based around his influences for the song, and inspiration since the song (to get a tattoo of the artwork!).

Big fan of the audio (as Murray rightly put it, there’s a ridiculously strong early Eminem influence), and its nice to get some words from Yela to flesh out the track. Certainly interesting to know that the track wasn’t exclusively fuelled by the date it was released, but also by personal experiences of Yelawolf from his childhood, with that blend of personal effect and artistic styling clearly making for a successful combination. Same goes for this video, with the combination of candid explanation and darker, more ‘music video’-styled scenes providing a different and enjoyable watch. Grab the audio here.

T-Pain and Chris Brown-Best Love Song Video

T-Pain’s got a big single on his hands here, and delivers an easy-to-watch video that I expect will get an awful lot of rotation in mainstream media.

Nice concept on the video, with a battle of the bands theme, as Chris and Pain duel with their verses. Simple, but takes the song in a slightly different direction and generally makes for a mainstream-friendly, inoffensive watch. It also brings out a little energy in the song, which helps to offset the slightly corny/poppy feel of the track somewhat. Solid choice on the lead girl too (if you happen to look like her, call me), making a nice change to the usual plastic picks.

Not a classic by any means, but will probably be a bit of a guilty pleasure for me in the coming weeks. Audio can be swiped from here.

Unsigned Hype: The Verdict

Having had the pleasure of seeing these guys live on a number of occasions, I’ve been left blown away by their performances each time and I would like to introduce to OTU and Unsigned Hype, The Verdict. Hailing from Liverpool, The Verdict are a 3-piece Indie/Britpop band, featuring Gaz Wilcox (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Josh Ferrigan (Bass/Vocals) and Kev McKay (Drums/Vocals). As their Myspace states they bring pounding drums, throbbing bass and a big guitar sound with a modern britpop vibe.

You can preview and purchase the bands debut EP Business & Pleasure here, or you can head over to their Myspace and listen to a few more tracks from the guys, including a few of their earlier tunes. You won’t be disappointed.

Sometimes, you talk to people about music and they just come alive with an infectious passion: Gaz Wilcox (who I also know to be a very talented barber) is one of those people. I took some time out a while ago to speak to him on his thoughts and ambitions of the band. To read what Gaz has to say about the band, hit the jump and keep reading.

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YC, Young Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, Waka Flocka Flame, CyHi Da Prynce, Bun B, B.o.B, Yo Gotti, Wale, Cory Gunz, Dose, Cory Mo, Nelly, Twista, Big Sean, Trae Tha Truth and Ace Hood-Racks Remix

Couple of days off on this, but with 15 rappers on one song, I think you’ll probably let it slide. For those that aren’t familiar with Racks, it’s essentially one of those infectious mainstream hip-hop tracks that comes out of nowhere and takes on a life of its own, helped in part by various rappers jumping on the beat (don’t worry, I’ve labelled them in order for you!).

14 of them join YC here, some having released remixes prior to this official all-star compliation, with most being very well known names. It’s hard to pick a winning verse from the bunch, though B.o.B, Trae Tha Truth and Nelly (surprisingly) made enjoyable contributions.

YC-Racks Remix ft. Young Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, Waka Flocka Flame, CyHi Da Prynce, Bun B, B.o.B, Yo Gotti, Wale, Cory Gunz, Dose, Cory Mo, Nelly, Twista, Big Sean, Trae Tha Truth and Ace Hood

Jamieson-Lark On My Go Kart Freestyle

The entertaining Jamieson comes through with both new visuals and a new track, taking Asher Roth’s 2009 jam for a spin. Certainly a solid effort on the freestyle, with Jamieson blending decent raps with a light dash of humour to come through fairly strong.

Interesting video too, as he walks around what looks to possibly be a label building (there’s even a sneaky Asher Roth poster in there), generally just grabbing a bit of face time whilst casually enjoying a bit of booze. Nothing to analyse really, as true to the original Jamieson’s just having a bit of fun and rapping along the way.

The Weeknd-House of Balloons (Free Album)

I rarely hand in my late pass, but I have to here as this album is frightening. The Weeknd is a somewhat mysterious singer out of Toronto that appears to have something incredibly special about him,  a view that has been co-signed by his fellow Toronto native Drake amongst others.

This debut project from back in March combines the key atmospheric, ‘night pop’ quality of projects such as Drake’s So Far Gone and The xx’s album with an unmistakeably individual artistic flair, offering a consistently engaging listen that you’ll replay again and again. With captivating and versatile vocal skills alongside a rich diversity in production choices, the 9-track brings together a range of influences to successfuly blend R&B, alternative and soul to offer a crossover appeal that will be impossible to dislike. Miss this, and you’re seriously doing yourself an injustice: alongside Frank Ocean, this is someone to be very excited about.

The Weeknd-House of Balloons

Wiz Khalifa, Chevy Woods and Neako-Reefer Party

Nothing particularly classic, but an easy listen and importantly it’s a Lex Luger beat that sounds a little different to his usual fare. For the most part, that ‘ominous’ style isn’t as obvious as usual, which makes for decent listening and certainly brings out the percussion of the track a lot more.

As the title would suggest this is pretty much centered around Wiz’s favourite drug, and hence isn’t going to fry your mind with metaphorical intricacy, but it will probably knock nicely for a few head-nodding plays in the car. Simple mainstream hip-hop, which does its job well enough.

Wiz Khalifa-Reefer Party ft. Neako and Chevy Woods

Frank Ocean-Acura Integurl Video

Seemingly out of nowhere, the (somewhat reclusive) man-of-the-moment Frank Ocean comes through with some visuals for a track that preceded but didn’t quite make his nostalgia, ULTRA project.

It’s a superb track too, with a simple piano melody being turned into an atmospheric, wintery track by Frank’s harmonic, passionate and ultimately addictive vocals. Lyrically it’s decent too, with the opening verse running through the differing tastes of himself and his lady of interest, whilst the second verse has a more emotional vibe.

The video is suitably offbeat, with a dim tint effect giving the video a dark, contemplative feel, adding to the isolation of empty roads the car travels. Frank gets some much-needed camera time too, and this is a very fitting video for an enjoyable track. Track can be grabbed here.