The-Dream-1977 (Free Album)


One of the better (and yet, still criminally overlooked) R&B artists left in the genre, The-Dream drops off a free album for his many fans. If the previous release, Wake Me When It’s Over, is anything to go for, we’re certainly in for a very high standard on this 11-track project.

Surprised to see a few big name features on this one, with Big Sean and Pharrell offering their services on two tracks, whilst Dream also looks to break an artist (with the rather unimaginative name of Cash) with another feature. Not one to miss for the R&B fans, click below to grab the free album from The-Dream’s website. He seems to suspect his label will stop him from distributing this for much longer, so grab it while you can!

The-Dream-1977

Goapele-Play


As the darker, colder nights of Autumn and Winter draw nearer, there’s reason to be positive: soul season is coming. The latter months of the year tend see a slew of soul albums get released, and the genre’s natural synergy with the chillier environment certainly adds to the impact of such releases.

Leading the way thus far is Goapele, who is set to release Break of Dawn on 24th October and opens with this very enjoyable single. Great vocals from start to finish, with Goapele’s deliciously-lightweight delivery making for addictive listening, whilst the production provides a blend of hypnotic, electronica-inspired bass and sharp clicks for an engaging contrast. The chorus throws an extra sample into the mix to accentuate the rises in Goapele’s vocals, finishing the track off nicely: worth a listen for sure, and strong signs ahead of that album.

The-Dream-Wake Me When It's Over


Taken from his upcoming free album 1977 (set for release tomorrow), The-Dream warms the fans up with this taster of what’s to come on that project, and the early signs are very good.

With a sound that would have slotted in beautifully on both his superb debut and fantastic third album (let’s be truthful, the second was a disappointment), Wake Me has an atmospheric, drifty production that works wonderfully with Dream’s whispery, ambient vocals for a relaxing yet intense slice of slow R&B. The lyricism is very enjoyable too, with Dream’s more recent penchant for a brutal honesty in his lyrical content being a positive point yet again, whilst its synergy with both his delivery and the production creates a holistic quality that results in an engaging and addictive slice of music. Look out for the 1977 project on here tomorrow.

The-Dream-Wake Me When It’s Over

J. Cole-Cole World: The Sideline Story Tracklist and Artwork


Foregoing the expected route of releasing a slew of free music, Cole has continued his Any Given Sunday series in recent weeks with the equally-important release of both the official artwork and tracklist for his album.

The big question prior to the tracklist release was whether he’d manage to secure the Jay-Z feature he was so desperate for, and it seems as though he was successful in doing that. It’s not too heavy on the features otherwise, with the previously-released collaborations with Trey Songz and Drake making the cut, whilst there’s one more feature that’s a little more unexpected: I’ll let you click below and see that one for yourself! It’s also interesting to see Work Out relegated to a bonus track, indicative of its relatively slow public uptake.

Cole is said to have produced the album almost entirely too, which makes for a brave yet slightly disappointing move, as frankly hearing him on a few other productions would have been nice (Cole on a RZA beat would be particularly tasty!). Click below for the tracklist.
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Angels & Airwaves-Anxiety Video

Fresh off the back of releasing visuals with Blink-182, Tom DeLonge shows no signs of slowing down with his latest video as part of Angels & Airwaves, and the first single from their upcoming album Love Part 2.

The track opens with the trademark delayed guitars so prominent on their first two albums, whilst the heavier guitar work found on Love comes to the fore soon after. A noticeable addition is the strong work on the keys that gives the track a heavy Coldplay vibe, making for a more mainstream-friendly sound and still fitting snugly into their ethereal style.

The video is undoubtedly one of their more spectacular visual efforts, with bright, powerful lights surrounding the band in an otherwise dark environment, as they’re backed by images of war and space, both of which also make up engaging scenes interspersed between the band’s performance shots. It’s generally a nice representation of the audio, with the harder, spikier guitar work visualised in the grittier war images, whilst the celestial nature of their music is encapsulated by the various galactic sights. Enjoyable audio-visual combination, and I’m looking forward to more ahead of that 11.11.11 album release date.

R&B Fridays: Episode 115


Six tracks from six respected artists to enjoy this week, bringing together a little bit of soul, a little bit of pop and a little more R&B.

The same can be said with this week’s related posts, with a soulful jam delivered by UK upcomer Cherri Prince, fellow Brit Emeli Sande collaborating with Wretch32 for a free single, a cinematic visual for The-Dream’s latest R&B slow jam, and finally a remix of Kreayshawn’s popular Gucci Gucci.

Click below for your weekly prescription of musical medication.
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Blink-182-Up All Night Video

Anarchy, looting, disorder and mayhem is the central theme here, only this time I don’t think anyone’s going to get arrested for it.

Blink-182 cement their comeback with the first official set of visuals from Neighborhoods, going with a rebellious video packed full of an infectious, youthful carefreeness, contrasting nicely with the general darkness of the clip, and hence accurately reflecting the opposing styles of the uplifting hook and grittier verses in the audio.

Busy nighttime scenes of kids (and of course, Blink themselves!) causing as much havoc as possible make up most of the video, whilst the band themselves are seen surrounded in flames to further enhance the edgy, anarchic style of the video. Thematically, it’s nothing groundbreaking but it’s an easy, energetic watch that works well with the audio, and will certainly appeal to the mainstream viewers.

Click here for the audio review. Neighborhoods available on Sept 26th.

Last.fm Launches Monthly User-Curated Gigs


A couple of us here at OTU are longtime and frequent users of the Last.fm service, and it’s interesting to see this next step in their progression, a very smart one given all of the great data they have at their disposal.

Last.fm announces CocknBullKid as the headline act for the first monthly ‘Last.fm Presents’ gigs. The monthly flagship music events, taking place in London on the first Friday of every month, will be curated by Last.fm data and powered by listeners. The first gig will be held at The Garage, London, on Friday 7th October 2011. The events will include a range of live acts selected according to the popularity of listener’s scrobbles and the Last.fm Hype Charts – providing a line-up of the most popular and hottest up and coming artists.

When asked about her appearance at the primary Live Friday gig CocknBullKid said “All I’m saying is that there’ll be a story – a cradle to the grave journey. And it will be very interactive. There may even be vogueing.”
Info and tickets available here
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Asher Roth-Ampersand


There’s not been a great deal to dislike about Asher’s output in the last 12 months. He’s picked considerably more ‘hip-hop’ productions and has really proven his versatility as a rapper, moving away from the mainstream stylings of his debut album into that murky middle-ground of fairly traditional beats and stronger rhymes.

The production here has a more soulful vibe than almost anything he’s previously worked on, with a wistful vocal sample (Al Green’s Simply Beautiful, for those interested) wrapped around mellow percussion for a relaxed beat of great quality from Blended Babies. Asher takes the track on with some slick mic work, foregoing the easy option of a slower flow and adopting a quicker, slightly offbeat delivery with some nice flashes of introspection in the lyricism. Nothing to complain about here: this is an easy, enjoyable listen that most hip-hop fans should thoroughly enjoy.

Asher Roth-Ampersand

Red Cafe, Rick Ross and Ryan Leslie-Fly Together


Take a moment and think about Red Cafe’s situation: he’s simulataneously signed to both Diddy and Akon’s respective labels, he had a massively popular single in early ’09 with Hottest In The Hood, and frequently collaborates with huge artists. Surely he has to be regarded as one of the biggest underperformers around?

One criticism that you can’t level at him is poor beat selection, and here he picks a superb R-Les production that relies largely on addictive bass plucks creating a thick and distinctive melody, whilst the tempo suits both Cafe and Ross very nicely. Lyrically, it’s relatively typical mainstream stuff, and arguably Cafe mimics Ross’ own rapping style a little too much, but it’s an easy listen with R-Les’ memorable hook and outro being notable. A decent enough standard, and one that’s accessible to a wide audience, but more can be expected with his credentials.

Red Cafe-Fly Together ft. Rick Ross and Ryan Leslie

Kreayshawn and Giggs-Gucci Gucci Remix


You don’t have to like her music, but there’s no denying Kreayshawn is a cool character, and certainly has a big future ahead of her. Frankly, I think she’s great and a breath of fresh air in the industry, both for looking a little different (I’m a sucker for girls with tattoos) and bringing a unique pop/hip-hop hybrid.

Everyone’s heard Gucci Gucci by now and having recently toured Europe on the back of its success, Giggs uses that opportunity to jump on a remix with Kreayshawn, delivering his trademark slow raps over the hypnotising, bassy production and fitting right in. His dulcet tones are perfect for the beat, and there can’t be many other artists that are as sonically suited to this production as Giggs is. Definitely worth a listen for fans of the original.

Kreayshawn-Gucci Gucci Remix ft. Giggs

Lil Wayne ft. Drake & Jadakiss - It's Good


“Talkin’ ’bout baby money, I got your baby money / Kidnap your bitch, Get that ‘how much you love your lady?’ money.” Fairly innocuous line right, what’s the fuss? Well, when you consider this line from Jay-Z on H.A.M….

“I’m like really half a billi ni**a, Really you got baby money / Keep it real with ni**as, Ni**as ain’t got my lady money.”

Things become a little more clear: the Cash Money camp have clearly taken offence to Jay-Z’s line and have shot back. Will Jay respond? Don’t hold your breath. Will he respond through a subliminal in about 12 months that will go over most people’s heads? Probably. As Ajay joked last night: “you can quite easily imagine these two laughing about it. Whilst sipping some sort of exorbitantly priced alcohol. On a boat. Surrounded by b*tches.”

Download this track and hear that line (and subsequently more antagonistic lines) by clicking right here.

Phonte and Elzhi-Not Here Anymore


New material from Phonte, taken from his upcoming album Charity Starts At Home, and he grabs one of Detroit’s finest in Elzhi for the assist here.

A track full of interesting blends too, repeatedly pulling together a few musical dichotomies for a diverse and engaging listen; The smooth, soft vibes in the synth and samples mesh cleverly with a thudding, hypnotising percussion, the relatable, realistic raps combine cleanly with the soulful, daydreamy (that’s not a word) hook, and Phonte’s more laidback rapping style contrasts nicely with Elzhi’s sharper delivery. It’s an apt representation of Phonte’s own versatility and eclecticism, as the various styles he’s encountered throughout his career with Little Brother, The Foreign Exchange and other projects appear to each have injected influence here, and it certainly gets hopes high for the upcoming album.

Phonte-Not Here Anymore ft. Elzhi

Apathy-Peace Connecticut Video

“Apathy is preparing to take his career to another level with the release of his third-solo LP, Honkey Kong, which will be released on 8-23-2011. The Connecticut emcee and The Get Busy Committee (Apathy, Scoop Deville and Ryu released Uzi Does It in October 2010) and AOTP member has undeniably crafted his best project to date and it includes production from Apathy, DJ Premier, DJ Muggs, Statik Selektah, Evidence, Da Beatminerz and Teddy Roxpin among others. Guest appearances on Honkey Kong include Xzibit, Slaine, Vinnie Paz, Esoteric, Ill Bill, Celph Titled, Action Bronson, General Steele (Smif N Wessun) and Mad Lion.”

This album is excellent. Like really excellent. Lots of differing opinions from the underground heads but the production on this is the strongest we’ve seen on an Ap LP and lyrically you know what you’re in for. Hopefully it’ll get the recognition it deserves across the industry. If you enjoyed Celph Titled and Buckwild’s Nineteen Ninety Now from last year, you’ll definitely get some decent replay value out of this one. Buy.

Game-N***as In Compton


When Game isn’t spending his spare time putting large weaponry up against his own face (seriously, what a promo picture!), he’s spending it rapping over instrumentals from Watch The Throne. He recently released a 21-minute rap over the Otis production, and follows up with a much more concise (and hence listenable) effort over the next single from the Jay-Z and Kanye West album, N***as In Paris.

A short, snappy freestyle, Game does a passable job on this production, adopting in a more laidback style than the original that doesn’t quite capture the intensity and energy of the original. Arguably however, that’s partly down to the section of the production that’s been looped, as it lacks that jaw-rattling bass drop the original boasts, the addition of which would have elevated this freestyle considerably. A quick, generally OK listen.

Game-N***as In Compton

Curren$y-Verde Terrace Mixtape


There can’t be too many rappers releasing projects as consistently as Curren$y these days, and it certainly helps that they’re generally of a good standard. He’s caught lots of hype recently with his work in collaboration with Wiz Khalifa and Big Sean, and hooks up with DJ Drama for this 14-track effort.

Most of the tracks look largely unfamiliar, which will hopefully make for a nice, fresh project, and one that will capitalise on the aforementioned buzz created. He’s one of those talents that’s been bubbling under for a while now, and it seems as though he’s extremely close to breaking that glass ceiling and stepping into mainstream acceptance: could this be the project to elevate him?

Curren$y-Verde Terrace Mixtape

Wretch 32 & Emeli Sande - Underdog Law

To celebrate being #1 and #2 in the UK charts, Wretch 32 and Emeli Sande have collaborated together to give us a free track!

Nice chilled track chronicling their hard fought journey through this music biz, Underdog Law gives a celebratory but also a reflective vibe for us to enjoy, cementing these two as leading talents here in the UK.

You can go download it by clicking here.

Wretch 32′s album, Black and White, is out now! Go buy it here.

Timbo King ft. R.A. The Rugged Man-High Ranking Video

Some entertaining visuals for Timbo King’s High Ranking track with Rugged Man.

In an industry saturated by egotistical rappers, it’s always refreshing to see emcees not taking themselves too seriously. And this is something R.A. in particular can never be accused of. The video ties in with the lyrics here, which as I alluded to in the track write-up, simulate those ‘Mum-jokes’ we all know and love/hate from our childhood/adulthood (guilty).

From Timbo King’s upcoming LP: Timbuktu which drops 30th August.

Audio here.

Cherri Prince-Just Wondering Video

Hailing from the Honour76 camp that has already delivered rising hip-hop prodigy Mangaliso Asi, Cherri Prince drops off her second single from her upcoming project (the first, Misery, is here).

Just Wondering offers a mellow, easy-listening experience and stylistic consistency with the aforementioned Misery in its vintage soul sensibilities. Its own distinctivity is delivered via a softer production that intertwines gently and consistently with the vocals, drawing upon funk-driven guitar and soothing synth work for a warm slice of chillout soul. The vocals are versatile and of great quality, alternating between a whispery calm and more authoritative, emotional tones, bound together with a refined quality that belies Cherri’s current status as an upcomer.

The video is a solid fit for the audio, with bright summer scenes alongside lots of colourful, natural scenery making for a simple and effective complement to the easygoing audio. Certainly worth a watch and listen, and we’ll keep you informed on the status of that upcoming project.

The-Dream-Murderer Video

Inspired by the motion picture Colombiana, The-Dream drops off a track expected to be on his upcoming free album/EP/mixtape, 1977. The track is a little heavy on the autotune, but is otherwise enjoyable, with the light yet sharp guitar melodies in particular giving the track a real summery, continental flavour.

The video is made up of clips from the aforementioned film, and acts almost as an extended trailer with the not unattractive Zoe Saldana taking on a complex character that makes for quite interesting viewing, and certainly suggests the film could be a solid watch with a nice blend of espionage, emotion and ‘aesthetically-pleasing’ scenes. It meshes with the audio very well, with the production in particular being versatile enough to suit the diverse scene choices.

Bad Meets Evil (Eminem & Royce Da 5'9") - Lighters ft. Bruno Mars

And the second Shady/Royce collaboration to get visual treatment is also released today, this time for the much more mellow Lighters track that featured on their Bad Meets Evil EP.

Not really a fan of this track, mostly because Bruno Mars’ chorus here annoys me too much. However both verses on this are great, if you can look past the chorus (and poptakular beat).

It is a track that was hugely successful commercially, so maybe I’m in the minority when I say I’m not big on this song!

Royce Da 5'9" - Writer's Block ft. Eminem [Video]

Long-term Royce fans may feel the content of his songs no longer hold the same introspective vigour it once did, but this track is one that proves he’s still among the best of them when it comes to lyrical dexterity. I like how this track flips to the DJ Premier remix too in this video, showcases that the lyrics aren’t reliant on the extremely heavy and boisterous production of the original.

Writer’s Block is filled with punchline after punchline with a perfected flow, with the visuals just as crazy as the verses. Unfortunately we don’t get to see Eminem in this video performing his chorus, but I guess that would have held too many parallels to Rock City…don’t worry though we have some Eminem and Royce visuals coming up in a bit.

Free download of this track and further analysis (courtesy of Murray) of this song can be found over here.

Sozay - Higher ft. Lupe Fiasco & Corey F.A.M.E.


“Los Angeles rapper Sozay releases the 4th and final single, “Higher” feat. Lupe Fiasco & Corey F.A.M.E. from his forthcoming mixtape ‘Dance With The Devil’. Sozay enrolls Chi-Town’s prodigal son, Lupe Fiasco, on this track which showcases their lyrical acrobatics over a laid back synth beat. The track also features Inglewood’s very own Corey F.A.M.E. who compliments the two emcees nicely on the song’s hook.
The mixtape, hosted by Black Wall Street’s Nu Jerzey Devil, is scheduled to drop August 30, 2011. ‘Dance With The Devil’ features production from Lex Luger as well as guest appearances by Pusha-T, Ace Hood, Lupe Fiasco, and Tech N9ne.”

Nice track for the mainstream crowd, free download for this song by available here.

You can buy the mixtape over at iTunes by clicking this bit of red text.

R&B Fridays: Episode 114


Undoubtedly, the highlight of this week’s R&B content has already been delivered, with the hugely-anticipated release of The Weeknd’s second project, Thursday. There’s also new music from upcoming UK singer Chrome, dropping off an energetic single for his latest video.

Very diverse episode this week, with some mainstream pop, old-school style soul and the usual R&B fare all made available for your listening pleasure, and plenty of big names providing that content. Click below to fill yourself with R&B nourishment.

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Lloyd Banks - Trouble On My Mind (Freestyle)


Firstly: WHAT a photo that is.

Secondly: Banks spits some bars on the excellent track Trouble On My Mind (originally by Pusha T & Tyler the Creator). Following from his Dreams Money Can Buy freestyle, Banks gives some solid content. To be honest though, if you even claim to be a decent emcee there isn’t a single excuse in the world for not being able to perform on an immaculate beat like this, and I hope this freestyle kicks off some more attempts from Lloyd Banks’ peers to hop on this track as this one is a little short for my liking.

Lloyd Banks – Trouble On My Mind (freestyle)

Skyzoo - Take It There (Lift Off Freestyle)


Lift Off from Watch The Throne took a fair bit of flak, somewhat surprisingly to me. I mean, yes Beyonce’s just straight up irritating now, but I like the production and Yeezy on it, and it reminded me of one of the more upbeat tracks from his 808s and Heartbreak album.

Anyway, here’s a freestyle on that song by Skyzoo, and those disappointed with the lack of lyrical display on the original track on Watch The Throne  will appreciate this one far more.

Skyzoo – Take It there (Lift Off freestyle)

Dan Kent - Hard Times ft. Fix Dot'm, Capo & Big Chess


New track from producer Dan Kent which will feature on his upcoming Feels Like Fire mixtape. The production on this is ridiculously infectious, I’ve been listening to it all morning. Fix Dot’m, Capo and Big Chess all have nice verses on this, all flowing on point.

On the basis of this, the Feels Like Fire mixtape will be a must have. Expect that soon.

The Weeknd-Thursday


Undoubtedly, the hype surrounding The Weeknd is at a peak right now, and he rides the crest of the wave with the highly-anticipated release of his sophomore project, Thursday. The ambient House of Balloons was a resounding success for the talented vocalist, and I’ve got little doubt that quality will continue here, with what is expected to be a different, more uptempo offering; two recent tracks we have heard from The Weeknd attest to that, with Rolling Stone and The Birds part 1 making the cut.

A few cryptic tweets from The Weeknd and Drake suggested the release was coming, and those rumblings proved to be true in the late hours of last night/this morning. Even at that early hour, I’m informed the release managed to crash both The Weeknd and Drake’s websites! Naturally, we’ve procured ourselves a copy, and you can click below to grab yours, with a backup link also available.

The Weeknd-Thursday
(backup link here)

Lloyd Banks-Dreams Money Can Buy Freestyle


It’s been very difficult to dislike Lloyd Banks over the last 18 months (not that I ever particularly did dislike him), as he’s really elevated his status with a slew of enjoyable remixes, freestyles and original material.

He’s been quiet in the last few months, but returns to the scene with this enjoyable freestyle over Drake’s memorable original. Banks brings some catchy rhyme schemes throughout, and keeps his content diverse with a couple of personal lines alongside the expected bragging raps, giving this short track a well-rounded feel, whilst revisiting this production gives it a welcome refresh, and a pleasing reminder of its quality. The sombre style works nicely alongside Banks’ naturally laidback tones, making for a good, easy-listening effort.

Lloyd Banks-Dreams Money Can Buy Freestyle