Young Jeezy - F.A.M.E. ft. T.I.


T.I. returns to our ears with this rather good collaboration with Young Jeezy, both lamenting the envious people in their lives that have bittered their lifestyle.

A strong track, produced well by the infamous J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, that should get a fair few plays for those of you who like these artists. Question on everyone’s lips is when the hell is Jeezy bringing out the new album!?

Young Jeezy – F.A.M.E. ft. T.I.

Wale and Miguel-Lotus Flower Bomb


Brand new single from Wale’s upcoming sophomore album, Ambition, set to be released on 1st November (or 11.1.11., as he spams daily on Twitter!).

A very solid effort too, and one that should be extremely popular with the mainstream crowd. The production is easygoing, with mellow, mesmeric synth work alongside a percussion that winds slowly throughout the track, and sprinklings of more electronic elements thrown in for a little diversity. Miguel does an excellent job with the hook, crooning his way to a catchy, passionate effort that contrasts with the laidback production to really project his voice, whilst Wale’s verses are enjoyable enough as he experiments with a range of flows and keeps the subject matter accessible and mainstream friendly. A decent all-rounder.

Wale-Lotus Flower Bomb ft. Miguel

Young Buck-Closer To My Dreams


When Buck gets it right, he tends to get it very right. Sampling one Goapele’s finest works in the mellow, soulful Closer (a sample also used by Drake back in 2008 in one of the first tracks I ever heard him on), the production has a lovely effortlessness, combined with a relaxing quality that contrasts well with Buck’s rather sharp voice.

Young Buck comes through with solid work in the raps, mixing it up between introspection and the usual ‘street’ raps, and generally taking to the production well, whilst his cohort Hambino also does a decent job with his verse. Rightfully, the original vocals are allowed to close out the track mostly uninterrupted, and this is a nicely rounded track that most hip-hop fans should be able to appreciate.

Young Buck-Closer To My Dreams ft. Hambino

Blink-182-Heart’s All Gone Video

Blink-182 follow up their comeback album’s release this week with brand new visuals for what is probably the most energetic, fast-paced track from the fantastic Neighborhoods album.

The track followed Up All Night as one of the first released from the album, and the video follows suit. Unlike the aforementioned video, this is comprised largely of live show footage, which makes for a much-needed personal touch and sense of collaboration from the band: whilst the music has been genuinely great, many Blink fans have missed the fun, togetherness and camaraderie of the group, and there are certainly instances of those elements in this video as the group appear to have a little fun throughout whilst performing.

Credit goes to Travis Barker’s incredible performance on this track too, which went previously unappreciated. Grab this track and the whole album now.

Filip Filipi and Mansions on the Moon-Big City Chaser


A thoroughly excellent collaboration. Mansions on the Moon bring their atmospheric, night pop style to the track, creating a powerful yet ambient aura with their ethereal vocals throughout, whilst Work Drugs play on that style with a beautifully dreamy synths and a driving percussion. Filip doesn’t disappoint with his gravelly raps sliding into the vibe of the track nicely, whilst his ambitious lyricism also fits well. Really enjoyable effort, perfect for some winter listening, and one of the more rounded tracks in recent weeks.

J. Cole-Daddy’s Little Girl Video

New visuals from Cole’s debut album (released yesterday), and a set that may reel in fans previously put off by his ‘lightweight’ single, Work Out.

Lyrically, Cole provides some very enjoyable bittersweet raps, telling the tale of a ‘Daddy’s Little Girl‘ gone wrong, spending her time in the wrong places and living a life of misdemeanour. This is the sort of lyricism from J. Cole that most hip-hop fans were parading 2 years ago, and I’m sure it’ll encourage those fans to head out and grab that album. The production has atmosphere tied with an electronic-style sample, representing both the gravity of Cole’s lyrics and adding a little accompanying energy.

The video is a great portrayal of the lyrics and enhances that story fantastically, displaying the dichotomy between the ballet steps of an innocent child and the sleaze of a somewhat less angelic stripper. A superb device employed is the interspersion of scenes with the stripper ballet dancing, which initially appear to be possibly something she’s doing in her spare time to recapture her youth, but instead ends as an ‘alternate reality’, showing the path she may have ended up on. Superb audio-visual, be sure to grab the album on iTunes now.

Kano & Mikey J - E.T. ft. Wiley, Wretch 32 & Scorcher

Every time I listen to a UK track I can’t help but wonder what an American hip hop fan would think listening to it, and it’s rarer than I like that I’d think “yeah, they would go crazy for this”. This is one of those rare times.

Initially I was put off by the auto-tune laden hook we hear as the track opens, and I had put it down to a typical experimental track by Kano, but don’t let it put you off, skip to 1:16 if you have to. Kano spazzes out and sounds hungry, which follows from his previous instalment of this Not 4 The A List weekly multimedia series by him and Mikey J. Wiley follows it with a decent verse, though the lack of his presence hinders it somewhat (the “INSERT WILEY HERE” lettering in this vid is poignant). What also hinders Wiley’s verse is what follows from Wretch 32, which by even his standards is an extremely high quality Wretch verse, with the Mayweather lines a particular highlight. The approving look Kano gives Wretch as he closes out his verse genuinely made me laugh out loud. Scorcher finishes the track off with his verse and you can’t help but feel this is a passing of the torch moment (it can’t be denied that he hasn’t seen the same level of success that the other 3 artists have done so yet).

An excellent track which is available for free by heading over here and giving them your email address.

R&B Fridays: Episode 119


This week has seen some superb music video releases in the pop, R&B and soul world and that mini-revival continues with a solid offering in this week’s R&B instalment.

The aforementioned videos include heart-warming visuals from Musiq Soulchild, uplifting scenes from Patrick Stump and Lupe Fiasco, an intrictate, thought-provoking effort from Frank Ocean, and finally a sharp, confident performance from The-Dream in one of his best releases to date.

Caught up with all the above? Your eyes may need a rest, but your ears await the musical delights that lie below.
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Kele and Lucy Taylor-What Did I Do

Amidst interestingly-timed rumours that he’s been ousted from Bloc Party, Kele Okereke releases new visuals from his upcoming EP, The Hunter.

The production has the electro-dubstep blend that characterised his slightly disappointing debut solo album, though its utilised much more effectively here with atmospheric synths and energetic bass pulses creating a paradoxical style that blends ambience with intensity, and successfully so. The vocals are enjoyable from both artists, as Lucy Taylor dominates proceedings throughout the track with some very smooth deliveries, with Kele confined to sharing the hook. Interesting strategy, but it makes for an enjoyable song that could see some mainstream success by virtue of having a friendly, accessible female vocal lead.

Visuals are simple enough, focusing on one character at a time, with that role played by Kele, Lucy and various dancers throughout. Nothing that particularly enhances the audio at all, but its an easy watch and the simplicity of it helps to soften the relatively complex nature of the audio. The Hunter EP is released on 7th November.

Panic! At The Disco-Mercenary (from Batman: Arkham City)


It’s not clear whether its going to be the in-game soundtrack or an accompanying album, but Arkham City: The Album boasts an impressive line-up of artists from the rock/alternative world that certainly warrants attention.

Whilst the line-up is admirable, it has to be said that P!ATD’s normal style doesn’t seem to entirely fit the dark, sinister nature of the video game. Though there is a clear gothic influence on their production and instrumentation here, it doesn’t cover the natural perkiness and pop-punk bounce of their sound enough to make it a relevant fit with the visual style of Arkham City, and whilst it’s not a bad song by any means, the synergy with the product its tied to just isn’t there unfortunately.

Drake-Take Care Artwork


Drake unveils the official artwork for his upcoming sophomore album, set for release on 24th October. It’s quite interesting that his promo bandwagon doesn’t seem to be in full effect as of yet, but things may step up now with this unveil.

Clearly, there’s a King Midas influence in this one, with Drake surrounded by gold, and hence the somewhat egotistical implication that everything he touches turns to gold. However, also evident is Drake’s forlorn, almost regretful expression, and true to the Midas story there’s a suggestion that ‘he understood that this gift was a bane and in his loathing for gold, cursed his prayer‘. It certainly sounds like Drake, with multiple reflective tracks in recent years almost bemoaning his status and fame, and whilst it’s a hollow complaint to most of us, it does make for some of his better music (see Fear and Club Paradise). More will be revealed soon, I’m sure.

XV-When We’re Done Video

Another excellent track from the Zero Heroes mixtape gets the video treatment (there were quite a few in truth!), with Vizzy selecting the uplifting yet thoughtful When We’re Done.

A well-made blend of energy and introspection, the production calls on a medley of styles with a futuristic feel in the vocal sample, a retrospective, wistful vibe from the key work and a little intensity with the crisp percussion work. XV’s raps equally combine styles, as he comes through with a motivational, often autobiographical message that rotates between inspiring and reflective.

The video is fairly simple and much like the audio appears to have two distinct ‘parts’, with much of the first half split between shots of XV rapping in a desolate space and also journeying the road, whilst the second half has a more celebratory, Carpe diem style that ranges from a night out to a little skydiving. Though the first half is a little slow moving, it’s a decent enough video supported by a strong audio. Grab that mixtape now.

Musiq SoulChild-Yes Video

One of the more mature, feelgood tracks of the year, Musiq drops off much-delayed visuals for his superb track from the MusiqInTheMagiq album.

A video that’s perfectly suited to the lyrics, Musiq demonstrates unwavering support and a respectable commitment to his lady of choice throughout the video, ‘in sickness and in health’. It’s not a revolutionary concept, but clearly it’s a standout concept against somewhat less monogamous music videos usually released, and there’s no doubt the warmth infectiously radiates off this video.

If this track was a girl, it’s one you’d be looking to take home to meet the parents. Grab this on iTunes now.

Skream-Demented


Very demented. Dark, edgy electronic vibes coarse through this one from start to middle, backed by thudding bass typical of the dubstep style, whilst the middle section opts for a minimal build section that eventually launches back into those pulsating synths. One the dubstep and electro fans will really appreciate.

XV-Hoop Dreams


A little off the pace on this one, for which I apologise. Dropped last week at the tailend of XV’s rapid fire releases, this is another show of diversity as XV goes for a motivational style on Hoop Dreams.

Vizzy comes with an enjoyable storytelling style on this effort, nicely detailing a story of someone with basketball ambitions, and as expected with such a title and subject, there are plenty of basketball references interspersed within the lyrics for the NBA fans out there. The production is an easygoing blend of ambience and intensity, with atmospheric synths and samples placed alongside a sharp, crashing percussion, combining for an accurate capture of the thoughtful yet ambitious nature of the lyrics. Another good effort from Vizzy, and hopefully there’s more to come soon.

XV-Hoop Dreams

Domo Genesis-Under The Influence Mixtape


Outside of one or two tracks, I felt Domo’s Rolling Papers mixtape was a little overrated by many, and whilst I could see its appeal, it felt a little too samey and frankly needed more familiar productions (ie. freestyles over existing beats) to make his ability stand out a little more.

It seems like that’s exactly the approach taken here, as Under The Influence apparently has Domo  ‘Mostly Over His Favorite Instrumentals‘, which should make for entertaining listening and allow for a proper appraisal of his ability as a rapper. Click below for the free download, courtesy of the OFWGKTA collective.

Domo Genesis-Under The Influence

B.o.B-Welcome To The Jungle Remix


Borrowing the somewhat lacklustre Swizz Beatz production from Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne, Bobby continues his recent return to active releases with this relatively enjoyable remix.

It may seem a big statement, but B.o.B feels a much better fit for this production, getting his flow tailored just right for the beat and whilst his lyrics aren’t going to overwhelm anyone with any complex wordplay, they’re solid enough. Generally a smoother, more bearable listen than the original and worth a couple of listens for sure, though it’s unlikely to dominate anyone’s playlists beyond that.

B.o.B-Welcome To The Jungle Remix

Gilbere Forte, Asher Roth and Bun B-Black Chukkas Remix


Massive features here for one of the quicker rising (and a personal favourite) rappers out in the US, and he certainly deserves such lofty co-signs with a consistent, solid body of work behind him.

A great production really holds this together, opening with a vocal sample, evolving into a speaker-rattling, dub-influenced, electronically-driven beat with a series of addictive synths and pounding bass hits. What’s noticeable is that the production is slightly different for each rapper’s verse, adding a nice tailored quality, and a commendable attention to detail. Asher opens the verses with a solid set of bars, taking on the beat with a challenging flow and his typically laidback manner, whilst Gilbere follows with a little more urgency in a decent verse, and Bun closes things off with the strongest verse of the three, as he rotates between riding the beat step-for-step and slightly less strictly for a smooth and diverse listen. Decent effort that’ll sound great on loud.

Gilbere Forte-Black Chukkas Remix ft. Asher Roth and Bun B

The-Dream-Long Gone Video

A genuinely fantastic track, and one that’s rarely left my rotation since its release on the free 1977 album.

The sharp guitar plucks make for a superb backdrop, blending together a summery, Latin American feel with a rough edge that creates depth and a slight darkness. Combine that with raw, hard-hitting lyricism from one of R&B’s best songwriters, a clear and effective structure and very catchy vocals, and you’ve got a superbly rounded track that stands out as one of the R&B highlights of recent months.

The video is a great watch, opting for a more character focused video that showcases a noticeably slimmer Dream’s natural charisma with a dedicated and confident performance, whilst the slow unravelling of the leading lady makes for a subtle and likeable change of pace against the more obvious, brash videos usually associated with the genre. Definitely worth a watch, and the audio should be grabbed here (along with the rest of the free album).

How To Make It In America, The Mixtape: Volume 2


Presented by the illustrious Mick Boogie and the ultra-talented Broke Mogul, we’re treated to an hour long mix with tracks set to feature in the upcoming season of the superb How To Make It In America.

Season 1 brought the upbeat Shooting Stars into my library, a really enjoyable track that I would have otherwise never have come across, and similarly, the previews for season 2 have delivered Theophilus London’s enjoyable I Stand Alone. Much more to be unearthed on this mix, and you can grab it for free below.

How To Make It In America, The Mixtape: Volume 2

Patrick Stump and Lupe Fiasco-This City Video

The audio was previewed way back in June, and Stump finally releases the visuals for the ode to his (and Lupe’s) hometown of Chicago.

As per the audio review, it’s a really bright, uplifting song that boasts an incredibly infectious positivity that radiates from Stump’s monumental vocals. The heavy pop influence isn’t a bad thing here, as the soaring, progressive production style blends with Stump’s vocals superbly, and accentuating that Michael Jackson influence in his work. The video does a simple enough job of sticking relevant with shots of Chicago, whilst throwing in splashes of colour for a little diversity and richness. The more pop elements are toned down for a very enjoyable Lupe verse that’s delivered with some real style (when did he grow his hair out that much?!), and the video follows suit with a slightly darker, more focused style.

Definitely a pop track that I’ve got time for, and it can be grabbed on iTunes right now.

Thurz-Prayer


Although I haven’t posted anything from Thurz latest project, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been checking for him. And this works out well for you as it means I can post up my favourite joint from L.A. Riot.

As I stated on my Twitter, Thurz releases a West Coast album which Tyler The Creator and Game should take notice of when cooking up their next projects: this was everything that neither of theirs was. L.A. Riot showcases varied production and conscious lyricism, whilst maintaining that typical West Coast flavour. Case in point sees Prayer with an acoustic instrumental held together by gospel flurries and lyrical wisdom beyond Thurz’ newbie status.

Thurz-Prayer (Or, you can legally download the entire album here)

Childish Gambino-Bonfire


He’s looking likely to be the next rapper to really break into the mainstream, and the assault continues with the first official single from Gambino’s upcoming Camp album.

A punchy, hard-hitting track, Gambino combines his speedy flow with a new-found aggression and intensity that makes for a very interesting departure from his usual ‘cooler’ material, blending extremely well with the energetic percussion and anthemic vocal sample. Combine this with his natural witty lyricism, and this is a track that’ll rattle many speakers for the next few weeks. Look for the official release on iTunes tomorrow.

Frank Ocean-Swim Good Video

The beauty of some videos is that no matter how sure you are of your interpretation, inevitably there will be a fleet of alternative perceptions.

Directed by the esteemed Nabil, the video opens in very strange circumstances that immediately blend reflection and oddity together, and that combination continues as Frank drives on lonely roads whilst having flashbacks to an unusual combination of pleasure and murder. What follows is a shot of his Jordan sneakers: the Eastern outfit is merely a guise, and simply covers what truly lies beneath, almost an entirely opposite outfit. It works to represent the seeming incongruence of the lyrics with the video, as the oft-repeated ‘black suit’ is replaced by orange outerwear and street clothes underneath, driving ‘into the ocean’ is instead driving into the woods and so on. The message here seems to be to strip away that top layer and listen (or look) a little deeper for a message that relates more tightly, or live with the inconsistency of judging from the surface alone.

An enjoyable video, and one to watch multiple times to really cement your interpretation. Nostalgia Lite hopefully coming soon.

R&B Fridays: Episode 118


Bags of talent in this week’s episode, with five artists involved that can all count themselves amongst the favourites of the R&B Fridays followers.

Just one post to recap on from the week gone by, with the official video for Frank Ocean’s Thinking About You being released, and they’re certainly worth a watch.

Click below for this week’s scheduled programming.
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Quick Throwback: Wu-Tang Clan-Protect Ya Neck (Bloody Version)


Posting this has actually made me realise how much of a hip-hop geek I am. Twitter followers and friends will know I’ve been searching for this for ages. For some bizarre reason, the original album-version of Protect Ya Neck isn’t entirely ‘dirty’ and features some censorship particularly over ODB’s bars (nothing new there). So anyway, I’ve finally got my mitts on this and feel it’s only right to share it with the other hip-hop geeks out there. Apart from the censorship, the joint is identical save the ending which rolls on for 40-odd seconds more. Definitely for the Wu-Heads this one.

Wu-Tang Clan-Protect Ya Neck (Bloody Version)

50 Cent Launches Street King

A bit of promo for 50 here, but more importantly is the message that it portrays. I’m sure 50 will have his critics on this marketing strategy, but I like to think that there’s actually a little bit of both business sense and true empathy coming from Curtis on this.

Street King is an ‘energy shot’ where a percentage of the proceeds will go towards 50′s mission statement of feeding a billion starving children in Africa over the next 5 years.

What ever the motives are, I’m sure those children are and will be eternally grateful towards his efforts.

Kool G Rap and The A-Alikes-To Live And Die In NY


G Rap teams up with The A-Alikes for a cut from upcoming compilation album Underground Overstood. This is much more like that hardcore G Rap that us heads have come to love, this track eliciting that gritty New York style which he crafted. And as much as it pains me to say, this is certainly a cut above anything which he put together on his latest LP. And I have no idea how this isn’t already a G Rap titled song.

Kool G Rap and The A-Alikes-To Live And Die In NY

B.o.B. ft. Playboy Tre and Meek Mill-EPIC


My opinion on B.o.B. spans both extremes. Sometimes he will blow my socks off, then he releases something which frustrates the hell out of me because of his unrealised potential. This, it has to be said, falls somewhere in between. The beat itself takes inspiration from numerous directions, ranging from that dramatic crunk music to 1980′s video gaming. I’m not ashamed to claim I am unfamiliar with either of the features, but all involved here seem to do a reasonable job. It’ll get lost in my shuffle but it’s more one for the B.o.B. fans out there. Get below.

B.o.B. ft Playboy Tre and Meek Mill-EPIC