M.I.A.-Bad Girls

After that NY Times article, I must admit it’s quite difficult to view M.I.A. in that same light anymore, and whilst I’m sure the hipster crowd won’t waver in their support, a lot of her rebellious, ‘all about the people’ aura has worn off slightly for me.

With that perspective, this watered-down offering from her upcoming album seems to fall on the wrong side of the alt-cool/pretentious borderline that her style treads. Whilst the production is decent here, it’s very pop by its nature and hence the whole track (much like XXXO) has a ‘paint by numbers’ structure that she’s been mostly removed from throughout her career. As a result, the vocal and lyrical work reduces her ‘cool swagger’ to a seemingly contrived attempt at being different. I’ll probably not be giving this one too many plays.

Tyga ft. Wale, Fabolous, Meek Mill, Young Jeezy & T.I. - Rack City Remix

The remix to the massive hit that was Rack City sees Tyga, Wale, Fabolous, Meek Mill, Young Jeezy and T.I. all team up; what a lineup. Along with this official remix a video has been shot too. Best verse? For me it goes to T.I. who is really starting to come back into form after his latest jail stint. Download below.

Tyga ft. Wale, Fabolous, Meek Mill, Young Jeezy & T.I. – Rack City (remix)

In My Neighbourhood! 'All Things Garage and Bass' @ Jazz Café - 3rd February

From the people who brought you hyped 90s Hip-Hop & RnB night ‘Supa Dupa Fly’ comes an unmissable new monthly soirée. In My Neighbourhood celebrates all things Garage & Bass, from the US sounds of the early 90s, to 2 step and the UK vibes of the late 90s through to upfront bass driven sounds of today, with some of the biggest names in the game gracing the decks.

Expect to hear Todd Edwards, Mj Cole, Sticky, Zed Bias, Sia, Dreem Teem, Tuff Jam, Wiley, plus fresh sounds from The 2 Bears, Toddla T, Redlight, The Count & Sinden, Zinc and lots more.

Queue jump advance tickets: £6 Here – strongly advised. Door: £8. Tables: Free to book in advance with a ticket. Time: 10.30pm-3am. Address: The Jazz Café, 5 Parkway, Camden Town, London NW1 7PG. Transport: Camden Tube. Contact: rockthebelles.com / twitter.com/irockthebelles / Selected drinks only £2.40!


Marger - Cheeky [EP]

Marger is back with a vengeance as the long awaited Cheeky EP has finally arrived. Cheeky features the previous hits ‘Shadows’ (ft. Molly), ‘Goonz’ (ft. Scrufizzer and No Lay) and brand new single ‘This Year’ (ft. Josh Osho).

What you can expect from the album is a real example of Marger’s versatility as an artist, as he evolves above the label of East London Grime MC. There are a range of musical styles featured throughout Cheeky EP including Grime, Dance, Dubstep and Pop. His exciting and controversial lyrics are delivered with a raw energy in true Marger style, as he joins forces with up-and-coming producer Sibling.

The EP is available (now!) from the following sources:
Amazon MP3

Frank Ocean-Voodoo

Another official but very short blast from Frank Ocean, as he lets loose of this assumedly unfinished track (unless he’s going for 90-second tracks on his album!).

I hope there is more of the track, as it’s a fantastic little slow jam that reminds everyone just how good this guy is. The guitar-laced production has a real Maxwell vibe about it, and Frank supplies his trademark excellence with the vocals, going so far as to double-layer his vocals for a very striking and effective first half. The second half brings out a softer approach that will absolutely melt listeners, as Frank comes through with his most ‘R&B’ delivery to date in that section, proving he can quite easily adjust to a more ‘textbook’ style where necessary.

R&B Fridays: Episode 135

I wanted to open this week’s episode with a breakdown of why the number 135 was special. Turns out, nothing of any significance is tied to the number, so that’s that.

A few decent posts to recap on from the week gone by, with Ed Sheeran and Yelawolf teaming up for the first track from their upcoming EP, John Legend hooking up with Ludacris for a solid R&B jam, the excellent Elle Varner dropping off a brand new mixtape for her fans to enjoy, and finally a fantastic chillout instrumental from MeLo-X.

All caught up? Good. Feel free to resume your browsing by clicking below for this week’s instalment. There’s also a surprise new feature included in this episode that we’ve been requested to add for some time. Mysterious.
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MeLo-X-The Dark Joker

MeLo-X is a name you often come across (mostly in association with Mickey Factz and Jesse Boykins III), and you probably have a few of his songs and/or remixes but have never really quite known who he is. I certainly fall into that category, so hopefully this track from his upcoming Fewture album will help us all get more familiar.

I’ll not lie here: it was the title that made me initially give this a go, but the quality of the track is what’s kept me repeating it over the last 24 hours. Genre-wise, it’s mostly grounded in a chillout electronic style, with light lashings of other genres mixed in, and Melo proves himself as an excellent producer of progressive, ambient instrumental music full of intrigue and atmosphere at every turn. Opening with soft electronic samples and airy synths, the track slowly reveals itself with more lively elements thrown into the mix, with the final third of the track having a real epic film score feel about it, and credit goes to mellow for producing a track with such a wonderful depth of layers. An unmissable slice of instrumental excellence.

MeLo-X-The Dark Joker

Elle Varner-Conversational Lush Mixtape

One from a few days ago, but undoubtedly worth a look nonetheless as the talented Elle Varner comes through with a free 13-track project that should satisfy her ever-growing horde of fans.

The soulful yet modern style of Elle has a nice unique flavour that carries across all of her tracks, whilst each track she’s released has still retained a nice sense of eclecticism and uniqueness. There are a few tracks on here that Elle’s followers will already be familiar with, but the vast majority is brand new material that seems to have already garnered plenty of critical and fan acclaim. You can stream and download the full project for free over at Elle’s Soundcloud page below.

Elle Varner-Conversational Lush

ScHoolboy Q - NigHtmare On Figg St. [Video]

ScHoolboy Q has been attracting many new fans recently, as the critics lap up his new album, Habits & Contradictions. Having heard it, it’s not hard to realise why; the production is top-notch and he offers a rather sombre yet gritty style to his peers, like Kendrick Lamar.

NigHtmare On Figg St. is a wonderful reworking of Jay-Z and Kanye’s flamboyant Ni**as in Paris, the production is great and the video rather haunting.

Maino - Last of the Mohicans ft. Push Montana [Video]

Fresh from the mixtape comes a video; Maino does not mess about!

One reason why I’ve always kept my ear out for Maino’s music is because he is, without any doubt, credible. If he says he’ll punch you in the face, you know he’ll do it. Last of the Mohicans echoes that sentiment, where he and Push Montana tell us they’re part of a dying breed, which I can certainly agree with (looking at the types of rappers that currently get all the plaudits!).

Push Montana is fast becoming one of my favourite ‘unknown’ rappers about too. Get the mixtape here.

Azealia Banks-Bambi

Brand new material from one of music’s most popular rising stars, ‘recorded for the MUGLER Mens FW 2012 runway show‘, which speaks volumes about her status right now.

There’s certainly a ‘runway’ feel about this for the first half, with a light electro backdrop combining with whispery, intermittent vocals and spoken word additions for a relatively eccentric yet sonically consistent effort that suits its intended environment. Things turn more ‘song-like’ in the second half, as the synth gets a little bassier and Azealia’s allowed a little more time and frequency in the vocal department, bringing some much-needed energy to the whole affair. An enjoyable listen that offers something a little different.

Maino - I am Who I am [Mixtape]

The tagline to this mixtape reads ‘the album before the album’ and boy is that the truth. After recent impressive mixtapes from Rick Ross and Saigon, where the quality of material was as high/higher than most rapper’s albums, Maino follows up with an equally as impressive mixtape. 21 tracks and feature-heavy (Maino’s upcoming sophomore album will only have a couple features at the most!) there’s something for everyone here.

Great use of sampling of some classic lines from the epic TV series, The Wire. Real nice touch which gives the mixtape a concept feel. Visit the link below to go stream and download the mixtape!

Maino – I am Who I am (mixtape)

John Legend and Ludacris-Tonight (Best You Ever Had)

Though it’s only from the soundtrack of the upcoming Think Like A Man film, it’s always great to get some new John Legend, and it certainly helps when it’s one of his better tracks in a long time.

Opening with in an atmospheric and drifty manner, there’s an instantly smooth vibe pouring out of this one, and whilst the song does shift into a more pop/R&B realm with the percussion and additional elements, it retains enough of that initial airy quality to give it a distinctive flavour. Legend’s vocals are never in doubt, and here he actually does a good job of stifling his natural passion and intensity, instead opting for a more structurally sound effort that still showcases his wonderful talent. Definitely worth a listen, and look out for it on iTunes on Tuesday.

John Legend-Tonight (Best You Ever Had) ft. Ludacris

Ed Sheeran and Yelawolf-You Don't Know

A one-off track with these two would be enough of a surprise, but when accompanied by the news they’re working on a full EP together, the level of surprise escalates quite considerably! Some are reporting the rest of the EP isn’t with Yela-as far as I’m aware that’s not the case, and this is from an upcoming Ed/Yela free EP, Slumdon Bridge.

The track is a good all-rounder, with Ed once again utilising his rap-esque delivery, blending his naturally smooth voice with a speedy delivery that both works in tandem with and in contrast to Yela’s own pacey, but more shrill style. The production has a magnetising minimalism, made up mostly of a light percussion and soft synth, and the combination works to spotlight the lyrical work of both artists. Worth a listen for sure.

Ed Sheeran and Yelawolf-You Don’t Know (For F***’s Sake)

Jitta On The Track-Friday Night

A gem found in my inbox, this laidback slice of acoustically-driven hip-hop will win fans of a huge variety of genres.

J.O.T.T. picks an excellent production here, and goes for that rarely-touched but ever-effective blend of acoustic guitar and rapping, which offers a relaxed vibe that allows the natural emotion in Jitta’s raps to come to the fore. It’s not the sort of backdrop that lends itself to complex, multisyllabic rhymes, and instead is one that calls out for a softer, more melodic approach that Jitta brings in spades with some solid introspection in the raps, and a nice harmony on the hook.

The video offers a good range of natural scenes, in a few senses of the word, as much of it takes place in a forest or around a campfire, with additional scenes of warming interactions with friends and spouses interspersed throughout. It’s an excellent range of selections for the style of music created, resisting the temptation to become too alternative or too hip-hop. Instead, it’s an easy-to-watch effort that cruises along with the audio nicely. Good all-round effort, and you can grab this track on iTunes right now.

Joe Budden - No Church in the Wild (Remix)

Something new from the strangely quiet Joe Budden. A much welcomed lyrical affair implemented on a great instrumental from Jay-Z and Kanye’s Watch the Throne, with nothing particularly controversial rapped about by Joey, which is unusually refreshing. Definitely prefer this to the verses on the original; download below.

Joe Budden – No Church in the Wild (remix)

The four-man collective that Joey’s a part of, Slaughterhouse, have announced that their major label début album will be released on May the 15th! With a nationwide American tour also scheduled around the time. We need Slaughterhouse to perform in the UK soon!

Gilbere Forte-Year of the Dragon Mixtape

Hosted by the venerable Terry Urban, Gilbere comes through with an unexpected mixtape, composed of unreleased songs, freestyles and remixes over the course of his short career thus far.

Gilbere is certainly one of OTU’s favourite upcoming rappers, and hopefully his consistency will carry over to this collection of rarities, whilst providing a good platform for him to really excel and break that glass ceiling this year. He’s joined by an excellent line-up of supporting artists, including established acts such as Pusha T and Lloyd Banks alongside frequent collaborators Sean Rose and Selina Carrera. Free grab of the 18-track project is available below.

Gilbere Forte-Year of the Dragon

Rock The Belles @ Notting Hill Arts Club with Shystie & NoLay [27.01.12]

Shystie One of the pioneers of the British female music game; Shystie returns! Her explosive live shows are not to be missed and bringing her edgy and unique style back to the scene, she prepares to drop her new EP ‘Pink Mist’…coming very soon! www.facebook.com/iamshystie

NoLay Since the release of ‘Unorthodox Daughter’ lyricist, singer and songwriter from South London, NoLay, has seen support from the likes of 1Xtra, MTV, SBTV, ID Mag and more. Recently dropping her new EP ‘He said, she said, I am bad’ she’s one to watch for 2012. www.facebook.com/NoLaysWorld

Sylvia Stone is a Brit School graduate with a unique, arresting voice, striking self-styling and a fantastic work ethic. Her songs range from tongue-in-cheek 40’s-esque blues and jazz, to epic cinematic belters all the way to bass heavy bangers. This girl is a genre-straddling, experimental artist with killer vocals and a clear vision to tickle the back of listener’s souls. www.facebook.com/sylvia.st0ne

Dj’s Emily Rawson, Fearney & Malenya will be on the decks spinning everything Hip-hop, Dupstep, House, Electro, Garage & Bass.

Time: 8pm-2am Entry: FREE before 9pm / £6 concessions list via hello@rockthebelles.com // Advance £5 rockthebelles.com // Door £8 Tables: FREE to book

Address: Notting Hill Arts Club, 19-21 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3JQ Tube: Notting Hill Gate

Saigon - Warning Shots 3: One Foot In The Grave [Mixtape]

19 (that’s right, nineteen!) new tracks from Saigon with the latest instalment of his Warning Shots mixtapes (I remember buying Warning Shots 1 in HMV back in 2003!).

Hosted by Just Blaze and a feature from ex-enemy Joe Budden, I anticipate this’ll be a good mixtape. Especially as the blogs have been praising the quality of the singles that Saigon had put out there from this tape. Grab it below.

Saigon – Warning Shots 3: One Foot In The Grave (mixtape)

R&B Fridays: Episode 134

Yes kids, it’s not Friday, but every day is a good day to get a fix of some good R&B right? RIGHT!

I’ve also assembled here a quite perfect trifecta of tracks for your listening pleasure; none of that sweet baby music making here in this episode, just three tracks that will get you moving. Click on below to see what is in store for you this (or last, should I say?) week.

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A$AP Rocky-Wassup Video

One of the more durable tracks on Rocky’s debut mixtape, with it still grabbing plays on my iTunes to this day. Warning: not suitable for viewing by minors!

A trippy blend of psychedelic colours and dimly-lit environments captures the essence of the audio excellently, whilst there’s certainly a general vibe around this video that has a real throwback feel. There’s a little sprinkling of opulence too, as Rocky flaunts his new-found fame and success, without overshadowing his natural style and charisma throughout the video. Of course, the rest of the A$AP mob are featured throughout the video, and I’m sure we’ll hear more from them soon.

Thematically, the video isn’t going to throw you any surprises, but makes for an easygoing, fitting accompaniment to a very enjoyable track. Grab it for yourself on the LiveLoveA$AP mixtape now.

For more info on the video, click here to visit the home of Vice, the clip’s directors and producers.

The Defining Moments of 2011: #1

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Eric Turner - Angels & Stars ft. Tinie Tempah & Lupe Fiasco

Eric Turner’s worked with both Tinie Tempah and Lupe Fiasco on separate tracks in the past, so it’s only natural these three come together for a big collaboration (keeping with the theme of transatlantic-ism!).

If you’ve heard any of Eric Turner’s collabos with urban artists from both sides of the Atlantic, then you’ll know what to expect: Very addictive vocals from Eric with a banger of a beat to match. Lupe and Tinie both come through with decent verses, but would it be fair to say that Tinie’s verse is the better of the two? These are controversial times we live in. Download below.

Eric Turner – Angels & Stars ft. Tinie Tempah & Lupe Fiasco

JME Gets Stopped by the Police...

Speaking of JME, he just posted this video on his Twitter account. Basically, whenever he gets stopped by the police he tends to film it on his phone and post it on his Twitter for all to see (this appears to be a regular occurrence!).

Well something unexpected happens in this encounter; I’ll let you see for yourself.

JME is the king of grime.

JME - 96 Bars Freestyle Live On Kiss

JME performs his new single 96 Fuckries over his classic instrumental 96 Bars of Revenge (whilst also blending in some lyrics of the latter track also).

You can listen to and see the official video for 96 Fuckries here and you can buy it from iTunes by clicking here now! The single is already in the top 40 with no marketing budget and no radio play. A phenomenal achievement, considering the title contains a swear word and has no chorus, which shows the value in engaging with your fanbase.

As Wiley said recently on twitter: JME is the new king of grime.

Tinchy Stryder & Ruff Sqwad - Mario Balotelli

Been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me over the last month! A guilty pleasure as this is a song about a footballer who plays for a team I dislike very much. I can’t hate on Mario though, he’s hilarious!

The track is rather addictive too, the opening verse and subsequent hook is the real highlight of the song. The video’s been shot well too, but a little disappointed they didn’t get Balotelli himself involved.

Apparently Tinchy and Mario have come together to create an official “Why always me?” t-shirt, so look out for those soon too.

Mikill Pane - I Like U

Man of the moment, Mikill Pane’s new EP, The Morris Dancer , will be released through Invader Music on 13th February . The five-track EP includes a track entitled Cut Back , which features vocals from Ursa Minor’s Little Bear and is currently being used in an Nation wide O2 Academy /Fair Share Music campaign.

Here is one of those tracks from the EP, I Like U. Really into this track, Mikill Pane has a lot of wit which is what makes his songs so easy to listen to. Nice little track for those crushing on someone right now!

Dan Kent ft. Jimmy Jitsu - Could Just Be The Bassline Remix

This is the first time I’ve heard the up and coming producer Dan Kent try at his hand at a more dubstep and electro vibe and I have to say it works! Remixing the Artful Dodger song, Could Just Be The Baseline, he takes this rather joyful and head bopping track and turns it into a dark dub one, accompanied with some verses from Jimmy Jitsu. Definitely my kind of thing! You can listen and download it for free below.

Supa Dupa Fly @ Plan B, Brixton - Saturday 4th February

Since launching in March 2011, hyped 90s Hip-Hip night Supa Dupa Fly has become a necessity in any 90s hiphop lovers diary! In the main room, we’ll be spinning the best of of Dre, Snoop, Nas, Bigge, Tupac, A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr, Missy. Downstairs, we’ll be treating you to the old skool garage tracks we grew up on … So if ‘Booo’ ‘Destiny’ ‘My Desire’ ‘Lovebug’ ‘Doolally’ & ‘Crazy Love’ ring a bell, this is one for YOU!

Djs: DJ Nikki Beatnik is a DJ & Producer who has DJ’d for everyone from Jay-Z to Vogue Magazine She is also Kelis tour dj, Nicola Roberts dj and winner of Best DJ at the UMA’s. Dj JJ is a former Def Jam DJ, has played in clubs and bars across Europe. As a fulltime showbusiness journalist for the Daily Mail, JJ combines work with play and often DJ’s at A-List parties across the capital. Resident djs Shortee & Cronikal will also be on the decks.

Live: IJH Combine jaw-dropping live beatbox from UK Beatbox finalist Pikey Esquire and infectious lyricism from Leon Rhymes, I’m Just Happy spread beats, smiles and rhymes to the masses wherever they go. Astro-Physics are a 6 piece, live Hip-hop collective from Brighton. Their unique sound comes from their adept ability to fuse hip-hop, rock and dance in a fiercely distinctive British fashion.

Concessions lists: £5 via itssupadupafly@gmail.com / £7 on the door
Tables: Free to book in advance itssupadupafly@gmail.com for 10+
Times: 9pm-4am
Address: 418 Brixton Road, London, SW9
Transport: Brixton Tube 1 min walk / Stockwell Tube 8 min walk
Info: rockthebelles.com / facebook.com/supadupaflylove / twitter.com/itssupadupafly