Big Boi-She Said OK ft. Theophilus London and Tre Luce (Video)

So first off, this is neither work safe nor child safe. That goes for both the video and the audio.

I’ve had a special spot for this song since its release, and not because its a feat of hip-hop ingenuity, but because the hook is just hilarious. That’s not to take away from the verses though, which are most definitely enjoyable and as mentioned in the audio review, Big Boi and Theophilus clearly work well together to create an old-school Outkast vibe about this one.

The video is about as sleazy as the audio, packing close-ups of lady parts into performance shots of the rappers into a dimly-lit, slow-moving and bedroom-oriented theme, and hence it’s a good synergy between the two. An easygoing track that’s generally quite likeable, and you can grab it from iTunes now (iTunes US, sadly).

Lloyd-All of Me ft. Wale

Lloyd appears to be gearing up for a new release, and he’s recruited Wale for a little help, a man who he’s worked fairly well with in the past.

Given that most of R&B’s big hitters seem to be on the bench right now, the track is a really refreshing listen. It’s a slow jam with plenty of that unmistakeable Lloyd style, combining the soft, atmospheric production he favours with vocal work which dials back on his usual drifty approach in favour of a more emotional delivery. Wale’s usually solid on R&B features, and his flow is superb here, switching between a couple of slightly different deliveries over little more a few piano notes, and it’s a good addition to what is a very solid all-rounder. Fingers crossed, there’s more of this ilk on its way soon.

Problem-Welcome to Mollywood 2 (Mixtape)

The man knows how to deliver a catchy hook, and though his original Welcome to Mollywood tape showed glimpses of being able to produce more than that, this sequel is the real opportunity to capitalise on his buzz with some consistent performances.

His recent work on the all-star Function remix (which is also featured on this tape) has really increased his visibility in the music world, and he’s dialled back the features on the rest of the tape in favour of spotlighting himself-a good move to try and establish his own brand. I’ve caught one track from this, Like Whaaaat, which had a surprising early 90s hip-hop style to the production, and definitely warrants a few listens. Let’s see if the rest of the tape holds up.

Problem-Welcome to Mollywood 2

Charles Bradley-The World (Is Going Up In Flames)

Two of my favourite songs of recent times are Stalley’s Petrin Hill Peonies and Asher Roth’s The World Is Not Enough (which I didn’t post, and profusely apologise for), and without question that’s down to the excellence of the sample they both use.

That sample would be the slice of excellence you’ve just pressed play on, the 2007 single from the ‘The Screaming Eagle of Soul’ (what I wouldn’t give to be the ‘screaming eagle’ of something), a track packed with deliciously bright instrumentation and vintage vocals right out of the 1950-60′s. In fact, the throwback nature of the track is so strong that on initially listening to the sample in the aforementioned rap tracks, I (and many others) believed it was from that golden era. It’s almost unbelievable that he only became a fully active performer 10 years ago, as there’s clearly a great deal of confidence in what he does, derived mostly from the outpouring of raw emotion throughout the track that often opposes the uplifting instrumental resulting in what is actually a rather bittersweet song. Frankly, I’m relieved to know there are acts out there still intent on making classic soul, and pulling it off as exquisitely as this. Support great music and an old soul just doing what he loves by grabbing this on iTunes now.

Nas - Bye Baby [Video]

For those that haven’t realised yet, Nas dropped the best album of the year in Life is Good. For those that did check that out, here is the video for one of my favourite tracks on that album. Following on from the excellent Daughters video, Nas delivers again.

Nas went through a pretty messy divorce with fellow celebrity Kelis, and in this song he documents the end of their marriage. What I love about this song is that on the face of it it seems quite sad, as Nas reminisces, but by the end of it you realise this is more of a celebratory track, as you can hear his relief that it’s over. Also, it’s quite interesting to go through his back catalogue from around 5 years ago and pick out this track where he documents his excitement of potentially marrying Kelis…as Nas once said: “A thug changes, and love changes and best friends become strangers…”

Main Attrakionz-Do It For The Bay

The first single from “Bossalinis & Fooliyones”, their debut LP due October 22nd, features fellow Bay Area MC DaVinci and is set for release in September. The album showcases producer/rapper Squadda B’s instantly identifiable production style, drawing from regional rap styles like hyphy and mobb music in the Bay Area, as well as Memphis mixtape obfuscation and the NY street rap of C-N-N, but also maintains pop accessibility through booming 808s and melodic, floating vocal clips. Simply put: this music sounds like nothing else out right now.

These guys made a great impression on me when they featured on A$AP Rocky’s excellent Leaf, and they’re making huge moves of their own. This effort is a summery, bright effort with a lot of replayability, blending together uplifting synths with laidback raps for a contrast that highlights the best aspects of both the vocal and production work. Certainly worth a listen, and keep a look out for more from the duo as that album draws closer.

Toddla T x Cleo Sol - Code to Crack ft. Scrufizzer [Video]

Some swift visuals after last week’s première of this feel-good track! Cleo Sol and Toddla T have nailed the carnival feel to this song in homage to London’s annual Notting Hill festivities.

Cleo really does have an infectious voice, and I look forward to her next single, Are You Ready, in October. Some cool cameos to look out for too in this video, for those clued up on the UK scene.

Baiyu - As Long As You Love Me [Justin Bieber Cover]

There’s Something about chance meetings that makes me feel like I’m on the right path. Once of such chance meetings was bumping into Frankie Z at the filming of The Next on the CW Network! I had known about Frankie for quite a while since we both worked with the same music video director (Eif Rivera) but getting a chance to finally chat with him, share a few laughs and work on a project together was really something special! Make sure you check the both of us out on CW representing the best of the best in New York City! – Baiyu

Although a little short for my liking, here’s a nice little cover of Bieber’s latest hit. With a powerful voice like this, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more of Baiyu in the future. You can download this track for free below.

Baiyu – As Long As You Love Me

HAIM UK Tour 2012 Dates

In addition to supporting Ellie Goulding on her 26th September date at London’s Roundhouse as part of iTunes Festival, talented upcomers HAIM have announced a handful of their own dates to satisfy their burgeoning fanbase out here. Head here to get acquainted if you aren’t already, and here for tickets.

Saturday 10th November  – Constellations Festival, Leeds
Sunday 11th November – Stereo, Glasgow
Tuesday 13th November – Deaf Institute, Manchester
Wednesday 14th November – KCLSU, London
Friday 16th November – Bodega, Nottingham
Saturday 17th November – The Cooler, Bristol
Sunday 18th November – Audio, Brighton

2 Chainz-Birthday Song ft. Kanye West (Video)

One of the most popular tracks from 2 Chainz’s Based on a T.R.U. Story album, but in truth I’m not planning on giving it much time in my rotation.

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the track. The production sounds like a bit of a Lex Luger cast off in the verses, and although it does have a few moments of redemption in the hook, it’s not really enough to hold the track together. 2 Chainz isn’t exactly lyricist of the year and hence his fairly standard raps get a little exposed by the average production, whilst Kanye isn’t exactly on blistering form on this one either, though the back and forth between the two towards the end is a rare highlight.

The video is funny in what I assume is an ironic way, with plenty of unecessary shots of anatomically-gifted ladies, but all-round, it’s a bit of a dull track that’s only stopped from being totally poor by the production work on the catchy hook and a mildly entertaining video.

Pac Div-Black Acura ft. Mac Miller & Raven Sorvino

That GMB album drops on 16th October, and thus far the releases from it have been of a very good level. This one follows suit, and the Mac Miller feature should also ensure it reaches a wider audience.

The production is very dark throughout, combining ominous synths with a menacingly-slow percussion for a beat full of character and intensity, making for a real departure from the Div’s more positive regular style. The raps are tailored well to the production, with slower deliveries all-round and a little touch of aggression in places to capitalise on the aforementioned intensity, whilst the diversity is there thanks to Raven and Mac’s contribution, with the latter’s laidback style fitting in well here. Another good track from the album, and it’s nice to see them switch up the style a little.

MellowHype-La Bonita (Video)

We got a short preview of this a little over a month ago, and now Odd Future’s Hodgy Beats and Left Brain send out the video for the Numbers single.

This extended version is considerably improved on the original, which was a little too brief to make a full judgement on. That’s in no small part thanks to the excellent closing verse from Hodgy, who displays the kind of versatility that gives both this track and himself a great chance of cracking into more mainstream consciousness.

It’s another departure from the shock tactics style the OFWGKTA clan were (arguably, unfairly) branded as initially, and the video also reflects that by mostly staying true to the vibe of the track. It’s filmed at an easy pace, with most of the focus on the performers and a little eye candy, whilst the somewhat tribal theme and monochrome styling adds a little more variety to keep it different enough from a ‘regular’ hip-hop video. A cool, laidback listen and a decent watch, and with Numbers dropping on 9th October, and let’s see how they follow this up.

Trae Tha Truth-Tha Blackprint (Mixtape)

Talk about label craziness. ABN representative and Grand Hustle-affiliated Trae Tha Truth drops a brand new tape for the hip-hop heads, hosted by Maybach Music Group’s DJ Scream. Any other labels want in here?

Clearly, everyone wants to be associated with Trae. It’s easy to spot why as his very unique delivery makes him instantly stand out from the crowd, and clearly Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, T.I., Young Jeezy, R. Kelly and many more agree given that they all makes appearances on the tape. Almost every track has a big name attached to it, and here’s to hoping Trae can hold his own and prove he belongs up with those names. Grab the enormous 20-track mixtape for free below.

Trae Tha Truth-Tha Blackprint

Big Sean-How It Feel

Sean’s gearing up to release his first project since last year’s Finally Famous album, the Detroit mixtape, and pre-empts that release with a video for one of the tracks from said tape.

I’m enjoying this one a lot too. It’s got lashings of that 2008-9 Big Sean style thrown in with the new-found confidence and arrogance he’s developed since really blowing up: the combination works well, as the hunger remains in Sean’s raps, and they’re packaged up in a ball of self-assurance that suggests he’s more than comfortable where he’s at. Million $ Mano serves up an excellent production here, mirroring the style of raps by sampling vintage works and giving them a modern twist courtesy of some thumping percussion-it’s another good production from Mano, and he’s undoubtedly a name to watch out for.

The slow pace of the track creates a laidback vibe, and the video capitalises on that as Sean pretty much spends it lounging around his hotel room with some eye candy, interspersed with classic-style transitions to enhance that vintage vibe. It’s only a short one, but definitely gets the buzz going for that mixtape drop on 5th September.

RZA's The Man With The Iron Fists Soundtrack Tracklist

Quentin Tarantino presents The Man With The Iron Fists, an action-adventure inspired by kung-fu classics as interpreted by his longtime collaborators RZA and Eli Roth. Making his debut as a big-screen director, co-writer and leading man, RZA—alongside an exciting international cast led by Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu—tells the epic story of warriors, assassins and a lone outsider hero who all descend on one fabled village in China for a winner-takes-all battle for a fortune in gold. The film arrives on November 2, 2012.

I saw the trailer for this a little while back and frankly, it looks epic. Normally projects like this can be pretty shoddy, but RZA’s clearly surrounded himself with the right people and properly committed to this, and the sheer scale of the names involved in both the film and the soundtrack suggests he’ll pull this off with considerable success. The tracklist features a fantastic roster, including Kanye West, Pusha T and of course the Wu-Tang Clan; click below for the full list, where you can also grab a free download from the OST.
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Ben Gibbard-Teardrop Windows

“Teardrop Windows” is the first single from Benjamin Gibbard’s debut solo album, Former Lives, out October 15 in the UK/Europe via City Slang Records and October 16 in North America via Barsuk Records.

Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard is off on his own adventure. There’s a much heavier folk influence than in his work with Death Cab, and as a result swaps out the often melancholy instrumentation of the band for a more jovial, uplifting backdrop. With that said, the bittersweetness hasn’t entirely disappeared and still manifests itself with the sweet and sour lyricism, with its reflectiveness often contrasting with the more lively points of the production. It’s a good contrast though, and it prevents the vocal work from becoming too dour, hence giving the track plenty of replayability. The DCFC should enjoy this one, free grab below.

Random Funnies: Old Spice Muscle Music

We may as well just close down the internet now. Terry Crews has won it.

His work on the Old Spice campaign has been nothing short of superb, revitalising the brand in a way very few expected, giving it much need relativity to younger folk. Now, they’re taking things up another notch by ‘strapping’ Crews to various instruments and making some ridiculous noise, with hilarious results.

Be sure to watch it right until the end, when you can use your keyboard to make and record your very own ‘remix’ using the sights and sounds of the video (plus some bonuses-press the ‘A’ key for my favourite).

Lupe Fiasco and Guy Sebastian-Battle Scars

Lupe’s Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album pt. 1 is edging ever closer, meaning we’re treated to track number four and video number three from the project.

Whilst this is undoubtedly more mainstream friendly than previous releases from the album, that’s not strictly a bad thing here as Lupe’s lyricism is still very much on point, and it’s merely supplemented by a powerful, rousing hook from Australian singer Guy Sebastian. Of course, the combination of a pop-centric production and a singalong hook will turn off many, but for me it’s a welcome break from the wave of lyricism that seems to be the foundation of the upcoming album, and unlike Lasers it’s mainstream-targeted work that’s actually executed well.

The video is a pretty simple one, allowing Guy to get some valuable camera time, whilst going for a very human-oriented theme via various close-ups of everyday people, with some holding up ‘labels’: admittedly, the labelling visual is a little corny and overdone, but it doesn’t particularly detract from the audio. I don’t see this on iTunes GB yet, but it’s up over on the US version here.

Donnis-Absolutely ft. Jay Ant and IAMSU (Video)

Along with E-40′s thumping Function remix, this effort from Donnis is one of the more enjoyable upbeat hip-hop jams in quite some time.

It’s a shame that the comparative lack of big names makes this unlikely to affect the club scene as much as Function will, as it’s every bit as enjoyable and certainly more energetic. The clip gives the three upcomers plenty of camera time to get audiences acquainted with them, interspersing shots of them rapping their verses with lively club scenes. It allows the visual to capture the energy of the song in with the confidence of the rappers, with the latter clearly evidenced throughout courtesy of three diverse yet watertight flows from each MC, proof positive that you don’t need to sacrifice rap ability to drop something for the clubs.

Worth a watch and definitely worth a download, which you can do here. Be sure to support and grab Donnis’ EP on iTunes (US) now too.

Ryan Leslie-Beautiful Lie Remix ft. Fabolous

It’s been a very long time since we’ve heard from R-Les, and he’s back on the scene with his frequent collaborator Fabolous for a remix (of a song I don’t recall in the slightest).

Those classic Ryan Leslie trademarks are all over this beat, from the slick percussion to the addictive work on the keys, and whilst it’s not quite one of his best beats it’s refreshing to here this style return to us. More expected elements are in place, with a clever opening verse from Loso and a catchy hook from R-Les, though the latter’s decision to rap his verse is admittedly a little disappointing: he’s a man of many, many talents but he doesn’t need to head down the rapping route as most singers seem to be. Still, Leslie’s back and that’s enough for most.

Skeme-Kidz with Gunz ft. ScHoolboy Q

Known to me primarily for his feature on Problem’s impossibly-catchy T.O., Skeme branches out with a brand new single, grabbing TDE’s ScHoolboy Q for a fairly aggressive hip-hop effort.

Skeme’s verses are relatively solid throughout, though not quite as conscientious as the title may have suggested, which is instead a little more self-referring. Nonetheless, it’s familiar stuff that will make for a good introduction to the hip-hop masses. ScHoolboy’s definitely in the mood for this one, bringing a strong, intense delivery that really ramps up the energy of the track and is unquestionably its highlight section. The production is a little hit and miss, with a nice powerful bass working well enough, but the minimal melodies on top are sharp without ever being dominating, and instead end up just floating around annoyingly. Worth checking for the ScHoolboy verse, though I’m sure many will enjoy the whole thing.

August Alsina-August Alsina University (Mixtape)

Def Jam/Noontime Unlimited’s Newest Signee “August Alsina” Mixtape/EP “August Alsina University” is for all the ladies back on campus for Fall 2012.

Winning many admirers with the recent Lloyd feature, August is looking to capitalise on that buzz with the release of this brand new 10-track tape. There hasn’t been too much coming out of the R&B scene recently, so he’s probably picked a good time to let this one loose, and should it be of a good quality and consistency, he’ll no doubt find his stock increase far more than it would have had this been released this time last year. Outside of the Lloyd assist, there isn’t too much starpower tagging along so it’s a good chance for Alsina to breakout on his own merits; help the cause by grabbing the project for free below.

August Alsina-August Alsina University

A$AP Mob-Lords Never Worry (Mixtape)

Did anyone else think this was going to be a proper album release and not a mixtape? In any case, it’s here and it’s free, so I’m not complaining.

A$AP Rocky’s gone back for his team, and shines the spotlight on the group with this 18-track stack of music, giving Ant, Twenty, Yams and the rest the opportunity to establish the Mob as one of hip-hop’s ‘power groups’. There aren’t too many real collectives doing the rounds nowadays, so I hope this one does come through; the early signs were positive with Bath Salt, though the recently-leaked Work wasn’t exactly up to par. NY veterans Raekwon and Jim Jones have shown up in support on this tape, whilst Clams Casino is amongst the many producers throwing beats forth: the ingredients are there, and you can stream or grab it for free below to taste the finished article.

A$AP Mob-Lords Never Worry

Rapsody-The Idea of Beautiful (Album)

I don’t know a great deal about Rapsody, but the album’s warming title and artwork coupled with a phenomenal lineup of features makes this one that I’m very eager to check out sooner rather than later.

Assists on this one come from Childish Gambino, Rocki Evans, Mac Miller, The Cool Kids, Ab-Soul, Raheem DeVaughn and more. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s as close to grabbing a complete who’s who of upcoming rappers as anyone’s come in recent months, and not only does that add star power, but it gives Rapsody plenty to compete with and live up to. With such weighty cosigns I’m sure he’ll have some quality to deliver, and you can stream or download the album over at DJBooth below.

Rapsody-The Idea of Beautiful

Common-No Sell Out

The incomparable No I.D. has taken to Twitter/Tumblr (the internet, let’s just say the internet) to let a Common joint loose from of the vaults. I don’t suspect this is from too far back as Common’s voice sounds a little more recent, but it makes no difference: this is a crunching No ID beat with some slick Com raps that will go down well with the hip-hop heads.

The production utilises some vintage, almost 20′s-inspired keys for a positive vibe, though the slightly more downward synths and the thunderous percussion temper that upbeat quality with a heavy dose of grittiness. It’s a production that draws equally from classic and modern sources for an excellent hybrid sound that suits Common perfectly, with his own crossbreed style of rap working this beat well courtesy of a steady flow and a nice mix of storytelling and wordplay. Great slice of heavy-hitting hip-hop.

E-40-Function Remix ft. Young Jeezy, Problem, Chris Brown, French Montana & Red Cafe (Video)

One that hasn’t even been in danger of leaving my rotation since entering it way back in May, this is easily my favourite club/mainstream hip-hop track in recent months. That bassy, indescribably thick production is head-meltingly addictive and screams out ‘hit!’, whilst Problem lays down another stick-around hook that holds everything together strongly. On top of all that, you’ve got a lineup with some of hip-hop’s biggest names contributing verses. It’s tough to top that for a club banger.

40 Water opens with a good verse, with his distinctive tones meshing well with the beat, before Jeezy jumps in to really take the track to another level, with his rough voice making this the highlight verse. Chris Brown steps up next with a surprisingly listenable verse, and he’s followed by French Montana, who’s little disappointing on this one, before Red Cafe closes it out with a solid contribution.

The video packs in a ton of cameos, from Big Sean to Freddie Gibbs, and it’s always fun to see the hip-hop community turn out to lift a track to a better status. Definitely worth a watch and listen, and you can grab the audio right here.

The xx-Angels (Live in Tokyo)

Coexist is mere weeks away now, and the single that seems to be gaining traction by the minute recieves another boost with this superb performance.

Filmed whilst out in Japan on a recent tour, their hotel room is converted into a makeshift performance area, only adding to the intimacy of this tender track. Under the assumption that there weren’t any post-edit tweaks (which is unlikely), the vocal and instrumental performance is absolutely flawless throughout, as Romy retains the beauty and gentleness of the studio version’s work in both aspects with a great performance.

The nighttime scenery and various cuts to other members of the band certainly help to set the scene and match up to that mental picture many of us had on hearing Angels, which is essentially all you usually want from a music video. And yet, this isn’t the video for the song. Very enjoyable stuff, and you can pre-order the album right now.

Zodiac-Come ft. Jesse Boykins III

Zodiac, or Jeremy Rose, is said to be one of the producers behind The Weeknd’s House of Balloons but failed to recieve credit for his work on early versions of The Morning and What You Need. As two of that project’s best tracks, it’s with great excitement that I gave this a go, with the feature of one of the finer upcoming vocalists being another very good reason to do so.

That gloomy, winter feeling that cascaded through the aforementioned album is driven right through this one, fusing haunting synths with soft, barely-there percussion for verses that feel pulled straight from a dream sequence. The hook throws in a dulled tambourine for an injection of comparative liveliness, and the soundscape ends up being one that competes with any ‘downbeat R&B’ of this nature. JB3′s never disappoints vocally and his performance is tailored skilfully to the production, delivering a whispery and almost fragile performance that throws forth plenty of emotion without resorting to ‘passion’ to do so. A superb track with some great subtleties, and you’ll want to keep an eye out for the full 5-track EP on 24th September.

Gunplay-M1 (Video)

I’ve made my peace with this guy being my favourite ‘ignorant’ rapper, and this track, along with the utterly mental Jump Out (which comes equipped with screaming and gunfire) were probably the standouts in terms of intensity from his Bogota Rich mixtape.

The video doesn’t add anything to the track, and instead somehow makes standing on a porch into the most frenzied, impossibly-busy scenario. It’s actually mildly refreshing to know that not everyone in the Maybach Music Group is overly self-conscious and focused on appearing indifferent: Gunplay’s full of emotion and a balls-out rabidness that’s increasingly rare in mainstream hip-hop. Whereas most rappers nowadays seem like they’d probably give you a hug, this guy just seems like he’d rather harpoon you in the thigh. What’s not to like?

Let’s be honest, just one listen of this is enough to put many of you off for life, but sometimes you’ve just got to embrace the craziness. Should you be willing to do so, grab Bogota Rich now.