Zodiac-Zodiac EP (Stream)

If you’ve got any sense, you’ll have checked out the one previous release from this EP back in August, the Jesse Boykins III-featured Come. Now, The Weeknd’s former producer lets loose of the entire 5-track project and it’s one that chillout and alternative R&B fans will undoubtedly enjoy.

Fusing together soul sensibilities, moody R&B influences and doses of chillout electro, the productions are diverse and distinctive, and the atmospheric soundscapes couldn’t be a better answer introduction to Rose as a standalone producer. From the lively stylings of Girlgirlgirl, to the eerie Loss Config., the summer vibe of So Soon We Change and 138, which seems to be somewhere between the three, there’s a lot of variety here and enough to suggest Rose has a great future ahead of him. Hopefully, there’s more to come soon, but for now stream the EP over at Bleep below.

Zodiac-Zodiac EP

Joell Ortiz-Clique Freestyle

It’s difficult to argue that the highlight of Kanye, Jay and Sean’s original was the beat, and hence it’s a definite pleasure to hear one-quarter of the Slaughter take a couple of minutes out to take it on.

Not quite the original production, instead it’s a bootlegged version, but nonetheless it’s similar enough to do the job. Joell’s flows are definitely on point with this one, packing his usual mix of aggression and humour into a slower delivery than usual but one that rides along with this crawling production well. It’s just under two minutes long so only a short one, but if this is anything to go by we should hope his Slaughterhouse comrades decide to add to that by giving this a go themselves.

Crystal Castles-Wrath of God

Following on from their bizarre video for Plague, the duo let loose another single from their upcoming (III) album, and it’s another piece of gripping electronic music that will get listeners really going for that LP.

The production’s overall vibe is one of muted intensity. The synth work throughout is urgent and driving, yet the percussion remains subdued for the verses, before livening up for a hook with plenty of bounce but once again brings that ‘held down’ quality back via vocals from Alice Glass that are very much pushed into the background. It’s an interesting combination of styles that should give this a huge appeal; despite the unique production structure, the actual song structure is classic electro, with slow verses that build to a pulsating hook. Good work from the duo, and one that’s going to warrant many replays. Could do without the screechy ending though.

Kendrick Lamar-The Art Of Peer Pressure

It’s unclear whether this is destined for his upcoming good kid, m.A.A.d city album, but I’d hope so as its another fantastic Kendrick track. The production is dark and moody, blending gristly bass with muted percussion for a downplayed production that rightly spotlights Kendrick’s lyrical work. It’s another of those that sounds like an internal monologue, much like portions of Swimming Pools, as Kendrick reflects at length on in certain activities with his crew. His delivery is downbeat and almost regretful, combining well with the subdued production for a thoughtful atmosphere that adds the reluctance to the lyricism that ties it into to the hook and song title. There aren’t too many lyrics in this that state he actually has a problem with what he’s done or is pressured into doing any of it; instead, that all comes from his clever emotional delivery. Another unique and enjoyable one from Kendrick, and look out for that album on 22nd October.

Star Slinger-Ladies In The Back ft. Teki Latex

I’m a big fan of several Star Slinger remixes, but never actually knew he put out original material too. You learn something everyday etc.

This one’s somewhere between electro and pop, and generally speaking that’s a combination built for mainstream success. This should be no different. Slow-paced percussion combines with synth pulses that sound straight out of the 90s/early 00s, whilst a plethora of other additions such as keys and vocal samples combine to give the track plenty of layers without stifling them individually. The vocal work is a little basic at times and doesn’t always feel necessary, but it’s not particularly to the detriment of the beat and instead just sort of meanders along with it. A good listen that could be a club favourite this winter.

Kid Cudi Previews 'King Wizard'

Cudi took to YouTube to let loose a preview of something new from his upcoming Indicud album, and with more and more of his new material coming to light with each passing day, this is another to keep his fans satiated before that album drops.

Naturally, the quality is pretty sketchy given it’s him essentially playing it from his laptop and then streaming it to the world, meaning its difficult to get a real grasp on the song’s qualities. However, there’s enough there to latch on to, with that alternative WZRD influence pretty heavy throughout via the Ratatat-esque production and anthemic hook work, whilst he also comes through with some strong flows on the verses. It’s not the full song unfortunately, but it’s clear there’s much more positivity in this track than on almost any track from the last solo album, and that’s never a bad thing. Indicud coming soon…hopefully.

Jean Grae-Kill Screen (Video)

Jean Grae’s self filmed, directed and edited dark, noir like full length video for her latest single, “Kill Screen.” A prequel? A sequel? Both? Look for the hidden messages in between frames..

It’s rare we get visuals from Jean Grae, and whilst her rap credentials are there for all to see, this makes for a great opportunity to show herself off as a more rounded entertainer. What it’ll also do is mess with your head.

The video’s extremely dark, both literally and figuratively, and requires intense viewing to get any remote hint as to what the hell is going on. There’s a recurring theme of psychological breakdown and oppression, and even to patch that theme together requires careful observation of those hidden message. For more, you’re going to have to watch this: I don’t want to spoil the video as a key element of it is the interactivity and dedication required. I’ll give you only two tips: don’t assume the scenes are sequential, and look for a link within one of the frames.

With layers of subtlety, interactivity and sophistication that most artists in any genre could only dream of, requiring you to properly watch, focus on and engage with it, things which are easy to avoid doing with most videos. Clever and skilled work by Jean, look out for Gotham Down.

Boaz-Bases Loaded (Mixtape)

This guy’s flung into hip-hop consciousness seemingly out of nowhere, inking a deal recently with Rostrum Records (Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller etc.), and now drops off this mixtape packed with some excellent features.

I’ve not even heard any of his material yet, though I’ve got confidence in his abilities based on the acts he’s surrounded himself with on this tape. Contributing producers include Statik Selektah, !llmind and Beatnick & K-Salaam, whilst guest rappers include GLC, ScHoolboy Q, Freeway, labelmates Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller and Chevy Woods and more. Find out if this newcomer can cement himself a place in the game with the free grab below.

Boaz-Bases Loaded

Colin Munroe - The Fight of My Life ft. Pusha T [Video]

The extremely talented, and an OTU favourite, Colin Munroe brings us the visuals to an excellent collaboration with Pusha T, which is off his recent mixtape/album, #UnsungHero.

And that’s exactly what Colin Munroe is…somewhat frustratingly he’s not as well known as he should be by now, but I’m sure that’ll change in the not-to-distant future he carries on with this kind of form.

You can grab UnsungHero right here.

Ryan Leslie - Dress You To Undress You

Another R&B/Hip-Hop track for your eyes and ears. Big fan of Ryan Leslie’s production skills, and he really does know how to flow to songs, as he raps and sings effortlessly to this song. Very slick.

Dress You To Undress You is the fifth in a series of 10 videos that make up his ‘visual’ album, Les is More, which is in stores next month. A real likeable and feel-good track, that’ll be getting a lot of time in my playlists over the next few weeks.

Emanny ft. Joe Budden - I Messed Up [Video]

Here’s the official video to a recent collaboration between Emanny and Joe Budden (this duo have made a fair few songs together and it’s a combination I’m liking!). Not usually one for R&B but I’ve been really impressed with Emanny over the past year or so, he manages to sing about women without sounding whiny, which is a rarity.

The Joe Budden feature is pretty good too, a lot more chilled out than we’re used to from him which suits this song very well. This is a track off his mixtape, Songs About Her, which you can download for free by clicking here.

Supa Dupa Fly @ Jazz Cafe – Friday 12th October

SDF has quickly become the monthly necessity in any 90s hip-hop lovers diary. Since launching in March 2011, the events have gone from strength to strength, hosting acts including Rita Ora, Conor Maynard, Rizzle Kicks, Stooshe, Josh Osho & Cleo Sol. Expect 90′s & early 00’s Hip-hop from the likes from Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nas, Biggie, Tupac & A Tribe Called Quest, & RnB from TLC, Montell Jordan, 112, SWV, Salt N Pepa, Destiny’s Child & a LOT more! Undoubtedly one of the hottest beatboxers in the UK, Experimental will be jumping up on stage, having recently took 3rd place at the UK Beatbox Championships 2012.

DJs: Big Ted is Hip Hop! Supa Dupa Fly’s champion crowd pleaser and deck ripper like no other! His now legendary 10 year stint on Kiss 100 was home to a show that featured hip-hop greats from Run DMC to Missy Elliot to Jay-Z! Emily Rawson is one of the UK’s most in-demand female DJs and promoters. She has recently DJ’d and curated stages at festivals including BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend, The Camden Crawl, Lovebox and Rivington Street Festival, and does regular mixes for BBC Radio 1Xtra.

Queue jump advance tickets: £6 from jazzcafe.co.uk– highly advised.
Concessions: £5 before 10pm/ £8 on the door
Time: 8pm-3am – early arrival is a must.
Address: The Jazz Café, 5 Parkway, Camden Town, London NW1 7PG Transport: Camden Tube.

Crystal Castles-Plague (Video)

Bizarre, disquieting and a whole lot weird.

And yet, oddly engaging. I found myself pausing it at 20 second intervals to have a break, but I’d still go back to watch more. The video essentially has its character undergoing some kind of possession or mental episode in a subway, throwing herself around viciously and generally being rather unusual. The interjection of a brief scene of what appears to be a flashback to her teaching ballet heightens this, as one of her students completely snaps mentally, something that’s never easy to watch. There’s are no unecessary layers of storyline. This is meant to be very uncomfortable viewing and that’s exactly what it is.

The audio is, by contrast, much more layered and makes for a good listen. Opening slowly and somewhat ominously, the track moves into a pulsating hook that seems to be firing synths out at a relentless rate, when in fact it isn’t: the sheer intensity of them is overwhelming, particularly when coupled with the ferocious visuals and sharp, distinctive vocals of Alice Glass. An audiovisual with a ton of uniqueness.

Freddie Gibbs-Baby Face Killa (Mixtape)

For years, I’ve liked this guy for his genuine, no-nonsense nature, but his music has never really seemed to grab me as it should. That all changed quite recently, as after catching a few of the early leaks from this tape, I was considerably impressed with the quality and consistency of what he was putting out.

There’s undoubtedly talent there, highlighted by his signing to Young Jeezy’s label and the features on this tape, including Jadakiss, Krayzie Bone, Curren$y, Jay Rock and of course Jeezy himself. Coming in at 18 tracks, this is a great opportunity for Gibbs to establish a strong foothold in the game and really start getting to the level he’s quite clearly capable of, but firstly he needs to nail down that consistency. Find out if he’s successful for free below.

Freddie Gibbs-Baby Face Killa

Frank Ocean-Blue Whale

Whether it’s new or unreleased isn’t clear, or important, but Frank took to his Tumblr yesterday to unexpectedly let this previously-unheard effort go. This one has Frank on a rap/spoken word style throughout, a delivery we’ve heard him utilise in short bursts on several occasions previously, but not at this sort of length.

It’s going to prove divisive, as it won’t really be what most Frank Ocean fans signed up for, but the stream of consciousness style of the lyrics does make this worth a couple of close listens. It’s no songwriting masterpiece, instead being a slightly attitudinal outpouring from Frank and hence there’s a nice personal vibe about it, something the soft and almost homely production does a good job of emphasising. The grainy, unfinished nature of the track is also worth noting for adding to the organic vibe of the track. It isn’t one you’ll recount as a classic, but it’s the insight into his thinking that makes for an interesting departure from his usual storytelling.

Wiz Khalifa-Remember Me ft. The Weeknd

Word got around about these two working together a few weeks back, and that collaboration surfaces as part of Wiz’s upcoming O.N.I.F.C. album, currently set for a 4th December release. I’m sure most of you aren’t too fussed about that though, and are here for the featured guest.

No word on who helmed the production but it sounds like The Weeknd’s team of Doc McKinney and Illangelo, with plenty of atmosphere and dark soundscapes packed into the verses and a Wiz-tailored step up for the hook. The Weeknd does a solid job with the vocals on the hook, keeping them at his unique, ethereal best whilst injecting some intensity and energy to keep pace with the production’s various twists and turns. Whilst Wiz’s verses don’t feel as though they take full advantage of the beat’s vibe, they were unlikely to defy expectations and are essentially standard Wiz raps about his lavish lifestyle. His highlight moment comes in his more serious bridge toward the final third of the track, his voice switching from a piercing pitch to something more subtle and fitted to the production. A decent effort that should be a hit for Wiz, and another boost to The Weeknd’s hook reputation.

Nicki Minaj-Mercy Remix ft. Iggy Azalea

A couple of disclaimers: firstly, I don’t rate Iggy Azalea at all. She’s a novelty at best, and has minimal rapping ability. Secondly, as a result I can’t verify whether her verse on this or a legit remix, or just ripped from another song and mixed onto the beat. Finally, the Minaj verse is from her remix of this with Lil’ Wayne on his recent Dedication 4 mixtape (assuming you understandably didn’t download that).

If the above statements didn’t clear it up, I’m not exactly beside myself with excitement over this. Minaj’s verse is nursery rhyme bad at the start and end, though there’s a flash of her ability with a quicker flow in the middle section of the verse, whilst Iggy’s contribution is so insanely boring I refuse to write any more.

Lupe Fiasco Breaks Down Lamborghini Angels

We’ve heard various tracks from Lupe’s Food and Liquor 2 (released tomorrow in the US, 1st Oct over here), but this was arguably the one that carried signs of tangible hope, and signified a return to lyrical form to Lupe fans who had lost so much faith after Lasers. Various snippets of the lyrics were thoroughly excellent with a plethora of potential meanings, some of which Lupe takes the time to break down with Rap Genius. It’s a very insightful and worthwhile watch for current and recovering Lupe fans, not least because it shows he’s still got that penchant for detail and heavy dose of uniqueness.

There was a time when ‘rap genius’ was a title afforded to Lupe. Despite his often preachy statements on Twitter and such, rarely is Lupe better than when he’s oppressed or angry: I’ve got high hopes that his album can help restore him back to the upper echelons of hip-hop, and let’s see (if you haven’t already…) if that happens.

Travis Porter-That Feelin' ft. Mike Posner (Video)

A slice of something a little more mainstream in terms of hip-hop, but an enjoyable laidback one that could be a decent hit for the Travis Porter duo. It’s nice to hear from Posner again too, who’s been quiet in terms of music activity in recent months.

The Just Blaze-helmed smooth beat and Posner’s whispery vocals synergise excellently, giving the song a consistently easygoing vibe that would have probably made this a playlist dominator for those summer days-shame it’s come too late for us over here. It’s rare to hear Blaze come through with this style, and it’s generally a good listen whenever he does so. Travis’ verses are decent enough for the track type, keeping things fairly light and uncomplicated throughout, traits which suit the vibe of the track. No unecessary complexity, no complaints.

The visual opens in a relaxed manner, depicting an enviably bright drive to Las Vegas, before slowly injecting a little more playfulness which results in the now-customary nightclub scenes. It’s a clip that fits well enough with the audio, and doesn’t make any conceited attempts at a storyline. Grab this on Amazon now.

Miguel-Kaleidoscope Dream (Full Album Stream)

Miguel’s release style for this album has been commendably unique, and finally we’re treated to his entire sophomore LP. With that 2nd October release date a little over a week away, this is a step by Miguel that suggests he has absolute confidence in the material.

Many Miguel fans will be familiar with large chunks of this album, but there’s plenty of new work to enjoy. Truthfully, his debut album was disappointing, but his stock has risen again considerably since putting out a series of EPs earlier this year. He’s demonstrated the skills, consistency and beat selections to back up all of that ever-increasing hype, a trait I expect to continue through the 11-tracks here, and one that should erase memories of his disappointing debut.

His diversity has shone through across his material in the last year, and hence he’s not someone who needs features due to the ever-changing nature of his style. However, the lone Alicia Keys feature will definitely warrant some attention. Shouts to NPR for the early release stream, be sure to grab the LP next Tuesday.

Phonte-Gonna Be A Beautiful Night ft. Carlitta Durand (Video)

Without question this was my favourite track from Phonte’s Charity Starts At Home album, released almost exactly a year ago. An easy one to miss for casual fans, but don’t miss it this time.

The influence his work with The Foreign Exchange has had on him is at its most evident throughout this one, particularly in the production. The beat is laidback and wintery, combining soft and meandering synths with relatively sharp percussion for a clash of styles that works nicely. The combination of vocals from Phonte and Carlitta adds a warmth and depth to the atmospheric production, moulding that beat into something less ‘cold’ and more into a vital component of what is a relaxing and sultry soul/R&B track. Carlitta’s vocals in particular work as a nice break between Phonte’s singing and rapping, giving the track some diversity.

The visual further enhances the relatability of the track, with initimate nighttime scenes and performance close-ups combining for a very human and down-to-earth audiovisual. A great track that would have probably escaped your attention initially. Don’t let it happen again: iTunes.

Lloyd-Swimming Pools (Drank) Remix ft. August Alsina

Having worked together recently on a track from Alsina’s recent project, the two collaborate again to remix Kendrick Lamar’s thoroughly excellent single.

They’ve come up with the goods too. Lloyd opens with some empassioned vocals on this dark production, contrasting its moody nature with some very lively vocals, before steps into the hook superbly by retaining Kendrick’s lyrics whilst ensuring his vocals are memorable. August jumps in for verse two with a strong delivery of his own, including a quickfire rap style toward the end of the verse, before giving his individual take on the hook. One of few remixes of this track, but unquestionably artists are going to have to go some to top this. A great accompaniment to the original, and look out for Lloyd’s Playboy Diaries mixtape to drop soon.

Drake-Where Were You ft. Colin Munroe and Dawn Richard

I picked this up a week ago, and frankly dismissed it as another Drake demo that warranted minimal attention. My mistake, as the version I had didn’t credit Colin Munroe-if it had, I’d have known to expect much more. Worth noting that a Colin and Drake collaboration from 2010 has the same name, but is not the same song.

Whilst I don’t doubt this will still end up as a demo for someone else, it’s up there with one of his better reference tracks. Drake opens with a wistful verse that harks right back to his So Far Gone days, before Munroe jumps in on an airy, drifty hook that’ll stick around your head for quite some time. Dawn Richard comes through with a whispery and tender verse of her own, before Drake closes off with a rapped verse. Four very distinct vocal deliveries from three artists, and they’re all set to a wintery production filled full of melancholy yet with a speed of percussion that belies the mood of the track. A likeable all-rounder with an inescapably addictive hook.

Cris Cab-Paradise (On Earth)

Cris Cab has announced he will be releasing his debut EP, RISE, on October 9th. Cris has given his fans a glimpse into the project with Paradise (On Earth), the second offering from RISE, produced by Malay (Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange).

I’ve caught a few of Cris’ tracks in recent months, and it’s about time he got his due shine here. There’s a hybrid style to his music, blending together R&B and pop with a slight reggae twist, and the output is one that’s usually quite enjoyable. This is a good example, with a production that packs enough punch in the percussion to remain suitably engaging without undermining the more laidback elements of the rest of the production, which themselves add a calming atmosphere to the track. Cris’ vocals progress well throughout the song, stepping up for the hook without going overboard, and this is a solid all-rounder that many R&B heads will enjoy.

Yuna-Live Your Life Remix ft. Theophilus London

Two of the more unique and upcoming talents in the music game hook up for a remix to Yuna’s lead single from her self-titled album. I’ve waxed lyrical about both Yuna and the aforementioned album at length previously, and hence I’ll spare you me doing that again. This is however a nice reminder and refresh of a relaxing yet perky track, arguably one of the more ‘upbeat’ efforts from the album, with the short Theophilus verse adding a contrast to Yuna’s soft vocals. Not a great deal else to be said on this one, as otherwise it’s identical to the previously-reviewed original, but if you’re unfamiliar with Yuna this is an excellent starting point.

The xx-Angels (Four Tet Remix)

Only a radio rip for now, but the sheer promise of having The xx and Four Tet together makes it worth bearing with the imperfect quality.

Unlike several other remixes, Four Tet opts to retain the gentleness of the original track but without actually using much of the original production. He’s instead thrown together a sleepy, dreamscape-style production with soft electronic melodies and pillowy bass, before heading to a distorted and unusual production in the middle section, and finally closing off with the two beat styles blended together. Atmosphere and aura ooze out of this one, and look out for a release on vinyl in the coming weeks.

Slaughterhouse - To the Fans

A somewhat nicer video from Slaughterhouse for their fans than the previous one

My personal thoughts on Our House? I don’t love it, but I certainly like it. Combine it with the mixtape Slaughterhouse also released and you have around two dozen tracks to enjoy from one of the best hip hop groups in the industry right now, ain’t nothing to complain about there.

Breaking Down Cruel Summer with Kanye West

Over the last couple of years, Kanye’s been much more reclusive than over the bulk of his career, and like Jay-Z he’s rarely seen doing any press or ‘regular’ promo work. Hence, this short breakdown of the recently-released G.O.O.D. Music compliation album is very much welcomed, and certainly adds a layer of detail to the LP.

My early views on the album are that it’s not quite as great as many would have hoped, but does have a couple of great features and highlights. Kanye’s comments add a good personal touch to an album that loses that emotional connection due to its compilative nature, with comments such as Pusha always wanting to work with Ghostface making for good insight. I’d quite like to hear from some others in the G.O.O.D. clan in this format, and let’s see if that’s in the pipeline. Cruel Summer available everywhere now.

Morain - Are We Lost [Video]

As y’all know, I’m a hippity hopper, so when I post music that isn’t in that genre, it’s going to be pretty good, right? Right! Press play on the left and read the PR below. Big track.

Morain have just released a new music video for the title track off their forthcoming debut EP ‘Are We Lost’. The moody video was shot by Tall Man Short Man Films in Newcastle at a working men’s club. The track ‘Are We Lost’ was from the first batch of album sessions that the band recorded and always stood out as one of producer Jason Perry’s favourties.

Morain’s very first EP release ‘Are We Lost’ is a four track collection of beautifully crafted melodic rock and is set to be released as a free download through under Indigo Records on 23rd September. Indigo is a label set up by members of the band Futures to release their own debut album.