Curren$y-Priest Andretti (Mixtape)

Surely, Curren$y has to be regarded as one of hip-hop’s hardest workers. He seems to churn out projects of good quality at a rapid rate, and to top it off this 14-track effort is only really a prelude to another collaborative project with Wiz Khalifa. Imagine what his workrate would be if he wasn’t high all of the time?

Features are fairly minimal here, and rightly so ahead of what I’m sure will be a packed lineup on the Wiz tape. Appearances from his Jet Life labelmates, as well as Noreaga, Styles P and King Chip (of course, the recently rebranded Chip Tha Ripper) are those that make the cut, and I’m sure Spitta’s fans will have no problem with that minimalised lineup. Free stream and grab below.

Curren$y-Priest Andretti

Joey Bada$$-Fromdatomb$ ft. Chuck Strangers (Video)

Fromdatomb$ is the last video I wanted to drop off “1999″ because I felt like this closed out the tape perfectly. I’m locked in the studio putting in that twerk on this new PRO ERA tape set to drop December 21st.

Easily one of our favourite upcomers in the industry, Joey’s stock continues to rise after releasing his fantastic 1999 mixtape, and of course the bonus pack Rejex.

With 1999 being such a strong body of work, it’s difficult to praise individual tracks, and hence calling this a favourite wouldn’t necessarily be the truth. Instead, it’s one of many excellent efforts that showcase just why hip-hop heads have taken this teenager in with open arms and is a good choice to demonstrate just why that’s taken place. The production boasts a hometown vocal sample, deliciously throwback percussion with plenty of verve, and bright keys that tie everything together in a positive package, whilst Joey and Chuck’s raps demonstrate a maturity beyond their years without losing any of their youthful exuberance. The video’s entirely filmed locally, giving the music a raw, street edge and allowing Joey to show off a strong on-screen presence, whilst the slight blur and fade adds a further old school style. There’s little to dislike here, and I can’t wait to see what the ProEra boys drop off on 21st December.

Kendrick Lamar-The Jig Is Up (Dump'n)

The week is up… Yall did it… Appreciation day is TODAY. Me and COLE was in the stu lastnight…

The support for Kendrick’s debut LP has been nothing short of magnificent, both critically and commercially, and in his typically generous fashion he lets this one fly. Cole and Kendrick’s previous work in this format spawned HiiiPower, one of the highlight’s from Lamar’s Section.80, and they’ve most certainly come up with the goods again. Cole (and Canei Finch) serve up a powerful production that blends slow-rolling percussion with melodies that seem somewhere between vintage horror movie and gospel (seriously), and it’s a versatile one that allows Kendrick to try out several deliveries that all work excellently. Another great release from an MC that’s arguably sitting at the top of the pile right now.

ILL Bill-Severed Heads Of State ft. El-P

Fresh off the back of the recent La Coka Nostra release, ILL Bill drops the first single from his new album The Grimy Awards.

Teaming up with fellow Brooklyn-native El-P for the first time since the memorable Company Flow collaboration, Simian Drugs, we are faced with a tripped out, acid-flashback to earlier ILL Bill work. This is definitely one for the older Bill fans.

With a similar feel to the recent La Coka Nostra track A Letter To Ouisch, this could give us a hint of the direction Bill is heading with the new album.

Along with Vinnie Paz, ILL Bill will headline the next OTU Live event in Bristol on Dec 2nd. More details can be found here.

The Weeknd-Trilogy Trailer 3

The rate at which he’s churning out releases is very surprising. Whilst I’m fully aware he’s at the business end of a promo cycle, his ‘out of nowhere’ style was something that built his brand across the 3 mixtapes that compile Trilogy, and hence the reverse in quantities of pre-launch material is staggering.

Don’t mistake that for a criticism though. Almost everything he’s released throughout October has been of great quality, and has helped solidify his status as one of the premiere R&B artists around right now. This brief clip is no different, with a snippet of Till Dawn (Here Comes the Sun) thrown in (meaning the first trailer was Twenty Eight), and the early signs once again being very positive for the new material. The production sounds dark and atmospheric, whilst the vocals are passionate and dominant, utilising the formula that makes some of his music so deliciously addictive and hopefully we’ll get to hear more of his improved songwriting to boot. Trilogy arrives on 13th November, and the buzz is at record levels.

OTU:Live Presents Vinnie Paz and Ill Bill @ Lakota, Bristol-Sunday 2nd December

Almost a year to the day after we brought you Slaine, Reef the Lost Cauze and DJ Illegal, we’ve lined up an even bigger set of performers for the hardcore hip-hop heads.

With incredible histories in the music game, Ill Bill and Vinnie Paz bring a rapping pedigree and calibre of lyrical mastery that few can compare with, both as solo artists, part of La Coka Nostra and Jedi Mind Tricks respectively, and of course as the duo Heavy Metal Kings. Both will be joined by the revered DJ Eclipse (Non Phixion).

Support on the night comes from Leaf Dog, BVA and an additional RLD showcase that features Smellington Piff and Rag N Bone Man.

It’s an utterly stacked lineup that’s going to be unmissable for the hip-hop heads, and we’re bringing the goods to a city with one of the best rap communities in the UK right now. Tickets are on sale right now, and do yourself a favour and grab them quickly.

Tickets: £16 advance, more on the door
When: Sunday 2nd December 2012, 7.30pm doors
Where: Lakota, 6 Upper York Street, BS2 8QN, Bristol

Lloyd-The Playboy Diaries (Mixtape)

Always a pleasure to have a full project from Lloyd, and with his recent releases from this tape being of a very good standard, there’s a good chance the rest of the tracks will follow suit.

13 tracks make this one up, with 4 of them being released at various intervals prior to today, whilst the rest keep the features to a minimum in order to give Lloyd a little more shine. The assists on the new tracks come from prominent rappers Lil’ Wayne, Trae Tha Truth and CyHi the Prynce, and I’m sure the unannounced production credentials make for a solid list too. Free stream and grab below.

Lloyd-The Playboy Diaries

M83-Steve McQueen (Video)

Another of the legitimately superb tracks from M83′s most recent album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, and the video comes courtesy of a competition with Genero TV for aspiring videomakers to helm this one.

One of the many reasons I give this track so much time is for its immediacy, with the opening utilising no lengthy intros like plenty of their other music, and instead kicking things off with a lively, energetic vocal sample. It’s built on excellently with further vocals, uplifting synths and pulsating percussion work for a thoroughly feelgood track with so much positivity that it’s quite difficult to get the video wrong.

Thankfully, the rookie directors have done a great job here, and stick to M83′s favoured theme of childhood innocence with a supernatural twist courtesy of a fresh-faced kid performing for himself in his garden, interspersed with bright and fun animated scenes of electronics that suggest he’s possibly more scientifically than supernaturally gifted. It’s a video full of colour on a nighttime backdrop, and the high level of activity makes for a great accompaniment to the audio. Grab the album now.

Big Sean-GUAP

Sean’s Detroit mixtape was certainly one of the more enjoyable projects in recent months, and that was always planned as a prelude to his second LP release, with Hall of Fame set to land on 18th December.

This, I’m a little undecided on. The island-inspired production is a nice shift from the norm for Sean, with the steel drums and general positivity of the production being a fun listen that would be nicely suited to the summer months, and the production doesn’t let down on the head-nodding bass either. However, the rapping isn’t quite Sean at his best, with the subject matter being a little uninspired and that results in slightly repetitive raps, though there are no complaints about his selection of flows and there are a couple of typically-witty punchlines thrown in for good measure. It’s an OK track that may catch a couple of plays, but doesn’t match up to some of the mixtape material, and I expect there’s better work to come.

The Weeknd-Enemy

Earlier this week, the enigmatic singer promised a gift for his fans ahead of the release of Trilogy, and his generous streak continues with this hit of unreleased material.

If this is any indication of his new material on Trilogy, and forthcoming additional work, we’re in for some excellent listening. Enemy combines the slower, darker production stylings of Echoes of Silence with the desire-filled vocal deliveries of House of Balloons, and the end product is one that’s as perfect a slice of winter music as has been released by anyone this year. Soft key melodies, hints of guitar and crashing yet intermittent percussion combine for a backdrop with far more depth than you’ll first realise, and also one that’s got a hint of dynamism as elements fly in and out throughout the near 5-minute track. The vocal work is superb, from the tender intro to the more cool, attitudinal hook, whilst the lyricism is much improved from his more structure-less early days. Huge fan of this, and I’m hoping the audio gets dropped off soon.

Danny Brown-WitIt (Video)

Danny Brown’s “WitIt” is basically the craziest, most futuristic rap song ever made, so to celebrate he got Bijoux Altamirano to whip him up a video inspired equally by .gifs and No Limit cover art.

What a character. He’s insanely entertaining, and whilst his laidback Grown Up is probably his most popular song, it’s good to get something heavier and harder to showcase what Danny’s more accustomed to.

The production is a frenetic speaker breaker, combining leftfield electro melodies with a thunderous bass that’ll definitely melt the inside of your skull. It almost pretends to be complicated, but is actually a likeably simple production that keeps things big and brash, and suits Danny’s high-pitched style nicely whilst being slow enough to allow for a little flow experimentation.

The video’s as the above description would suggest: crazy. Full of scantily clad women (which is absolutely no surprise given), the video pokes a little fun at old-school rap styling, video effects and so on, whilst giving Danny enough screentime to be the lovable rogue that he is. A fun all-rounder that hopefully gets a release soon.

Matthew Santos-Burning Up (Video)

It’s been a very long time since we featured Matthew over here, which is a shame as he was a huge OTU favourite during our earlier years.

Compared to his excellent Burning Ship of Fools album, it’s immediately noticeable that he’s switched to a much more upbeat, percussion-heavy style that gives his soulful, wandering voice an entirely new direction to experiment with. The stripped-back acoustic stylings are all still in there, with the soft guitar plucks making for a warming addition throughout, but it’s the percussion that dominates this track due to it’s sheer force in dragging the track along at its pace. That power is almost matched by Matthew, who slowly evolves his vocals from the start to the end of every vocal section to an intensity befitting the drum work, and though it’s a far cry from the more subtle work that lured me into his music, it’s good to see him experiment with a considerably more mainstream-friendly sound.

The video’s much more reflective than the lively audio would suggest, with a dim filter and sprinklings of natural scenery across each scene adding calm to the rebellious activities and symbolism throughout the video, making for a good contrast that matches up to Santos’ own opposing musical styles. Grab the album this features on now.

Angel Haze-Classick EP

She’s been bubbling under for quite some time, and whilst her good performance at the BET Cyphers certainly endeared her to many, this will surely be the project that sees her really break out into wider hip-hop consciousness.

This 6-track EP borrows some of her favourite beats from around the rap world, with her version of Eminem’s Cleanin’ Out My Closet already garnering a ton of attention due to its incredibly honest lyricism about a harrowing series of sexual abuse experiences, and whilst that in itself is hugely remarkable, her ability to storytell and construct strong raps is what really brings those memories out. There’s definitely a ton of potential here, and the selection of beats suggests we’ll get to see a few different elements of her skillset, all of which will hopefully combine well to give us another great upcoming act. Grab and stream the EP for free below.

Angel Haze-Classick EP

Gilbere Forte-Pray

Gilbere hasn’t been particularly active as a solo performer since the start of the year, with only a couple of features and collaborations to his name and as one of the more consistent and likeable upcomers when he was regularly releasing material, it’s nice to have him back on the scene.

Pray opens with a sample of a tribal-esque chant, immediately giving the track a visceral yet soulful style that sets things up nicely, and softens the sharpness of the claps and percussion that follow. The introduction of slow bass hits adds a good level of depth to the piercing production and set up Gilbere’s raps nicely, with the pace of the beat allowing for him to experiment with a range of flows, inflections and styles, reminding fans of the versatility he’s capable of. There’s a more positive vibe about this one in comparison to his earlier work, and whilst I do prefer him on the more introspective work, this is the best option to re-announce himself due to it’s explosive and memorable nature.

Vinnie Paz-You Can't Be Neutral On A Moving Train

Vinnie Paz dropped his new album God of the Serengeti on Monday, and I can honestly say, it’s been on repeat since.

One of my personal favourite tracks from the album, You Can’t Be Neutral On a Moving Train, is nothing short of incredible. With 7 minutes and 30 seconds of historical story-telling, over multiple beat changes, I would put this up there with the likes of Jedi Mind’s Uncommon Valor or Canibus’ Poet Laureate II.

God of the Serengeti is available now on iTunes.

Mikill Pane-Dirty Rider

It’s been a short while since we heard from OTU favourite Mikill Pane, and here he drops off the lead single from his upcoming Dirty Rider EP, set to precede his official debut LP release. The latter, Blame Miss Barclay, is set for early 2013, and hence the EP may offer a glimpse into the direction the album may take.

If it’s anything like this single, you can lock down your listening for early 2013. The production combines influences from the drum and bass, classic punk and electro genres together into a style-bending, frenetic production with tons of uptempo charm, most of it delivered via lively guitar plucks and sharp percussion. Mikill’s clever raps are in full flow here, with enjoyable wordplay packed into quick and even quicker deliveries of watertight consistency, alongside a hook that borrows from 2Pac’s Ambitionz as a Ridah and adds a fun twist to it. A very replayable all-rounder that has already gained radio approval, and will hopefully impress many others.

Meek Mill-Dreams and Nightmares Intro

View MMG as a sliding scale. If Stalley is at the end that true hip-hop heads can appreciate, then Rick Ross is probably at the other end, that being mainstream focus and acceptability. Meek Mill is usually on the Ross end, but from time to time he lets loose flashes of nearing the Stalley side of things, and this is one of those times.

Set to be the opener on his upcoming debut LP, Dreams and Nightmares (released a week today), and let’s be clear- many albums have had great intros and lacked anything beyond that. This could very well be the same, but Meek’s put together an desire-filled starting point that plays to his positives: he’s allowed to be intense, he’s displaying the hunger associated with those much worse off than he is, and he’s wrapped it all in a motivational delivery and production that makes this very endearing. Good listening, and I hope the album has more of these.

Mickey Factz-#Y (Mixtape)

#Y is a freestyle mixtape that is the prelude to Mickey’s November 5th mixtape #Ynot.

His Mickey MauSe mixtape was a thoroughly excellent project that still recieves regular attention in my iTunes, and it’s good to get more new material from one of the more intelligent rappers in the game. A collection of freestyles is a great way for Mickey to remind those listeners of his capabilities, something that’s arguably required given he’s been relatively silent over the last year, aforementioned project aside. Mickey’s no fool with beat selections, and I’m sure the choices will be an enjoyable bunch, so be sure to grab your free copy below.

Mickey Factz-#Y

Travis Barker and Yelawolf-Push 'Em (Video)

The song has the energy/angst of a punk rock song with Yelawolf rapping over a double-time beat and a chorus that could instigate a fight anywhere.

I couldn’t agree with Travis Barker’s summation any more. This track just exudes energy, and as a result has been a staple in my playlists in recent weeks-give this one a chance in the car for full effect.

The video captures those facets well enough, with plenty of live crowd shots to accompany the hook, plenty of cutaways between cars, stage performance and face shots to maintain the frenetic feel, and a general pace shift between the slower verses and the rapid fire hook.

13th November sees the duo’s Psycho White EP land, and I can’t wait to hear more of this superb punk/hip-hop hybrid style.

The Weeknd-Trilogy Trailer 2

He took to Twitter yesterday to reveal both the pre-order for Trilogy (US iTunes for now) was available and also took time to put out another short clip ahead of that 13th November release date. He also announced ‘something for the fans’ to be released on Thursday-my inclination looking at that preorder is that it’ll be the video for his collaboration with Drake, The Zone.

The first trailer showcased one of the 3 new tracks set to be included and this one does the same thing, opting for a quick blast of Valerie (meaning the first trailer was either Till Dawn or Twenty Eight) accompanied by a rather upset lady surrounded by balloons, slightly reminiscent of the House of Ballons and (an inverted version of) the middle of the Thursday cover. Given that the track is attached to the end of the Thursday section on the album, I suspect it’s meant to be the latter. As this clip progresses, his vocals become incredibly impressive and that’s sure to make for good listening on the end product; let’s hope that’s the case on 13th November.

Iron Man 3-Official Trailer

In Marvel’s “Iron Man 3″, brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man is pitted against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

As predicted from yesterday’s teaser trailer, things look to be a little less celebratory and much darker in the first Marvel film since The Avengers. Of course, there’s no shortage of visual splendour and big action cuts, of which we get several tastes throughout this clip, whilst appearances by The Mandarin and The Patriot offers insight into the script’s direction. That late-April 2013 release can’t come soon enough.

Kendrick Lamar-The Recipe (Black Hippy Remix) ft. Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q and Jay Rock

The fearsome foursome come together once again for another Target bonus cut from Kendrick’s LP, this time grabbing the album’s first single and taking it for a ride.

Kendrick’s work on here is unchanged, but the rest of the TDE crew drops off enjoyable work that spices up the original, which I’m sure has finally dropped out of many’s playlists. A much different vibe to the grim Swimming Pools Remix, each of the feature verses are much lighter and laced with a touch more arrogance, with Jay Rock probably just edging it: he tones down his aggression, which leaves his delivery as gritty yet laidback, a great complement to this relaxing production. Another likeable remix.

Kendrick Lamar-Swimming Pools (Black Hippy Remix) ft. Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and ScHoolboy Q

With any good album release comes a slew of bonus tracks from various retailers, and as ever most of them are only available to consumers shopping at certain outlets. Essentially, most fans won’t get to legally own some of this material unless they buy the album several times. Way to combat piracy. Not.

This one (and another coming shortly) were found on the Target edition of the album, and it’s a damn shame they’re not more widely available. The original Swimming Pools still gets heavy play, and throwing the TDE crew into the mix provides a great upgrade on that, with the moody tones of each rapper suiting this dark production. The highlight verse of the new additions has to be Q’s, utilising a similar flow to Kendrick’s opening verse on the original, but lacing it with a unique touch that seperates it from its reference point. Kendrick himself appends a new verse over a retooled production to the end, with the beat being much less atmospheric and more on a thudding, underground hip-hop style. Top remix, and let’s hope it becomes more readily available soon.

The Man With The Iron Fists Soundtrack (Full Album Stream)

One of the most buzzed-about film soundtracks in quite some time, RZA’s massive all-star lineup has really upped the hype for what actually looks to be a decent film regardless. We’ve caught various individual releases from this, including the throwback stylings of Kanye West’s White Dress and a punchy collaboration between Joell Ortiz, Pusha T and Raekwon, whilst many others have dripped out too.

Wait no longer for the rest, as you can stream and buy it right now. With the rest of the OST including the likes of The Black Keys, Wiz Khalifa, Idle Warship, Corinne Bailey Rae and of course the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan, there’s undoubtedly a great mix of genres here to suit all. Stream and purchase the entire thing right here, right now.

Iron Man 3 (Teaser Trailer)

As is now the norm for big releases in either music or film, this isn’t the trailer but is actually a trailer for the trailer. Confused?

The official full-length trailer is due to be released tomorrow, but I’m sure there’s enough here to whet the appetite for Iron Man fans. It’s very early to deduce anything, but the trailer seems to be a little less ‘positive’ than the two previous films, suggesting this may go a little darker than its predecessors, whilst I’m sure the dedicates will enjoy seeing a glimpse of the new Iron Man suit.

Marvel are wasting little time capitalising on the buzz generated by The Avengers, and the second part of their story arc is now being put into motion, set to culminate with Avengers 2 in 2015. Before that though, we’ve got this, Thor 2 and plenty more besides on the way. Look out for that full trailer tomorrow.

Kendrick Lamar-Big Boy's Neighborhood Freestyles

Of course, today marks the official release date for Kendrick debut LP good kid, m.A.A.d city, and with that comes a slew of additional material.

First up is this scintillating set of freestyles over a set of superb old-school instrumentals. K.Dot’s fans are going to really love this one, and alternately if you haven’t yet subscribed to the Kendrick hype, you’re about to. Big Boy’s beat selection encompasses some utter classics from the West Coast, and whilst I don’t want to ruin it before you’ve watched it, even the loosest of hip-hop fans will recognise several of the tracks. The highlight however is Kendrick seamless work on and between each one, bringing forth several styles from a laidback flow that emphasises his intelligent lyricism to a rapid fire tongue-twister, and in either case it’s frightening how smoothly he blends with the production of choice. The backing vocalists are very annoying, but otherwise this is a great watch that’ll encourage you to get that album if you haven’t already.

Kendrick Lamar-The Heart Pt. 3 (Will You Let It Die?)

good kid, m.A.A.d city is officially released on Monday (22nd October), and with early reviews being overwhelmingly positive, Kendrick lets a free one go to encourage hip-hop heads to grab that CD.

Longtime Kendrick fans, or newer appreciators who have done their research, will be familiar with The Heart pt. 2 from his 2010 O.verly D.edicated mixtape, a very enjoyable track that utilised a great sample of The Roots’ super soulful A Peace of Light. This sequel has Lamar on a similar storytelling style, though there’s a touch more autobiographical content as Kendrick details his current status in the music game, the resulting pressure he now comes under and more in a flurry of unbroken raps, supplemented by short and uncredited Jay Rock nd Ab-Soul contributions. It’s a great chunk of hip-hop that ends with a fantastically poignant line: will you let hip-hop die on October 22nd?

XV & The Squarians-Squarians Vol. 1 (Mixtape)

After a couple of replayable drops from the tape over the past few days, XV and his team come through with the full 15 tracks to follow up on the buzz they’ve generated.

Given that it’s the first real opportunity for the Squarians to show off what they can do, features are rightfully limited on this one, though there are some notable guest producers including Xaphoon Jones and AraabMuzik to complement the board work of the Squarian’s own The Awesome Sound. Freddy High and Sez Batters have impressed on the releases we’ve had so far, the former particularly so, and here’s to hoping the rest of the tape holds up. Free grab and stream below.

XV & The Squarians-Squarians Vol. 1

Alicia Keys-Girl on Fire (Video)

Let’s be clear right from the off: I don’t particularly like this song. I always have time and respect for Alicia’s talent, but this sounds like Bruno Mars got an extra shot of oestrogen in his coffee, and though the video has some nice touches, particularly the colourful contrasts throughout and some good outfitting, it generally remains as unmemorable as the audio.

With that said, the sole reason for posting this is to highlight the transformation Alicia’s undergone in her absence. Her last album, The Element of Freedom, had plenty of pop influence but tempered it with the doses of atmosphere and surliness that give her work an addictive uniqueness, whereas this effort scraps those infusions to rely almost solely on the pop elements. The result is a much more positive and upbeat Alicia Keys, no doubt driven by her now-settled personal life with Swizz and their child, and when you lay out the roadmap of her career (go back and listen to/watch Fallin’ and Girlfriend) it’s a natural and likeable transformation. Even if it means the music is less entertaining.