Harry Fraud-Yacht Lash ft. Earl Sweatshirt and Riff Raff

He’s been one of the go-to producers for several mainstream acts in the last 18 months, and as Harry Fraud prepares to release his High Tide project on 7th May, he enlists Earl and Riff Raff to help out with that project’s latest release.

Remember Goldeneye on the N64? If you remember the second Surface level, this sounds like that looks: dark, wintery and generally pretty cold (minus the threat of unexpected gunfire). The wispy synths spread atmosphere throughout the track at will, whilst their more intense brethren help to create a grim, more eerie vibe that makes for a brooding, slightly unpredictable backdrop. Earl’s got bags of versatility and he takes to this production well, with his deadpan style making for a good complement to that production and allowing his lyrical work to enjoy more spotlighting than his flow. Admittedly, it gets a tad monotonous at points, but it’s not for a lack of synchronicity with the production, and even at its worst it’s significantly better than Riff Raff’s contribution, which seems to come on a much livelier angle that doesn’t ever settle down properly into the beat. All in all, it’s not exactly easy listening, but it’s probably worth it for the Earl fans.

MeLo-X-Girls Love Rihanna

Drake says one thing, MeLo says another. They’re both right, but with markedly different executions.

Sampling parts of the above Drake and James Fauntleroy track, MeLo takes those sections and weaves them into a unique, signficantly more lively version of his own. One aspect MeLo grabs is James’ work on the backing vocals; they go slightly underappreciated in terms of the value they bring to the original, but for the first half of this, they really blossom and give the track a little flash of elegance. In that opening half, MeLo also throws in some lively synths, particularly when switching in a sample of Rihanna’s Diamonds hook, taking the track toward a dance-pop direction befitting the sample and the song’s featured subject (of course, mirroring the R&B style of Drake’s Say My Name sampling version), one which expands into a dominating feature toward the final third. Those soft backing vocals are seemingly stripped away, and in comes a thick, bassy synth to add intensity and drive, without overly compromising the feel of the track. Truthfully, the track survives with or without that addition, but it does make for a logical progression in terms of the way the track evolves over its 3 minute span. A good listen, and worth a go.

Emeli Sandé and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra-Crazy In Love (Cover)

Another one from that huge soundtrack for The Great Gatsby, and a track that arguably got overshadowed by the bigger names listed to appear on that OST.

Bad move to overlook this. The Bryan Ferry Orchestra provide a deliciously unique twist on Beyonce’s solo debut from almost 10 years ago (scary), switching out the high-octane production for bubbly horns, bouncy percussion and a great series of steps and progressions that make it a frighteningly-addictive backdrop. It’s a vintage style done so well that it sounds right out of the 1920′s; Boardwalk Empire fans will find that mental image quite easy to generate. Emeli absolutely plays her part too, delivering soulful vocals that ride along the vivacious horns very well, particularly on the hook where their synchronicity is such that the horns almost feel as though they’re operating in a backing vocal capacity. Her performance errs on the right side of ‘old-school’ without sacrificing the innate youthfulness of her voice, which does add a welcomed touch of modernism to the otherwise throwback track. A hugely fun listen, and yet another reason to grab that soundtrack when it arrives on 7th May.

Flying Lotus-SDS Instrumental

flying lotus
A short while back, it was mentioned that Mac Miller had enlisted FlyLo to produce his upcoming single. The prospect sounded interesting, and when the audio did drop, there was mentioned of a video following very soon. So, I figured I’d wait for the video before posting. However, when the video did land, it was simultaneously mentioned that the instrumental would be liberated shortly afterward. So, here we are.

It’s a production that you’d probably instantly recognise as a Flying Lotus piece too: from the scratchy, grainy samples through to the unexpected moments of offbeat momentum dips, it’s a production that typically blends electronic, experimental and alternative in together, and packs them into a coherent sound. It’s eventual hip-hop usage is actually a brave move from Mac, as its the sort of production that’s so well-rounded it dominates the soundscape, filling almost all available gaps and leaving little room for vocals. That’s not to disrespect Mac’s work at all, but as with all of FlyLo’s work, it’s a piece that requires no vocal layer for depth or quality; it’s got that in abundance, and this is a production worth several replays, whether that’s this instrumental version or the original.

J. Cole-Cole Summer

cole summer
That title could be rather prophetic. Cole’s recent single is getting all kinds of praise and airplay (helped by this fantastic behind-the-scenes look at the production work), and with the Truly Yours project released just a couple of months ago, his run continues with the announcement that its sequel is due later tonight. Oh, and that’s not to mention his upcoming sophomore album, Born Sinner.

This smooth effort is another great piece of production. He’s clearly a big Lauryn Hill fan having sampled her previously, and he calls on her works again with parts of the beat lifted from Nothing Even Matters. That sped up sample makes for a very easygoing backdrop, and one which allows Cole to come on a more laidback style; his delivery blends well with the production, rolling along with its gentle highs and pillowy lows, and it makes for easy listeing throughout. His mellow style provides the grounded, brutally honest lyricism come with much more relatability and realism too, ending up as a near-conversational style, and whilst it’s not the lyrical or technical classic some constantly demand, it’s smooth rap that works perfectly as a laidback summer track.

Daughter-Get Lucky (Daft Punk Cover)

Wow. Take the summery, addictively-upbeat vibe of the original, and imagine its complete inverse. Doesn’t seem possible, and even if it does, it would be terrible right? Wrong.

Daughter have taken the infectiously positive song and completely shifted it into a gloomy daydream of a track, replacing the sharp percussion with minimal clips, swapping buzzing synths for those of an airy, gentle variety, and throwing in grave bass plucks. The combination is moody, relaxing and yet with an inherent intensity that adds fantastic depth and power to the original’s relatively easygoing, singalong lyricism; those features come via the vocals, which are part-delicate, part-emotional, and that mixture ensures those simple lyrics gain tons of atmosphere and gravitas. The track ends with an excellent instrumental finale, combining the darker elements of the production with a sharper, more energetic guitar to close things off in a satisfying manner, and it caps off a cover that really shouldn’t work, but completely does.

Clams Casino-Bookfiend ft. DOOM

mf doom
Admittedly, I’ve never really got into MF Doom’s works. That’s not down to a dislike for him, but purely because he’s got so much work in his catalogue, and the small bits I do own are certainly impressive.

It’s fair to say my fandom of Clams is much more pronounced-I’ve repeatedly named him as one of the better producers in today’s scene, and here he laces Doom with a tricky yet typically-deep production that requires some flexible work on the mic. The multi-layered production offers a vast range of sounds to clasp on to, whether that’s the offbeat melodies sitting on top or the background metronomy that the percussion provides, and whilst it won’t appeal to the casual listener, those with a penchant for complex, technically-tight work will enjoy this. With a slight upbeat quality in particular segments and darker, more atmospheric sections elsewhere, both benefit from a stream of consciousness rapping style from Doom, who moves between introspective thoughts, social commentaries and more in a slow delivery that pinpoints production highs to tame the rather wild beat. Once again, this won’t be for your everyday listener, but for those who want to appreciate a unique, technical piece of hip-hop, you can’t go wrong.

Ryan McDermott-Joy ft. Hit-Boy (Video)

Since the release of this track, it’s been a permanent fixture in pretty much every playlist I use, and unquestionably it’s one that demonstrates why Kanye West saw fit to bring him on as a G.O.O.D. Music member (and also justifies his pick on my 13 for ’13).

As an extremely versatile track in terms of ideal listening environment, the direction of the video was rather flexible, and Ryan’s managed to pick a good direction for it. The production lends itself to a summery environment, and that’s provided throughout this clip, with plenty of ocean views, sandy beaches and a general brightness that captures the warmth of the track, whilst the emotional vocals and lyrics are visualised in the young child’s search and journey through several terrains. What’s notable is there’s a slight tempering of the video throughout, via both the hazy filter and relative lack of activity (in terms of ‘summer enjoyment’), and that culminates in the somewhat ambiguous and bittersweet ending. It’s a nice representation of the audio in terms of scenery, whilst the actions within add a different layer of depth to the vocal and lyrical work. A good watch, and hopefully a breakout single for Ryan.

Crystal Castles-Affection (Video)

The last track I posted from their (III) album late last year is now the first video I’ve managed to give a go, with this arguably being my favourite song of the bunch (I’ve heard so far).

In comparison with their other works, it feels much more relaxed, assured and less frenetic; simply put, it doesn’t require a lot of brainpower to process. The same can probably be said for the video too. The clip is part-show footage, part-roaming around in the wilderness, with the former a nice blend of dark surroundings and bright light pulses, and the latter a more uneasy watch, particularly the unsettling character hanging around in the mask. It’s a good representation of the audio in that sense, capturing elements of its positivity in with the slightly darker, more atmospheric side of the production, whilst the video ties the whole package together with a grainy, CCTV-like filter, much like Alice’s vocals bind the audio’s distinct styles.

If you haven’t already, grab that (III) album now.

Joey Fatts-Choppa ft. A$AP Rocky and Danny Brown

joey fatts
I’m not sure whether he’s actually a member of A$AP Mob or just good friends with them, but once again Joey scores a feature from one of the mob’s members. Danny Brown’s along for the ride too, and with Rocky and Danny on the same track, you’re right to expect plenty of energy.

Whilst there is some, it’s delivered in a darker, more intense package than you’d have predicted. The production’s built on several layers of piercing melodies, creating a depth and aggressiveness about the soundscape that’s only helped by the bass-heavy percussion, whilst the raps are relatively normal mainstream fare. Rocky opens with his typically arrogant style, though the beat’s change-up on his distorted vocal section is a nice highlight, before Danny enters the fray with a stop-start, energetic delivery on the hook (I’ve got no idea what he’s saying, but it’s bloody fun listening). Joey takes on verse duty for the rest of the track, with his deep, laidback delivery working well with the production, and though his verses get a little monotonous, there’s some novelty value in his vocal likeness to a modern-day Havoc. Nothing special, and arguably needed a Danny verse, but worth a listen or two. Stream below, download here.

Matthew Santos-October Falling Demo

matthew santos
This is a studio demo of an older tune that was slated to be released on This Burning Ship of Fools in 2010. Unfortunately it didn’t make the cut.

Both the aforementioned album and the Live In Chicago project were huge favourites of mine a few years back, and this recent release offers a lovely reminder of both albums, whilst being a very good song that would have fit on either project. For longtime fans, it’ll refresh memories of Matthew’s inherently mellow style, with the first half of the song being a masterclass in acoustic work as he harmonises smoothly over soft guitar plucks, and those vocals evolve in intensity to become the tribal chant-esque hook of the track. That progressive approach culminates in a burst of energy for the final quarter, which explodes into life with soaring, emotional work that provides a fitting climax to the track. The instrumentation keeps pace well throughout and demonstrates great versatility, as it switches between the gentle acoustic and the more percussion-heavy style with relative ease, and skilfully blends together what are two relatively distinct styles. Big fan of this, and it’ll undoubtedly get me listening to his back catalogue once more.

Austin Paul-Velvet EP

A huge talent emerging here, and one that could rapidly become a crowd favourite in the starved R&B scene. Coming from the same mould as the equally-gifted Steven A. Clark, Austin’s a talented vocalist with a penchant for smooth, atmospheric music that lands somewhere between neo-soul, modern-day R&B and electronic chillout, an ever-effective and hugely replayable mix.

Austin’s 5-track EP is a great introduction to the young singer’s work, from the futuristic, night pop aura of Felt It (Velvet) through to the softer, more introspective stylings of Loving Losing, and it’s clear within just a few listens that he’s got plenty of variety to his act. That’s all pinned together by an overarching mellow quality, one which relies more on darker moods and atmosphere than traditionally associated with laidback R&B, and hence it feels like a modern take on the neo-soul style, without sacrificing the inherent chillout and melodic nature of that genre. Notable too is the maturity of his voice, which certainly belies his tender years, and whilst it will draw comparisons with the likes of Miguel, John Legend and such, there’s a distinctness about it that should stand him in good stead going forward.

Stream the EP here, and download the tracks individually at his Soundcloud. Frankly, you’d be foolish not to give this a go: the likes of Austin and Steven are the future of R&B as far as I’m concerned, and you’d be well-advised to jump on this bandwagon early.

Ab-Soul-The End Is Near ft. Mac Miller

ab soul mac miller
Many are predicting a huge year for the TDE representative, and having started it strongly, Ab-Soul lets his latest solo release go.

Soul opens with typically watertight flows, with his delivery seemingly changing with every given sentence, and it’s a skilful display that moves between near-offbeat rhymes and beat-riding bars with consumate ease. That production certainly helps, with a minimal approach built up of thick percussion, intermittent dashes of ominous keys, and atmospheric vocal samples, with the end product being a relatively dark yet gently-paced production that allows for almost any approach in terms of flow. It’s an equal share of spotlight for Mac Miller on this too, who helms that production this under his Larry Fisherman pseudonym in addition to contributing a verse. Mac’s reputation amongst hip-hop fans has slowly grown with each release, and his work on this moody production, both on the mic and behind the boards, will endear him to many more; a smooth verse with a confident delivery does enough to make a mark on the track. A good effort from all involved.

Tribes-Dancehall (Video)

This feelgood, thoroughly addictive effort was a favourite of mine on its release just a short while back, and ahead of those previously-referenced international festival dates, they’ve let the official video loose to heighten the buzz around this track.

It’s an interesting clip, to say the least. Centred around a set of emotionally-diverse ladies, the video focuses heavily on their expressions, and whilst most of them are happy and generally quite upbeat, there are scenes of more sombre appearance that temper the audio’s bubbly qualities and serve to add more emotional depth. With that said, at times they feel slightly incongruent with the growth of the track, and its almost relieving to have one of the happier characters reappear. In particular, the ladies with the crown and glass pane respectively are fun, light-hearted watches that seem to capture the essence of the audio very well, and blend with the video’s sunny environment much more effectively. It’s a nice show of diversity throughout though, and if anything the ups-and-downs in positivity make for a more realistic emotional experience, and hence it’s tough to criticise such visceral effectiveness. Worth a watch, and most certainly worth a listen.

Domo Genesis-Drugs Got Me Spiritual ft. Remy Banks

With a great Dragonball Z reference on the artwork, Domo dropped off his latest release a few days back to celebrate the unofficial ‘holiday’ of 4/20. Of course, he’s known as the marijuana (and food) loving member of the Odd Future clan, but to many observers he’s also their most potent rapper, and hence this release should find a home in many libraries.

The combination of soft, airy synths, gentle strings and pillowy percussion makes for incredibly mellow listening, and it’s the type of production that’s perfectly suited to the smoker vibe he’s known for. Interestingly though, Domo doesn’t go via the easy route with a laidback flow, and instead comes with a touch of intensity in his voice, allowing his work to seperate from the production and enjoy plenty of individual spotlight; it’s a good performance on what many might have expected to be a throwaway smoker’s joint (sorry), and it helps to take it away from other tracks in this sub-genre of hip-hop. Remy’s performance is a little more relaxed, and contrasts well enough with Domo’s for some variety, though it’s Domo who’s the star here.

Work Drugs-West Coast Slide

work drugs
What’s that? Some relatively consistent warm weather? Time for more bouncy summer music.

The first single from their upcoming album, due this summer, Work Drugs drop off an overwhelmingly positive slice of alternative pop that’ll brighten anyone’s day (unless you’re naturally a bit miserable). Crisp percussion drives this one along at a good pace, whilst vibrant electro-esque synths buzz through the track and lashings of smooth guitar work add a layer of organic instrumentation. I’ve not done justice to the depth of this upbeat production as there’s a lot going on there, hitting the right spots for both mainstream listeners and casual fans, and also infusing the catchy vocals with a ton of energy. Those vocals are relatively laidback for the verses, building to a hook that really defines the track, with multi-layered vocals that enhance the singalong vibe, and their overall synergy with the production creates an inescapably feelgood track. It’ll be too squeaky-clean for many, but for the rest it’s an easy addition to a summer playlist. Shout out to SKOA on the find.

Alicia Keys-Fire We Make ft. Maxwell (Video)

Arguably the standout track on Alicia’s Girl on Fire album, and one of the best R&B singles within the last year (original review here). The duo’s vocals play off each other increasingly well, and there’s more of a duet vibe than this being a simple feature, a factor which extends to the video. On watching this, you realise how rare it is for both acts in a collaborative piece to interact or both play lead roles, with the guest usually relegated to a sub-plot or unrelated scene; this one shares the spotlight, and with considerable style.

Set in a vintage New Orleans (the home of original R&B), it’s a sultry clip detailing the progressive relationship between the two, seemingly an instant attraction that blossoms. Their relationship growth mirrors the increasingly harmony and synergy of their vocals on the track, whilst the old-school styling of the whole video is superb, with the hazy tinting and great outfitting being a real throwback treat. Most importantly is the lack of physical contact between the two: it might go unnoticed, but both manage to evoke powerful feelings of attraction and massive levels of sex appeal without ever actually physically interacting much. It’s an admirable facet of the video, and another that harks back to earlier times; their only sole meaningful contact comes towards the end, which makes for a nice physical and metaphorical conclusion. It’s a smart, well-thought out video that serves to somehow enhance an already-fantastic song.

The xx-Together

Baz Lurhmann’s upcoming The Great Gatsby film has a phenomenal list of artists contributing to its soundtrack, and among them are Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Beyonce, Jack White, and The xx, who’ve contributed this gem to the OST.

The haunting, atmospheric sounds are right out of their debut album’s playbook, with particular trademarks being the track’s most mellow points exuding a dark, moody vibe, and the relative lack of a synthesised high point; the latter was a key feature of several tracks on their sophomore Coexist album, and hence its lack of presence here is notable. With that said, the inclusion of strings towards the end adds even further depth to their innately-cinematic work, and as far as I’m aware, it’s the first time the band have thrown in such a foreground use of strings. It’s very effective for sure, and certainly brings the track closer to ‘classic film score’ style, with its addition making for a strong climax to a slow-building track.

The vocal work is, once again, thoroughly excellent. This darker style tends to suit Oliver Sim’s voice slightly better, with the natural gravity of his voice blending well with the production, and though that’s a synergy that comes off well here, Romy’s brighter performance makes for a very likeable contrast to the otherwise sombre soundscape. Look out for this on the aforementioned soundtrack, scheduled for release on 7th May.

Janelle Monae-Q.U.E.E.N. ft. Erykah Badu

No-one in the last 5 years has made as big an impact on the soul genre as Janelle Monae. Her 2010 album, The ArchAndroid, has stood up in the intervening period as one of the best neo-soul albums in recent memory, whilst her exploits elsewhere (not least on fun.’s huge We Are Young single) have allowed her talents to be exposed to wider audiences. Monae returns with this brand new effort, featuring one of neo-soul’s pioneers, and taken from her upcoming Electric Lady album.

Immediately noticeable is the funk influence on the instrumentation, with jagged, razor-sharp guitar plucks instantly adding attitude and a fun rebelliousness to the track. Those strums are eventually backed by retro-style samples, smooth, clap-heavy percussion and more, adding plenty of character and padding out that backdrop with a positivity that’s quite infectious. Janelle and Erykah are two of the finest vocalists in the game, and the guitar work brings the best from both, with energetic, stop-start vocals that annunciate heavily to enhance the in-your-face, punchy nature of the track, whilst the brief moments where they cut loose from that mould are great demonstrations of their melodic ability. A lively track with plenty of bounce, it’s a track that should find favour with both Janelle’s fans and a wider R&B/soul audience.

T.I.-Memories Back Then ft. Kris Stephens, B.o.B and Kendrick Lamar (Video)

Some may remember this track from the tailend of last year, released as a cut from Tip’s Trouble Man album due to sample clearance issues. It’s now found a more permanent home on the upcoming Hustle Gang: G.D.O.D. (Get Dough or Die), a forthcoming release set to showcase T.I.’s Grand Hustle signees.

It was a fairly impressive listen on its initial release, and this retooled version of the audio only serves to enhance that. The essentials of the audio are in place, with Kris’ soft vocals and the relatively gentle production tempering the storytelling style of each MC’s work, whilst their verses are still lyrically commendable.

The video isn’t particularly complicated, and as far as mainstream acceptance goes, it should do well. Each rapper is set amongst open landscapes, enhancing the retrospective and thoughtful nature of their raps, whilst the flashback scenes play on the context of their lyricism well enough without being too obvious or attempting to add any additional layers. There isn’t much more going on, but it’s a solid accompaniment to an admirably introspective mainstream hip-hop effort, which is available on iTunes now (US only, expect the UK release in the coming days).

MGMT-Alien Days

Released as part of Record Store Day, and also believed to feature on their upcoming album, the unique MGMT return with their first new piece of music in quite some time.

The sheer number of genres blended into here is head-spinning. To name just a couple, there are heavy touches of folk mixed in with retro pop stylings for a psychedelic experience, whilst hints of modern alternative create sharp edges to the sound that grounds the track’s otherwise-trippy nature. Somewhere between the old-school samples, distorted vocals and thick guitar strums lie hefty, pounding percussion thumps, driving through the track at a slow pace that belies the lively melodic layers sitting atop it, and hence that contrast makes for a sligtly disorienting track, but one that gains clarity as it progresses. Worth a listen for the starved MGMT fans, but it might be a bit much for everyone else.

Miguel-How Many Drinks? Remix ft. Kendrick Lamar (Video)

Miguel has become one of a handful of R&B artists keeping the genre mainstream without turning too ‘pop’, and with Kendrick being a mirror of that for hip-hop, this is a poetic coming together.

With that said, this isn’t a track I’ve immediately taken to. As ever, Miguel’s vocals aren’t lacking at all, but it feels stuck somewhere between a Maxwell slow jam and a chart-friendly R&B number, and hence it gets lost at times in terms of its intended purpose. The verses are full of bedroom music crooning, accompanied by a gentle production that rightfully opts to support rather than match Miguel’s vocals, but the hook instead seems to take a few steps back to opt for a catchy vibe, rather than building on the progressive verses. Kendrick’s contribution generally retains the track’s momentum, and though his sharp tones do occasionally sound out of place on the mellow backdrop, his lyricism is contextual enough to work through it. It’s not a bad song by any means, and though I’m sure it’ll continue to improve with time, it’s not one that I’m itching to give another spin.

The video’s minimalism is a good stylistic choice, enhancing the simple production, organics of Miguel’s voice, and the sultry vibe of the lyricism. I’m particularly keen on the fact Miguel doesn’t feel the need to constantly have his face on camera, and is rather more focused on creating the right environment to visualise his works. A good video for an audio that many mainstream heads will appreciate.

A-Trak-Tuna Melt ft. Tommy Trash (Video)

You can always count on A-Trak for some badassery on the electro side of things, and once again he delivers with not only an excellent track, but a very likeable video.

So, let’s deal with the audio first. It’s once that wastes very little time in getting going, with chunky synths lines and thumping percussion paired together and thrown underneath a glitchy vocal sample that heightens the energy of the audio, before the track transitions into a more frenetic, stuttered bridge, and down into a set of sharp, jagged synths. It’s undoubtedly a dynamic production, and given the number of stages the track seems to go through, the sporadic use of the aforementioned vocal sample makes for a nice anchoring element to add some relative structure.

Remember Honda’s now-iconic Cog advert around 10 years ago? Prepare to have those memories come flooding back. A-Trak’s gone for a similar domino-style clip here, and though several artists have done similar videos in the intervening years, it’s been a while since it’s been done with as much colour and ingenuity as this. At the heart of its watchable nature is the fact it takes place throughout a normal house, using a good combination of items you’d probably find lying around and additional colourful pieces, and hence there’s something admirably ‘DIY’ about it. It’s fun for sure, and hence a good accompaniment to the track, which you can grab on iTunes now.

Mikill Pane-Lucky Strike EP

Brand new work from a longtime OTU favourite, and one whose profile continues to increase with every passing day. That debut album, Blame Miss Barclay, isn’t far away now and to keep the fans going Mikill drops off a free 4-track EP.

Given the diversity and versatility of his previous works, I expect that trend will continue into this release, so expect a range of styles from the uniquely-gifted MC. With his Chairman of the Bored video release on the horizon too, it looks like Mikill is gearing up for a big summer, and you can be a part of that for free below.

Mikill Pane-Lucky Strike EP

Daft Punk-Get Lucky ft. Pharrell

The fantastic Daft Punk’s return has been teased, trailered, and generally slowly delivered to a patient fanbase (and yes, that includes those who pretend to be “longtime” fans because they heard Discovery once), and after several fakes, their official ‘comeback’ single was released a couple of days ago.

Fans of The Hood Internet’s recent Justin Timberlake remix will be familiar with the primary melody here, with the funky guitar work providing an easygoing and bright centrepiece, accompanied by fairly unobtrusive and consistent percussion for a great summer soundscape. Pharrell laces that top layer with smooth vocals of his own, with his unique tones being a wonderful compliment to that warm production throughout as he cycles through various deliveries and levels of intensity, not least his highly-addictive hook. Daft Punk and Pharrell are a combination that absolutely makes sense on paper, and it definitely produces the goods here.

It’ll spawn a slew of more club-friendly remixes for sure (for better or worse), but this is one to enjoy laying around in the outdoors with a cold drink in your hand. Available on iTunes right now, and look out for Random Access Memories on 21st May.

Emanny - Miss Me ft. Joe Budden (SLV)

Emanny returns just in time for the summer with this new song from his upcoming project Songs About HER 2. Enlisting fellow SLV member Joe Budden, these two once again collaborate to make a great summertime R&B track that has some very slick production.

Miss Me takes very subtle elements from Drake’s Miss Me track from his début LP, but that’s where the similarities end with Emanny making this track very much his own. Joe Budden provides a verse where Joe addresses some of the turmoil we saw from his stint on reality show Love & Hip Hop involving ex flame Tahiry, which adds some great depth to an already very well structured track.

No release date for Songs About HER 2 just yet, but I expect it to be just as well received as Emanny’s previous project. You can listen to and download Miss Me below.

Funkmaster Flex-Who You Mad At? Me or Yourself? (Mixtape)

56 tracks. Seriously.

Fair play to Funk Flex for this though, as the lineup is unbelievable and essentially a snapshot of mainstream hip-hop at this moment in time. Appearances include A$AP Rocky, Joey Bada$$, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Childish Gambino, Fabolous, Action Bronson, Slaughterhouse, Young Jeezy and many, many more; for a full list, check out the back artwork over at Funk’s place. Many of the tracks from this tape have leaked out individually in the last 24 hours too, and thankfully they’re tagless versions, with one notable example being the Joey Bada$$ effort on the mixtape. If you’re after any of the other individual tracks, I’m sure a quick Google search can help you there, otherwise grab the bumper project for free below.

Funkmaster Flex-Who You Mad At? Me or Yourself?

MeLo-X-Sweet Bitch (Video)

In the first official visual from MeLo-X’s GOD: LoFi EP, he brings us to East Flatbush, Brooklyn for a traditional Caribbean meal while enjoying his favorite wine “Sweet Bitch”. Looking as though she stepped off the red carpet, a femme fatale stumbles into the restaurant where MeLo-X sits sipping his wine and thinking about the future.

In the last 2-4 months, MeLo is one of few acts keeping me interested in hip-hop. That’s not because he’s a complicated wordsmith, but because his unique method of blending in touches of R&B, soul and more adds a depth that’s keeping his work away from the genre’s general malaise. The GOD:LoFi EP is a great example of what he’s capable of, with smooth sounds grounded in hip-hop sensibilities that give his work plenty of replayability. This track is a prime cut from that mould, with jazzy yet soulful melodies slowly marinating over sharp percussion, whilst MeLo’s speedy flow and semi-passionate delivery coolly contrast that backdrop for an engaging piece.

The clip allows MeLo to step out from behind the boards and enjoy some camera time, which he’s allowed to maximise courtesy of regular, everyday surroundings not deflecting attention away from him. That environment gives the chance encounter with the leading lady much more believability too, and as fantastical as the meeting may seem, it feels rooted in reality thanks to the ambient settings. A good video for an enjoyable audio, grab MeLo’s free EP here.

Said The Whale-I Love You

A great slice of upbeat indie from the critically-adored Canadian 5-piece, taken from their upcoming I Love You EP, due on 18th June.

There are a great deal of influences in here, from late-90s punk and British indie through to modern-day pop, with the product ending up as a ridiculously infectious and altogether positive soundscape. The instrumentation has two distinct segments, with chunky, bassy verses of thick guitar strums and looped percussion creating a relatively calm effect that’s clearly building towards something; that happens to be the hook, which amps pretty much everything up, with a sharp jump in tempo, instrumental intensity across the board, and punchier vocals that all combine for a memorable chorus. It’s unquestionably the track’s highlight and key anchor point, and rightfully so, given the sheer passion and energy emanating from the song’s every pore during those short bursts, and the extended version of the hook is a fitting way to close the track out.

For a simple lyric video, it’s quite a fun watch too. Most of the work is done by the ever-changing backgrounds, which move in accordance with the music’s various transitions and changes, and hence it’s a nice visual accompaniment without being distracting. You can download it now, courtesy of the kind folk at COS.