Floco Torres-Bad Guy (OTU Exclusive)

Floco Torres - Bad Guy artwork
Floco’s Psycadelphia Two is set for release on 16th September, and he’s kindly allowed OTU to be the first site to throw this track out there. Let’s be honest- knowing my naturally-critical nature, it’s probably riskier than Floco realises.

Thankfully, the music holds up. If V For Vendetta had a rap soundtrack (the novel, not the film), this would be a surefire inclusion- it’s dark, moody and full of grounded, everyday lyricism that makes it both realistic and relatable. The former is important: often, rap tends to focus on the (currently) unattainable or centre around a lifestyle that many won’t get anywhere near- it’s hard to criticise that for many rappers, as it’s just simply where their mindset dwells in their current circumstance, but it is generally fantasy talk for listeners. This clearly comes from a place of everyday regularity, and hence it’s not only relatable but also familiar in places, and hence paints a much more realistic mental image. The gritty, industrial production helps to bring out the lyricism further, and though the distortion level on the vocals is a little overdone (occassionally distracting attention away from the lyrical content), it’s an enjoyably dark, anti-authority all-rounder that might just soundtrack your next (comic) book reading.

RAC-Let Go ft. Kele Okereke and MNDR

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Attentive readers will remember RAC remixing Bloc Party’s Octopus around a year ago, and Kele returns the favour somewhat here with a feature on RAC’s very likeable solo single.

It’s one of those that’s perfectly suited for summer, but not in a lively, blast out loud in the car sort of way. Rather, it’s suited to laying around relaxing, and with so much of a feelgood vibe that it’s almost romantic- you could easily hear this soundtracking a kiss in a chick flick. It’s wholly infectious, blending together funky bass, slow-moving percussion, faint synths and gentle backing vocals from MNDR for mellow, easygoing verses, and throwing forth more energetic guitars, samples and vibrant vocals for the anchoring choruses- it becomes much livelier, but not to such an extent that the verses become redundant, and hence it’s a good production all-round.

Kele’s vocals in the verses are sure to be a highlight for many, their delicate qualities hovering gently above the soft production, and building enough emotion to allow MNDR’s more urgent hook to offer a climactic release. With a little radio play, this could quite easily become a late mainstream favourite for the summer. And if not, some of you dealing with TV/film music (yeah, we know you read this) should really be grabbing hold of this for your next sync.

Joey Bada$$-Killuminati pt. 2

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Isn’t it interesting that none of the rappers that Kendrick namechecked haven’t responded musically, but almost everyone else has? I’m not complaining at all, and frankly responses from the likes of Budden, Lupe and Bada$$ are more welcomed than some of those named, but it almost justifies Kendrick’s ‘attack’ if they remain apathetic to competition.

Joey leaves the Control beat alone and goes for an original Knxwledge piece, letting out some semi-aggressive raps over a smooth, soulful production. Joey’s performance is good throughout, combining a couple of clever lines and themed quartets with an intense delivery, and of course a couple of light jabs at Kendrick, for a rounded performance that probably won’t go down as a classic but instead a solid listen. Notable is Joey’s ever-increasing confidence, comparing himself to most of NY’s greats, and doing so with plenty of conviction, making for a slice of arrogance that’s more about his ability than the things he owns- welcomed as a relative rarity in today’s scene. Worth a listen, even if it does seem as though Joey was holding back a little.

The Foreign Exchange-Call It Home/Pity

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New material from this duo will always make my day. They drop the Love In Flying Colors album on 24th September, and this lead single, with it’s non-album B-side, make for a great start.

Call It Home is a smooth slice of R&B/soul, opening in a delicate manner that combines Nicolay’s airy, gentle synths with soft piano touches to good effect. The track bursts into life by throwing a quick yet relatively understated percussion line underneath the aforementioned melodic elements, along with a sharper synth line that adds a lively electronic edge. Phonte’s vocals are wonderfully mellow throughout, playing off the relaxed elements well whilst tempering the more upbeat pieces of the production, rounding off the track nicely.

Pity, the B-side, is a much more consistently laidback affair. The backdrop contains very little percussion for the first two-thirds, meandering along at an easy pace via synths that create a night time vibe, but with a cold, atmospheric edge- compared to the above track, it’s much more structured and less dynamic, and hence it allows Phonte’s vocal and lyrical work to be spotlighted a little more, which is wise given its rather emotional nature. TFE have a habit of making music that suits winter excellently, and with those cold months drawing near, these two fit the bill brilliantly. That album can’t come soon enough.

Eminem-Berzerk

Eminem’s new album lands on 5th November, interestingly/worryingly titled Marshall Mathers LP 2, a sequel to his seminal Marshall Mathers LP- one of the best hip-hop albums in history (an argument for a different time). I call it worrying based on Em’s recent form- if we’re honest, his last LP that was anywhere near good was The Eminem Show, and despite mainstream approval, the pop-influenced direction of Recovery didn’t change that. I say all this as one of the few that didn’t mind Relapse too, despite his weird voice on it.

There are positives though: MMLP2 is helmed by Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin. Once you press play on this, it’s Rubin’s involvement that becomes most notable- if Em is heading back to his ‘roots’ with the album’s title, Rubin’s done the same with his production involvement here, throwing forth a backdrop that’s right out of his mid/late-80s production playbook. The punk/hip-hop crossover that made Rubin famous makes a thumping comeback here, combining sharp guitars with pounding percussion for a Beastie Boys-esque beat, adding an intense, upbeat energy to Eminem’s raps that goes some way to scrubbing away the pop-driven works of the Recovery singles. It’s not the aggressive, angry Eminem that I suspect many want, but it’s got some classic Em hallmarks, from the dexterous flows through to some of the clever lines used, whilst also fitting in with Em’s traditional ‘light-hearted lead single’ routine. I can see why many won’t like this, but it’s far closer to properly utilising Em’s talents than his previous album offered, and that’s not a bad sign ahead of the album release.

John Legend-Love In The Future (Full Album Stream)

A fortnight ago, the music scene was ablaze with hype (mostly thanks to Kendrick’s Control verse), so it’s disappointing that the last week has been completely barren in comparison. That lull is over, and in a big way today.

John Legend’s latest LP is due out on 3rd September, and an expectant soul crowd awaits what will surely be another great addition to his already-strong back catalogue. John’s unquestionable vocal gifts make him such a versatile performer, and an underrated one at that, which should bode well for an album that’s seen singles of rather differing styles released ahead of the full project’s arrival- he’s known more for his slower, soulful ballads but we’ve had midtempo and uptempo tracks from him both recently and in the past, and let’s hope that same level of diversity is present here. Stream below, and pre-order the thing if you’re a fan.

M.I.A.-Unbreak My Mixtape

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Despite the promo run for the Matangi album going a little quiet, she’s back with a new release that we can only assume is set for that upcoming LP.

It’s a rather offbeat effort too. Fom glitch electronica through to classic alternative, it’s a production built on sharp percussion, a meandering pace and stuttery melodies, and despite its minimal nature, it manages to throw together the sounds of several genres. That’s before even mentioning the Blur and Karen Dalton samples. M.I.A.’s vocals are rather off-kilter, facets which sound quite deliberate throughout as she appears to be trying to capture a raw, almost-’homemade’ style feel. Combine that with the relationship-oriented lyricism, and you’ve got a track that ends up being even more off-centre in the context of M.I.A., for its unusually ‘regular’ lyrical output. Like much of her music, the first listen probably won’t win you over, but stick with it as there’s definitely something likeable about it.

B.o.B-Missing

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B.o.B sounds aggrieved, and comes through with a lyrical output focused around governmental distrust, social commentary and so on; an ever-interesting set of topics that B.o.B lends a good level of emotion to for a sharp reminder of his capabilities.

The first verse focuses on politically-charged conspiracies, with Illuminati references, presidential views and a little more in a charged verse that sets the track off well. A quick switch occurs, with B.o.B intertwining comments on the hood with a couple of jabs on authority for the second verse, before heading back toward the conspiracy route more heavily for the closing verse, paying attention to more global and galactically-focused theories around hidden knowledge and such. For a conspiracy nerd like myself, this (alongside many Ab-Soul tracks) makes for a fun listen that are easy to enjoy- whether it’s the actual referencing of certain theories or simply the knowledge that even well-known folk think about this stuff, there’s a unique novelty about this sort of track, and hence it’ll get a few more plays in my library.

The Weeknd-Live For ft. Drake

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Right now, The Weeknd is relentless in his promotional run ahead of the upcoming Kiss Land album, and lets loose yet another single (the 4th, by my count) from the project, this time giving the reconciliation (if there ever really was an issue) between himself and Drake a tangible output.

Initially, you may struggle with this. It’s an unusual blend between motivational and creepily dark, but as the track progresses it’ll wear you down a little. The production opens with lonely, sombre guitar plucks for the first verse, before an intense, piercing percussion throws its weight around on the hook, almost entirely overshadowing the aforementioned guitar work, though it does remain there to offer consistency. Remnants of that drum line hang around for Drake’s verse to keep some of that vibrancy intact, and make the transition to the second and final hook rather less dramatic- credit goes to the dynamism of the board work for being non-static, unpredictable and flexible. It’s the lyrical output that lets this one down, with a sole focus on bragging and arrogance, which doesn’t really maximise the qualities of the atmospheric production they’re backed by. Though it’s not a performance on the level of previous Kiss Land releases, The Weeknd’s vocals are generally good throughout, and will undoubtedly help make this hook a popular, singalong effort within mainstream crowds (much like Crew Love), even if its nowhere near his best work. When Kiss Land drops on 10th September, I’ll likely be skipping this track.

Childish Gambino-Clapping For The Wrong Reasons (Video)

There’s plenty of messaging and implication packed into a video of such a length, but I’ll try and keep it brief. Essentially, this is a look at both Donald’s daily life and the working process, taking place side-by-side within a rather luxurious mansion surrounded by friends, colleagues (cameos from Flying Lotus, Chance the Rapper, Trindad James, Ludwig Goransson and more) and hangers-on. The latter in particular is a recurring theme, with one female who appears to have a vested interest in Donald’s day-to-day actions without him ever actually knowing who she is-the role seems to symbolise both a guardian angel and the notion of constant distraction, with the woman’s every action usually stopping whatever action he’s doing, and transitioning into another scene soon afterwards.

The other poignant visual is the gold teeth pulled through his nose, which is a difficult one to break down in terms of metaphor, but it came across as a possible shedding or removal of excess and portraying a lavish image- after that scene, there’s no more exuberance or playing around with models. Rather, he retreats to a more reserved, primal state, and almost ‘presses the reset button’, before the video ends by quite literally doing that. It’s one that you might appreciate on a surface level for cool imagery, intriguing music snippets and such, or you’ll find something more. Or, like the video’s title suggests, we might like it either way but still not actually understand it.

Lorde-Royals Remix ft. The Weeknd

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I didn’t know the first thing about Lorde, but I’m now informed that she’s pretty big in her homeland of New Zealand and appears to be breaking some walls down with the US audience too. It’s also quite surprising that someone with a voice as mature-sounding as this is only 16 years old. Born in ’96. That makes me feel incredibly strange.

The original’s a rather minimal, sparsely-populated effort- The Weeknd and his team have kept the original’s natural atmosphere, and added a slightly darker, more atmospheric aspect to it via varying pitches of synth and a reinforced percussion that moves the track along as a more engaging pace. Vocally, The Weeknd’s contributions are primarily melodic adlibs and backing vocals, most notably around the middle third of the track, and though I’m in agreement with those who would have preferred a verse from The Weeknd, it’s also fair to say that this style of production doesn’t necessarily play to this strengths in terms of it being a very pop-heavy style, as opposed to his more familiar dark R&B angle. Nothing I’m going to revisit anytime soon, and something the grown-ups can probably skip, but the mainstream heads might find a place for it in their libraries alongside the original.

Captain Murphy-Between Villains ft. DOOM and Earl Sweatshirt

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Pseudonym city. As many will know, Murphy is the rapping alter-ego of Flying Lotus, whose production credentials seep into mainstream consciousness with each passing day, whilst DOOM is credited as Viktor Vaughn, one of his many alternative handles.

Comprised of light piano melodies, distant guitar plucks, creepy vocal samples and a few other in-and-out additions, the production is dark, bleak, and downright eerie throughout- an ideal platform for the deadpan deliveries of all involved. Vaughn opens up with a very likeable verse, packing in some very impressive internal rhyme schemes that give his verse a very natural bounce, whilst his comparatively higher pitch leads Earl’s more dulcet tones in excellently, who himself follows up with a solid verse, though not quite on par with his predecessor here. Murphy closes out by lowering the pitch even further with his distorted effect, giving the track’s sonics a natural downward progression that works to create a deep, ‘next level of hell’ type effect, before he switches back to his regular voice to close off another enjoyable verse. 3 verses of good quality, and a grim, gritty production that would be fit to soundtrack any horror movie or bad mood, and it’s another great release from the Adult Swim Singles series.

Lupe Fiasco-SLR 3 (Round of Applause)

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Whether it’s that Kendrick verse or the fact his Tetsuo and Youth album is due in the coming months, Lupe has been on a mini-tear recently in terms of releasing material, both in terms of original work and features.

Unlike SLR 2, Lupe generally seems a little more relaxed here, coming through with his typically-intelligent and double entendre-heavy raps, but in a laidback delivery with only a couple of heightened emotional bursts. Whilst many enjoyed hearing Lupe finally step away from his perenially-easygoing style, his raps here suit the beat excellently, with frequent collaborator Soundtrakk serving up a soulful, slightly triumphant production that will certainly evoke memories of Lupe’s Food & Liquor debut; the combination of smooth percussion with the bursts of celebratory horns makes for a contemporary production with a nice vintage twist, with a soulful outcome that’ll be rightly compared to some of the beats on the aforementioned album. A very enjoyable piece, and if its an indication of what to expect on T&Y, we’re in for a good project.

Who Responded To Kendrick Lamar's Verse on Control?

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Hip-hop woke up. After several months of relative stagnancy and few highlights in the mainstream scene (underground heads, put your picket signs away), Kendrick’s inflammatory verse on Big Sean’s Control not only got most music fans talking, but also provoked precisely the sort of response he would have wanted from his rapping peers.

Many responded via Twitter, video or other means, and though none of those who were namechecked have taken to the studio to put out a response, several others have taken up the baton and either delivered a worthwhile response or used the opportunity to get a little bit of media coverage. The latter statement isn’t meant disrespectfully either- hip-hop is about as prominent in ‘water cooler’ and social media discussions as it has been in a rather long time, and it’s a great chance for some acts to get their names out to a wider audience. It’s tough to be mad at that opportunism.

The dust is beginning to settle, and though there’s bound to be several other rappers who are preparing responses (Joe Budden for one), now seems a good time to offer a quick recap on those who’ve offered musical replies to Kendrick’s barbed bars. Head below for a collection of the releases thus far (in no order). → Continue Reading

Earl Sweatshirt-Doris (Full Album Stream)

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For a release that was highly anticipated around a year or so ago, it has to be said that the buzz for it doesn’t quite seem at the fever pitch many would have expected. Nonetheless, Earl’s talent is undeniable, and the lack of furore surrounding it might allow the LP to be absorbed for the breakout rap album it could very well become.

His Odd Future teammates are along for the ride, with Frank Ocean, Tyler, The Creator and Domo Genesis appearing alongside frequent OF collaborators Vince Staples and Casey Veggies, whilst Mac Miller and RZA also tag along for the ride. Undoubtedly though, this one’s all about Earl for most listeners, and whilst those features are a nice bonus, there’s a ton of expectation on Earl given the glimpses of ability we’ve been allowed to see thus far. Fingers crossed, this LP holds up and we’ve got another young talent to add to hip-hop’s growing roster. Stream below.

Earl Sweatshirt-Doris

Phoenix-Trying To Be Cool Remix ft. R. Kelly

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Erm. What?! Having been unaware that they once performed on stage together, R. Kelly popping up on a remix of French band Phoenix’s excellent single was beyond unexpected. A massive surprise, but it’s always fun to hear acts of such distant genres come together in this format, and in this case it actually ends up working quite well.

The original is one of my favourite alternative/alt pop tracks in recent times, and as hard as you might try, it’s one of those songs that so inescapably positive you’ll rarely be able to skip it. Throw that bubbly production under R. Kelly’s refined vocal output, and you’ve got a layer of smoothness and warm familiarity to add to that liveliness, rounding the track off rather nicely. It’s difficult to imagine if you’re well-accquainted with the original, but Kels’ vocals legitimately blend in so well here, as he takes over on hook duty and also lends a verse to proceedings; the impact is so effective that admittedly, part of me wanted to hear him take over on vocals for the entire track. That’s pretty greedy though, as this is a superb little refresh of an already-enjoyable track, and one that might just push it toward the kind of mainstream spotlight that this sort of track would thrive underneath. A strong original, a fun video, a likeable dance remix, and now a big name official rework. That, my friends, is how you roll out a single. Hit iTunes for the download.

Joell Ortiz-Control Freestyle

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Let the competition begin. Unless you’ve been buried in a grave for the last day, you’ll know Kendrick Lamar has pretty much set the entire internet on fire with his combative verse on Big Sean’s Control, to such an extent that the rare Jay Electronica appearance got mostly overlooked.

Arguably the most inflammatory statement (in the spirit of competition, of course) was Kendrick declaration that he’s ‘the king of NY’, despite his California origin, a proclamation that provoked several interesting responses and observations on Twitter from his rap peers. Talk is easy and talk is cheap: Joell takes action with the first response to Lamar’s verse, representing both his NY heritage and his Slaughterhouse team. In the vein of the original it’s not about personal attacks, and rather about expressing a sense of general frustration, as Joell takes aim at mainstream hip-hop and a few of its incumbents, including a couple of thinly-veiled jabs at some of his hip-hop colleagues. It moves away from the directly competitive elements into an aggressive Joell showcase as the track evolves, but the intensity and venom in Joell’s voice is a great listen in any context, and a strong opening response from the NY scene. Who’s next?

John Mayer-Paradise Valley (Full Album Stream)

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Paper Doll was a great jump-off point for this album, and with its release only a week away, Mayer lets the full LP out for your streaming enjoyment.

His previous album, Born and Raised, was a little disappointing in honesty and certainly didn’t match the quality of the two albums prior to that. The aforementioned single provided more than a glimmer of hope for this one, whilst an appearance from Frank Ocean also offers plenty of promise, and for those of a mushy nature there’s even a collaboration with his on-again off-again female companion Katy Perry. Always a confident move letting your album out a week early, and you can head below to stream the LP on iTunes before your purchasing decision next week.

John Mayer-Paradise Valley

Tanya Morgan-Rubber Souls (Artwork and Tracklist)

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It’s been four years since their excellent Brooklynati album, and The Almighty Tanya Morgan return with their third LP on 24th September. Features include talented upcomers Rocki Evans, Spree Wilson and Nitty Scott, MC, whilst the entire project is produced entirely by 6th Sense- all exciting facets of album (not to mention a lovely bit of album art), and you can check out the tracklist below. Sidenote: Tanya Morgan fans out here in the UK/Europe can now grab official TM merch locally.

1. For Real
2. The Day I
3. The Only One ft. Tiara Wiles, Mike Maven, Spree Wilson and Rocki Evans
4. Never Too Much ft. Nitty Scott, MC
5. All Em ft. Outasight
6. Pick It Up
7. More ft. Rocki Evans
8. Eulogy
9. Worldmade
10. The Vehicle ft. Spec Boogie and 6th Sense

Basement Jaxx-Mermaid of Salinas

If you threw dance, pop and the entire Latin American region into a blender, you’d get a cocktail that tasted something like this sounds. Most of that didn’t make sense, but you get the jist.

After their throwback funky house jam (which also got a video release recently), the veteran act switch things up yet again with this internationally-inspired, feelgood effort. Opening with a soft beach-style, the track quickly grows into a cacophonous blend of Spanish guitars, catchy vocal samples, and a plethora of percussive elements that’s part-infectious, part-indechiperable, but wholly fun and upbeat. It’s not anything you’ll find easy listening during your downtime, but certainly one to throw on in the car or on a bright summer day for full effect.

Whilst it has no business being nearly 8 minutes long, it’s a bubbly, summery track that might just continue the wholly successful comeback that Basement Jaxx have embarked upon (and inevitably, shorter radio edit is likely to find its way out soon). The What a Difference Your Love Makes EP lands on 30th September.

Banks-Waiting Game

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Track-by-track, Banks not only seems to double her fanbase, but also continually one-ups herself in terms of song quality. This, the third release of hers (that I’ve heard) is another laidback, mellow effort but from a much different angle than her previous effort, the slightly more positive Warm Water- this one opts for a similar emotional vibe, but in a more pained, downbeat manner that highlights Banks’ introspective lyricism in a much more reflective, visceral manner.

Where the aforementioned Warm Water was notable for the synergy between the velvety production and smooth vocals, this one utilises the contrast between the two for a much sharper, more penetrative effort. The production opens gently, allowing the vocals too pierce through its minimal, gentle sound, before progressing upward into a hazy combination of synths, haunting vocal samples and menacing percussion, creating a dark, moody and intense vibe. The momentum created by the more vibrant sections of the production allow Banks’ vocals to scale back when the beat is at its peak, whilst she slides into the brief production pauses to let out more emotive, sharper deliveries, in what is a comfortable show of vocals versatility and also of production awareness, in terms of allowing it room to blossom. Worth a listen for sure, and another solid release from the talented upcomer.

Crooked I-No Sleep Gang (Video)

When someone like Crooked I makes a club-ready banger, you had better get your good headphones on. Cardo serves up one hell of a production here, throwing together a top tier production for the newest single from Crook’s recently-released Apex Predator album.

That production is built on two primary components- a fast-paced, urgent melody on top and a eardrum-bursting amount of bass sitting underneath it. There’s plenty in between of note too, from the touch of synth through to a rugged, gristly distorted sound I can’t quite identify, but it’s those first two elements that really make this the type of production you’ll happily throw your body around for when it’s played. Menacing bass and lively melodies rarely fail. Crook’s flows are as watertight as ever, whilst his natural aggression is scaled back a touch to allow for a more club-oriented lyricism, though his rough nature still comes through well-enough. Put it this way: it’s still identifiable as a Crooked I track, but instead it’s got much more mainstream appeal than almost anything I’ve hear from his direction.

The video is pretty simple, as Crook is featured either roaming around in the club, or hanging around with his gang (who, as the title might suggest, aren’t keen on sleep). Nothing new or exciting, but a dimly-lit clip that suits the heavy production well. Grab the track on Apex Predator, which is available now.

Kavinsky-Odd Look (Video)

Some (but probably no-one) will remember his previous video release, featuring Kavinsky driving around like a bit of a hero and maiming police officers. This is essentially a continuation of that, as a superhero-styled Kavinsky stops off at a roadside diner, and proceeds to smack the ever-loving sh*t out of some rather rapey criminals/rapists. One of them even wets himself.

Much like its predecessor, it’s hardly complicated stuff, and instead is pretty much just visual badassery. Kavinsky gets to be a Superman/Terminator hybrid, beat up bad guys, and save the girl- what’s not to like. Well, besides the bad acting.

The track is a smooth electronic affair, combining jagged synths, mellow percussion and robotic vocals together for a quick blast of middling electro, sitting somewhere between lively and easygoing. It’s certainly nothing that’ll jolt you into life in the morning though, and hence is a pretty easy addition to pad out any playlist. OutRun is available now.

Stalley-Honest Cowboy (Mixtape)

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Over the last 18 months, Stalley’s worked his way into a position as one of the leading rappers in my iTunes: his lyrical approach is versatile enough for almost any type of track, whilst his flows are equally capable and diverse, and when added to his generally solid beat selections, it’s difficult to figure out why he’s not held in higher regard.

Nonetheless, it’s his first full release of the year, and another 10 new tracks to add to an impressive back catalogue. Features are minimal, though appearances from Scarface and ScHoolboy Q certainly suggests quality over quantity, whilst production credits that feature the likes of DJ Quik, Cardo, Terrace Martin, and frequent Stalley collaborators Block Beataz. The latter for me is most exciting, given their stellar track record together, and I’ve got no doubt that they’ll deliver once more with their offerings here. Stream and grab the whole damn show below.

Stalley-Honest Cowboy

TGT (Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank)-I Need (Video)

Many R&B heads were wholly won over by the audio for this on its release, and the veteran trio follow that buzz up with a set of suitably throwback visuals, upping that buzz ahead of the album release on 20th August.

Unnecessarily dramatic, overly emotional and more- it’s textbook old school R&B. From the boyband-esque white outfits, to the expansive landscapes they croon within, and the largely unconnected dramatics surrounding their individual verses, it’s a lot of fun in truth and one of those music videos that you have to suspend your ‘critical’ side to watch; that is never a bad thing, as it lends itself to a far more fun, enjoyable experience. Tank croons in front of a burning house, Tyrese pulls up his car at a petrol station whilst arguing with his lady, whilst Ginuwine gets hyperactive on a motorbike with female accompaniment. There’s no attempt at storyline or hidden messaging, and its simplicity is fine in truth, allowing for a nostalgic video to accompany those soaring vocals and soulful production.

A lot of fun if you don’t take it too seriously, and backed by an addictive R&B track. Look out for that Three Kings album in a few weeks.

Ab-Soul-Christopher DRONEr

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Given Ab-Soul’s fondness for conspiratorial topics, and the controversial yet strange nature of the Chris Dorner killings, this is textbook work from the TDE rapper. Few upcomers rap with the venom, belief and combative nature of Ab-Soul, and when combined with his often outspoken, leftfield subject matters, more often than not it’s very unique listening.

He’s backed by an intense, rather uneasy production, which uses bells to great effect to create a dark, post-apocalyptic style sound, built on with slow, sharp percussion and a touch of synth for a hint of modernism. As mentioned above, Soul’s raps feature that conspiratorial influence, tempered with brash street raps and arrogant bragger lines to keep a sense of relative normality running through the track, whilst his flows are admirably flexible throughout, moving through various speeds and cadences to create natural checkpoints in the track. The song has the caption ‘new project coming soon’, and let’s hope it features more of this ilk.

Thor: The Dark World (Trailer)

Marvel are lining up their latest blockbuster, and whilst I was rather disappointed with their last (Iron Man 3), this one looks like it could be a little more enjoyable.

Regardless of who the villain is (and I’m sure it’ll be a good one), this trailer will get fans buzzing purely on the basis of Thor and Loki seemingly working on the same side throughout this one. Given the fantastic dynamic between the two actors across the first Thor film and The Avengers, it’s a new angle that I’m sure will make for fun viewing- not least because Tom Hiddleston is utterly superb in his role as Loki, and giving him this different approach will undoubtedly provide a good platform for him to excel once more. Idris Elba, whose star continues to rise with each passing day, also reprises his role as Heimdall, and hopefully will get another good outing in this sequel.

Film releases on 8th November, and I’m sure we’ll be treated to more trailers, info and previews in the interim.

Washed Out-Paracosm (Full Album Stream)

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If you’re a fan of chilled electronic/chillwave music and you aren’t excited for this album, you should look to donate your brain to medical science immediately. And your face.

The releases from the album have been considerably more summery and upbeat than the more wintery soundscapes of his Within and Without album, putting greater emphasis on creating positive, bright productions behind those trademark mellow vocals. Given that it’s only a 9-track album, I highly suspect that positivity is going to be the general theme of this LP, and when combined with the natural easygoing qualities of Washed Out’s work, that’s got plenty of potential to be a great accompaniment to your summer. Give the album a go below, and be sure to pick it up next Tuesday.

Washed Out-Paracosm (Stream)

M83-Claudia Lewis (Video)

Time has only improved the Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming LP, probably to the point that I’d consider it one of my favourite albums of the last 5 years, and as it approaches its 2nd birthday, they revisit the LP with new visuals.

If ever a band took the inherent cinematic quality of their music and pretty much did whatever the hell they want visually, knowing it would work anyway, it’s these guys. Their previous releases have sat somewhere between mysterious, brilliant and bizarre, and this doesn’t change that in the slightest, though leans more toward the bizarre than the brilliant if we’re being honest. It’s pretty much a leftfield take on the schoolboy/girl crush scenario, with the girl in question having some unusual supernatural qualities, particularly an E.T.-esque finger, which then escalates into her essentially proving to be some kind of alien being. Simple on the outside, but it seems the suggestion is that rather than her being a literal alien, it’s more an implication of the impact she has on him, and his view on her unbelievable…ness. Or, she’s an alien.

Either way, when it’s soundtracked by a typically-grandiose M83 affair, it can be as weird or corny as you like: it ends up being gripping either way. If you were left behind whilst the rest of humanity were evolving and you don’t have this album, get it now.