Toro Y Moi-Rose Quartz (Video)

Almost 9 months removed from the release of Anything In Return (which is close to holding on for my “best album of 2013″ accolade), and Toro manages to get more mileage out of it with a video for what is emerging as my favourite song from the album. Though a large chunk of it remains in my regular rotation, it’s this one that I find consisently unskippable, regardless of the listening environment, and this far down the line that’s rather high praise.

For a track of this quality, the video had to be one of two things: an excellent story, or visually impressive. It opts for the latter, and delivers in a unique manner with a fantastic concept and execution by Lauren Gregory: the entire video is animated from what I assume are a series of paintings, with the thick strokes and vivid colour palette making for a hypnotising watch. It’s a very original idea that captures the vibe of the track well, with its easygoing nature mirrored by the imperfect, rough-edged painting, whilst its more fun, lively elements are brought out by the chromatics and relatively busy level of activity. Whereas a story-driven video would have sought to add a layer of complexity and depth to proceedings, this direction instead allows the strength of the music to speak for itself, and merely adds a nice artistic touch to help enhance the track’s natural qualities. Worth a go whether you’ve heard the song or not, and grab that album if you don’t already own it for some reason.

Lupe Fiasco-Pound of Flesh / Paris, Tokyo 2

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So unexpected is the relative flurry of recent material from Lupe, that I’m actually slipping a little with keeping on top of it. Minor problems though, and I expect this freestyle over Drake’s Pound Cake beat will be many listeners’ favourite Lupe track from the batch released in the last few months.

As I’ve not listened to Drake’s album yet (not a vendetta, just no time!), this is my first exposure to the laidback production and it’s rather impressive. Its atmospheric R&B qualities are reminsicent of various highlights from Drake’s back catalogue, and is not only very enjoyable but serves as a backdrop you wouldn’t normally associate with Lupe. It works really well for him though, with the moody, introspective beat adding a great accompaniment to Lupe’s stream of consciousness, which manifests itself as a pack of individually clever lines, and entertaining couplets. It’s all packed into a very unique flow, with the brief pauses usually found around smart points of juxtaposition, as he skillfully knots rhymes together that are equally effective when seperated- it’s a memorable delivery that’s utilised well to almost get double usage out of the most simple conjoining terms. Really worth a listen, and bestowing this the Paris, Tokyo 2 title only goes to show that this isn’t just throwaway rap- Lupe’s taken this one rather seriously. Tetsuo and Youth, coming soon.

Martina Topley-Bird-Crystalised (Cover) ft. Mark Lanegan & Warpaint

The original has probably been out of our collective memory for quite some time now, and not only is this a nice reminder of its qualities, but it’s also a fantastic cover that warrants just as much attention.

The track is taken in a rough-edged direction, contrasting the smooth, rounded sounds of the laidback original with a crisp percussion line and a more diverse vocal output. Mark Lanegan opens up with low, bassy vocals that aren’t hugely dissimilar to Oliver of The xx’s own dulcet qualities, but carry a less-refined, grittier quality that makes them wholly endearing in their own right, and almost bring a more “grown-up” feel to proceedings. Martina joins in with her own brand of higher-pitched yet gentle vocals, offering a strong contrast to both the original and Mark’s raspy output, without diminishing the relaxing quality that made the original track so addictive. She’s generally regarded as one of the most well-rounded vocalists in almost any genre, and her performance here is about as close to a perfect delivery as you could hope for, whilst the same can certainly be said for the opposing vocals of Mark Lanegan, who admittedly I’d never heard before.

An excellent cover accompanied by a part-animated video that doesn’t get too frenetic, and instead captures the sombre, nighttime vibe of the track well whilst adding just enough colour and activity. You can grab this cover now on vinyl, or 7th October digitally.

Mickey Factz-The New Rockstars (Culture)

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Everyone and their horse has heard Kanye West’s interview with Zane Lowe, and now Mickey Factz grabs a couple of choice soundbites from that now-infamous conversation for a pretty strong hip-hop jam.

The production is one that’ll thoroughly assault your speakers, combining a thunderous percussion with a dash of vocal samples and bassy synth for an intense backdrop that adds plenty of aggression to Mickey’s raps. Those raps are enjoyable throughout, opening with support for the sample Kanye statements, and moving into a criticism of rap and further down into a mixture of rock and cultural references and bragging raps. It’s certainly not one of Mickey’s storytelling efforts- instead, it’s 4 minutes of consistent rapping in a bouncy flow that rides along the booming percussion well, and packs in a couple of strong wordplay sections. Worth a listen, and hopefully more music is on the way.

HAIM-Days Are Gone (Full Album Stream)

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For whatever criticism they may field, HAIM’s unique blend of styles and sounds still wins me over almost every time. It’s good to see that they’ve achieved relative mainstream success, and with their debut LP due out tomorrow, they let the full thing go (a few days ago) for streaming. I’ve said several times previously that such a move is confident, but it’s especially so by an act without a full album to their name, and fingers crossed the material holds up.

There are four or five tracks that relatively long time fans will recognise, including the three openers, which should allow for a good level of familiarity with the 11-track album. Within those few previously-released tracks is a wide array of musical influences, so it’s only fair to assume the rest of the album will further display their eclectic, adapatable nature, and result in a very diverse project. Check the stream out below, and grab that album tomorrow if you’re suitably impressed.

HAIM-Days Are Gone

Daley-Look Up

Following Daley’s progress has been nothing but a pleasure over the last few years. From upcoming, unknown soul singer full of potential to the well-rounded, widely-lauded performer he is today, it’s been a rise that’s completely earned and has led to the forthcoming release of his debut album, Days and Nights.

Those you work with tend to be a pretty good indicator of both your status, and your peers’ faith in your ability. So, having Pharrell produce and co-write this song is about as good a representation of Daley’s situation as you could hope for- Pharrell’s coming off a genuinely spectacular summer, having been involved in its two biggest hits amongst other things, and choosing now to come together with Daley is a great co-sign.

The product doesn’t disappoint either. Pharrell serves up a cool, easygoing production, comprised of gentle synths, touches of guitar, and a mellow percussion that moves the track along nicely, without breaking the smooth bubble its built within. That’s left to Daley’s ever-excellent vocals, which remain mostly relaxed through the verses, but build toward a comparatively intense hook that breaches the confines of the velvety production in short bursts, adding a few good flashes of emotion. Generally, it’s a supremely easygoing affair that will certainly find a home in many bedroom encounters (admit it) this winter. Join the party and grab this on iTunes now.

Meek Mill-Dreamchasers 3 (Mixtape)

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On the back of the first two tapes in the Dreamchasers series, Meek’s carved out a very strong position in the mainstream hip-hop scene, and certainly ranks as one of MMG’s more recognisable names. Credit to Meek then for sticking with the mixtape scene, despite the fact he could have probably put half of these tracks onto an EP and made a lot of money; clearly, he just wants to get a lot of product out there, and that’s to be appreciated.

Features on this are big-name heavy, as you’d expect, with Diddy, Nicki Minaj, Fabolous, Future, Jadakiss and Ma$e appearing alongside MMG leader Rick Ross, whilst the producer lineup boasts Cardo, Boi-1da, Key Wane and even the massively-forgotten Scott Storch. Meek’s proven himself a very versatile rapper, so expect a couple of club hits, speaker rattlers and maybe a more introspective track or two. Either way, mainstream heads will be grabbing this one- do so for free below.

Meek Mill-Dreamchasers 3

Lupe Fiasco-Piece of Paper/Cup of Jayzus

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#latepass. Lupe dropped this one off about 10 days ago, but it appears to have completely bypassed me. Expected to be the first single from the upcoming Tetsuo and Youth album, it’s 7 minutes of straight rapping that should appeal to the hip-hop heads. No hooks, no over-production, no fuss.

The beat is supremely minimal, with the only constant being four repeated piano notes, whilst thudding bass and a little extra percussion works its way in and out where required. There’s a touch of synth and sample here and there too, but it’s very minor, and doesn’t impact the overall stripped-back quality Lupe’s gone for. As for the raps, where do I begin? Analysing even the shortest of Lupe’s tracks is a heavy task, so I’ll make little attempt at taking on the punchlines, couplets and so on here- what I’ll say is that Lupe isn’t getting super ‘weird’ or overly metaphorical. He consistently hits a nice middle ground between matter-of-fact, face-value rap and double entendre-laced lyrics, with his occassionally patronising wit (let’s be honest) tempered here by a more self-confident, slightly arrogant style that works to bring his raps into a more universally absorbable delivery. It’ll take several plays to really catch everything, and at 7 minutes long it can become a bit of a chore, but it’s worth a go for sure.

The Weeknd-Pretty (Video)

I’ve been really impressed with Kiss Land. There was potential for it to be a third successive Weeknd project (excluding Trilogy) that didn’t hold up all the way through, but it’s a very strong offering that has the right mix of progression and the trademark Weeknd sound.

This was arguably one of the LP’s standouts. It lands very close to his earlier work in capturing that dark, moody vibe, but builds on that by adding occasional flourishes of grandeur, and is overall a very addictive listen. It’s a slower yet equally intense track than his last two video releases, though this is far less busy, cutting out the urgent lighting and sharp scene changes for a single thread, story-based video that builds on the audio very well. Not safe for work/kids.

The video opens on a sombre, hesitant Weeknd making his way through the airport and into his car, to undertake a journey through a near-empty city at dusk. The city visuals are impressive, capturing the downbeat vibe of the track excellently, whilst the city’s gradual addition of lights and activity works in line with the track’s growth. Interspersed with the journey scenes are those of a female getting dressed, and eventually fornicating (yeah) with someone. It’s quickly evident that it isn’t The Weeknd, who then lets his badass streak loose, landing somewhere between hitman and spurned lover to close the video off in explosive and surprising circumstances. Simple storytelling, and the pacing, scenery and gritty colour palette add to that for an engrossing watch. Kiss Land out now.

The Internet-Feel Good (Full Album Stream)

There are some big acts that have released/are releasing albums in September, but my anticipation for any of them pales in comparison to the interest I have in this particularly project. Their last album was excellent, and the previews we’ve had from this, particularly the hugely-acclaimed Dontcha, have suggested that’s only going to evolve and get better with their sophomore LP.

13 tracks make up the project, one which promises to be a little livelier and more instrument-driven than their synthy, atmospheric layering found in their debut album. Of course, it’ll still all be tied together with a chillout sensibility, and it’s that combination which could make this essential listening this winter, and probably again in the summer.

Their burgeoning status has given rise to a few noteworthy appearances- their recent work on Mac Miller’s tour has been repaid with a Mac feature, whilst Jesse Boykins III reprises his connection with Matt Martians (see The Jet Age of Tomorrow’s most recent album), and the wonderfully gifted Yuna lends her vocals to proceedings. Adding to that is Tay Walker, a previous collaborator, rounding off what is a small but promising batch of features, all of which make plenty of theoretical sense. It’s all about Syd and Matt though, and I’m sure they’ll deliver once again- find out here with the stream, and be sure to buy the album on Tuesday.

Floco Torres-Psycadelphia Two (Album)

The sequel to the “Psycadelphia” EP back in 2009. Floco returns to Psycadelphia after leaving it ruins after an unsuccessful start. During his departure, he left behind many that he brought along in order to find his true purpose of creating the world to begin with. This is the story of rebuilding a world and convincing those that believe in it to allow him to lead one last time. Welcome. Again….

One of my favourite rappers to emerge this year is Floco Torres. Though he’s been around for a few years, it’s his work this year that’s really brought him to our attention, and this 12-track sequel to one of his earliest works provides not only a lengthy addition to the libraries of his new fans, but also a nice nod toward his oft-overlooked back catalogue. Haven’t managed to give this a run through yet, and despite my recent listening habits momentarily sitting away from hip-hop, I’ll certainly break that spell to add this to my playlists- given his previous penchant for diverse, ecelctic track types, there’s bound to be something to fit most moods. Stream here, or grab the album below.

Floco Torres-Psycadelphia Two

ShowYouSuck-ShowYouSuck Raps Over Toro y Moi Songs EP

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I’m unfamiliar with ShowYouSuck, but if you’re going to take on tracks from one of the best producers in today’s music scene, I’m listening. The hilarious artwork doesn’t hurt either. It’s pretty much the artwork Drake should be attaching to his albums/singles/walls at his house.

Here he takes on three tracks from Toro’s fantastic Anything In Return album, grabbing Cola, Cake and Never Matter as his backdrops on this project. All three were very enjoyable listens on the original, particularly Cola, and it’ll be interesting to see how they’re taken on. Again, with no prior knowledge of SYS, it’s a strong way to introduce yourself, and at worst should refresh those originals for many Toro fans. Free download below

ShowYouSuck-ShowYouSuck Raps Over Toro y Moi Songs EP

MeLo-x-GOD:WiFi EP

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For the final chapter of MeLo-X’s GOD EP series, we find the artist connecting the global dots he has acquired throughout his travels around the world. From enlisting producers from South Africa like B EZE, and joining creative seductive forces with Lary Poppins from Germany, to the small vocal dialogues throughout the EP in French, Spanish and more, MeLo-X paints a vivid picture of an artist becoming a globally recognized contributor to music and art.

Wasting no time MeLo will be readying his official album GOD: Pièce de Résistance as a culmination of all the EP’s with exclusive new material.

MeLo’s had a fantastic year with this GOD series, and he finishes the trilogy with yet another free EP. I’ve somehow missed the singles that have landed before today’s release, though the eclectic features listed above along with an appearance from Sango suggests we’re in for a diverse, varied EP that should offer yet another string to MeLo’s bow. He’s definitely turned some heads this year, and hopefully he closes the series with the same level of quality he’s previously delivered, ahead of that full album release soon. Stream and download for free below.

MeLo-X-GOD:WiFi

Context - Small Town Lad Sentiments (Mike Skinner Remix)

Context is another upcoming OTU have been keeping a close eye on over the last few years, with Context signing worldwide publishing and songwriting deal with EMI/Sony expect to see a lot of movement over the next year.

His last single, Small Town Lad Sentiments, received lots of radio play and Mike Skinner was so enamoured with the song he not only decided to remix the track himself, but direct (and also feature in) the official video for the remix too!

No surprises, given that this is produced by Mike Skinner, that this track feels like it’s come straight from an album from The Streets, but it’s the relatable lyrics that really reminds me of that Streets feel. A lyric that The Guardian picked out also resonated with me too:

“We grew up being told that actions speak louder than words, but you need cash to act and I’m skint – fractions speak louder than verbs”

Dan Kent - Feels Like Fire ft. Kuniva (of D12), Flexplicit & KOF [Video]

Avid readers of OTU know that we’ve been following producer Dan Kent’s progress closely over the last three years (check the rest of his stuff out posted on OTU here), and here he returns with a new vid.

This is from his upcoming debut EP release, Feels Like Fire, which will feature heavy hitters such as Wiley and Krept & Konan, as well as US artists such as Kuniva on this track, and fellow Shady alumni Cashis.

This title track from the EP comes with an ultra addictive chorus that’s guaranteed to have you playing this on repeat. D12 member Kuniva combines with Birmingham rapper Flexplicit & Liverpool rapper KOF to provide a cultural blend of hip hop.

Keep an eye out for the EP, it’s not far away from release.

Out-Spoken - A Night Of Live Music And Poetry [Event]

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Out-Spoken is one of London’s premier nights for poetry and live music. Founded in 2012 by Anthony Anaxagorou, hosted by The Ruby Kid, and filmed by Karim Kamar, Out-Spoken invites the UK’s leading poets, rappers, and musicians to share their art at a monthly showcase.

Check out the first show of August/Winter 2013 with a one-off Saturday event taking place….this Saturday! Taking place at The Star of Kings in Kings Cross, expect live performances from Mista Gee, Joelle Taylor, Ehi Joshua Idehen, Eliza Shaddad & Ayanna Witter-Johnson.

And if that doesn’t convince you, there’ll be DJs and dancing until 1am after the performances have finished!

You can purchase tickets from Eventbrite right now. For more information click the poster to the left, or visit the Out-Spoken website.

Out-Spoken – September 2013
The Ruby Kid | Anthony Anaxagorou | Karim Kamar
Saturday, September 21, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
The Star of Kings
126 York Way
N1 0AX London
United Kingdom

Jhene Aiko-Bed Peace ft. Childish Gambino

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Several images of the two working together surfaced in recent weeks, and one of the products from those sessions has emerged, as the first single from Jhene’s upcoming Sail Out EP.

Laidback doesn’t even begin to describe this one. Opening with gentle guitar strums (that remind me of a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, the name of which has eluded me), Jhene enters the fray with her ever-relaxing vocals, with that delivery actually masking what are quite brash, honest lyrics from start to finish. It’s almost surprising just how smoothly her soft voice can cover some of the forthcoming lyricism, from encouraging the object of her affections to get wasted instead of working and to indulge in some adultery, and credit to Jhene for that deceptive delicateness- it’s clearly an intentional feature, making the lyricism sound ‘acceptable’, and hence convincing her male company of the very same thing. Gambino’s appearance is enjoyable, as he tones down the cadence to deliver a sombre yet satisfied performance, which smartly comes off as rather more conversational and responsive than as an isolated verse in the middle of a gentle Jhene song. It’s a good adjustment that makes the guest verse entirely seamless in the context of the track, and this is a very good start ahead of an anticipated EP.

Stalley-Blue Collar Gang/Sticks and Stones

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Stalley’s Honest Cowboy mixtape has been very well recieved; so much so, that it’s headed to iTunes in EP format, and comes packed with the two tracks included here.

Both feature and are produced by his frequent collaborator Rashad, something longtime fans will be pleased with given their previous successful releases. Blue Collar Gang has a rather triumphant vibe to it, celebrating Stalley’s crew and current status with an uplifting production and “bottom-to-top” lyricism that provides a good motivational angle. It all combines into a consistent sound, and one that will not only motivate many, but do so whilst remaining true to Stalley’s natural penchant for realistic songwriting rather than overblown statements. Sticks and Stones has a similar style of lyricism, though the production throws out the ‘pop’ key change and brings in a head-nodding percussion line, adding an urgency to the verses that allows them to get spotlighted ahead of Rashad’s gentle hook.

Of the two, the latter is my preferred track of the two, though there’s probably more mileage in the first as far as mainstream exposure goes. Both are enjoyable though, and be sure to grab them on iTunes now.

Toro y Moi-Campo

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Following his acclaimed full-length, Anything In Return, Chaz Bundick’s latest 2013 entry as Toro Y Moi is the “Campo” 7-inch, available exclusively on his fall North American tour.

Unfortunately, it’s not a dedicated to the bushy-haired footballer of Real Madrid and Bolton Wanderers fame. However, it is an easygoing, fun track that might perk up your day a little.

It’s far more funk driven than his work on Anything In Return, throwing out the heavy synth reliance and bringing in a much jazzier range of backing elements, from the immeasurably bouncy bass plucks through to the crisp, dynamic percussion. It’s a solid end result that retains Toro’s easygoing sound, but plies it with a hint of vintage rawness that demonstrates a good level of versatility, and ends up being a track that will slide into any chillout playlist with consumate ease. No word on availability for those not living in North America though, so good luck.

Kings of Leon-Mechanical Bull (Full Album Stream)

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With the album set for release next Tuesday, the increasingly-popular ‘week early album stream’ idea is adopted for Kings of Leon’s latest, with the full preview now available on iTunes.

The 11-track effort (13 on the deluxe) features the two enjoyable singles released in the last two months, which demonstrated the versatility they’re capable of, and the possible diversity on this album. Being recorded entirely in Nashville, you’d rightly expect the folk overtones of Come Around Sundown to still play a part in this, and that’s most certainly not a bad thing. Give it a go below, and pre-order if you’re sufficiently satisfied.

Kings of Leon-Mechanical Bull

The Weeknd-Live For ft. Drake (Video)

The Weeknd’s Kiss Land album was officially released yesterday, and he looks to bump the buzz around that project with this video release. Viewed by many as a semi-reconciliation with Drake (despite the fact a problem probably never actually existed), it’ll get some buzz for that, but it’s also a strong choice based on their collective brand power, built on by their previous mainstream successes together (notably Crew Love).

My audio review was clear on the fact it didn’t quite sit alongside The Weeknd’s top tier work, but also praised this track’s individual merits. One factor that prevented full commitment to the song was its contrasting motivational and dark qualities, but this video does help with picking the element the track should have been highlighting, that being the darker, more atmospheric side. It’s a gritty, industrial clip that’s buried in a surly dimness, with many of the shots doused in a thick darkness, whilst the far-from-glamorous backdrops that both acts perform in front of adds a visceral, wintery vibe that definitely tucks the livelier side of the track away. In doing so, it definitely elevates the song quite considerably, giving it a much clearer direction and hence allowing for a strong audiovisual synergy.

If you weren’t into the audio on its own, give the video a go and it might just bring you around, if only a small amount. Kiss Land available everywhere now.

The Internet-Dontcha (Video)

This just became my new favourite song. Expect a biased review.

When reviewing their release last week, I mentioned that their new material is expected to be closer to their live performances than their previous work, and hence fans may require adjustment. Whilst that holds true, this track lands in a perfect medium between their atmospheric sound on Purple Naked Ladies and the livelier sound they’re now going for, and requires no adjustment to appreciate. The production combines gentle melodies and easygoing percussion for a smooth sound that simply oozes cool from start to finish, whilst also adding a little funk courtesy of the bouncy bass and crisp lead guitar on the hook. Syd’s vocals are excellent again, moving from a delicate yet emotional delivery in the verses through to an incredibly catchy and mellow chorus that’ll rattle around your brain for weeks.

The video is an easygoing one, featuring the band performing the track in minimal surroundings, filtered through a monchrome style, and making for an uncomplicated accompaniment to the track. Look out for a Chad Hugo cameo- not out of context either, as he’s contributed to the production on the new LP. If you’re of eclectic tastes, it’s the type of track you’ll constantly go back to as safe, fallback listening in a few months when you’re not sure what to listen to- until then, it’s a fantastically smooth jam that I’ll play to death, and has hugely upped expectations for Feel Good.

Audio Push-Come As You Are (Free Album)

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They’re one of very few duos coming up in hip-hop, and whilst that makes them a rare commodity, beyond that novelty they’re an excellent act with plenty of potential. Their Inland Empire mixtape had some great tracks on it, and even if it lacked a little consistency it was a good showing.

This project comes with a ton of backing from their label boss Hit-Boy, who also serves as the project’s executive producer- whilst that’s clearly to be expected of their employer, his claim that the tape featured some of the best music he’s ever made (or something to that effect) is not one he’d likely be throwing around too easily. Features include Joey Bada$$, Wale, T.I., and labelmate K. Roosevelt amongst others, whilst Hit-Boy’s frequent co-production credits suggests the beat work will also be up to scratch. It’s a project that could very well see Audio Push move into a more prominent position in hip-hop, and in any case should prove a good listen for mainstream hip-hop heads. Free stream and download below.

Audio Push-Come As You Are

Eddie Murphy-Red Light ft. Snoop Lion (Video)

I can honestly say that since this track’s release last week, it hasn’t left my rotation. Put aside any hesitance you might have when you see Eddie and Snoop Lion/Dogg listed together on a track, and you’ll probably find yourself having a little nod-along to it too.

The video doesn’t really do anything major in terms of enhancing the audio, though it does show Eddie’s taking this music thing pretty seriously- aside from his du-rag, there’s no comedy shenanigans or playing around. Instead, it’s a pretty standard music video from start to end, interweaving performances from Eddie, Snoop and their band with a light story of a young girl witnessing all sorts of negativity (arguments, random assault, arrests and such), with the latter working well enough with Eddie’s conscientious lyricism. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, but it’s a good fit for the vibe of the track, blending real issues with a touch of corny positivity for a family-friendly listen, and one that will hang around my playlist for a little while longer yet. It’s a shame this didn’t land earlier this summer as it would have been a great fit on those sunny day playlists, but nonetheless it’s here now and it’s enjoyable. Available on iTunes now.

Eminem-Bezerk (Video)

Understandably, a lot of Em fans aren’t keen on this, but I certainly am and this video only serves to enhance that. It might be because Em’s set such a low benchmark with the poor produce of his last 3 albums, but it just feels much closer to the Eminem that warped so many of us as youths. Part of that seems to be the revival of the Slim Shady character too, signified by the return of his trademark blonde hair. Clearly, that’s a stunt designed to try and get those hip-hop heads back on his side, but if you compare this to the first singles from his last two albums, that simple stunt combines with this seeming improvement for more than a glimmer of hope.

The visual pays a bit of homage to a Beastie Boys classic, mirroring the influences many heard in the audio, whilst the common factor between the Beasties and this single also makes an extended cameo- Rick Rubin makes a rare appearance in front of the camera, indicative of his influence on this track and possibly on the entire album Em’s got coming. Other cameos include several Slaughterhouse appearances (Joell Ortiz has lost a lot of weight!), a fun Kendrick Lamar appearance, whilst Kid Rock and Yelawolf pop up too, adding to what is an active, busy visual that captures the energy of the track well. It’s not hugely complicated, and instead is a pretty simple slice of fun that offers just enough promise to actually give me some hope for this upcoming LP.

Chase and Status-Machine Gun ft. Pusha T

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Take Pusha’s gritty, aggressive sound and quite rightly, you wouldn’t think it a natural fit for Chase and Status’ electronic stylings (if you’re barely a casual fan of the latter, as I am). Here though, the duo show their versatility and adaptability as they take their powerful electro style and inject a gritty quality that suits Pusha down to the ground.

From the crunching bass through to the ominous, urgent melodies, it’s an intense production that captures a dark, industrial vibe that feels more suited to a drug-fuelled underground rave than your local nightclub. It’s a really harsh production, which in most circumstances would be a bit overwhelming for my tender ears (ignoring my heavy metal tendencies), but here is tempered by frequent ‘cool off’ periods, and believe it or not by Pusha’s snarling raps. He’s rarely known for easing a track off, but comparatively speaking his arrogant raps provide relative calm in a dynamic, high-octane environment, and hence show his own versatility alongside that of the producer duo.

It’s hard to tell whether this will translate well to clubs, but it’ll throttle your car speakers pretty well, which is more than good enough. C&S’ Brand New Machine album lands on 7th October.

MGMT-MGMT (Full Album Stream)

MGMT’s psychedelic sound is hit and miss. Parts of their previous albums have been fantastic, whilst others go beyond skippable into deletable. Hence, it’s with some trepidation that I approach this album, dubbed as their most experimental to date, but also with a little bit of hope- they undoubtedly have a streak of brilliance in amongst their wild playfulness, and more creative freedom might just allow that to expand further into the music.

Or it might not. Alien Days wasn’t terrible by any means, but Your Life Is A Lie failed to win me over, and with a relatively short album at 10 tracks, you’ve got to hope that the other 80% isn’t too close in quality to the already-released 20%. Don’t allow my caution to put you off though: this is an experienced duo, and one with a lot of talent- for all the confusion this LP’s sounds might bring, that shred of genius will hopefully come to the fore. Available to buy next week.

Travie McCoy-Rough Water ft. Jason Mraz

It’s been a long time since we’ve had new solo material from Gym Class Heroes’ Travie McCoy, but he re-emerges here with this mainstream-ready single.

Many will remember his global hit Billionaire, a track that also proved one of the key factors in Bruno Mars’ subsequent rise to prominence, and I’d imagine this will find favour with those who enjoyed that effort. The Jason Mraz hook is very “family friendly”, with emotional, catchy vocals that pack in enough love-centric lyricism to make it a real favourite with the younger crowd, and hence provides the sort of anchor that should make this track a big mainstream seller. McCoy’s verses stay on track well enough, and though it’s definitely not the best use of his ability (though admittedly, it’s been a while since he’s been ‘properly’ used), he’s clearly good at making pop-friendly tracks, and credit for coming back into the spotlight after a long time out and not losing that ability.

It won’t be to the tastes of most of the older readers here, but it’ll almost definitely be a big hit in the next few months, so prepare for it to dominate the usual mainstream outlets.

Eddie Murphy-Red Light ft. Snoop Lion

eddiemurphy
There’s a significant portion of our readership that a) doesn’t know Eddie Murphy ever actually released music, and b) weren’t alive when he was Hollywood’s premiere comedy actor. Creepy.

Most outlets have shunned this as something to be laughed at or just plain odd, but I’m quite opposed to that- this is actually a pretty smooth reggae jam. It’s lighthearted and fun in places, conscientous in others, and generally just packed with solid melodies and an easygoing vibe that makes it irrelevant who the named artist is on the artwork. Eddie delivers a surprisingly good performance in the reggae mould, adding a new string to his bow with a convincingly-authentic performance that you’d easily believe was from an actual Carribean-dwelling act. That applies to both the vocals and lyrics, with the latter throwing forth a little social commentary that shows off Eddie’s more reflective side, though that ‘seriousness’ is balanced with the mellow delivery and the tropical vibes of the production. The beat is a very enjoyable backdrop too, combining gentle percussion with heavy doses of guitars, both acoustic and funk-driven, and brings a great deal of positivity and feelgood quality to proceedings, also ensuring Eddie’s lyricism doesn’t come across as too preachy. Snoop reassumes his Lion persona here, delivering a few short bursts through the final third of the track to add a little tonal diversity, and finishes off what is in truth a pretty likeable track. Many won’t go for it, but it’ll find a home in my iTunes on its release.