13 for '13

2013 v3(2)

Year after year, we change the format of the end-of-year OTU round-up (routine is boring), and this year I’ve opted for a forward-looking feature rather than reflecting on what was a rather disappointing year in the music world. Many are desperate to have their tastes for 2013 dictated to them by either the BBC Sound of 2013 or MTV’s Brand New for 2013, but the interesting thing is we’ve been championing some of the acts they’ve thrust upon you this past week for quite some time. The rest of them we probably don’t care about.

So, here’s a chance to get clued up with some genuine upcoming talents that I expect to release more fantastic material this year and break through that next barrier of success, whether it’s into mainstream consciousness or slightly wider underground appreciation. Note that I didn’t say commercial success. Whilst some will certainly find that and it is a facet of their potential growth this year, it’s far from essential, and each selection here deserves to be so on quality and potential more than anything. Regular reader or not, you’ll have heard of several of these selections before and be assured those acts are here on merit, not because a label asked us to do so; something the aforementioned 2013 ‘predictions’ from the mainstream outlets can’t honestly claim. Let’s go. → Continue Reading

The Defining Moments of 2011: #1

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The 5 Defining Moments of 2011: #2

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The 5 Defining Moments of 2011: #3

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The 5 Defining Moments of 2011: #4

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The 5 Defining Moments of 2011: #5

Welcome to our end of year special, and once again we’ve changed the format (here for 2010,and here, here, here and here for 2009). Whilst we enjoyed last year’s Top MC’s round-up, the reasons for change were two-fold: firstly, the sheer dearth of ‘top MC’s’ this year, and secondly the need to incorporate the many other genres that we’re fans of.

To satisfy that requirement, Indi and myself have compiled 5 moments (we use that term loosely, as many/most of them aren’t exact moments) that we feel accurately represent and summarise 2011 from our collective perspective. As expected, we’ve cheated in places by grouping certain things together, but I’m sure you’ll all see its for the greater good. Or, alternatively, you’ll understand that we do it because we feel like it.

As per every year, many of you will agree, many will disagree but frankly we’re glad you have an opinion and would love to hear it. Without further ado, click on to see the moment(s) that kick off our top 5 countdown.

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OTU's Top 15 MCs of 2010: The Top Three

Hopefully by now, you’ve managed to have a look at who the OTU team rated as the rest of the top 15 Mcs, with numbers 15 to 4 being revealed last week. If not, catch up here.

Whilst I’m sure many can guess 1, 2 or maybe even all 3 of our remaining picks based on the omissions from the aforementioned list, the order in which they’re placed may be more difficult to pre-empt. Click on to see who the OTU team have voted as the top three MCs of 2010.

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OTU's Top 15 MCs of 2010

As the end of year lists begin to pop up everywhere, it’s only right that we enter the fray. Murray, Indi, Liam and myself have put our heads together to compile a list of the very best acts in hip-hop this year, and come up with shortlist of who we feel stood up and really did something worthwhile this year. With the differing tastes and perspectives of four writers, you’ll definitely find some good talking points amongst the commentary we’ve offered on our selections, for better or worse (hopefully better!).

Click below to see who ranked at #15 all the way up to #4. The top 3 will be released shortly afterwards. Without further ado, let the mayhem begin!

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Spotify: OTU's August Snapshot

Some superb stuff in our August snapshot which perfectly compliments the closing of summer as we welcome autumn with open arms. We’ve mixed old school with new school to create that sound which will have you rocking out until next month’s episode. New material from the likes of Atmosphere, Usher, Fat Joe, Sage Francis, Lil Wayne and Drake all sit comfortably next to some classic older joints from Damien Rice, Linkin Park, Kanye West, and of course, Eric B and Rakim.

If you’re still clutching onto the dying days of summer then don’t worry, we’ve kept July’s snapshot available for you. But trust us, take our hands and let’s step into autumn together.

OTU’s August Snapshot

Confused? Find out more here.

Review: May Alternative Tracklist

June is finally here and the weather has been strangely nice for the British summertime. However, before we get too carried away with what the exciting months ahead hold, come and take a quick look back over my pick of the best Alternative tracks to come out in May.

It was a pretty big month for Indie/Electro music, with new tracks from Portishead, Chemical Brothers and Crystal Castles, as well as new material from Arcade Fire finally hitting our ears! There have also been plenty of tracks from many a new band on the block, so you’d be daft not to check this out……

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Feeling A Bit Confused? Too Much Material?

This week has had some huge material, and lots of it, making it one of the biggest weeks in recent memory for our posts. Hence, I appreciate if some of you are struggling to keep track (it’s difficult at the best of times) so I’ve put together a round-up of some of the bigger stuff. An R&B round-up can be found on the intro to this week’s R&B Friday, so this is all the non-R&B stuff.

In no order: New Kanye single, two (immense) Travis McCoy tracks, and new Roots.

3 new Drake leaks (Fireworks, Unforgettable, Miss Me) a nice Royce/Big Sean collab, the new T.I. mixtape, and some new Nas.

Mark Ronson’s next single, Vinnie Paz/R.A. the Rugged Man collab, and Big Boi’s Shutterbug video

Eminem’s Recovery art/tracklist, new Kid Cudi, and finally B.o.B’s Live Lounge performances. There’s naturally a load more material than this, but I thought I’d give you a few starting points with this stuff for those of you looking to recap on the last week. Remember too, I’ve deliberately omitted the R&B stuff as I already referenced it all in R&B Friday. Hope it helps folks!

Review: April Alternative Tracklist

As May rolls in and the summer moves closer, take a quick look back over my pick of last months Indie/Electro/Alternative-rock tracks that should be dominating your ears.

If you think that you’ve seen all that April had to offer, or just want some fresh acts to dig your teeth into, look no further and check out some awesome tracks and bands that may just have slipped in under the radar.
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Tempest's Best of '09... better late than later.

Yes, the title makes sense. What of it?

Anyway, hereon-in is my Best of 2009 straight through the internets to your face. Mostly your eyes, then ears. Not sure you’ll be able to taste much of it. I digress, I’m going to attempt to get my albums of the year out of the way first, then probably just artists that I’ve enjoyed in 2009, irrespective if they actually released anything (decent) in 2009.  How does that scan?

Right, I hope you’re sitting comfortably; this could get lengthy………wahey!! But seriously, read on.

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Notorious Indi’s Best of ‘09

2009 was one hell of an interesting year. We saw the comeback of Eminem, albums by the 2 other big names of hip-hop in Jay-Z and 50 Cent, and once again we waited all year for Dr. Dre’s Detox which never came. It’s fair to say that despite this the year hasn’t been dominated by the big boys and we’ve seen a gradual change in hip hop – the gangsta rap of previous years has steadily evolved into what can be described as ‘Hip Hop Hipsters’. Kanye led the way back in 2004 and by 2009 the likes of Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Wale and Asher Roth have emerged.

Click on to find out what I considered the best and the worst to come out this year. → Continue Reading

Ajay-182's Best of '09

In what can best be described as a fitting coincidence given the retrospective nature of this particular post, 2009 was very much a year of hindsight. I rediscovered artists I’d neglected, I discovered artists who I’d simply ignored, but most importantly I began to see the fundamental flaw in my appreciation of music (especially hip-hop) and how I probably got it wrong.

Don’t make the same mistakes. Click on to grab some unmissable tracks, and of course my discoveries from the year gone by. I’ve thrown in a couple of lists too, as I know some of you can’t deal with excess reading.

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Murray’s Best of ’09

So I think we are all in agreement: 2009 has been quite a year for hip-hop. It has seen the return of Em, Jay has completed his Blueprint trilogy and 50 has had so much beef you would think he will be full up for Xmas (*cringes*. Yeah that was bad).

Aside from the big names dropping their albums, we have also seen some highly anticipated underground acts dropping LP’s too. This is my Best Of ’09 list and contains some real gems so don’t let the year go past before getting your hands on these.


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October Summary

Better late than never eh?

October definitely renewed my faith in music, after a September which was heavily reliant on 3 major album releases. Click below for my musings on the month, and as per last month, my favourite albums/songs from the last 31 days.

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September Summary

So, we all know September was a generally slow month for good new music (with a couple of notable exceptions). However, I’d planned on doing a month summary anyway so I’ll try and be as pragmatic as possible.

Click below to see my summary for the month, including my favourite albums and tracks from September.

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