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”
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.
UK hip-hop isn’t something I’ve ever fully committed to as a music fan (even I’m not totally sure why), but Smiler is an act that breaks free of that mental blockade to really command attention in my library. What began as an interest after seeing him perform live turned into a huge appreciation for his All I Know mixtape, and has since blossomed into relative pride at his now-respected stature in the UK rap community.
This tape will hopefully bear fruit from that career progression. Of the features listed, the most notable is certainly Giggs, though most of the 12 tracks are solely Smiler efforts, which should satisfy his fanbase whilst making for a good introduction to new listeners. With an Ed Sheeran-featured single coming soon, it’s fair to expect extended mainstream success to be Smiler’s before long, and you’d do well to jump on the bandwagon now if you haven’t already. Stream and download below.
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.
Here’s a new track from a former kickboxing champion turned singer, Kurt Collins. This will be on Kurt’s new mixtape which is dropping in May, a mixtape that’ll also have cameos from esteemed names such as Wiley, amongst others.
Krept & Konan feature on this particular effort, and they add a huge amount of vigour to an already pumping beat. Krept in particular comes through with a blistering flow, which has got the fans going crazy on Twitter! Given that Krept & Konan are well known for their punchlines and lyrical content, this new found energy adds even more to their raps.
Some nice visual work as well to accompany this hit. Those into a bit of UK talent would do well to keep an eye on these guys.
Kano says it himself in this track “sounding like some old school K.A.“, he sounds just as fresh as when he first came onto the scene. The last few years he particularly has looked like he’s really enjoying his music, guest starring on numerous tracks and just stealing the show.
Benga, a talented producer who some of you may be more familiar with as part of the three-man super dubstep collective Magnetic Man, enlists Kano for his new track Forefather. Kano reminds us all he’s a forefather of grime, and the video reflects his journey, taking us back to 2003 when he was rapping in basements, 2008 rapping in clubs and present day where he’s rocking stages. Kano’s always been at his best on bass filled tracks and Benga doesn’t disappoint.
This excellently produced song is from Benga’s upcoming album, Chapter II (pre-order here), and you can grab this track now from iTunes.
Context asks us “what do we know about Aston Martin music”, a fair question – I don’t think anyone I know around these parts really knows about that way of life. Tracks like Aston Martin Music are great and all, but truthfully songs that really resonate with us are ones that we can really relate to. That’s why so much emphasis is made by fans on artists being ‘real’.
1.4 at 12 is a track that takes us around Context’s neck of the woods, and what the harsh reality of English life is like. The scenes in this vid are certainly what I’m more accustomed to seeing in the city than that of most hip hop videos!
The track itself features a very English, almost vintage garage, vibe, which is a style that suits Context. Context has himself a good variety of tracks and videos already, which is all the more impressive given that he’s unsigned with no budget. I look forward to seeing what else he comes up with in 2013.
Wretch 32 delivers us his new single which is off his new album, due for release later this year.
Here we see a very creative and what is essentially ‘lyric video’ for the audio. Visually is very compelling, which is impressive considering it’s not even the official video for the single. It really does a great job of accentuating the lyrics, with Wretch being well known for his clever word play, this is most definitely a good thing.
A rather chilled song, much in tune with Wretch’s personality, Blackout is one of those songs that may not grab you immediately, but it’ll certainly creep up on you eventually. I expect it to sound especially good on his album.
Two of the best rappers in the UK over the last 10 years combine for this homage to Dr. Dre’s classing Still D.R.E.
Starting out as just a freestyle from Sway, things escalated into a full blown remix after a good reception from fans, as well as a chance meeting with Dre himself in London.
Really loving how they’ve switched up the beat for this, which compliments both Sway and Kano’s energetic flow and clever lyrics. Tigger Da Author, a singer-songwriter recently signed to Sway’s label, provides a likeable hook, flipping a few of Dre and Snoop’s classic lines from the original song.
The video provides similar elements and vibes that Dre’s video did all those years ago, but using the city of London as a backdrop instead of L.A., which is a nice touch. A few cool cameos too from other leading UK stars, further highlighting the unity that the UK industry has these days.
If you don’t know by now (sorry, couldn’t resist) JME’s singles guarantee three things: clever lines, interesting production, and energetic videos. If You Don’t Know delivers on these three.
JME takes us through a few things that you should know about him, his team, and his movement (for those that are yet still unaware), packed with many quotables I particularly enjoyed his lines about how certain peoples vocabularies are not advanced enough to even fill a tweet. The beat has a dubstep/grime vibe that is tailor-made for JME’s vivacious flow and is supplemented with a very well produced video.
Mikill Pane returns to our eyes and ears with his new single, Good Feeling.
This utterly addictive track has Mikill telling us the story of a kid moving into his first uni house, which doesn’t quite meet up to image he may have had in his mind. A dodgy house and a dodgy landlord is something all students can definitely relate to! The kid looks to spice things up by hosting a house party, which is tune with the feelings the hook provides.
Smart lyrics and addictive choruses is something that’s become synonymous with Mr. Pane, so watch the vid and purchase the Good Feeling EPfrom iTunes when it comes out March the 17th.
Skepta’s one of the few grime artists who’s tasted much commercial success without sacrificing his credibility in terms of lyricism or his personality. There’s a good reason why Skepta was chosen by Diddy to feature on his Hello Good Morning remix three years ago.
On his recent mixtape, Blacklisted, he tells the story of when a couple of guys tried to steal his chain, given how those guys turned out it’s easy to see how he’s able to go from chart music to tracks like this remix, if he says he’s going to punch you in the face, I see no reason to doubt him!
This remix of Straight Up is Skepta’s ode to credibility. The hook on this has been in my head for days, so I thought I’d inflict this on you all too. You can get hold of Blacklistedfrom iTunes.
Filmed on handheld by Mangaliso Asi to document his visit to Johannesburg, South Africa and most importantly Vilakazi Street, Soweto. Explore the rich sites sounds of South Africa infused with Mangaliso Asi’s unique style transcending genre expectations to offer what can only be described as powerful music.
An excellent fusion of styles here, with Mangaliso’s husky raps being set over a bright and lively traditional South African backdrop, and the end product is a fresh and unique listen. Asi’s lyricism is as relatable as ever, with his focus shifting between his origins and a wider view on humanity, and both verses are certainly packed with enough to warrant several replays; there’s something about Asi’s raw style that makes his philosphical lines a little more meaningful than similar lines from his hip-hop peers, and that’s evidenced throughout this track.
The video’s mostly footage of his visit, as written above, but is intercut with some great footage of local sights, people and the less ‘glamorous’ side of South Africa, but in a very positive, culture-laden light rather than the more preachy approach others would take with this sort of clip. Likeable audiovisual, and it’s one that’s definitely worth a go.
It was an all-too rare delight to get some new audio from Mangaliso last week, and it’s great that he’s following that up with this video release, also his first in quite some time.
The audio is full of introspective raps set upon a reflective production, and that’s captured well enough in the video, with shades of Coldplay’s The Scientist in the reversal aspect of the clip. In contrast to that however, Mangaliso never appears to go anywhere or do anything besides run whilst surrounded by relatively nice scenery, and the messaging there is clear-despite being around seemingly-likeable surroundings, the chase for genuine success is rather arduous, and oftentimes feels like you’re moving in reverse with no end in sight. It’s easy to relate to that for many, and the melancholy audiovisual makes for a heavy dose of realism. It’s great to see Mangaliso gets some strong camera time, and let’s see if this thought-provoking clip leads to a new project.
There’s a handful of UK artists who’ve really mastered the amalgamation of grime and dub-step, and Lethal Bizzle can probably consider himself one of them.
A lyric video to accompany the new single (I’m sure we’ll get an official video soon), which is excellently produced by Badform. I’m really enjoying Belle Humble on the hook too, she’s got a nice voice.
Deepest Shame is the new single from the multi-talented Plan B and is taken from his #1 album ill Manors. A nice video for a great and sensitive song. Ed Sheeran, Devlin and Chip all feature on the remi, which you can check out in the second video, putting a dance and slightly more uplifting spin on the track. A very good listen. You can get the ill Manors album from the following: iTunes Deluxe, iTunes Standard, iTunes US (+ Film Score).
After being extremely impressed with Smiler’s support slot on Slaughterhouse’s recent UK tour, I gave his material a thorough look-over and have been really enjoying it ever since. He’s one of the few UK rappers who doesn’t bury his head in either grime or pop-rap, instead nailing down a basic hip-hop style that will set his career in good stead.
This appears to be a big ‘arrival’ single, and whilst it is a little more mainstream-targeted than the material on his superb All I Know mixtape, there’s still a lot of likeability about it. The production commands attention, with pulsating synth work strapped onto punchy percussion for an intense yet upbeat style that’ll reverberate around your ears for a while. It’s a great backdrop for Smiler’s raps, as he brings a slick set of flows to package up his part-celebratory part-biographical raps into a performance that should win many admirers. The Tawiah hook is solid and will set it in good stead for some radio coverage, whilst the Pro Green addition won’t hurt Smiler’s reputation either (even though I can’t stand Green’s voice).
The lead single off of his most recent release, “I Came, I Saw Vol.3,” currently available on iTunes. The video is already on rotation on MTV Base in Europe and Africa and featured MTVIggy.com.
With plenty of international traction already, it looks like Jamieson might have a breakout hit on his hands here. The production has a real knock to it, throwing a punchy, pacey percussion in with a sharp melody that’ll ring around your head for hours, providing Jamieson with a strong, sturdy backdrop to lay out some rhymes on. The flow is as watertight as ever, demonstrating that unique hybrid style once more with his British style wrapped in with a little New York influence, whilst the wordplay and lyricism keeps up well throughout.
The video is a pretty simple one, mostly focused around the animation of the hook points of his lines, and whilst I’m sure many would prefer a more ‘traditional’ video, we’ve seen plenty of them from Jamieson in the past and this makes for a bright, colourful departure from that style. Diversity in your catalogue is never a bad thing. Be sure to pick up the I Came, I Saw, Vol. 3 EP on iTunes right now.
Despite the title of the tape suggesting acknowledgment that the collective conscious of the R&B fanbase has forgotten about her, this actually looks like an interesting project.
It’s absolutely heaving with material, boasting a huge 37 tracks, with a mixture of original new material, old material and a few remixes/freestyles. A good portion of the tracks will be familiar with many, but I’m sure most will appreciate having them all in the same place. With a tracklist that deep there are a plethora of features, including such notable names as Raekwon, Gym Class Heroes, John Legend, Ghostface Killah and many more. Jump in for the free grab below.
A smoothed-out, soulful effort from the ever-entertaining Jamieson to close off your Monday night, taken from his upcoming June release I Came, I Saw Vol.3.
The production has a cool, mellow vibe, courtesy of a soft vocal sample, pillowy bass and easygoing melodies, with the combination being a production that could certainly stick around on those summer playlists we’re all so desperate to get in rotation. Jamieson’s raps are pretty solid throughout, sticking true to the track’s title for a self-doubting yet occasionally feelgood performance, packed with a commendable honesty throughout that reveals a couple of interesting moments, particularly the suggestion that he once rapped rings around Asher Roth.
It’s worth noting that there’s zero malice in his voice, and such references are clearly meant in a non-harmful manner, and in some way that probaly enhances that chilled-out style of the track. Decent all-rounder and hopefully the full project follows suit.
The ever clever Mikill Pane is back with an excellently-titled EP, drawing inspiration from the project that launched him to national fame, Ed Sheeran’s Collaborations EP, for a guest-packed effort of his own.
Mikill’s stock has risen considerably over the last 6 months, and that increase in stature is represented by the feature list reading like a who’s who of the UK music scene (and Katie Price, for some reason), as artists from a wide gamut of genres come together to help Mikill produce another reputation-boosting project, with Paloma Faith, Yasmin, Ed Sheeran, P Money and more making appearances. I’ve yet to dive into the music, but being the hugely consistent rapper that he is I’m sure the content will match the co-signs. Free grab courtesy of SB.TV below.
Context MC delivers us his new video 25 feet underwater!
The video is directed by Louis Ellison – at the very same studios that the Bourne Trilogy was filmed, and has already been playlisted by both MTV and MTV Base (so chances are a fair few of you have seen this before!). Really feeling the concept of this video and track, which has heavily featured in my rotation for a while now! Go give it a watch for a left, and you can preorder the single below on iTunes.
Multi-talented Labrinth, who is an instrumentalist and produces, sings and even raps, has gathered this all star cast. Three leading UK urban artists alongside the legend that is Busta Rhymes? A recipe for a classic collabo.
Labrinth’s album, Electronic Earth will be released on the 19th of this month.
I’m contemplating a comeback. To be honest, I haven’t had an influx of new music since the turn of the year. I’ve been listening to alot of this and this. That’s not even a joke. With that in mind, here’s a little something from the UK which my brother pointed in my direction to give me some direction.
Dirty Dike hails from Cambridge, which is where our very own OTU ninja Indi is from. I hope he doesn’t mind me telling you this. Although now it’s too late and it’s all over the Internet. I’m from Norfolk and have sex with my Mum. There. Parity restored.
Pfffftttt, not sure I remember how to do music reviews anymore. American followers: this man raps funny. Now if that’s not worth a watch, I don’t know what is.
Hit up High Focus’ website for the low-down on their talented selection of (British) artists.
Mikill Pane recently released his fantastic new EP, The Morris Dancer, and has climbed as high up as #2 in the iTunes hip hop chart thus far – a great achievement from an artist I expect to see big things from this year.
Here’s his new video for Kings, which features on The Morris Dancer, and is a great advertisement for why you should be copping the EP. Mikill successfully fuses good lyrics to a track that will make you move and resonate in your head; assisted by the vocal talents of Yoshee, you’ll find yourself hitting repeat!
Something a bit more grimey for your ears, Marger brings you visuals for his latest single, Outside Ting. Produced by Sibling, we get treated to some pulsating production! It really accentuates Marger’s strong flow.
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from JAMIESON, here he returns in 2012 with a great song, detailing his journey thus far – the good, the bad and the ugly. The hook on this is pretty addictive!
To see what else JAMIESON’s been up to click here to check out his ode to his hometown London, and click here to see part I of the trailer for his upcoming I Came, I Saw Vol. 3, which features co-signs from Yelawolf, RZA and Steve Rifkind!