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.
Having let the first track (assumedly) from his upcoming Love In The Future album go, John comes through with the official lead single, linking up for his fourth collaboration with Rick Ross.
With an iconic sample of Mr. Big Stuff in tow, the track is considerably more upbeat than the previous release, and hence will certainly have a stronger appeal to the mainstream audience than its predecessor. That sample is joined by slow, strong percussion that anchors the entire track well, whilst a multitude of soft layers from harps to synths help add a rather lavish and luxurious sound, one befitting John’s soaring, debonair vocals. Regardless of the commanding production, his performance still packs in all of his soul hallmarks to wrestle control of the track back to his voice without veering too far into pop territory, whilst Ross’ famed penchant for productions of this ilk ensures he fits alongside John nicely to maintain the track’s momentum. A good release, and by my count that’s two-for-two from the album.
It’s been some time since there was even the remotest of suggestions that a John Legend album was on the way, but 5 years on and we’re getting his next album, Love In The Future, this year.
Don’t let the futuristic title fool you. This is classic John Legend, and rather than lace his fantastic vocals with synths and such, the single has John on a more stripped-back style than we’re accustomed to from him. The instrumentation is gripping from the moment you press play, throwing gentle violins in with more distinct string plucks and chunky percussion for a production that’s got trademark soul elements, exotic features and a strong R&B anchor in the drums. I’d imagine every superlative has already been used for John’s vocals, but they’re as good as you’d hope for here, soaring and passionate in the hook versus relative placidity in the verses, with both also benefitting from the sporadic and likeable inclusion of distinct backing vocals. A great way to kick off the album hype for John, and I’m sincerely looking forward to more from the LP.
G.O.O.D.’s captain Kanye West has just tweeted a few pictures of what’s assumed to be the artwork for the upcoming Cruel Summer album, set for a 4th September release.
It seems as though Tisci’s involved again with this one, with the borders bearing a heavy similarity to the Watch the Throne cover art, though the addition of a clearer centre point in the almost angelic figure marks an improvement over the WTT artwork.The aforementioned figure evokes a strange mix of emotions, with it suggesting innocence and purity when combined with the white/silver colouring, though there’s still something a little odd and almost ominous about it. I assume the latter would have come into Tisci’s thinking when designing this, due to both the name of the album and the slightly harder, more aggressive nature of the audio releases from the LP thus far. With little over a month to go, expect this to be the start of a ramp up in promotion, and hopefully that includes some new audio or video heading our way soon.
We’ve seen many weekly series come and go here at OTU, but it’s been a while since we’ve launched a new one, which frankly isn’t in keeping with our ‘we do things differently’ mantra.
That would be the marketing spin on this. The truth is, the thought occurred to me that as modern-day music listeners, we consume so much music on a daily and weekly basis that there have become two clear pools of choice when picking something to listen to: either a classic, old-school track or something relatively new. “What’s wrong with that?”, I hear you cry. “The vast middle in between those two”, I reply.
There are countless songs that lie in that grey area of being a little old, but nowhere near aged enough to be considered ‘classic’, and often they get overlooked. Several tracks may have been ‘ahead of their time’, and you’ll find them an almost brand new listen in today’s climate, or it may simply be revisiting an excellent track to recrete that ‘first time’ feel once again. Welcome to your friendly reminder of tracks we may have once loved (or even completely ignored), and enjoy the fresh yet familiar feeling that accompanies each one.
Though it’s only from the soundtrack of the upcoming Think Like A Man film, it’s always great to get some new John Legend, and it certainly helps when it’s one of his better tracks in a long time.
Opening with in an atmospheric and drifty manner, there’s an instantly smooth vibe pouring out of this one, and whilst the song does shift into a more pop/R&B realm with the percussion and additional elements, it retains enough of that initial airy quality to give it a distinctive flavour. Legend’s vocals are never in doubt, and here he actually does a good job of stifling his natural passion and intensity, instead opting for a more structurally sound effort that still showcases his wonderful talent. Definitely worth a listen, and look out for it on iTunes on Tuesday.
The semi-title track from Common’s upcoming The Dreamer, The Believer, and this album is really shaping up to be something special.
The track feels like a modern take on the soulful style of Be, with John’s soulful vocals on the hook accompanied by speedy percussion, an uplifting vocal sample and sharp, crisp raps from Common that come packed in a couple of very slick flows. It’s a great combination of elegance and energy, and once again highlights Common’s incomparable diversity. The Dreamer, The Believer coming December 20th.
5 weeks away from the 100th episode, and the ‘new format’ rolls on with another easy-to-digest and concise edition. Not too much to catch up on in terms of different posts, but I’m sure anyone with even a sprinkling of good taste will be interested in grabbing 64 Frank Ocean tracks.
An interesting blend of mainstream stuff and more refined soul-oriented material this week, as well as chucking in the now customary throwback R&B track of the week. Click below to be happy. → Continue Reading
Another short episode in terms of new tracks, but that’s the price we pay for me being forced (Murray’s been begging me) to deliver this on time. However, I’ve opted to use this ‘free space’ to throw in something a little different: I’ve included a couple of throwback tracks that you may be unfamiliar with, but are certainly worthy of attention. Would love to hear some feedback on them too, as I’d like to incorporate throwbacks more often!
The nature of the beat actually seems to fit Snoop a little better than it does ‘Ye, though that’s not entirely a compliment: I’m not convinced this is the right beat for either artist, and may be better suited to a Kid Cudi or Wiz Khalifa type rapper. When incorporating an edgy, guitar-laden style to the production, keeping the tempo down means you’ve really got to come through lyrically to play off those sharp tones and sadly, I don’t feel as though that’s done here. Had it been sped up, it may have been compensated with some nicer flows, but there we are. Not for me sadly, but may be very accessible to the mainstream/radio listeners.
At the SXSW festival in Texas (which may I add, sounds like it’s been a brilliant festival for hip hop!), Kanye and the rest of his GOOD Music clan tore up the stage with probably my favourite track from the GOOD Friday weekly drops.
I had actually forgotten how immense this song was! Kanye sounds the best in this video out of these guys, though I was a little disappointed with Cudi’s performance in this. Having seen him live, I know he has a much better presence with the microphone, so I can only assume there was a problem with the sound levels on his mic.
Here’s the new mixtape by Fashawn, as promised yesterday. Given the strength of yesterday’s track that I posted and the stuff I’ve heard Fashawn come out with in recent times, I fully expect this mixtape to be incredibly good.
Definitely one of the best from the underground hip hop circuit about and with the likes of J. Cole, Common, John Legend, GLC and Gilbere Forte all on the list of features on this mixtape, it shouldn’t disappoint.
Click here to grab it and click below to see the tracklist.
Revealed on Lupe’s website a little earlier, alongside the pre-order packages for the album. Nice to see we’ve only heard (versions of) 3 of the tracks so far, meaning the rest will be nice and fresh!
1. Letting Go (Feat. Sarah Green)
2. Words I Never Said (Feat. Skylar Grey)
3. Till I Get There
4. I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now (Feat. MDMA)
5. Out Of My Head (Feat. Trey Songz)
6. The Show Goes On
7. Beautiful Lasers (Two Ways) (Feat. MDMA)
8. Coming Up (Feat. MDMA)
9. State Run Radio (Feat. Matt Mahaffey)
10. Break The Chain (Feat. Eric Turner & Sway)
11. All Black Everything
12. Never Forget You (Feat. John Legend)
A fun, remixed uptempo happy good time consisting of the best remixes and rarites of this years Grammy nominees. Featuring remixed music by everyone from Lady Gaga, La Roux and Rihanna to Kanye West, Vampire Weekend and Florence & The Machine, there’s something for everybody for sure.
Looks very interesting to say the least, and the duo of Boogie and Urban never fail to deliver when it comes to these original projects.There are some serious names on this one, and the tracklist will defnitely whet your appetite. Click below for the download, and even further below for the tracklist.
I seriously love this guy’s voice. Timed beautifully with my recent praise of one of Fall Out Boy’s better tracks, lead singer Patrick comes through with a fantastic acapella rendition of John Legend and Andre 3000′s 2008 hit single.
Everything about this suits Stump’s style, with his alternative/pop/soul hybrid vocals being put to very good use in this high tempo, vocally demanding track. Definitely worth a listen, and I’m very excited about his upcoming Soul Punk album.
A very dark, industrial video for a very good song.
The audio itself had a vibe that blended uplifting elements with a more melancholy, bittersweet style and this video certainly plays on the latter styles with some harrowing imagery. The combination of empty, industrial scenes with visions of death, instances of gang crime and faceless individuals makes for an eye-opening, compelling and frighteningly realistic video, which really makes the most of the audio its given.
I don’t claim to have seen many videos of this sort of music, but this certainly adds some depth to this style of music, doing its part to move it away from the stereotypes and audiences its commonly associated with, and into the realms of mainstream and artistic acceptance. John Legend’s vocals are as brilliant as ever, conveying a range of emotions brilliantly with those unmistakeable vocals. A superb all-round effort, and you can grab a remix of this track here.
The original was one of the most unexpected collaborations of 2010, and 1/3 of the mighty Magnetic Man trio opts to give it a refresh with a solo remix.
I’m going to go with the original in this case, as its light yet energetic dub influences were far better synergised with John’s voice than the more minimal-experimental style Skream adopts here. It’s a solid track as an independent piece, and works as a relaxed and laidback affair, but remixes by nature can’t escape being viewed comparatively and hence I feel it comes up a little short. No doubt Skream fans will view it differently!
<object height=”81″ width=”100%”> <param name=”movie” value=”http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F9037137&show_comments=false&auto_play=false&color=e2001c”></param> <param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param> <embed allowscriptaccess=”always” height=”81″ src=”http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F9037137&show_comments=false&auto_play=false&color=e2001c” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”100%”></embed> </object> <span><a href=”http://soundcloud.com/skreamizm/magnetic-man-ft-john-legend-gettin-nowhere-skreamix”>Magnetic Man ft John Legend – Gettin Nowhere – Skreamix</a> by <a href=”http://soundcloud.com/skreamizm”>SKREAMIZM</a></span>
Wow, well that came out of nowhere. Should be a great listen and with the recent spate of love for John Legend, on the back of his collaborative album with The Roots and superb feature(s) on Kanye’s album, I’m looking forward to more vocals from John.
These two have a good chemistry too, both with the recent Fall In Love and You Are from Estelle’s last album. Grab it below, link courtesy of Estelle’s Twitter!
It’s been a huge 48 hours for collaborations, but in honesty this pairing excites me more than any other. It’s not clear whether this is from Lasers or if it’s old material, but it’s fantastic stuff either way.
Comfortably one of Lupe’s most lyrically introspective tracks, he comes through with some really reflective raps that give this track an incredibly personal feel. The production fits that style perfectly, with an echoed piano melody further enhancing the isolated nostalgia that Lupe conveys so eloquently. John Legend’s hook is the crowning glory on this track, adding in a soulful ingredient perfectly weighted with remorse, hope and power: it’s a thought-provoking blend that adds great strength to the song’s lyrical content. Great song, and one that will undoubtedly satisfy Lupe’s hungry fans.
Lupe Fiasco-Never Forget You ft. John Legend
Edit:Kanye has mixed a new version for us now, (the same but with an extended R-Les verse). Grab ithere.
Now that is one hell of a long title! There wasn’t going to be a G.O.O.D Friday drop this week because some blogs posted a leaked track from his upcoming album (not us). However Kanye decided not to punish us all, and let us have this weeks track.
First impressions, Kanye’s done it again! Another fantastic track and some great verses supplemented with an awesome Kid Cudi chorus. The quality of all these free tracks he’s giving away is unparalleled in the game right now. This track alone is better than 99% you’d hear on other rappers albums, let alone all the other tracks Kanye’s given away lately.
Great stuff. Grab it by clicking the illustrious red text below.
Some nice features on GLC’s upcoming debut album. Anyone else feel its 2 years too late?
1. The Big Knot
2. Clockin’ Lotsa Dollarz (feat. Sir Mix-A-Lot & Bun B)
3. Pour Another Drink (feat. John Legend)
4. Cold As Ice (feat. Twista)
5. MHCC (feat. Byrd Dre)
6. Flight School (feat. Kanye West & T-Pain)
7. So Real (feat. B.J. The Chicago Kid)
8. My 1st Model (feat. Christian Rich)
9. The Light
10. I Ain’t Even On Yet
11. Pull Me Back (feat. The Legendary Traxster)
13. This What It Is
14. I Did It
15. Tator Chip Pays
A couple of tracks leaked from their upcoming collaborative album today, but this was probably the better one.
Shine manages to strike a rare, brilliant mix of being easygoing and relaxing whilst adding motivational and uplifting elements to the track. A fantastic contrast that is played out perfectly in both John’s vocals and the ever-capable backing of The Roots, who build the instrumental piece-by-piece into a rousing jazz-soul finale. Definitely one to check out for those after some organic, genuine music.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting these visuals, and it’s every bit as gloriously epic as I’d hoped. Set in World War 2, this video is a fantastic mini-movie and adds even more depth to an already atmospheric and uplifting song.
Absolutely compelling, a video that will last long in your memory. Audio for the B.o.B remix is available here.
New leak from John Legend & The Roots’ upcoming album, Wake Up!, which is out mid September. If you’ve heard The Roots and/or John Legend before, then you won’t even be reading what I’m writing here and gone straight to the download link. Which is fair enough, this is a nice soulful track for this relaxing Saturday afternoon!
Edit:Well that didn’t take long, in fact the CD quality of this track leaked soon after I went to bed! So here you go, I’ve replaced the below link with the real version which won’t offend you ears. This song is awesome.
Definitely the last leak we’ll be posting from Officer Ricky’s Teflon Don album. Here is a radio rip of his collaboration with Jay-Z (let loose by DJ Khaled). Rest assured when that CD quality version of this track appears, we’ll put it up, but for now think of this of a preview of what sounds like a very good track.
Jay-Z’s verse goes hard (on all those who’ve recently accused him being a devil-worshipping Mason) on this, definitely worth checking out – I’ll be listening to the CD quality version of this a lot when that leaks! Go grab it below.
It’s always nice to come home from playing football straight to an inbox full of good music!
This one is B.o.B remixing a recently-leaked track from The Roots’ How I Got Over album. Not sure if it’s official or just B.o.B having some fun, but either way it’s worth checking out. John Legend delivers a fantastic hook and some great vocals throughout, whilst B.o.B really holds his own with his verse, alongside the ever-brilliant Black Thought.
Love the production too, and frankly everything about this song has the feel of a classic.