Snoh Aalegra-The Fall

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I heard this for the first time about a month ago, but didn’t really pay proper attention. Having recognised I didn’t seem to dislike it, I still downloaded it but added it to my mountainous backlog- I happened to make a dent in said backlog this weekend, and rediscovered this frankly brilliant piece from a wonderful upcoming talent.

Snoh is currently under the tutelage of the legendary No ID (and assumedly, the Cocaine 80s team), and this first release as part of that relationship is one that really does warrant attention. The production is beautifully structured, opting for a subtle progression between the verse and bridge, before making a rousing, comparatively energetic leap up to the thoroughly addictive hook. The track’s melodies are a sombre combination of lonely guitar plucks and atmospheric synths, which provide the backdrop for Snoh’s haunting yet powerful voice- her performance very quickly wrestles control of the track, keeping things relatively introverted for the verses before matching the hook’s thunderous percussion with a suitably rousing set of vocals. She looks great (comparisons to Eva Mendes aren’t far off the mark), she sounds fantastic and is backed by one of music’s most versatile and talented producers: Snoh Aalegra is most definitely one-to-watch.

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Common-Congratulations ft. Cocaine 80s

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And that summer music just keeps coming. Has someone finally told the industry that music should be seasonally-timed?

Common joins up with the rest of the Cocaine 80s collective for his first new release in quite some time. It’s a great effort too and certainly leans more towards classic than contemporary Common, with a mellow production that combines gentle melodies with pillowy, bassy percussion for a style that effortlessly lands somewhere between neo-soul, smooth jazz and a dash of vintage R&B. Of course, they’re all genres Common’s had no problem associating with in the past, and that throwback nature comes to the fore with his raps too, courtesy of his slowed-down, near-spoken word delivery talking to the listener rather than rhyming at them, a style remarkably similar to the material of his that many hip-hop heads grew up listening to. His storytelling ability has gone nowhere either, as this alternative tale of his friend’s wedding day expertly runs through Common’s internal monologues, observations and flashbacks to interactions with the bride. There’s a good touch of vocalising from the 80s team at the end to wind things down, and this is a superb slice of hip-hop that’ll make for good listening for the foreseeable future.

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Cocaine 80s-The Flower of Life EP

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Of all the R&B, pop and soul releases we’ve had this year, this is the project that trumps them all in terms of my pre-listening excitement, and that’s having heard 3 of the 7 tracks prior to this free release.

Fauntleroy, No I.D. and the other constituent members of this group (including Common, for one track at least) come together once more for a collection that thus far is excellently put together. Diverse styles of instrumentation, from the raw, acoustic styling of Lucid through to the smooth, more hip-hop driven beat of the Fly Ass Pisces, there’s a lot of diversity packed into here, with James Fauntleroy’s vocals being the consistent factor by virtue of their sheer command over melody. He’s one of the most sought-after songwriters in the R&B and pop world, and here he’s taken centre stage with his own performances and doesn’t disappoint, with good vocals and likeable writing supplementing the No I.D. beat work superbly. Worth a go for any music fan.

Cocaine 80s-The Flower of Life EP

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Common-No Sell Out


The incomparable No I.D. has taken to Twitter/Tumblr (the internet, let’s just say the internet) to let a Common joint loose from of the vaults. I don’t suspect this is from too far back as Common’s voice sounds a little more recent, but it makes no difference: this is a crunching No ID beat with some slick Com raps that will go down well with the hip-hop heads.

The production utilises some vintage, almost 20′s-inspired keys for a positive vibe, though the slightly more downward synths and the thunderous percussion temper that upbeat quality with a heavy dose of grittiness. It’s a production that draws equally from classic and modern sources for an excellent hybrid sound that suits Common perfectly, with his own crossbreed style of rap working this beat well courtesy of a steady flow and a nice mix of storytelling and wordplay. Great slice of heavy-hitting hip-hop.

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Cocaine 80s-Chain Glow ft. Nas


Given the vast amount of material that Common, James Fauntleroy, No I.D. and friends have released as Cocaine 80s, it’s a surprise I’ve not posted any of it on here. Nonetheless, they’ve started releasing more music recently after a few months off, and this is certainly the standout of the bunch courtesy of a great Nas verse.

Fauntleroy does a superb job with his harmonies throughout this one, taking on the soft yet atmospheric No I.D. production with a delicate delivery on the vocals, both in rapped and singing sections, working to really accetuate the high points of the beat and showcase his own abilities. The slick Nas verse contrasts excellently with the smooth vocal work that comes before and after it, with a razor-sharp delivery that definitely leaves you wanting more; clever move with his next album on the horizon. A really likeable effort that straddles the lines of soul, R&B and hip-hop very expertly.

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Common and Nas-Ghetto Dreams


Imagine my sheer joy at waking up this morning afternoon and finding not only the first single from Common’s upcoming The Dreamer, The Believer album had surfaced, but also the much-anticipated collaboration between two of the all-time greats (both are nestled comfortably in my top 5).

A rugged, throwback production is served up by the incomparable No I.D., boasting a hypnotic boom-bap percussion along with a lively yet smooth sample on the melody, combining for a real head-nodder of a beat that makes no secret of its 90s roots. The structure of the song is clearly anchored around the superb verses from both MCs, with Common bringing some well-delivered raps about his ‘Cinderella’, whilst Nas moves from a general ‘dimes’ subject to his own ‘African Queen’ in an energetic verse. Both certainly bring the goods, as does No I.D., and this is frankly unmissable for the hip-hop fans. UPDATE (6th July): Available to buy on iTunes right now for US fans!

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Lupe Fiasco, Common, Jennifer Hudson & No I.D.-We Can Do It Now

The video here is a pretty interesting behind-the-scenes look at this huge collaboration from four of Chicago’s most prominent exports, made for some Gatorade promotion.

The track itself is pretty good, with each of the artists contributing to an uplifting and motivational track. No I.D. serves up a vintage sounding production, with marching claps creating a pounding backdrop that is complimented by the flair of retro-style guitar work.

Audio can be grabbed here.

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Remember Twista?

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Turns out Twista has a new album coming soon, which unfortunately hasn’t recieved much promotion. Click below for a great track from Category F5 that features Kanye West.
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