Apologies for my absence last week (I was in Berlin sampling the finest that eardrum-splitting German techno has to offer), but I’m back in sunny London now, albeit slightly damaged of hearing, and ready to fire off another round of this week’s best new slices of aural bliss.
1) Drake – “Hold On We’re Going Home”
OK, so this song has been out for a little bit but I keep meaning to put it into this column because it’s a rare example of the things that Drake is capable of when he takes his head out of his moody arse. Much of the song’s excellence is owed to the production provided by newcomers Majid Jordan. Their soft-flowing synth washes and ’80s disco drum beat sits perfectly under Drake’s singing and provides a welcome change from his recent outpourings of self-pity and a return to the intelligent lyrics and arrangements of his debut.
2) Atu & Asante – “Prototype (The SanteJazz Remix)”
Electronic producer Atu and vocalist Asante remix the melodic Outkast track by completely altering the arrangement and groove of the original. Gone is the squelchy bassline and André 3000′s falsetto top-line delivery, instead the song begins with an ambient and calming synth-build before slowly melding into a majestic wash of Asante’s vocals. The arrangement initially feels muffled and out of reach, akin to the recent work of virtuoso bassist Thundercat through its prioritising of the vocal line. Two thirds through the track, though, Atu shows his true skill as a producer, effortlessly introducing a weighty drum beat and bassline which hark back to the original and which grab your attention as the track plays out leaving you wanting more.
3) Captain Murphy f/ Victor Vaughn & Earl Sweatshirt – “Between Villains”
There’s a serious amount of stage names going on in this track; Captain Murphy is the rapping alter-ego of producer Flying Lotus and Victor Vaughn is hip-hop pioneer DOOM. “Between Villains” is a stellar collaboration from some of hip-hop’s finest for the theme song of an Adult Swim cartoon. The track begins with a minimal yet terrifying beat that trips uncomfortably under DOOM’s rhyme-entangled verse before leading into a bass-heavy Earl Sweatshirt drawl and then finishing on some surprisingly mature lines from FlyLo who showcases that he can pretty much do anything when it comes to music. One for the fans of the art of rap, not just production:
4) Hiatus Kaiyote – “Nakamarra”
I’ve been very excited by Australian neo-soul/jazz quartet Hiatus Kaiyote for quite some time now, and so have the likes of Questlove, Erykah Badu and Salaam Remi it seems. Having started performing around their native Australia they soon created a huge buzz with video posts of their energetic live performances and have just this summer signed to Salaam Remi’s new label and set forth a worldwide release of their debut LP Tawk Tomahawk. “Nakamarra” is one of my favourites from the album, combining some subtle jazz instrumentation from the band and lead singer Nai Palm’s signature formless vocal flow to create a head-nodding hommage to the likes of D’Angelo and Robert Glasper.