Ammar: Welcome to the first of (hopefully) many weekly features where I shepherd you musically-inclined folk to the tastiest gems of the past week’s new releases. I’ll try and cover as broad a range of music as possible, as long as I actually listen to the stuff, and traverse across the popularity spectrum (from Rihanna to ‘that amazing post-punk-grunge ’90s band that were overshadowed by Nirvana’). Oh and I’ll try and abuse some of the week’s most hotly anticipated releases (because I like doing things like that).
1) Earl Sweatshirt – “Hive”
I know what you’re thinking – ‘holy fuck Earl has ginormous lips!’ – and indeed he does, but it’s those wonerous taste-flaps that give Earl Sweatshirt the best delivery, rhyme schemes and story telling capability of the whole Odd Future gang. Tyler, The Creator’s raps about rape and drug blitzes are getting old and it’s looking like Earl is the only saviour for Odd Future (he always has been). “Hive”, then, is an absolute beast; laying a super dragged back beat under a filthy bassline which leaves ample room for Earl, Vince Staples and Casey Veggie’s verses to breathe.
2) IAMNOBODI f/ Stacy Epps – “LoveLite”
Time for some feel-good hip-hop/soul now to remind you of the golden days when R Kelly wasn’t a suspected paedophile and everyone (I mean everyone) was wearing baggy pants. On “LoveLite” German producer IAMNOBODI channels some classic J Dilla energy on the production front with a choppy beat and squelchy bass/synth line. Adding to the instrumentation, R&B songstress Stacy Epps layers her effortlessly silky vocal on top, creating a sound reminiscent of only the best Slum Village/Badu ’90s R&B. Having already worked with Hip-Hop giants such as Madlib, MF Doom and OH NO, Epps puts her collaborative experience to good use, helping to create a track that is, just as its title suggests, light and perfect for some summer radio-play.
3) Sango f/ JMSN – “Affection”
Let’s make things a little more sexual now (it’s that time in the column) with a quality electro slow jam from Seattle-based producer Sango, featuring difficultly-named vocalist JMSN. With it’s glacial synth and percussion backing, “Affection” is a slow-moving yet subtly engaging electro/R&B song. The introduction of a soul-grooving bassline halfway through the track is also a genius move and puts Sango ahead of his contemporaries in creating genre-straddling, aurally-pleasing songs. Get yo’ groove on:
4) Arca – “&&&&&”
Ok, I’m cheating with this one a little bit because it’s more of a continuous mixtape rather than a single track, but because the whole thing is so great I just had to include it. Arca is an electronic producer who recently collaborated with Kanye West on Yeezus and on &&&&& he lays down some hip-hop heavy, ominously sparse beats meanwhile making sure to include influences from the wider realm of electronic production, most notably Aphex Twin, whose terrifying sample-based sounds can be felt in Arca’s use of acid synths and bass-heavy vocal sampling. &&&&& is an experimental and brave piece of work through which Arca shows his ability to produce a wide range of uniquely forward-thinking music without the need to accompany other artists and their visions. Stream and download below.
5) SZA – “Euphraxia”
SZA is a soulful female singer/songwriter/producer on the rise, following the independent release of two free EPs, S and See.SZA.Run. “Euphraxia” is taken from See.SZA.Run and is a floaty, bass-laced R&B number. SZA stands out from her contemporaries with her intelligent lyrics, referencing existentialism and the merits of soy milk all in one song, and quality minimalist production (“Euphraxia” is produced by the relatively unknown Dot). I highly recommend both of her EPs as they’re a far more creative take on the sound that The Weeknd perpetuated with his previous releases.
So, that’s all for now folks. Congratulations to those of you who made it to the end of this column and if you liked what you read/heard then check back next Friday for a fresh set of choons. If you didn’t like it, please make no attempts to comment/contact me…
Henry: If you do want to contact Ammar, you can on his twitter: @AmmarKalia2