Lowkey – McDonald Trump

As Trumps reign continues to spiral out of control, with the continuous negative nature and a horrific future in sight, the voice of the people, Lowkey, returns to make some sense of it all..

The London wordsmith has been scarce from music, while he puts the work in on ground level, truly amongst the people, and as the fears of a war continue to emerge with Donald Trump the new puppet for the long running regime, it’s got him back in the booth to lyrically articulate the current state and express the shared disgust at the ongoing inhumane agenda.

Much like Lowkey’s talent and ability, the topic stands out amongst the majority of music out today, and not only is this balance needed, it’s a reminder as to how important the artist himself is to music and culture. Similar to YG & Nipsey Hussle’s FDT (Fuck Donald Trump), this anti-Trump anthem is catchy and as strong of a song as it is a statement. Lowkey has always been one to not only find the words but bring insight, and helps rip down the curtains and delve into the corrupted system and it’s poisoning operations. The title itself holds weight, and is a great satirical pun on the name and the fast-food politics that is killing our people.

“Exxonmobile are writing this Trump script, The Koch brother are riding this Trump ship. Wall Street…is writing this Trump script, Raytheon and Lockheed are riding this Trump ship. Shut him down.”

The way Lowkey delivers this bridge, reminiscent of Nas’ classic Ether, is incredibly fitting, and always one who’s words you should pay attention to, he further depicts our sentiments with the impactful lines like, “Do another speech to inspire the next militant, may your nightmares be haunted by vexed immigrants, Mother of all bombs..I hope that every death lives with him”. Furthermore he takes it up a notch with his flow on the final verse, to really get his message across of the dystopian future that beckons under the deceitful leadership of “fake news in the flesh” himself, DonaldMcDonald Trump.

As much as I could praise Lowkey or highlight his ability or heart (and much love and respect to the brother for taking the stand), the song speaks for itself, and it’s important that you continues to listen and not only gather more information that you may have been unaware of, but also understand the deeper rooted problem this poses for peace.

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Dukus – On The Neck

Staying true to his word, Dukus follows up the moderate success of Look Inside, as he intends to keep his foot on their necks..

In a bid to stay consistent, Dukus is releasing new music as frequent as possible. Finding his groove in regards to releases and growing his fanbase, he links up with another up and comer Skully, with this layered track. In my opinion, it’s not as good as Look Inside, but is a different vibe altogether, a more amped offering, and will be one of his better tracks in a live setting. It’s good to see him in his groove and these tracks can give some insight into the forthcoming full scale project.

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Rockie Fresh – CBS

The underrated Chi-town talent comes back stuntin’..

Rockie Fresh is not only one of the most underrated in MMG, but in rap period. His previous efforts have cemented his position amongst fans as one of the best, even though they seemed to have been overlooked by the bigger platforms. With an array of quality visuals and features with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Chris Brown, he seems to have it tougher than so many others. Despite being on somewhat of a hiatus since being blessed with a child, he’s been hard at work, with Electric Highway 2 on the way. CBS (Came Back Stuntin’) is the first release from the project, and gives a good idea of what’s to come, as he not only picks up where he left from, but goes up a gear, as he brings the DeLorean back out, with his assertive delivery, letting you know he’s clearly not here to make up numbers, but stack them.

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TYuS – Phases EP

As R&B continues to find it’s way, meshed with rap, with the radio friendly/club hit dictating the direction, the more traditional soul sound has found itself in the shadows and often overlooked. So as the sound itself is not heralded as deserved, naturally, so are the musicians. I often give credit to PartyNextDoor and Ty Dolla $ign as musicians leading the new surge, with attention to songwriting, production and harmonies, capturing the classic essences with a more new-age delivery, and as more acts begin to breakthrough the barriers, with the likes of Jacquees, Ye Ali and Brent Faiyaz (to name a few), I recently came across an act, who is as futuristic as he is nostalgic, like a modern day one man Jodeci. Introducing TYuS..

His previous work shows those very essences, from the music to the visuals themselves, for example, I came across the video for his track Count On Me, and it reminded me of Usher’s Nice & Slow, only to dig further and find his cover of that song itself. Other songs like the underrated Between Us, highlight his fusion of old and new, and one of the more stronger vocal presences of artists out today. His recent EP, Phases, is 6 tracks of modern day R&B. Majority produced by himself, executive produced by none other than Hit-Boy, it’s a journey of emotions, crafted with mix of tempos, each song well written and executed even better. Starting with the strong, Think About Me

It helps not only introduce the artist, but establish the direction of the project overall. With it’s heavy bassline and soft melody, TYuS is able to vocally weave the feel of the record, something that he does effortlessly throughout his music. He has a natural tone that many try to emulate through autotune, this gives you that more subtle sounding tone, and any effects use are merely to add dimension to the song. Tracks like Get Down and Brand New showcase his versatility between a ballad and a club hit, where a song like Advice can be interpreted as a strong radio single. As much as his songwriting abilities are to be noted, with the way he orchestrates the melody, it’s his understanding to use his voice accordingly that helps give you a different experience with each song.

Phases, is a great addition for those already aware of the talent, whilst serving as an adequate introduction for new listeners, with a well chosen range of songs, and overall possesses that quality of playback value, with each track providing something different. I find myself having my favourites but then it changes over time, the more you listen. I’m surprised that he has managed to go under the radar for as long, I tend to think being in England is the case, but Warner need to recognise the potential and push him further because it is an injustice that he is not already being regarded as one of the hottest new talents out.

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Zayn – Let Me

Since his solo revival, Zayn’s superstar status means his development and experimental phase has been under a bigger spotlight than most, with his debut album Mind Of Mine proving his ability further. I enjoyed the album, it’s singles were well crafted, even down to the interludes where he explored more folk variety. The Pakistani influence was merged effortlessly with his natural soul style, evident with the extended riff at the end of his monster single Dusk Till Dawn. While media focuses on the irrelevant topics, he had shown more growth as a person and therefore artist, with the PartyNextDoor featured Still Got Time, but more so the Insta clips, where you could see him jamming and harmonising. With one of the strongest fanbases, it’s fair to say there was a lot of demand for his next efforts, and after some wait, he returns with his new single, Let Me..

Surpassing over 20 million views in a matter of days, he can do no wrong, and as one of the few artists with such musical freedom, it’s pleasing to see him take advantage of that and release music that he himself believes in. You can hear the personal touches, much like the previous album, rather than him being directed completely, (and as fine tuned as the song may be) you get a raw and authentic sounding record.

Regardless of any personal connection or inspiration, the falsetto-strong track is introduced in perfect timing, with it’s lyrical bearing to the month of it’s release, “Long walks on the beach in April..”, to it’s aesthetic and general feel, if the season of Spring could be heard, it might sound like this. Depending on whether he drops another single in the coming months, Let Me will certainly be many people’s soundtrack leading up to..and through the summer.

Those around me know I’ve been referring to Zayn as my little brother for a while now, and while that means I’m supportive, it’s also the fact that I believe in him so highly and therefore want to be critical, because he has the potential to be one of the greats, and as he’s on the right path musically, it has to be said that he is showing promise in the acting world also, (following up the SIA feature) with this cinematic experience, in this well constructed visual (courtesy of Narcos producer Jose Padilha), as he defeats the mob boss (played by Scarface’s Steven Bauer) in true suave hero fashion, from the exchange down to the action sequence. It’s an entertaining watch, and with it to be continued, we look forward to see what comes in the next chapter.

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Ironik – Icey ft. Fekky

Ironik can well be considered one of the pioneers of the scene, he definitely broadened the sound with classics that have contributed to the fact that so many years later, he’s still maintained a relevance upon which he remains booked. Many have grown up with his songs, and so his place is somewhat cemented, but he adds to that, as he continues to work, having released the album Truth Be Told. Following up on the visuals for Watch Nuttin (ft. Ayo Beatz), he release his next visual for one of the standouts with Big Fekky..

Though the album has a collaboration with none other than Snoop Dogg, it’s this number with Island Records’ own Fekky, that people have gravitated towards, with it’s uptempo production and their contrast tones and verses, it combines to create a well crafted and current sounding track, which works even better at live events. Fekky has been one of the go to guys for that amped flow, it’s a different level of energy that sounds as good through your headphones as it does live, and as he prepares for new material, this is definitely appreciated. Overall, it’s a good reintroduction for Ironik, who will build upon this as he works on the follow up project.

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Manga Saint Hilare – Good Over Evil

It has taken a while for Manga to really establish himself, despite being an affiliate of the legendary Roll Deep crew, having working relationships with the likes of Wiley and DJ Target, it has been his own persistence that has helped align his style with a developing fanbase. His Outbursts From The Outskirts project steadily helped shine that light brighter, gaining the attentions of peers also, as he looks prevail further. With a new found focus and a few headline shows under his belt, he returns with the balance in Good Over Evil..

“anytime I win..we do, I swear on my life I’m working hard..so one day my mum don’t need to..”

It’s fair to say that he has found his lane, as the scene has evolved, so did the sound, and with a larger audience, less rules, more freedom for individuality means someone who carried the torch for maintaining substance and expanding the content of Grime itself, Manga can flex his lyricism and storytelling to greater heights. That’s exactly what Good Over Evil brings you, produced by Drae Da Skimask, with it’s traditional Grime beat, cushioned with the vocal sample and strings, it allows the MC to skip over the beat with his introspective tales. His flow not only commands the track but acts like an instrument, as he skips on beat, added with the content (which is is important to him), along with the comfortability he has found within himself, allowing him to flow freely and deliver with more assertiveness. Also it’s authenticity, as he speaks on normality, providing a more realistic take on society, rather than an exaggerated theme thats become common today.

Though OFTO is still doing numbers, this new track leads towards a potential new project on the horizons, and at a time where other styles and sounds are under question, the positive element of artistry that Manga brings to Grime is certainly welcomed.

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Young Spray – More Champagne

Mr Realer Than Most has not taken his foot off the pedal, following up his Roadside G’s collab, Rat-At-At-At, with More Champagne..

One of his better tracks, since the breakthrough Amen, More Champagne is less your typical party riddim and more so a retrospective cut, as he washes his pain away with the bubbly. It’s a celebratory anthem, as he gives thanks for life, whilst paying homage and his respects to those he has lost along the way. Drowning his sorrows in champagne, it’s another honest insight for someone who’s last album was titled Invisible Tears. Amidst the crud talk, Spray has really been redefining ‘gangsta’, with his open and transparent rhymes, you get a sense of the emotion he pours out as well as how he may cope with it (emphasising his title as one of the realest).

This will definitely go down well within a live performance, as it’s within context of what you would expect from him but also has that strong party essence. Hopefully DJ’s recognise it’s appeal and spin it within their sets as that would justify it further.

If you fuck with it then make sure you hit subscribe on his YouTube channel as he continues to put the work in.

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Mr Bigz – This Year

As his previous release Body 2 Body was in rotation, it was circulating (amongst those in the know) that Bigz had an even bigger banger in the stash. Couple months later, few teasers emerged and interest grew further, well that wait ends, as he finally drops it, along with the visuals..

 

“This year I’m tryna get mainstream money”, it’s quite the ascension already, since inking his major deal (under the alias Wavy Boy Smith) with Island Records. Featuring a more Afrobeat sound, though it’s natural to him as he pulls from his Nigerian roots, blended with his British heritage, creating a reformed version of what we’re used to from him already. Aside from the simple yet effective production, put together by one of the more underrated behind the boards, Ayo Beatz, who proves his versatility, with the choice of instrumentation and sounds, that much like Bigz’s vocals, are a fuse of cultures, it’s obviously catchy. As much as the chorus may captivate, I like that he chose to continue to rap for the verses, because it’s not difficult for him in the slightest to sing throughout, so it’s good sign of integrity. The strongest point however, is it’s relation (to the people), it’s less about having it and more so obtaining, so while he’s putting it out there in the universe, the momentum behind the song is a positive one, as we all share the desire.

“We go chop too much money this year”.

It’s already been picked up by some playlists, and with summer approaching, this song looks set to be in many more, finding itself in rotation, as it clearly possesses that feel.  The fact that in under 3 days, This Year has already surpassed the views his previous video garnered in 3 months, a clear incite into it’s impact already.

The video represents the feel of the song, it’s lighthearted appeal is strengthened with the comedic intro, featuring the inspirational Mr Oshodi and his fast growing Food Junkee stand, it’s a dope piece of marketing that fits and provides balance to the visual. Featuring cameos from the likes of Mercston and long-time affiliates SAS (Mega & Mayhem), altogether just having fun and like the track, has that contagious feel-good factor.

It’s a great start for Bigz (who has been in the game well before there was really any structure), getting his just dues, and with his forthcoming project considered to be of a similar vibe to these recent releases, there is a new found anticipation (and curiosity) brewing for the Flygerian and what’s next to come.

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Preme – Hot Boy ft. Lil’ Wayne

“..I got the whole city on lock boy, I should dread my hair the way I’m feelin’ like a Hot Boy..”

RepsUp’s Preme made an impact in 2014 (as P Reign) with his Dear America EP boasting the underground hits Realest In The City and DnF. The past couple years we got his Off The Books EP, plus a couple cuts from the OVO affiliate which helped with the rebrand. Steady working away, he returns to the forefront with one of the catchiest tracks out, Hot Boy.

For those familiar with his music thus far, it could be said he was still experimenting and finding his style, this track however, fits within what you may have heard already. I was nodding my head and humming along, as it starts of well, then I began to hear cadences I would attribute to PartyNextDoor, and Preme as a man first..isn’t the kind to bite another, but being part of the same camp, it could be a possibility, and so upon some research, it appears PND is a credited writer, so that makes sense. Back to the song though, I’m surprised it hasn’t been gaining more of a buzz, or maybe it’s just not reached England yet, either way, it’s a wavy number, and you can’t have a song titled Hot Boy and not think Lil’ Wayne (much like the late Bankroll Fresh’s smash of the same name). The inclusion of Weezy not only certifies the track but naturally adds a whole ‘nother element with the autotune heavy flow, from the sound of the inhale, back like he never left, full of quoteables as you can expect from the legend.

“Used to have some wings, had to get them shits chopped off”

The track may struggle to really translate into the plays it deserves, but it’s most likely a slow burner, despite it’s radio-friendly tempo, but more importantly it reintroduces Preme properly, and he can only continue to ascend from here forth, with his new project Light Of Day due to be released soon, it’ll be sure to offer a similar level of quality throughout. My only critique was based on not entirely knowing if it was Party on the latter part of the hook or Preme, but it’s since been confirmed (by the artist himself) that it is indeed PND, which I now I have to give credit to the blend of the vocals, because it’s an effortless transition. Overall, the song itself is a strong effort, more light hearted than his previous hits and a step in the right direction for another Canadian adding to the country’s seemingly unstoppable waterfall of talent.

The video, directed by Kid Art (who has come a long way from his breakthrough visuals for Vinny Chase), with his eye for a clean shot, and the various scenes blended together, give it some extra depth, adding to the track itself.

 

 

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