Folly Rae – Sniper

The singer/songwriter has been building up quite the reputation (amongst those in the know) as one of the more underrated talents, with her versatile sound and strong writing abilities. Possessing an abstract yet distinct style, Folly Rae has recently been enjoying a good streak with the success of her previous tracks, U, and i need u here (cortado), both songs though different, have a quality of captivating the listener like a structured chart-hit, whilst being as raw and refreshing as an underground anthem.

It’s made for a great foundation upon which she will continue to elevate, being one of the premier artists on label Portfolio Music, and recently being picked up by the forward-thinking music imprint that is Black Butter records. Much like the current heatwave in England, her talents look set to grace the country and beyond, especially with the potential summer hit, Sniper.

Just like her previous tracks, this has those very qualities, delivered with more definition and further showcasing her subtly impactful vocals. Beyond the catchy nature of the record itself, her voice emphasises the empowerment that this song represents, and she proves her worth as an artist because those soulful essences of hers are what really help execute the track so well. It’s one of those songs that should be heard everywhere (’til you’re almost sick of it), from constant radio play to commercials, with it’s heavy feel-good factor, it most definitely adds to the blue skies and sun’s rays.

The official video follows that mentioned feel-good factor and is able to match the abstract with the western aesthetics, presented in a more comical narrative. First couple watches, personally I’m not too sure if the video does the song justice, but the colour-scheme is appreciated and as you watch more, you get to appreciate Folly further, as she not only looks good but theres glimpses of her personality that come through, especially with the more dominant shots, from the stage performance, her strutting out onto the court (in the air forces), and with the horse. Complete with it’s range of colours and shots, it’s an entertaining backdrop for the song itself, and like the artist, it’s far from regular or what’s expected.

As Sniper continues to grow, it only increases the anticipation for a full-length project from Folly Rae, as she looks to establish herself as one of the more heralded talents to emerge from the country.

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Introducing: Ye Ali

As LA thrives with an authentic array of artists and producers, it’s sound is evolving, from being rap-centric, (and while that is currently thriving) there is a strong emergence of a more soulful sound, lead by the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, with TeeFli and newer acts such as 24hrs and Bino Rideaux amongst the ranks, another one to watch for is Ye Ali.

A blend of both rap and R&B, he’s found himself as one of the more overlooked talents, rising to acclaim in 2016 with his Traphouse Jodeci project..

A showcase of his style and sound, drawing from influences and delivering a complete body of work through as concept that proved consistent from the first track down to the last. He expanded on that with Private Suite..

..allowing him to merge more of his R&B influences with his current feel, featuring the fan-favourite Ring x4. Both projects helped sustain a fanbase, which the next year were gifted with Passion & Patience.

A more refined version of the previous offerings, like an album, and while it overall was well received, it’s also boasted the big record Talk Less..

(Initially I was reviewing this track and video, however, as I saw it continue to fly under the radar, I felt that Ye Ali overall deserved mention for his work thus far.) Featuring the classic Ashanti sample, he’s able to comfortably croon and more so make his presence felt without being overshadowed by the sample itself. Talk Less has slowly gained traction, finding itself to the ears of influencers and helped spur Ye Ali even further, and as much as it’s last year’s lowkey anthem, I would not be surprised if it found itself circulating through this summer, as it has still not fulfilled it’s potential. The track also helped highlight the quality that comes from him working with producer Bizness Boi, who together had created a vast amount of his work thus far, and as both continue to excel in their own lanes, it only means for more good music and success to come.

One thing is for sure that Ye Ali has been ahead of his time, with his previous finding itself inspiring some of today’s tracks, for the likes of Chris Brown and more.

If you like what you have heard thus far, then be sure to stay tuned, as he continues to develop on his craft and provide the vibes, much like his recent two collaborations..

You can expect to hear a more developed sound as he is no doubt working on a new project, one that I am sure will help raise the profile of himself, his artistry and penmanship.

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Pistola – Fiji

As the lines of rap blur, Boston has a contender for the new era, with the abstract Pistola

There’s no need to dissect or overly analyse, just hit play and vibe. Still quite the up and comer, he’s shown signs of improvement through his previous releases, crafting a varying sound, he garnered some attention from his fan-favourite Swang, which went on to get a remix with DRAM. That track helped shine light on his stance as a performer, with Fiji being a testament to that, and in due time will prove itself in a live setting. Other than that, the few that know me, know Fiji is one of my preferred choices of water, so I (and everyone else that feels the same) now have somewhat of an anthem for it.

If you fuck with what you’ve heard thus far from the young Boston rep, then stay tuned as he looks to drop more, with a project in the works.

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Dukus – Talking Spanish

Staying true to his desires of consistency, Dukus is back yet again, this time with the more exotic sound..

Drawing inspiration from his Columbian heritage, Dukus merges flavours for this broader sound. Talking Spanish is quite the blend, leaning to a more traditional dance sound, strengthened by the drums, creating a universally appreciated rhythm. Dukus appears incredibly comfortable with this style, proven with how he flows fluently with the spanish. It’s clearly natural to him, as as something I would encourage him to explore further, I’m looking forward to hearing more of this side to his music.

 

 

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Wholagun – Real Talk 3.0

With his Savage Sundays coming to an end, it’s taken those couple of weeks to readjust, and just as you may have wondered when next you’ll hear anything, Wholagun drops the visuals for one of his standout records, featured in his recent Solution To The Problem album.

As much as people may enjoy the more elaborate and detailed trap-themed raps, many Wholagun fans gravitate towards his retrospective takes. His Real Talk’s have been well received over the years, and this 3.0 follows those very sentiments. “No money in my pocket..couldn’t call on a mate, deep down many knew I was short on my change, still nobody offered me a portion of steak..”, at his most reflective, his most vulnerable is where his artistry truly thrives, being able to emote lyrically, further emphasised by his tone. Real Talk 3.0 is Wholagun’s inner battles thus far, his quest to prevail through music and transition from the streets, but deep in, and with really himself to rely on, it’s proving to be tough to focus on himself when he has so many to look after. This exact perspective it’s what highlights his persona as somewhat of a gangster with a heart of gold, as he calmly vents,“I gotta speak on my pain, I gotta free up my mind, ‘cos I just said I’m okay…and I ain’t even alright”, over the minimalist production, delivering a therapeutic verse that will undoubtedly not only resonate but furthermore uplift so many.

“Every days a blessing, I just wanna see us all progressing. I feel like everybody fights depression…’til you realise your minds a weapon.”

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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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