Subculture has today shared new single “Tornados”, featuring Hak Baker. This is the first single from the UK Producer’s new EP ACiiiD DRIPPED FLYING BUTT€R GUNS set to be released on June 25th via Twisted Hearts Records. Over woozy beats and lo-fi guitars Subculture creates the type of soundscapes that are best appreciated late at night on the train home. As Baker’s vocals crash in the song transitions to invoke that sense of blissful melancholy that can be found with the likes of Gorrillaz.
Speaking on the new single Subculture said:
“Passing a year of living in lockdown, I began to notice the four walls confining me paled in significance to the universe I’d visit every night after dark. ‘Tornados’ is about the fantastical wonders and places we journey to every night when we go to sleep. I brought in my good friend and incredible artist Hak Baker to help me get there. Sonically I wanted the world to feel colourful and magical – like a John Lennon record but produced in 2021”
Juan Wauters is becoming as prolific as he is emphatic to listen to. This is his first full length album since 2019’s La Onda De Juan Pablo, with his Más Canciones de La Onda EP coming in between. At its core this album celebrates the many connections and friendships that Wauters has established over the years, both musical and personal. In our interview with Juan he said that the idea of this collaborative album came about after realising how many crossovers appear in rap music and wanting to do the same. He then enlisted a bunch of musical companions to make an album that breezes through hip-hop, Latin folk, indie rock, synth-wave and everything in between. Like walking through a contemporary club with various rooms of throwback disco, heavy hitting beats and laidback lounges, there’s something for everyone on here.
This album acts as almost a diary turned radio station of Wauters life through 2019 – 2020. The initial recordings were done before the pandemic started but as it was being completed suddenly all these connections that are captured on this album had to stop. And although we may never know what others could have happened, this fact simply just makes the cameos and features that much more special. From the synth-pop infused “Monsoon” featuring Homeshake and his signature style of digital landscapes, to the ballad turned folk “Real” with former label-mate Mac DeMarco there’s an underlying sense of joy within all these songs. In our interview with Juan he said “when I met with all these people to make the songs with, those were definitely real life situations” and you can hear this authenticity of sound throughout. Wauters mixes the home style recordings he’s become known for on the likes of “Carmina Pensá” with the symphonic “Powder” to create a collection of songs that have one core element tieing them all together, Wauters resoundingly vibrant personality.
One of the biggest influences Wauters had coming into this album was falling back in love with hip-hop, namely Outkast. There are course Wauters takes on hip-hop classics with the likes of the 90’s nostalgia driven “Unity” with Cola Boy. And “Presentation” with Nick Hakim and Benamin that’s beat would be a producers dream to sample. But the biggest influence perhaps comes in the way this album is tied together. Through various audio samples, field recordings and voice notes there’s a human element tied directly into this album. Almost like the skits found throughout hip-hop classics these moments not only introduce the album, but bring the real world into every aspect.
Fans of Wauters classic works haven’t been forgotten of course. There’s still flavours of Latin folk mixed into the playlist with the likes of “Estás Escuchando” featuring El David Aguilar that’s melody will be left floating around your head for weeks. And “Lion Dome” with Air Waves that’s as melancholic as it is encapsulating; getting lost in a song never felt any easier than this. It’s in these moments that you realise how far Wauters has come as an artist since the breezy days of “North American Poetry”. He’s kept true to his sound whilst also incorporating more and more expansive and vibrant songwriting. “You thought my music was like this, now you think my music is like that” Wauters declares on “Unity”.
Although this album was completed during lockdown it’s very much not a lockdown album. Rather a celebration and reflection on those connections we so dearly long for. It’s a joyous listen that only becomes more vibrant on each repeat. With it’s depth in styles and sounds you find a new favourite each and every time.
Toronto-based rapper DijahSB has shared their new album Head Above The Waters, an honest, forward-thinking, undeniably fun ride.
Dijah, born Kahdijah Payne, is a clever and agile emcee whose rhymes are as witty as they are raw. They take a balanced approach to their music, fusing candid, personal lyrics about their experiences as a Black, Non Binary person navigating heartbreaks, breakthroughs, and more with modern beats and infectious hooks. Their music effortlessly glides across drum-heavy boom bap, grungy guitar rock, and trap’s booming bass with lyrics that are raw, relatable – a small light pushing through dark cracks of an artist in a constant state of observation and growth.
Dijah cites Kid Cudi, Pusha T, and Lupe Fiasco as some of their main influences and idols, but their emcee style is so unique and fun, it’s hard to compare. Ever earnest and open about their struggles with depression, mental health, and financial instability, their music serves as a balm; a friend baring battle scars that might serve to soothe your own.
Of the album, Dijah shares
“’New Harrison’ is probably my fave track on the album, accompanied by my boy Terrell Morris. We went to high school together and we’ve both been doing so well music wise it was only right that we linked up. Harrison is on the beat and it’s just a smooth record in total. I love to tap into the slower beats to really show off my abilities. ‘Head Above The Waters’ follows a theme, I wrote this album with that in mind, because at the time it’s what I needed to hear. so I know someone somewhere might need to hear it too. the waves might be crashing into you and trying to keep you from floating but you gotta keep coming up for air and try your hardest to keep your head above it.”
Head Above The Waters by DijahSB is out now, buy/stream it here.
Juan Wauters has shared new single “Unity” with Cola Boyy from upcoming album Real Life Situations, set to be released on April 30th via Captured Tracks. This follows on from “Real” which Wauters released with Mac DeMarco and “Presentation” with Nick Hakim and Benamin.
The new single is an ode to 90’s hip-hop and is both a testament to the pairs longtime friendship as well as the time it was made in. Driven by a Fresh Prince Of Bell Air style laid back beat, the pair go back and forth with Wauters auto-tuned vocals delivering sweet melodies that perfectly swirl around Cola Boyy’s sharp delivery. It’s jazzy, it’s funky and most of all it reminds us all of those sweet friendships we’re missing at the moment.
Northampton’s prodigal son returns with his second album, prominently titled with Slowthai’s real first name, TYRON is a story of two tales. Whilst his debut album, Nothing Great About Britain soared him to greater heights than perhaps he could have predicted, fuelled by political message and its depiction of modern day Britain for what it really is, this second album takes a more introspective journey into the mind of Tryon Frampton.
This time last year there was controversy surrounding Slowthai after being inebriated and making crude remarks towards comedian Katherine Jenkins at the NME awards, later apologising after a joke went too far. Jenkins herself even went on to say that she fully accepted his apology and didn’t feel under threat. This however lead to a tyranny of backlash, people feeling that the true Slowthai had been revealed. It may seem as though some of the anger felt around this situation continued onto this album, however the likes of “CANCELLED” where Skepta and Slowthai bounce back and forth listing accolades that mean they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon “Twenty awards on the mantelpiece, Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury” were plights of ammunition that had already been stocked up. He did released reactionary single “ENEMY” shortly after the controversy but says that “got all the anger about the event out of his system“.
The first half of this album however is still drenched in this reactionary rage; all track titles being written in capitals. From the haunting soundscape of opener “45 SMOKE” to the siren induced “WOT” as Slowthai sings of absurdist childlike insults “In the rave, drop a eccy with your mum”. This opening half is Slowthai swaggering about, still declaring his worth. On the hypnotising “MAZZA”, which is Slowthai’s way of saying ADHD, a condition the rapper suffers with, he’s trying to break down his newly found fast paced lifestyle. But this front that Slowthai is trying to put on soon breaks down. As the nostalgia induced sound of “PLAY WITH FIRE” sweeps in you can hear him starting to pull back the curtain on his mentality. “I wish I pressed skip, everything is negative, It gets hectic, strеssin’, if you’re from the place I livе” he declares as the verse opens, slowly descending into an almost therapeutic spoken word passage towards the end of the song.
This then leads to the mood and feel of the second half of the album, reflective and self doubting. This mood is even set by the all lower case letters on the track titles, the vail has been pulled back. Throughout the next seven tracks Slowthai gets his most introspective, gritting his teeth through the trauma. “No one I can lean on so I’m limping with a walking stick, People keep talking shit I cut through the thick of it” he raps with a more laid back feel on “focus”. Through this inwards look you see an artist who is trying to come to terms with the position he’s in, no matter what he does he will be judged for it, whether it be holding up a fake decapitated head of Boris Johnson on live television (although this stunt was definitely trying to induce a reaction) or simply releasing a song that attacks cancel culture, the haters will always be there.
But from realising the problem he tries to turn things around, shifting his perspective from the negative, self pitying to the positive, being grateful for what we have. The true pinnacle of this album comes in the form of “nhs”, similarly to his debut album this song very much captures a moment and feeling within British life. Broken down the lyrics reflect on the way as a society we always want that bit more, but one thing doesn’t come without the other, and focusing too much on the negative is “gonna make you depressed”. Aptly titled, this ode to Britain’s health care system is trying to understand why something so precious to us is only truly appreciated when we’re in desperate need of it, still some don’t give it the appreciation it deserves “Jack the lad, only happy when they clap (NHS)”.
There of course has to be mention of the production of this album, though the tracks shift through varying moods and soundscapes there’s always a consistency in its diversity that ties everything seamlessly together. Mainly fronted by Kews Darko, who produces a large majority of Slowthai’s discography, there are appearances from the likes of hip-hop mastermind Kenny Beats on “terms” and SAMO on “MAZZA”. An aspect that stands out are some of Slowthai’s most melancholic soundscapes that appear on the latter half, from the acoustic driven “push” featuring some truly dreamy chorus vocals from Deb Never to the crooning “feel away” that is drenched in nostalgia. James Blake’s ASMR induced vocals not only compliment the slower grit of Slowthai’s vocals but bring a real sense of serenity to the album at this late stage. With the rolling piano line and ambient soundscapes it’s hard not to be encapsulated by each level of emotion that every contributor to this track puts in.
Originally this album was intended to be Slowthai’s third album, with another politically charged outing set for his second, he’s not stepping away from that style though rather saying that “When the time’s right I’ll be there, but now’s not the time” . Instead what we got was an album created during a time where people needed reassurance, and Slowthai is here to give it to them. The technical self-titling of this album serves as a perfect summary of the core of this album, it’s every part, every part of Tyron Frampton, it’s loud, it’s in your face, you’re never quite sure when he’s being serious or just creating a character for himself, but deep within is the intricate musings of a young man trying to take in the chaotic world around him.
Pink Siifu and Fly Anakin have announced a new EP $mokebreak, set to be released on March 19th via Lex Records. They have also shared single from the EP “Open Up Shop” along with an accompanying music video directed by 30onme. The EP will feature guests including Mavi, Bruiser Brigade’s ZelooperZ, Chuck Strangers, and Black Noi$e.
This comes after the duo released their PinkSiifu album last year, which we named as one of the best of the year. Revisit our Best Of The Year List here.
Slowthai has released “MAZZA” featuring A$AP Rocky, from upcoming sophomore album TYRON, set to be released on February 5th via Method Records. This is the third single from the upcoming album following on from “nhs” and “feel away”.
Earlier in the day Slowthai released a statement saying that although the UK has just entered a new national lockdown, the release date of TYRON would not be changed. “films, art and music have helped me most in my darkest moments and with the majority of this album being made last year i would hope that it can help someone as a distraction amongst the chaos and shift their mindset positively”.
Four Tet has announced a new collaborative album with Madlib Sound Ancestors, set to be released in January 2021. They have shared the first single from the project “Road Of The Lonely Ones” which was premiered on BBC 6 Music.
On Instagram Four Tet said “A few months ago I completed work on an album with my friend Madlib that we’d been making for the last few years. He is always making loads of music in all sorts of styles and I was listening to some of his new beats and studio sessions when I had the idea that it would be great to hear some of these ideas made into a Madlib solo album. Not made into beats for vocalists to use but instead arranged into tracks that could all flow together in an album designed to be listened to start to finish. I put this concept to him when we were hanging out eating some nice food one day and we decided to work on this together with him sending me tracks, loops, ideas and experiments that I would arrange, edit, manipulate and combine. I was sent hundreds of pieces of music over a couple of years stretch and during that time I put together this album with all the parts that fitted with my vision.
Eothan Alapatt worked with us on the whole project guiding and advising and has now prepared the album for release. He’s had Bernie Grundman cut the vinyl and everything is in production and will be ready soon.”
Earlier in the year Four Tet released his 7th studio album Sixteen Oceans, read our full review here. Madlib also released Pardon My French with Karriem Riggins under the name Jahari Massamba Unit, paying homage to 70’s spiritual jazz.
Birmingham hip-hop duo The Worst Guys, Louis Prince and Joe Marsh, arrive with their debut EP Not So Bad. Recorded over the course of lockdown, sending demos and samples back and forth to each other, their debut project sees the duo tackle issues of racism, lockdown and self worth. Following on from two previously released singles in the year, the punchy “Platform” and minimalism infused “No Celebrations”, this EP celebrates the sound that The Worst Guys have developed so far, whilst simultaneously expanding their output into far greater and vibrant soundscapes.
What propels this EP further than the duo have ever gone is the vocal delivery from both Prince and Marsh. Prince’s hard hitting, potent rapped verses seamlessly juxtapose with Marsh’s melodic dreamy chorus lines. This is highlighted on “More Than Meets The Eye” as Prince’s punchy rapped bars are immediately fast flowing, but straight after comes Marsh’s woozy chorus lines of “And if I showed you that there’s more than meets the eye babe, would you try to shoot me down?” to later switch back to Prince’s lyrical flurry as the song descends into a synthesised euphoria of culminating melodies. And lyrically the duo are as assured as ever as they speak on themes of racial injustice on “Bittersweet”, “It’s hard to shake the feeling that some don’t like us here, another day another you makes some blood splatter, but we’ll peacefully protest to you that black lives matter”. Prince balancing the fine line of being politically charged whilst concurrently being earnest and evoking empathy from personal experience.
The Worst Guys got their name from the Childish Gambino song of the same name from 2013’s Because The Internet and their homage to Donald Glover doesn’t just stop with their name. Closer “Never Back Down” features some devastatingly blissful synthesiser melodies gliding over a beat that demands you to strut along to it, reminiscing in the sound that was found all over Glover’s 2013 sophomore album, especially “III. Telegraph Ave. (“Oakland” by Lloyd). However the production doesn’t just pay homage to their influences, it also sparks a new air of confidence in the duo. Experimenting with sinister minimalism on “Why U Mad?” as the disorienting sirens swirl and flash in and out in and out of the soundscape, providing a haunting and eerie platform for Prince’s unrelenting storytelling to go from strength to strength.
It’s not often you find artists that wear their influences on their sleeve, whilst conjunctively offering a sound that feels as vibrant in its ability to convey exactly what that artist is trying to deliver. Continually shifting and challenging what their sound can be, The Worst Guys have landed a debut EP that is unapologetically confident and enticing to listen to. In their interview with us the duo said they are yet to play a live show, however expect big things when the bass line of “Isolation On The Menu” hits the club floor.
The Worst Guys have announced their debut EP, Not So Bad, set to be released on the 11th of December. The new EP will feature 5 new songs, following on from 3 previously released single including “Platform” released earlier in the year. Read our full interview with the Birmingham based hip-hop duo here.
Speaking on the new EP the duo said “Reflecting on our experiences as a group and experiments with different styles with their five track project. Throughout the project, we discusses a range of topics from addressing difficult conversations, on equality and sociopolitical issues in society to the repetitive monotony of lockdown and its effects on mental health. The Worst Guys look to speak out on the pressure of life and seeking freedom from judgment. After releasing 3 singles, we wanted to embark on a new journey of creating a larger project, a new opportunity to discuss different topics and experiment with different sounds. With the first lockdown limiting studio work, we created hundreds of tracks through Facetime calls or long text conversations, carefully collecting ideas and exploring new concepts. Production wise, the EP was an opportunity to reflect on the year and represent these difficult emotions sonically with harsher sounds and tougher drum rhythms”.