Flying Lotus occupies one of my many blind spots for artists I should really know about and be listening to a lot, but never seem to get around to. My thought process goes something like: Flying Lotus is really good / everyone seems to love him / I expect I’d really enjoy it if I dedicated a bit of time to exploring his catalogue / that seems like hard work / I’ll just listen to Nation of Language again. So it’s odd that what’s essentially a soundtrack album is the one that’s caught my attention, but here we are. Mind Flight is taken from Yasuke – which is a six-part Anime series for Netflix – and the entire thing is brilliant. But I guess you already knew that, didn’t you?
Considering the amount of featured artists appearing on it, The Feels is both understated and concise: a lazy, hazy hip-hop jam that never tries too hard, or at all really. This came out back in February as part of FairRose’s album The Antics which is a laidback delight from start to finish, conjuring a tone and atmosphere distinct from anything else I’ve heard this year. It’s probably a little bit of a lazy comparison, but I can hear definite echos of The Fugees, both in the collaborative approach and the specific style of production, which pays homage to the dusty sampling techniques of the 90s without ever feeling like it’s ripping anyone off.
Pioneering electro pioneer The Egyptian Lover has doubled down on his 2015 album 1985 with new LP 1986. Like its predecessor it focusses entirely on the kind of sounds and techniques he was using back in the mid-1980s, and aside from it perhaps sounding a little more polished that some of the electro and proto-hip-hop being produced then, its otherwise sounds completely indistinguishable. Cinnamon Oil Massage is a definite highlights, complete with the omnipresent crisp, punchy 808 beats and an outrageously over the top electric guitar solo which is absolutely joyous.
Aside from being an accomplished musician, Cam Be is also an Emmy award-winning produced for TV, director, artist and photographer, and Summer In September taken from his 2020 album of the same name. Now accompanied by a dream-like video from director Briana Clearly, there’s more than a hint of Frank Ocean in its tender, drifting melodies and hazy vocals: a pure, innocent snapshot of a burgeoning love frozen in time, looping for eternity.
Smino & Saba’s soulful new collab is their contribution to the Judas and the Black Messiah soundtrack, a new film based on the life of Black Panther head Fred Hampton and his death as a result of FBI informant William O’ Neal. The accompanying album Judas And The Black Messiah: The Inspired Album includes 22 tracks from artists like H.E.R., Nas, Hit-Boy, Black Thought, Nipsey Hussle, JAY-Z, JID, BJ The Chicago Kid, A$AP Rocky etc, etc, and – perhaps unsurprisingly given the calibre of that list – is well worth a listen.
There’s very little information out there about Burd Haus, but what I do know is: she’s from Philadelphia, she’s just released her debut album In My Sky and she makes really good music. Also, Fated Feel reminds me a lot of Yves Tumor, which can only ever be a good thing, even though it’s significantly more chill than a lot of their recent work. Possibly it’s the slightly tuned-out guitar licks or the drawling vocal delivery, but whatever, this sits somewhere between R&B, hip hop and indie rock and is highly recommended.
Kota The Friend’s wonderful 2020 album Everything really didn’t get the attention it deserves. Not that it seems to have affected his disposition, which is as sunny as ever on his latest mixtape Lyrics To GO, Vol.2, a collection of sub-2 minute tracks clocking in at an incredibly manageable 15 minutes. 200 Dollars is like everything else on there: brief and breezy with KTF’s silky smooth flows leading the way.
An artistic couple, T H R O N E is the union of Hayatheus and YVHIKV, who together craft distinctive, alternative hip-hop from their home in the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico. Clocking in at a little over a minute, Family Reunion packs a hell of a lot into such a short running time, with crackling beats and a hazily looped sample providing the bed for confidently delivered, insightful lyrics about the complexity and frustrations associated with family relationships.
JPEGMAFIA produces like he’s channel surfing at a billion miles an hour. The sheer amount of influences and styles packed into relatively short tracks can at times be a little overwhelming, but when it works, it’s some of the most creatively inspired and unpredictable music out there. SUPER TUESDAY is built around a warping, string-led ballroom sample – like The Caretaker doing woozy hip-hop – and is the last track on his new EP (confusingly titled EP!) that packs a frankly ridiculous amount of ideas into its 26 minute running time.
Alien Boy 96 is the first single to be released from Irish producer Sal Dulu’s forthcoming LP, which will be landing early next year. If you want a pretty lazy comparison, it’s a little reminiscent of The Avalanches, both in its cut-and-paste approach to the production and in the yearning, melancholic atmosphere conjured by the tapestry of samples and beats. In the press release for the single, Dulu says it’s “probably not the most representative in terms of what the album is about”, which from where I’m sitting would be a bit of a shame, as it’s really, really good.