At time of writing Californian artist Theo Troy has zero followers on Soundcloud – the only place his music currently seems to be available – which is puzzling, as he’s making some really great records, not least of Cyberhoes which is lo-fi (but not annoyingly, druggily so) hip-hop/trap that boasts not only some really intriguing textures and woozy beats, but a memorable vocal performance which stays just the right side of indecipherable drone, the combined effect of which makes this stand head and shoulders above the constant tide of similarly DIY rap fare.
Arriving sandwiched between the two of the most hyped rap releases of the year, Little Simz’s new LP Sometimes I Might Be Introvert completely and utterly blows both Kanye and Drake out of the water. Packed full of joy, creativity, energy and a genuine and unashamed passion for what she’s doing, it’s everything they failed to deliver, and shows that it’s completely possible to be reflective, but not morose, bombastic but not overblown, and to deliver an album which pushes above the hour mark without collapsing under the weight of its own self-importance. Speed isn’t one of the singles but it easily could be, like pretty much every other track on here. An absolute pleasure from start to finish and a towering achievement.
Produced by Platnume and DJ Jaden, the intention behind Romans was to make a fun but still impactful rap cut without the use of profanity: an admirable aim, and one that pays off. The Queens duo have cited artists like Kid N Play and Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, the influence of whom aren’t immediately obvious as Romans is significantly moodier than the vast majority of these 90s icons’ output. However, there is A LOT of autotune rap out there and this definitely cuts through the crowd, so they must be doing something right.
Moody rap for you today, elevated way above the crowd thanks to highly distinctive vocal performances from both Mezraa and Kris the $pirit, alongside subdued but beautiful production and drum programming that doesn’t just follow the usual trappy patterns. Sad, addictive and as atmospheric as it gets.
BLACK METAL 2 arrived pretty much out of nowhere today, and I’m already completely obsessed. The follow up to 2014’s BLACK METAL, it immediately transports you back into that heady, dreamlike world, pulling you into its thick, fuggy atmosphere and sounding like nothing else out there. People will write far longer, vastly more eloquent reviews of this over the coming days and weeks: all I can say for now is that it’s in a class of its own and deserves all the plaudits its inevitably going to get.
Kiwi-French artist Kazra makes his TPW debut with new single, Welcome To My Stream which serves as the opening track from his upcoming debut album Reconnected. Influenced by iconic rap stars like Travis Scott and Post Malone, it strikes just the right balance between chest-puffing aggrandising and floating, nihilistic melancholy, especially in the glorious mid-section.
Montreal based, St. Vincent born artist Skiifall blends disorientating, hard-hitting instrumentalism with rich, melodic flows on latest single Bentayga Dust. There’s a dichotomy between the ominous beats and soothing vocals that works really well, and the rise and fall flow of some of his bars are pure, hypnotic genius.
10 & 2 – the latest single from Ghanaian/American dancer, rapper and singer-songwriter NanaBcool, and directly addresses his own experiences of police oppression and violence. After spending a couple of months performing and writing throughout multiple cities in Europe, the hook for 10 & 2 came to him while walking around Amsterdam. “I was in such a calm mood, but for “10 and 2, 10 and 2 what the fuck a nigga supposed to do” to come up really indicates that regardless of the mood I’m in, I always have to be aware when police are around.” Intricately, soulfully produced, it’s one of the most impressive hip hop cuts I’ve heard so far this year.
Warm and soulful on the surface but packed with a political directness in its lyrics which are, as ever, flawlessly delivered by Noname, Rainforest packs in an outrageous amount into its relatively short running time. There are so many lyrical earworms here, but “A rainforest cries / Everybody dies a little / And I just wanna dance tonight” is the one that’s stuck with me. On paper perhaps this comes across as a little cliche, but the understated delivery makes dancing seems like the most understandable – and perhaps only – reaction to one of the many approaching global calamities we’re faced with on a daily basis.
This. Is. Absolutely. Ridiculous. Best, most creative rapper currently working. I said it! Cos it’s true!