If anything it’s surprising it’s taken Devote Hynes and Erika de Casier this long to collaborate, so perfectly do they compliment one another. Taken from the new Blood Orange EP Four Songs, Relax and Run is so ruthlessly up my street I was worried about its potential to underwhelm, but thankfully it’s everything I need it to be.
People are really losing their shit about the new JID album The Forever Story. I’m less overwhelmingly convinced (so far), but there are definitely a few really impressive moments that elevate it above the standard rap fare, the low-tempo, lo-fi r&b-meets-soul swagger of Kody Blu 31 not least among them.
A member of Cleveland’s multi-generational Mourning [A] BLKstar collective, Kyle Kidd’s debut solo album Soothsayer is a deeply moving, highly personal exploration of many of the themes that have defined their life so far, including blackness, gender nonconformity, American history, community and more. Their vocal performance throughout is extraordinary: you can hear that this is not just sung, but deeply felt by the artist. Scars Alight – which explores the damage done by Kidd not feeling as if they were not truly accepted for who they are – is a highlight, but this need to be listened to in its entirety to be properly appreciated.
New York-based Zenizen’s new album P.O.C Proof Of Concept came out last week, and it is a hidden gem if ever there was one. Sitting somewhere between r&b, soul and experimental, it is at times hard hitting and immediate, others meditative, with warm chords and soothing melodies leading the way, as is the case on Drought. This track in particular actually came out back in April, but it’s currently sitting at eleven plays on YouTube, (eleven!), so like me, there’s a fair chance you missed it.
Alamay and Omar Cassuis’s new EP How to Swim sees the collaborators showcase an evolution in their sound, with themes of past relationships, lockdown and their musical journey to date explored over the course of six tracks. Silky smooth and seductive, Guidance is probably the pick of the lot, but the entire EP is definitely worth your time.
Steve Lacy’s name looms large in my consciousness, without me knowing very much about him at all. He’s someone I feel I would really be into if I paid proper attention, and yet his last album completely passed me by, to the extent that I wasn’t really sure what to expect from his new LP Gemini Rights, but was pretty sure I would get something out of it. And I did! Especially the tracks Mercury – which was released as a single last month – and Cody Freestyle, which is big and melodramatic and brilliant.
Brent Faiyaz’s sprawling new album WASTELAND came out today, and there’s a lot to digest, including features from an impressive range of artists – Drake, Tyler, The Creator, Alicia Keys etc – and a skit-driven narrative (remember skits?) about a cheating Chris/Brent that ends in about as bleak a fashion as possible. But arguably some of its finest moments are when the attention is squarely on Faiyaz, like ROLE MODEL, which places his extraordinary voice front and centre and cuts right to the emotional core of what he’s about as an artist.
Despite 070 Shake’s Modus Vivendi being my very favourite album of 2020, the fact that she released the follow up, You Can’t Kill Me, last week completely passed me by. You would have thought that sitting in front of a computer and hunting for new music for hours every single day would prevent this kind of glaring oversight, but apparently not. Anyway, it’s here, and it’s fucking great. I could have picked any one of at least half a dozen tracks to highlight, but let’s go for Purple Walls as it has that perfect balance of crushingly hard production and plaintive vocals. Peerlessly brilliant, as ever.
Smoooooooooooooooooooooooooooth vibes for Friday fulfilment.
Dark, Joji-adjacent r&b vibes on the latest single from US artist bloodcat, with geloガザ on production duties blending a plaintive piano line with crisp, trappy beats and bloodcat’s warped vocal, with satisfyingly nihilistic results.