If you’re having a shitty day Pharrell has something for you. ‘Happy’ is the infectious and unapologetic new mood-lifter produced and performed by Williams for the upcoming ‘Despicable Me 2′ soundtrack. Although the track is a bit of a novelty it does feature some dope production and beautiful/classic harmonies. It also feels perfectly suited for the film, not to mention like his performance on ‘Get Lucky’, has Pharrell sounding better than he ever has. The track will feature alongside two other new songs he’s produced for the movie – one of which will feature Cee-Lo Green.
In other Pharrell news – he recently sat down with Usher to film an episode of ARTIST TLK – take a look at their lengthy (and interesting) discussion after the jump.
Usher scored his biggest hit with his Diplo produced single ‘Climax’ last year. With one song he reignited his career while simultaneously fooling his fans into believing he had returned (after a good few years of soul destroying Guetta-produced abominations) to his R&B heritage - unfortunately he mostly lied. ‘Climax’ flirted so closely to the edge of contemporary R&B that it ingeniously ticked a lot of boxes (old school heads, mainstreamers and new ‘alt-R&B’ fans) and did so at exactly the right time.
… So naturally the dynamic duo are back again – for better or for worse and unsurprisingly they’re up to the same tricks. ‘Go Missing’ is another fine-line walker – it toys with a cringeworthy over-the-top wobbly breakdown… But it never comes; They reign it in. Clever chaps. And like it’s predecessor, Usher’s voice does most of the work.
Music’s biggest night, the 55th annual Grammy Awards, is currently taking place in Los Angeles at the Staples Centre. With performances from Justin Timberlake, Frank Ocean, Rihanna, Miguel, Alicia Keys and a whole host of others, this years show promises to be spectacular. Hosted by LL Cool J (for the second year running), we’ll be updating this post with all the nights performances. Check them after the jump.
Never burnt always blunted, ItsNate’s latest eleven tracks sees the 23 year old doing things, that it could have been argued some time ago alot of other rappers in this field just weren’t. Injecting a missing ingredient: style, but it’s not comprised solely of that. ‘WSTLA’ alone may possibly be one of the more effervescent rap singles on these shores in recent memory (competing ironically with some of the cuts on Piff Gang’s ‘Plantlife’).
On NeverAverageTalkingExcellent Nate continues to usher in the new era of what “some of this man call swag rap”, albeit with a zest of waking-up-next-morning-with-work-at-9am world-weariness. When the clouds part, there’s some incredible production from new producers currently pushing a fresh feel and sound forward for the London scene. As when it goes beyond just the call of soulful kush, different dimensions of bassy, tripped hip-hop beds and flow cadences turn more dynamic, especially the second half with stand-outs like Weeknd sampling ‘Momentum’, ‘Schemin’ and ‘Above It’. It’s not grime, it’s not road rap, it’s not backpack, and the beats don’t bore. Broadened by the UKs evolving sense of intercontinental hybrid rap… whatever that is… may it continue. Free download here.
Dousing us in oceanic waves and really warm tremolo bass is a liberated number from upcoming 18 year old producer Karma Kid aka Sam Knowles, who we featured back in May and who has recently been spotlit on the Annie Mac Presents show on Radio 1. A low diet use of vogue’ish phrases (smarty pants might clock the Usher sample from ‘Pop Your Collar’) haunt the back end as soulful sweeps and fluid textures (literally, fluids) travel over a fidgety Deep House groove roping in miniscule details and sepulchral vocals over the course of the six and a half mins. Weather deciding between love or lust, this is big boy work.
After a string of inspired singles and an enticing album teaser, R&B revivalist Rochelle Jordan officially drops her debut album Pressure. Produced entirely by long-time collaborator KLSH, Pressure is a collection of well focused, tightly formed, progressive songs that not only channel Jordan’s healthy obsession with 90′s golden-era R&B, but also administer the atmosphere this new era has ushered in. KLSH’s productions have truly flourished over the past year – these beats are complex, airy and fractured in all the right places… but the key objective never forgotten: it bumps.
Fans of Nicole Wray’s Make It Hot, Aaliyah’s One in A Million or SWV’s Release Some Tension should be particularly excited by this. Melodically speaking, in terms of accuracy, Rochelle Jordan (who wrote every song) is destroying everyone right now. Quote me. But it is ultimately the chemistry between Jordan and KLSH that makes all of this so completely arresting. These two are miles ahead of their competition; Pressure may well be one of the strongest R&B releases of the year.
Listen & download for free below.
Download: Rochelle Jordan – Pressure (LP)
It’s been two years since Janelle Monáe released The ArchAndroid, her epic debut that earned universal acclaim and a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Contemporary R&B Album’ (she was disgracefully robbed of by Usher’s Raymond V. Raymond). In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the ‘Cold War’ singer announced The Electric Lady as the title of her sophomore followup and reiterated what she revealed back in December – that her new album will be released “according to her soul clock”. Typical cyborg.
No word on whether Monáe will follow through with her plans to release two albums in 2012.
L.A native Miguel continues his pusher-man approach to music, announcing via SPIN that he has decided to release his sophomore album in three parts. The first two releases will be 3-track extended players Kaleidoscope Dreams: Water Preview & Kaleidoscope Dream: Fire Preview, followed by a full long player titled Kaleidoscope Dream. These releases succeed Miguel’s critically acclaimed Art Dealer Chic trilogy and again identifies him as one of the more audacious major-label signed artists around.
The first EP features the previously released ‘Adorn’, along with 2 other prog-R&B additions that indicate where Miguel’s head is at for these upcoming releases – pay particular attention to ‘Don’t Look Back’. Production credits across all three releases will include Salaam Remi, Pop & Oak and Jerry Wonda.
Last year we featured L.A native singer, songwriter and producer Iman Omari. His Energy mixtape was one of the unsuspecting highlights of ’11. The tape showcased a promising approach to Soultronica – a sub-genre that in ’08 flourished amidst an exciting array of artists, but one that unfortunately failed to sustain itself.
After adding a string of production credits and guest appearances to his name, Omari is back with a new project Euphoria. No fear, this is not “euphoric” in the Usher/Will.i.Am sense – instead it’s a richly upholstered continuation of what he brought on his previous offering. Honing in on that lo-fi, digitalised sound that littered Energy, Omari, together with collaborator Moruf successfully pushes things forward – flexing his uniquely toned voice while again incorporating some enthralling influences (sound-God Flying Lotus‘ influence is never too far).
Download: Iman Omari & Moruf – Euphoria (Mixtape)
Here’s a curious project from Fool’s Gold signed Telephoned taking of leap of faith covering early-to-mid (pre-apocalypse) 00s R&B/Hip-Hop classics over Clams Casino‘s most renowned instrumentals. Usher’s ‘U Don’t Have To Call‘ goes from Neptunian funk to getting A$AP’ed via ‘Demons‘, Amerie’s ‘One Thing‘ is lulled over ‘Swervin‘, Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule’s ‘I’m Real‘ asks ‘Wassup‘ and 50 Cent & Nate Dogg’s ‘21 Questions‘ declares ‘I’m God‘. Now for the hardened few who might roll their eyes, the only thing stopping this from turning into a suspect hipster ‘ROFLMAO’ conspiracy is the fact it just works so brilliantly that you can’t deny the synthesis between vintage street songwriting and Clammy’s Wagnerian hip-hop modernity, when given something even more deviant as a pixie-Pop lean to carry them.