Earlier this week we were invited to join Janelle Monae for an exclusive playback of her new album The Electric Lady. Held on a gorgeous rooftop bar in Central London, the event quickly turned into an impromptu concert starring Monae and her Wonderland Arts Society.
During the playback we were played six new songs including ‘Q.U.E.E.N’, the albums monumental title track and her duet with R&B singer Miguel called ‘Primetime’. She also teased about a third album collaborator that she was excited about but was “unable” to announce; We instantly presumed it was Prince… And we were right. In a new cover story interview with BillboardThe Archandroid singer confirms her Purple collaboration saying “I had a chance to produce an icon… It’s not every day that [Prince] collaborates. I’m honoured and humbled that he trusted me. He is forever my friend and I am forever indebted. I can’t say too much else about it”.
Epic collaborations aside the most notable revelation during the playback was Janelle’s new found openness to discuss (and sing) about her personal life and her experiences with love and relationships; Themes we are not necessarily accustomed to her being so directly forthright about. The new songs on The Electric Lady are still charged with the same kinetic energy as her previous works, only this time everything sounds suitably more… Accessible. Something particularly discernibleon the Miguel collaboration.
The Archandroid was an irrefutable triumph which on release received universal acclaim – it didn’t however earn the mainstream attention many felt it deserved(a tragic truth traceable to some of the best albums in history). And although a single listen of any track is never enough to decisively conclude anything, what is certain is that The Electric Lady is going to surprise a lot people when it’s released in September.
British producer Forest Swords (real name Matthew Barnes) returns after his 2010 Dagger Paths release with an epic new conquest titled ‘Thor’s Stone’. Engineered around looming drones, industrial effects and dramatic sound shifts, his latest production is the kind of foreboding battle-cry you’d expect to hear during an epic crusade on Castle Black. The single is taken off Forest Sword’s forthcoming release on Tri Angle…
Although still on tour around the globe with their acclaimed ‘Day + Night’ festival series, The xx find the time to release a cinematic new video for their single ‘Fiction’, taken off their most recent album Co-Exist. The song’s monochromatic visual adds a new dimension to Jamie’s subversive production and sees lead vocalist Oliver Sim portraying the wayfaring wonderer. ‘Day + Night’ hits London on June 22nd.
The official remix of Katy B’s sparkling new single ‘What Love Is Make Of’ comes courtesy of seasoned Detroit producer MK. The new version applies a deeper house aesthetic which see’s Miss Brien’s vocals looped and a pulsating bassline erupt into colourful, energetic summer bubbler.
This years Red Bull Music Academy in New York has arguably been one of their most successful to date. Over 230 artists were involved and over 30 events staged across the city, all within the two week window RBMA operates within. A large part of what the academy does well is host guest lectures with pioneering figures in music, this year partipants included Brian Eno, Erykah Badu, Rakim, Todd Edwards and a whole host of other incredible innovators – including Q-Tip. As one of hip hop’s most iconic figures Q-Tip has a lot to share – watch as he opens up about his career, his process, his current set up, his history and the future; He also dissets some of his favourite records of all time, along with some of his most iconic/influential productions. This is a a two-hour discussion – so kick back and enjoy.-
16-year old Lorde from Auckland releases ‘Tennis Court’, the follow-up single to her The Love Club EP which reached #1 on iTunes in New Zealand last year and earned her a co-sign from Grimes. Her new single appears to centred around a fascination for 80′s synth-pop and will (for better or for worse) no doubt draw a few comparisons to Lana Del Rey for numerous reasons – undeniably her vocals and melody structure do sound familiar but at 16 years old, there’s still a lot of time to develop and grow. ‘Tennis Court’ is the title track taken off Lorde’s forthcoming second EP.
‘Stay Forever’ is the mesmerising new single from London based producer Catching Flies. The songs multi-layered mindset provides a rich soundbed from which the 22-year old blends docile keys and ambient synths with electronic glitches and beats.
A looped vocal begins an ornate serenade that in parts burst out like a Sade soul-cry and in others can be traced back to the unique musings of artists like Ghostpoet and King Krule. The song concludes in a spellbinding sax solo ending what can only be described as a riveting experience.
‘Stay Forever’ is taken off Catching Flies forthcoming EP The Long Journey Home, due out June 17th.
Ahead of the Lovebox weekend on June 19-21st, RBMA have just announced a special pre-show on June 14th at The Forum headlined by living legend Nike Rodgers and his iconic group Chic. The show will present a “sensational musical journey charting the lineage of the electronic dance music of today back to the sounds of ’70s New York City Disco” and will also feature sets from Seth Troxler, Derrick Carter, DJ Pierre, Nicky Siano & Rebel Rebel. This will be amazing.
Mykki Blanco reaffirms his position as one of the most intriguing and creative figures in hip hop by releasing a sensational new video for his gripping single ‘The Initiation’. The Chris Cunningham style visual was directed by Ninian and sees Blanco crawling through the streets of London to an underworld fight club. Things get particularly weird (brilliant) when he reveals a freakish second-face protruding from his skull…
2 Chainz teams up with Pharrell Williams on ‘Feds Watching’, the bouncy lead single from his forthcoming sophomore album. Aside from teaming up with Williams (always a great decision), what’s most promising about ‘Feds Watching’ is that it departures from what Tity Boy 2 Chainz usually delivers. For a rapper who is near enough on every other record at the moment, it’s good to hear something different – we thank you Pharrell.