Summer in London is a beautiful thing, it is arguably one of the most beautiful things this city can offer. But summer isn’t really summer for Londoner’s until Carnival weekend comes around – and this year we’re celebrating 50 glorious years of this historic event.
As line up’s are steadily announced many heads look to RBMA’s Carnival Party to see what they have in store. Last year they had the Marley’s – which was beyond! This year, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, they’ve opted to recruit Basement Jaxx as headliners, supported by record label Mixpak (Popcaan, Dre Skull & Sticky), bashment leaders The Heatwave, as well as Protoje & Yaardcore, Tropkillaz and Kalbata & Mixmonster.
Ticket registration for the party opens on August 11-15th, and are free, head over to redbull.co.uk/carnival for more info.
The only other party you need to know about is Deviation, but more news on that a little later. Although you might want to buy tickets now because they won’t be around for very long. Trust us.
Oh, wait – you thought Beyonce’s was done? Nah.
Queen Bey calls upon the lyrical excellence of Nicki Minaj to accompany and help rework her hyphy single ‘Flawless’. In keeping with Yonce’s new found freedom “to speak her mind”, she raps about that elevator incident, as well as her rumoured divorce from husband Jay Z. Of course Minaj brings her own levels – no one can touch her when she’s grilled up like this. As remixes go – this may be one of the best ones Bey’s released so far.
Following their recently released single ‘Hot Love’, London’s We Are Shining push forward with another cosmic production – this time in the form of ‘Breaks’, featuring Andrea Balency and written by FKA Twigs. Far more celestial then the exotic influences that warped ‘Hot Love’ into the spectacular that it is, this single serves as slightly more mechanical insight into the multiple layers that comprises this duo.
Next week the PinBoard mob will be heading to Amsterdam once again for Appelsap (August 9th), the cities fast rising festival dedicated to hip hop and electronic music. The one-day event has grown significantly over the years, with this year being no exception. Oosterpark will play host to a healthy mix of local and international talent which includes Glasgow’s very own super producer Hudson Mohawke, Travi$ Scott, FS Green, DJ EZ and a whole host of others.
Tickets are still on sale, so if you’re in Amsterdam on August 9th – get you some.
I must admit I wasn’t expecting to love Common’s new album Nobody’s Smiling (out now) as much as I do. Because as much as I loved Lonnie’s Kanye-era (Be still stands), I grew a little tired by The Dreamer / The Believer and I’ve been a die-hard Common fan since Can I Borrow a Dollar, not to mention I belong to the minority group that considers both Electric Circus and Universal Mind Control among the most underrated albums of his career. Yeah, I said it.
Anyways, turns out Common and No I.D still have mad chemistry because Nobody’s Smiling is fire from top to bottom. The LP’s second single ‘Diamonds’ which features an infectious hook and confident verse from Big Sean is a strong example of the richly produced beats and affected flow that both producer and emcee bring to the table. Welcome back sir.
With just a couple singles under his belt, Spooky Black has already become a divisive, meme-worthy character within the digital music sphere. His much talked about debut video ‘Without You’ was met with cynicism and ridicule in equal measure. While some tastemakers fobbed it off as nothing more than a mockery, others were more defiant and appreciated his oddball approach. Personally I found it difficult to make up my mind. “Alternative R&B” has become such an easy sub-genre for artists with minimal talent to hide behind. Voluminous synths, clouded drums and a shit load of reverb makes for the perfect camouflage for mediocracy – especially amongst singers.
Well Spooky was clearly listening to his critics because he’s just pulled something pretty special out of his do-rag. His new single ‘Reason’ is helmed by The Weeknd’s producer Doc McKinney – considered by many as one of the foremost producers of contemporary R&B – unsurprisingly then that the track is wonderfully crafted and sounds amazing. And to his credit Spooky’s performance is strangely charismatic, albeit far from perfect. Clearly not the most gifted singer, the faulty afflictions in his vocals are unavoidable and at times distracting – but yet still there’s something fascinating here. Is this another case of a producer masking the limitations of a singer or is Spooky Black offering something totally unique? Take a listen…
We Are Shining show up in a corner shop to perform their afrofuturisic new funk-opera ‘Hot Love’ while hypnotic beauty and rising model Adwoa Aboah loses herself on the desolate streets of North-East London. The duo (formally known as The Shining), made up of Morgan Zarate and Acyde, create a cacophony of juxtaposed sounds melding the worlds of fusion-jazz, gospel, and bluesy-electronica into their own warped version of reality. You’ll be singing this all day.
Our beloved home girl Jessie Ware comes through with the second single taken off her forthcoming sophomore album titled ‘Share It All’. The sultry ballad, co-written by Romy Madley-Croft of The xx, sees Ware apply her airy vocals tenderly around a soft bed of padded drums and muted synths. Most excitingly though is that it feels like ‘Share It All’ further shows off Jessie’s growing confidence, her vocals on this record feel more beautiful and poised than ever.
For me at least, Rochelle Jordan is the very definition of R&B futurism. I don’t think any other artist has captured the genre’s avant-garde quite like she and her producer KLSH. And although there are some noteworthy contenders (Tinashe, Jhene Aiko, Teyana Taylor, Tink G), Jordan leads the way each time. In fact it kills me to know how many people missed or slept on her P R E S S U R E album, which stands unquestionably, as one of my favourite R&B albums, period.
Her latest single, following on from ‘Lowkey‘, is ‘Back in the Day’ which once again offers another look into of her flawless delivery. KLSH’s pristine post-Timbaland production thaws exquisitely around Jordan’s honey-cool vocals. I guess I’ve gushed enough – listen below.
P.s Rochelle also features on Cyril Hahn’s new single ‘Slow’ – listen to that here.
Shabazz Palaces produced one of my favourite hip hop album of recent years with 2011’s Black Up; An album that represented what I felt many hip hop albums have lacked – genuine experimentalism and creativity. Following their acclaimed debut album Ishmael Butler (of the legendary Digable Planets) and multi-instrumental genius Tendai Maraire have returned to the fore with their much anticipated sophomore effort titled Lese Majesty. Released next week, the album is available to stream now via NPR, and marks an exciting second chapter in this wonderful duo’s musical exploits.
Tuck in over at NPR now.