Apr 2014 02

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Sony announced this week plans to release another posthumous Michael Jackson album titled Xscape which will hit shelves on May 13th. The news was accompanied by the albums, quite frankly ridiculous, artwork and was met (by me) with large scepticism. And even despite the latest news that our hero D’Angelo will have a production credit on a track featuring Questlove & Mary J. Blige – my scepticism is still vigilant.

Of course the very notion that D’Angelo has even glanced at a song graced by Michael Jackson is enough to make our heads (and presumably, the universe) explode but the truth is, these are songs Jackson never intended to see the light of day. These are incomplete songs void of MJ’s true completed vision – I can’t imagine any true artist (past or present) feeling satisfied at the idea of their music being released without their approval; hence why Stevie Wonder, Prince and Madlib all intend on having their masters destroyed after they die – to protect the integrity of their legacy… Not to mention everything that Sony has touched since MJ’s passing has been utterly shambolic.

So yes, a pretty significant, albeit selfish, victory for us fans but we’ll wait until we hear the full thing before we embrace an illegitimate Michael Jackson album.

Mar 2014 27

Producer and one third of cult-band The xx, Jamie xx, has announced a new single featuring ‘Sleep Sound’ and ‘Girl’, the former of which can be heard up top. The gentle track is build on padded drums, densely layered vocal samples and Jamie’s trademark tropical ethos. ‘Sleep Sound’ builds into a really beautifully sonic venture – but then, when doesn’t Jamie’s productions?

‘Sound Sleep’ and ‘Girl’ will be available on 12″ and download on May 5th via Young Turks. These tracks mark Jamie’s first solo release since the release of his seminal Gil Scott-Heron collaboration We’re New Here in 2011. Pre-order the new single here.

Mar 2014 25

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Drake opened the final leg of his Would You Like a Tour show last night at London with a display of confidence and charisma befitting the superstar he has become. Through a well thought-out, crowd pleasing set list Aubrey reminded us of the journey he’s been on since quietly [relatively speaking] releasing So Far Gone in 2009, the mixtape that first sparked his global grip.

Relying mostly on material from his third and most recent album Nothing Was The Same, Drizzy poured over hit after hit from across his discography and dedicating a section to his extensive feature repertoire: ‘The Language’, ‘Tuscan Leather’, ‘Worst Behaviour’, an extended (if not slightly over indulgent) rendition of ‘Hold On We’re Going Home’, ‘From Time’ assisted by R&B’s rising starlet Jhene Aiko, ‘Take Care’ (sadly sans Rihanna), ‘Over’ and the shows encore ‘Started From the Bottom’.

The overwhelming response to which was: “shit, Drake has hits!” – something that is perhaps a little easy to underestimate between twitter-memes, Drake shake apps and teary eyed tumblr gags that populate timelines and feeds on a hourly basis.

But its undeniable at this stage and has been for a long time now – hip hop’s reigning prince is also one of pop’s biggest superstars; Drake is without question a global artist who can shift huge numbers, balance die-hard fans with casual radio-listeners and sell out stadiums around the world. It wouldn’t take a lot of arguing to assess Drizzy as a poster child by-product of a post-Kanye world (even down to his elaborate, awe-inspiring stage set), but giving credit where credit is due – Drake is sitting confidently at the top of his game with very few competitors eyeing for his spot.

Boy did good.

Mar 2014 21

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And so the weekend officially begins.

In lieu of a new D’Angelo album, the heavens have granted us three previously unreleased, entirely glorious new songs from D’s forthcoming re-release of his Live at the Jazz Cafe album. Due for release on March 25th, the newly titled Live at the Jazz Café, London: The Complete Show will feature the entire recording of D’Angelo’s legendary 1996 show – including new renditions of Al Green’s ‘I’m Glad You’re Mine’, Ohio Players’ ‘Sweet Sticky Thing’ and Brown Sugar’s ‘Jonz In My Bonz’.

Fuuuuuuck!

via Pitchfork / Billboard / Rolling Stone

Mar 2014 20

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We’ve shown a lot of love to BANKS over the past year or more, and while theres absolutely nothing wrong with this cover of ‘Are You That Somebody’ – it’s actually quite good – I just can’t hide my growing frustration with the amount of Aaliyah covers/samples floating around.

… And as an avid supporter of the shelved Aaliyah/Noah ’40′ Shebib project it has absolutely nothing to do with being “too precious” about Babygirl’s discography and everything to do with the general mindset that the only representation of weird, future-90′s R&B began and ended at Aaliyah. Has everyone forgotten Timbaland produced for everyone during this period – why is no one flipping Destiny’s Child ‘Get on the Bus’ or Nicole Wray’s ‘Make It Hot’?

I know, I’ve digressed. I’m sure Banks has a personal connection to ‘Are You That Somebody’ and had reasons for choosing to cover it and as far as covers go, her ‘Live Lounge’ rendition is befittingly well arranged and performed. I’m just not screaming from the rooftops about it – mainly due to the reasons outlined above.

BANKS also did an acoustic version of her single ‘Brain’ – take a listen here.

Mar 2014 17

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Kwabs’ latest power ballad ‘Pray for Love’ was produced by none other than Ben Drew aka Plan B. Surprisingly tender, Drew frames a vivid landscape of muddy production with flooded drums, poetic strings and a gorgeously reserved piano. The songs crowing glory is of course left to Kwabs – whose masterful, awe-inspiring voice commands every ear in reach. Beyond.

Mar 2014 17

Take a look at Blood Orange performing ‘You’re Not Good Enough’ at last months Converse Gig at the legendary 100 Club in London. I was fortunate enough to attend the show and as my first experience of watching Dev perform – I was legit blown away. Its refreshing (and increasingly rare) to see such an incredible songwriter/producer command such a performance on stage. Our guy has some serious moves.

Mar 2014 16

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British producer Evian Christ has shared a stream of his latest EP ahead of its March 18 release on Tri-Angle. Featuring four new tracks, Joshua Leary’s mind still seems to be occupying the space it was in during his Yeezus experience. Truth is ‘I’m In It’ is child’s play compared to these grimacing rap beats. Built on industrial 808′s, icy snares and with enough aggro to warrant a few rounds on GTA – our guy is not fucking around.

Head over to his website for a full stream.

Mar 2014 16

LE1F’s success over the past year or so isn’t surprising to me, but the cultural significance of him performing on one of America’s biggest talk shows is actually a little mind blowing, considering. Despite large parts of the world or rather huge sections of America still harbouring bygone prejudices against the LGBT communities, artists like LE1F, Mykki Blanco and Frank Ocean et el continue to thrive. LE1F has continually proven his talent for fast-whipped, sharp-tongued rap and his performance last night on Letterman reinforced and certified those efforts.

Make sure you grab LE1F’s new Hey EP – out now on XL Records.

Mar 2014 16

I’ve been an Erykah Badu worshiper for far too long to know that you can’t rush Badoula Oblongata into making new music; but as we approach the fourth anniversary of her seminal New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) LP - the thirst for new material is becoming real. Nevertheless we’ll continue to be patient and in the interim ‘receive life’ through last nights live performance of ‘The Healer’ which she performed during her set at The FADER Fort in her home state of Texas.

Goosebumps every time.

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