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.
SBTRKT has finally revealed details on the follow to his shifting self-titled debut album; Released on September 22nd, the new album will be titled Wonder Where We Land. The albums first single ‘New Dorp. New York’ (above) is an ode to the Big Apple and features Vampire Weekend front-man Ezra Koeing – and what a way to kick things off - you hear that funk?
The new record boasts a pretty star-studded line up with contributions from Sampha, Jessie Ware, A$AP Ferg, Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek, Denai Moore and Raury amongst others. Full tracklisting after the jump.
South London producer/singer Palmistry recently released ‘Protector SE5′ his second Mixpak single, and now goes his video for it. The bouncy jitters in the tracks production juxtapose the clip’s slow-mo vibe.
Having melted our hearts with her debut single ‘Touch‘ earlier this year, Shura returns with ‘Just Once’. The songs warm, endearing tones are softened by its simplistic and fluid production; it really feels like a perfect pop song.
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.
The internets have been waiting on this collaborative extended player for some time now, and excuse us for being a couple days late in bringing it to your attention.
When two mutually respectful worlds align to create something new in the way Shlohmo & Jeremih have, it can rarely been seen as a disappointment. In fact it should be celebrated. And regardless of whether you feel this joint project is better or worse than each of their solo offerings, you have to respect their gusto - it’s easy to forget how much of a dirty word “R&B” was just a few years ago, especially in the electronic community. And who knew Jeremih would swing back after that meme-inducing chart topper?!
For the most part No More is a convincing release, it pushes forward with the current understanding of what contemporary R&B is – a genre no longer stagnant in the shadow of its golden era. It is for the most part however carried by Shlohmo’s productions which are wonderfully industrial and appropriately gully. Jeremih’s vocals unfortunately slip key far too often and his Weeknd-esque wailing at times is a little indulgent.
That said there are gems in here, pay particular attention to ‘The End’ and an extended version of ‘Fuck You All The Time’.
Download No More for free here.
‘Cigarette Song’ is the latest track to surface from Atlanta wonderkid Raury, whose really made a name for himself over the past few months. Driven by an elegant guitar melody, the song (co-produced by Daytrip) sees the teen command the song in way beyond his years and exhibiting his talents as a singer, rapper and producer.