22 year old St Louis native, now residing in the Big Apple, introduces her composed, seductive tone to the world with her free download taken from her forthcoming debut project – See. Sza.Run. Sza tenderly wraps her alluring voice around the faint tranquil sound of water drops and firm snare work, remaining poised throughout.
You remember Meelah, right? Lead singer from cult-followed 90′s girl group 702. Her band experienced moderate success during that period with songs like ‘Steelo’, ‘Where My Girls At’ and ‘You Don’t Know’ (and that Garage remix). But despite having the likes of Missy Elliott and Timbaland on side, the girls never really achieved the success they deserved, often overshadowed by other, more popular groups like Destiny’s Child and TLC. They eventually split in 2009.
Now though Meelah has returned with a new solo single ‘I Should Let You Know’ produced by Stevie J, former in-house Bad Boy producer and now star of reality TV’s ‘Love & Hip Hop’; A show for which he is probably known more for today, than he is for his influential work with the likes of Biggie (‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’), Mariah Carey (‘Honey’), Jay-Z (‘Lucky Me’), Boyz II Men (‘I Can’t Let You Go’) and Mary J. Blige (‘Love at First Sight’). There’s a natural 90′s influence on ‘I Should Let You Know’, it comes from the same school of female R&B singers Deborah Cox, Tamia etc. It even has hints of Keyshia Cole-drama (but less ratchet). In all though, this is a bit of an understated jam – it bumps and… Meelah’s sangin’ on it too.
Following on from his rougher, tougher on-going work with Madlib, this a seperate and wee bit radio friendlier offering from another forthcoming project by the sturdy Indiana spitter Gibbs. Whilst not ‘Bout It Bout It’ in the No Limit sense, it’s still got a proverbial rider virtue and is sprinkled in Kirko Bangz’ mini-Drake cupcake recipe. Gangsta Gibbs’ Baby Face Killa tape will follow soon.
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.
Dominique Young Unique is a Sony signed rapstress from Florida who’s name has floated around for a minute, but nothing had really hit home for us (all lip gloss and no tongue). Until now. A disgustingly cold beat from nu-Parisian scene trailblazer French Fries (going from skeletal Tech clattering and headphoner perks into breakdowns of Jazz chords, ouff) that allows an unbaked rhyme scheme to breathe a little and a seductively simple “all black” hook go a long way. The track retains the sedate paranoia of, say, a Purrp cut but has a distinct, smokey, continental class. Really need more refreshing lean juice like this from French Fries, fa’ real, fa’ real.
Kendrick Lamar teams up with Pitchfork for this 11 minute documentary that follows him around Chicago on one of his ‘radio run’ days. While most artists loathe promo days, Lamar takes a more philosophical approach explaining that he’d rather answer questions from journalists and bloggers all day, than “be at home or [have to] go to a nine to five”.
During the doc Kendrick talks about his famous fans, his upcoming J. Cole collaboration, the message(s) behind his debut album good kid, m.A.A.d. city (October 2nd), and more.
Brandy’s much anticipated comeback video has finally arrived, a whole 4 months after it first debuted. Directed by Hype Williams (the man behind her iconic ‘Sittin’ Up In My Room’ video) and choreographed by the guy responsible for Beyonce’s now famous ‘Single Ladies’ routine, it’s clear Brandy isn’t looking to mess about this time ’round.
Although the song, which also features Chris Brown, is far from her best – it has admittedly grown on me over the past few months. Far less edgier than her previous efforts, but still sassy enough to recognise that it’s Brandy behind it, her motives here are obvious: produce a record that will appease (or rather, not offend) the purists, but attract the mainstream (enter chart topper Breezy).
… At least she didn’t go Europop.
But regardless of anything else, Brandy’s voice still sets her eons apart from her nearest competitors – even on this record (I mean those harmonies are still outrageous). But lets hope her upcoming TwoEleven album features more progressive songs as well and not just radio friendly substitutions. And truthfully speaking, at this stage in her career, that balance is critical. Certainly looking forward to hearing that Frank Ocean penned track.
When she’s not busy 6 inch heel drop-kicking the scrot of Dipset, Azealia Banks will dispense the occasional Rankin directed music video. This time it’s for the fiery wonder of ‘Van Vogue’, following-up ‘Liquorice’. As if this woman doesn’t get hotter by the weekday, 21 year old Banks stars in a cross between a Davidoff commercial and Grace Jones homage (that wide brim swag), still nudging the high fashion angle considering it’s an industry her music’s made such a pertinent connection with in the last year.
The excellent 1991 EP is out now, as is the mixed-bag Fantasea mixtape where she gave herself more room for error. However the true test of Bank’s place in contemporary Hip-Hop as a 21st century female force, will be her Interscope debut long player Broke With Expensive Taste, expected September. Either way, anyone denying she can spit and switch up flows is being foolish. Just tell the vamp to stay out of trouble.
Decorated in gold glitter, coloured powder and donning a fierce new look, classically trained violinist and singer/songwriter Marques Toliver, reveals his powerful new video for ‘Magic Look’; The first single taken off his upcoming debut album. Marking his music video debut Toliver exposes his body and his soul with a majestic performance that perfectly captures the elegant beauty of this sensational single.
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 Millionor 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.