Why So Serious?

Credit: Ben Colen

As with every genre, hip hop has always had its tropes and trends; similar themes and subjects have been consistently explored and slapped on wax for the last forty years. But there are some rap songs that have materialised during that time, which have eschewed the more familiar themes and instead taken delight in the whimsical, the weird and the wonderful. See: Laundry by R.A.P. Ferreira, from his excellent Purple Moonlight Pages album, for a recent example.
But it’s Aesop Rock who has been the brains behind a number of my favourites that have emerged over the years, and so below I have outlined six of the best from the Rhymesayers artist. It provides some insight into why he has been one of my favourite rappers for the last 15 years, thanks in part to his ability to rap about any topic and deliver it with that unique command of language he brings to his lyricism. Continue reading “Why So Serious?”

Elaquent: Bedtime Stories II (Stream)

Elaquent returns with another fresh beat selection for us, as he delivers the follow up to last year’s Bedtime Stories EP. This second chapter continues in the same vein as its predecessor, offering up five new cuts which are all steeped in that feeling of after-dark enjoyment. You can preview the EP for yourself below and then head to Bandcamp to grab a download.

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Raheem DeVaughn & Apollo Brown: When A Man

A stunning soulful cut here from Raheem DeVaughn and Apollo Brown, as they announce their forthcoming album, Lovesick. It looks set to be a significant step away from the usual Detroit grittiness that Apollo Brown has become synonymous with, but as soon as DeVaughn’s vocals soar into life on When A Man, the collaboration feels like it should have happened a lifetime ago. The full album is due for release on 4 June via Mello Music Group.

Mello Music Group: Bushido (Stream)

As reported a few weeks ago, Mello Music Group have put together a compilation featuring a whole bunch of new material from their increasingly dope roster and some equally compelling guests. The album kicks off with a track from Quelle Chris and Alchemist, which should give you some idea of the levels at work here, if you’re not already familiar with Mello’s insanely consistent back catalogue. As we progress we’re treated to new joints from The Lasso and Zackey Force Funk, Cambatta and Apollo Brown, Homeboy Sandman and Eric Lau, as well as three new tracks from Oddisee, including the previously featured No Trouble. You can explore the full array of musical brilliance below and then go check the usual spots for all your streaming/download needs.

Continue reading “Mello Music Group: Bushido (Stream)”

Serengeti: curse of the polo (Stream)

Bandcamp Friday always brings forth a burst of new releases, many of which I struggle to capture at the time, but luckily the latest from Serengeti is one of the ones that caught my ears. While shorter track lengths have become the norm over the last few years, I’m still a sucker for a song that lasts longer than 2 minutes, so this whole project is like heaven to me. It’s also got that DIY rough around the edges feel to it, which I’m also a fan of. And if you needed anything more to convince you, check the electro inspired track four joy of Mid North. You can hear the full project below and downloads are available via Bandcamp.
Continue reading “Serengeti: curse of the polo (Stream)”

Lunar C: Shut Up

Lunar C has been steadily knocking out tracks during lockdown, all of which I’ve failed to post. I thought I should right that wrong with a few words about his latest video. Shut Up is typical Lunar fodder, somehow merging self-deprecation and bragging bars into the same track, and all delivered with that sense of humour that has made him one of the most entertaining MCs on the scene since he first started rapping. Production is handled by Mash, who along with Hashfinger, always fits Lunar’s flow like a glove. Check out the Lunar C YouTube channel to catch up with the rest of his videos.

AKAI SOLO: Color of Conquerors

I’ve been a bit slower of late with highlighting artists you should be checking for, and AKAI SOLO is definitely not the newest kid on the block, but he is someone you should all be listening to right now. His latest video, for the track Color of Conquerors, is pretty much all you need to hear for that statement to be true, with further inspection of the album it’s lifted from being the evidence that solidifies the claim. He’s part of the sprawling network of NY rappers who have been edging closer and closer to each other over the last few years, as documented in Okayplayer’s recent piece, which features an interview with AKAI SOLO, in which he provides more insight into the burgeoning scene in the city. Colors of Conquerors is produced by iblss and is taken from Ride Alone, Fly Together.

Aver & Move 78: Sanctuary

A lovely cut here from Aver & Move 78, taken from their forthcoming EP. I really am no expert on jazz, I just know what I like and this falls very much into that category. Unsurprisingly really, as Aver has always been one of my favourites from Village Live’s ever-impressive roster. The full EP is available to pre-order on vinyl now, with the shipping date set for 19 April onwards.

Telemachus: Wisdom of the Ancients

A nice little release from Telemachus here, featuring some brand new music inspired by Neil Oliver’s book, Wisdom of the Ancients: Life Lessons from Our Distant Past. Released last year, the book delivers lessons from our ancestors, which Telemachus says has provided him with “the perfect balm to the 24 hour news cycles of death and disease”, when combined with his ongoing reconnection with the natural world. The EP is part of a series of audio responses to literature, which collectively fall under the title, Volumes. You can hear the EP below and head to Bandcamp to check the rest of the series. For more on Telemachus’ connection with nature, check out my recent Q&A with his alter ego, Forest DLG.

Continue reading “Telemachus: Wisdom of the Ancients”

Strange U: Arm Leg

More new music from Strange U, as they deliver the second part of their new 7″. Arm Leg follows on from Maybe, which surfaced earlier this month, and combines the same murky production and bursts of vocal distortion that have elevated them to become one of High Focus’s most popular acts. And quite right too, as they are formed from the combined force of two established UKHH veterans – King Kashmere and Dr Zygote. The 7″ vinyl is available to pre-order now and features artwork from that mischievous collage maker, Matt Littler.

Armand Hammer & The Alchemist: Sir Benni Miles

Today saw the release of the latest album from Armand Hammer, their first project with a single producer at the helm. That producer is The Alchemist and the results are as engrossing as you would imagine. I’ll write more on the album itself when I’ve spent a bit more time with it, but for now make the most of the first video to emerge, for the opening track, Sir Benni Miles. The video was made by Joseph Mault. Haram physicals are available now via Backwoodz Studioz, with streams available from the usual platforms.