What I love about this is that even though the chassis is pure trap, there's no attempt here to cop anything American or try and reconfigure trap dynamics for an English voice. This could've sounded ugly, could've sounded like an attempt at Southern-style phraseology with an English accent. It doesn't. It sounds entirely fluid, and gratifyingly more touched with a kind of European sense of glacial dynamics and textures than anything from the buckle of the Bible Belt. Consequently Giggs' brilliantly clipped, terse and menacing rhymes suit it perfectly. Pretty amazing to create a track so touched by that Southern heat, but that sounds so rainswept and cool — analogous to what drill-folk from Chicago have been doing, but shot through with an even deeper sense of London loucheness. Superb and a good pointer to what will obviously be one of the UK albums of the year, the soon-dropping 'Landlord'.
Jehst x Lee Scott
'Campbell & Algar'
"...like Hunter S. at his blunted best..." — Morriarchi's 'Buggsville Sessions' is probably the greatest set the inestimable Blah Records have ever given us and this is the single pulled from it, a real highlight. Sublimely effective production from Morri, a deeply dubby bass-heavy slice of neon glide touched with little details of held notes and drones, perfect for the home smoke-out or the late-night drive 'n' drop, Lee and Jehst dropping crisp yet hugely suggestive rhymes into the swirl. Absolutely nothing stopping this being huge, bar media silence and our own inaction. Make it as big as the pictures it draws in your head.
Though he's not a rapper who shouts about his talent, Cappo really has produced some of the finest rap music of the decade so far, so always glad to hear he's still making incredible tracks like this. 'Ether' has a truly startling production, a beat over which gorgeous sighing humming synth textures ebb and flow with real mystery and magic and suggestiveness, like a Kevin Shields production or a Boards Of Canada track. Cappo's flows are, as ever, utterly engrossing and the way the track fades with each fourth snare hit, accompanied by the sound of smashed glass, is just astonishing. Cappo doing what he does — don't let the 'customary' nature of his brilliance stop you listening. A national treasure.
Had got used to reviewing songs for the hip-hop page that are essentially leaks, diss-tracks, unofficial releases but right now reviewing, I think for the first time in my writing life, a track only made to promote an app (The Game's new 'virtual-reality Compton gang-life game for tablets and mobile devices called 'Block Wars'). Weird. Actually not that weird when I think about hip-hop. There was a week way back when the best hip-hop album coming out was the (Van Damme) 'Streetfighter' soundtrack. Hip-hop: never not wondering how to get paid. This bass-heavy monster BANGS by the way, in a real WC Madd Circle/retro g-funk kinda way. Heavy fucking manners.
'Guap On Me'
I think I'd like auto-tune if it didn't remind me of Bros so much. Y'know that gurgly, catarrh-laden grunt Matt Goss used to do? Proto-auto-tune. Future always sounds like he's juggling a big fat greenie in his throat and so all of his massively liked, massively popular projects this year have not lingered in my affections for long. 'Guap On Me' is an old track freshly leaked and I have to say, yet again it entirely eludes me why this mediocrity is being hailed as some kind of avatar of hip-hop progression and heat. No really arresting bars, no really stunning production, just a faintly dull competence all round. Would rather hear the instrumental, and if I hear him trying to flob something nasty at me again I'm just turning the fucker off.
DJ Khaled feat. Kendrick Lamar
We The Best/Epic
'Major Key' will be dropped by the time you read this, but this is the last leak I could find and OF COURSE it's massively underwhelming. Short of the sound of God cumming in your ear, ANYTHING would be underwhelming after the hype this album's been getting of late. There's nothing wrong with 'Holy Key' (Sean and Lamar's verses in particular), it just can't help feeling like an attempt at a big-sounding single to justify hype — a big sound that's not actually needed or suitable for the subject matter. Star-studded line-ups (the album has Jay Z, Future, J.Cole, Drake, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, Meek Mill, Big Sean and tons of others on it), 'anthems' (he's already said the album is 14 anthems), pffft! Give me less people, saying stuff CLEARER please. Hope the whole album isn't this kind of big show-offy bollocks or I'll pass thanks — the track that leaked at the end of June, 'I Got The Keys' featuring Jay and Future was WAY better.
Top Dawg Entertainment
'Blank Face' I'm just dipping into, but it sounds like alongside Royce's 'Layers' it could be the non-auto-tuned masterpiece of the year. 'JoHn Muir' is on one level an odd single choice, but pumped loud with the windows open you won't hear a sharper, sweeter, more soulful slam of spirit all summer. Propulsive lunging beats come courtesy of Sounwave, but it shouldn't be a surprise to see that name Adrian Younge on the credits — this track has his typically brilliant touches all over it, from the lovely backing vocals on the hook to the drum-sound — as it's as diamond-tight as Stubblefield, but as lounging and phat as Willie Mitchell's Hi Rhythm Section. You KNOW you're going to have to get the album but this should make any doubts dissappear. Welcome back Q, and hats off to TDE for keeping their standards high as a kite.
French Montana feat. Drake
Bad Boy Entertainment/Epic
Murda Beatz on the mix so the bass is in just the right place, under your feet, right up your ass, and the beat is a doozie — a little more uptempo than I've previously heard from him and designed for maximum neck-snappage. Yet again though, the lyrics let the whole thing down with way too much laziness, and quelle-sur-fucking-prise, Drake YET AGAIN deciding the best way he could rap is to insinuate yet more disses Joe Budden's way. Rap's degeneration into sports-entertainment isn't necessarily a bad thing and if I was 10 I'm sure lyrically I'd find this entirely satisfying. I'm not though, I need more than this snarly vaguery to get my teeth into. Good signs for the soon-dropping 'MC4' set though.
Getting Out Our Dreams/Def Jam
Oh fuck, it's an XXL Freshman (guaranteed tedium ahead), but hold on! He's 'gothic'? Arf. 'Tiimmy Turner' is actually musically kind of interesting — the rubberiness of the bass and the strange baroque melodic twists of the hook lend it, yes, a kind of goth vibe. Unfortunately, like much of what you'll be assured is the hottest shit out there, the track rapidly turns into cold diarehea as soon as D starts talking/singing, a lot of auto-tuned nursery rhyme-type shit that goes nowhere. When the whole thing changes three-quarters of the way through into this horribly hopeful EDM-style chord-sequence, I was flailing at the stop button in a frenzy. Pass.
'World Wide Lamper'
Mello Music Group
You wait an age for some new Kool Keith to hear and then two come at once! A new album is in the offing called 'Feature Magnetic' and this track is a free DL available now. That voice is still one of the most commandingly unique in rap — as are the rhymes — and the production here is just unearthly; a booming pulse of electro funk of a terrifying single-mindedness, little fractures of Kraftwerk-style synth kicking off in your peripheries as the centre starts dubbing itself out into space. Stupendous music as ever from KK. Welcome back nutter.