Choosey & Exile
Low Low feat. Aloe Blacc
If Choosey & Exile's sublime 'Black Beans' album has passed you by, I beg you to investigate it — you won't find a more thoughtful, yearnful, warmly reflective and sharply resonant album about being a non-white American right now. This is the single which crystallises everything that makes the album so good: gorgeous soul-infused production from Exile, a wonderfully poised and powerful set of rhymes from Choosey's own unique headspace, all christened with a peach of a hook vocal from Aloe Blacc.
Phyba x Giallo Point
'E12 528 '
Any hip-hop fan with a curiosity about the more unheralded but incredible producers of recent years will have had their ears bent out of shape by Giallo Point's stunning productions. Here, he's back with Psybaoptiix, to craft a track that soon finds itself "running through your arteries like a BCG", hanging jazzy chords and stealthy flute allowed to fade away and radiate over a heavy monotonic undertow. If this is any sign of what we can expect from the soon-dropping 'Rene Mesrine' album, it's going to be one of this year's absolute essentials. Drink deep, alone and loud.
Datkid & Leaf Dog
'Eyes feat Conway The Machine'
High Focus Records
A Griselda/High Focus blending of the streams was always inevitable, and this single, taken from Datkid & Leaf Dog's fantastic new 'Confessions Of A Crudlord' set more than delivers on its promise. I love the way that Leafdog has achieved a subtle blend of sounds, but steadily and masterfully introduces new details each time your attention is in danger of wandering. The little string-ruffles, the piano lick; by the time Conway comes in with his verses, you're already nodding your head, and his pell-mell freestyle sits perfectly in the mix. Superb.
Sean Peng & Illinformed
'Full Moon '
Lost Scroll Records
Dark and twisted, and a hell of an intro to Peng & Illinformed's soon-dropping 'Trips To The Medicine Cabinet' full-length — rhymes that never take a breath, and never give you any single iota of redemption, just a never-ending bleak vision of external and internal collapse. It's the way Peng at no point clarifies things, just belches out this miasma, this miasma he's clearly living through, whereby your own mental torsions and torments only find themselves reflected everywhere you look. Precisely the kind of music our times deserve.
DJ Vadim & JMan
'Heart Attack feat Lasai'
Of course, with Vadim on the mix, you know you're in the hands of someone who knows exactly how to combine dub, hip-hop and ruffneck ragga to delicious addictive effect, his minimal yet bass-heavy production sounding as addictively compelling as similar Jahtari productions for Roger Robinson. JMan's vocals are the customary light-speed lucidity/lunacy you've come to expect, and Lasai blesses the chorus with some suitably doomy vocals. There's a seven-inch coming, I'm told, and I would wait for it — this is a natty little BANGER.
Your Old Droog
'RST feat DOOM & Mach Hommy '
Gogul Mogul/Mongoloid Banks
Never mind Bey's "surprise" album, for many of us, YOD's sudden release of a full-length ('It Wasn't Even Close' — get it NOW) was an even more overwhelming delight out of the blue. The highlights of the album are many, but this single is a particular joy, from the Pram-like lo-fi keyboards to the interplay between Hommy and Doom, to the way it simply refuses to give itself impetus with anything so predictable as a beat. Rather, it radiates away from the pulsing bass and echoed loops, "single-handedly like Def Leppard's drummer" just one among a panoply of lyrical jewels. Essential.
'Still, Can't Help But Sing Along'
Public service announcement — don't let the catchiness of this brilliant single from TrueMendous blind you to the fact that the EP it's from ('PS This Is Your Father Calling') is just as brilliant, her flows compelling and the production sublime, up there with recent work by IAMDDB & Little Simz as UK female hip-hop you need to hear immediately. Thanks for listening.
'Your Mrs '
Leaped out of the incessant, occasionally unfathomable onslaught of UK rap this month by dint of sheer bleakness, not only in the sexual politics minefield this track is happy to hopscotch through and get maimed by, but also in the production, which recalls Carns Hill & Headle One's bleakest moments. It's even further sucked dry of 'heat', its anti-rhymes are pure deadpan, the bassline is a minimal migraine, and the beat relishes the silence it punches into your head. Addictive like Pickled Onion Space Raiders.