Jordan Rakei is an Australian singer and producer making soulful, dreamlike R&B. He released his Groove Curse EP in 2014, and contributed to Disclosure’s 2015 album, Caracal, with the track ‘Masterpiece’. His debut album, Cloak, is an innovative and modestly arresting creation that discerning listeners will appreciate.
Kendrick Lamar was the man of the moment in 2015. To Pimp a Butterfly was a masterclass of conscious rap addressing the extreme racial discrimination that continues to play out in the US, and beyond. Untitled Unmastered isn’t a follow-up: it’s a collection of polished demos and experiments that are powerful and additive in their own right.
Hopelessness is the first album from independent musician Anohni, who was previously known as Antony Hegarty of the pop group Antony and the Johnsons. It’s an album that’s heavily political, but it is also intensely beautiful.
Just when you think you’ve got the measure of Terrace Martin, he surprises you yet again. The Los Angeles born musician and producer has worked with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Talib Kweli and Robert Glasper, not to mention playing a major role in shaping Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Martin’s latest album, Velvet Portraits, is a stunning chameleon of a record with enough musical hues to match an Ikea colour chart.
Laura Mvula’s powerful and nuanced Sing to the Moon was a remarkable album made even more remarkable by the fact that it was her debut. Her second album doesn’t manage the all-out excellence of her first time, but it still a superb album in its own right that shouldn’t be missed.
If you thought The 1975 were just another group of tween heart-throbs, think again. This Manchester band certainly have a legion of teenage followers, but they are also responsible for a sizeable chunk of genuinely innovative alternative pop and rock reaching mainstream audiences in the last few years. The running time of their second album is almost as long as its unpronounceable name. Thankfully, it’s also surprisingly splendid.
Queen Alone is the triumphant return of soultress Nicole Wray. Once the protégé of Missy Elliot, Wray is a singer whose talent has long gone unrecognised. Three years on from her collaboration with UK singer-songwriter Terri Walker, Lady – and 18 years since her last solo project, Make It Hot – Wray has come good yet again.
Kaytranada is only 24 years young, but already this Canadian whiz kid has been become one of the most sought-after producers of the moment. His debut album, 99.9%, includes features from GoldLink, AlunaGeorge, Syd tha Kyd, Anderson Paak, Vic Mensa and others. It’s a moreish album held back by some slight, but noticeable, structural flaws.