Common – Black America Again review

The ever-dramatic race for the White House was more controversial than ever this year – and we all know how it ended now. But the arrival of the 2016 US Presidential Election was also the chief reason behind Chicago rapper Common releasing his eleventh studio album, Black America Again. It’s an invigorating record for the turbulent times that America, and the world, are facing. Continue reading

Ray Blk – Durt review

Ray Blk is a badass. The south London MC and singer has been honing her skills in the school of life, and came through this year with scorching songs that have won her plaudits galore, including MOBO nominations as well as a place on the BBC Sound of 2017 list. Continue reading

Rihanna – Anti review

Superstar divas Rihanna and Beyoncé were playing a very public game of who could be the most provocative temptress, and still get their songs played on the radio, for the a good few years. That’s the way it seemed at least, what with all the flesh on display in their music videos and other controversial moments, all of which prompted tea-sipping elitists and defends-of-taste to decrying them both.

By now, most us are familiar with the Barbadian queen and her rumpy-pumpy reggae and steamy pop. She’s gone from an innocent island girl (‘SOS’) to a whip-loving dominatrix (‘S&M’). Anti is her eighth album, and sees the pop star crossover to the trap and alternative R&B sounds of the moment. Continue reading

Various Artists – Hidden Figures: The Album review

Soul meets space travel on the soundtrack for forthcoming film, Hidden Figures. It comes courtesy of Pharrell Williams – who also worked on the film’s score with Hans Zimmer – and features guest spots by Lalah Hathaway, Mary J Blige, Alicia Keys, Janelle Monáe and Kim Burrell. Continue reading

Lion Babe – Begin review

Lion Babe - press photo 2015, 3, by Misha Taylor (1920x1080)In the words of director and artist Simon Frederick: “Black is the new black”. And few things this year have brought delight, joy and open-mouthed awe to me than the sight of black sisters rocking natural curls with pride. Alicia Keys, Solange, Corinne Bailey Rae, Fleur East, Nao and Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo, to name but a few of the music world’s natural hair heroes.

But what has hair got to do with music – and Lion Babe specifically? More than you’d think. Hair is an express of the self. And anyone who knows what it’s like maintaining an afro, day in, day out, will tell you that – just ask Erykah Badu, India.Arie or Solange. Jillian Hervey, Lion Babe’s majestic frontwoman, wears a mane of golden curls that look as though they were a gift from the goddess Oshun herself.

Hervey’s natural hair journey – as well as the fact she is the daughter of singer and actress, Vanessa Williams – brought her face to face with taunts, teases and pressure for her to conform to her attacker’s standards of beauty. But, as she told Glamour magazine earlier this year, returning to natural hair led her to feel “very comfortable in my skin and really confident about who I was”. The Lion Babe of today could not exist without this comfortable, confident brown-skinned wonder woman. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: King – Hey (Extended Mix)

King - We Are King artwork (1125x633)LA trio, King, have being generating heat since their 2011 debut EP, The Story. Twin sisters Paris and Amber Strother and spiritual sister Anita Bias make dreamy R&B. Continue reading

E3 2015 news highlights

Nintendo, E3 2015 booth, 18/06/2015, by emr9801 (2048x1152)Given the number of announcements in the two weeks prior to E3 2015, I was afraid the show itself would struggle to offer up many surprises this year. But that didn’t prove to be the case. First Microsoft stepped up with its broadest line-up since the early days of the 360. Then, Sony follow it with a trio of well-wishers’ most wanted. And elsewhere new ideas are blossoming for the next generation systems at last.

Previously, I’ve felt pretty underwhelmed by all three of the current-gen consoles. But this E3 has given me, and others yet to pick up a PS4, Xbox One or Wii U, reason to take notice again. Here are some of my highlights from E3 2015. Continue reading