Best EPs of 2016

EPs are to albums what starters are to main courses. Or, at least, that’s how it has traditionally been. These days, EPs take all kinds of forms, from two-track 12” records to mini-albums.

In the past, I’ve included selected EPs within my main album round-up. Now it’s time I gave these releases a spotlight of their own.

Soultress Lianne La Havas, house artists Disclosure and Snakehips, rapper Lizzo, enigmatic R&B singer Abra, and so many more have released some superb EPs. As always, I wanted to include more – especially the aforementioned artists, as I have had many of their tracks on repeat this year. But here’s my choice selection of 10 which have stayed with me, and all offer something special in their own right.

10. Sinead Harnett – Sinead Harnett EP
9. Flawes – Ctrl EP
8. Shakka – The Island EP
7. Throwing Shade – House of Silk EP
6. Marie Dahlstrom – 0.0 EP
5. Kojey Radical – 23Winters EP
4. Jodie Abacus – For Real Life and Not Pretend EP
3. Charlotte Day Wilson – CDW EP
2. Jorja Smith – Project 11 EP
1. Kesley Lu – Church EP
Continue reading

Jorja Smith – Project 11 EP review

Jorja Smith, Afropunk London 2016, Ally Pally, by Aaron Lee (960x540)The confidence that resonates from Jorja Smith quickly leaves you defenceless. She’s an 18-year-old going on 28, singing about urban life, young love and society’s uncomfortable injustices.

Propelled by the response to ‘Blue Lights’, a short tale of a young person walking unwelcome streets, which garnered much acclaim for her at the start of the year, Smith has apparently received plenty of offers from major labels, but has so far declined them all. She prefers do her own thing. The strength of her first EP, Project 11, is good reason for this rising talent to continue being an independent woman. Continue reading

Marie Dahlstrom – 0.0 EP review

Marie Dahlstrom press photo 2016, 1 (1280x720)Nowadays, it’s not difficult to make something that passes for a love song. But to create something that people actually connect with, and some feel sums up their feelings for somebody, now that still takes talent. Scandinavian singer and pianist Marie Dahlstrom has won the hearts of many around the world thanks to her skill at crafting patient, sincere-sounding love songs. Continue reading

Charlotte Day Wilson – CDW EP review

Charlotte Day Wilson, 2016, by Devon Little (569x320)Charlotte Day Wilson is an analogue girl living in a digital world. You may have come across her name if you’re familiar with ‘In Your Eyes’ by BadBadNotGood. This unsigned, 23-year-old Toronto singer projects a classical kind of wisdom with her voice, and yet has a deft talent for producing contemporary soul and R&B. Such an alignment is rare nowadays, and her debut EP, CDW, solidifies her as one of 2016’s most arresting new talents. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Speech Debelle – Running

speech_debelle_breathe_ep_1200x675Corynne Elliot is Speech Debelle, a singer and spoken word artist from London. At the time of writing, I have only heard a handful of songs from this innovative wordsmith and winner of the 2009 Mercury Prize.

Since winning the auspicious British music award, Speech Debelle has repeatedly been discussed in a negative manner as an example of a recent artist who has not gone on to huge commercial success. In other words, favourable commentary about her is difficult to find – in the main, at least – unless you seek it out. That’s hardly fair. Especially because Speech Debelle is an artist of serious poise and verve, as this week’s chosen jam demonstrates. Continue reading

Reasoning with Self EP launch: Shareefa Energy and friends

D’Gaf, LondonGolden Blue and Shareefa Energy, D'Gaf, Jul 21, 2015, by Aaron Lee (1920x1080)To see spoken word poet, Shareefa Energy, and her performing friends is to witness a bountiful celebration of generosity and positivity. A celebration that smacks in the face of the continued tokenisation of women with agency in our society.

Shareefa launched her debut EP, called Reasoning with Self, at D’Gaf in Leyton, Tuesday evening, July 21, and to mark the occasion she organised her own spoken word poetry night with a guest line-up of all-female acts. What follows is simply a taste of what these eloquent sisters had to show. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: J Dilla – Ruff Draft

Stones Throw Records, 2007
J Dilla in the studio, surrounded by a producer's paradise of instumentals, synthesizers and rare vinyl records (Roger Erickson/Stones Throw)People of a certain persuasion still don’t consider hip hop an art form. And it doesn’t matter how many conscious cats you bring up, because, to them, when it comes to sampling and beat-making, they don’t believe the act of reusing musical phrases in new ways constitutes ‘real music’.

They’re wrong, of course, because without being moulded, shaped and, crucially, edited, songs as we know them could never be formed. This role of editing gave rise to the music producer and, today, they are very much originators in their own right. Continue reading