Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos review

Kate Tempest_press_photo_2016_01_5404x3040For those who have been living without internet access for last three years, here’s a brief update on the state of the planet to put British rapper and spoken word artist Kate Tempest’s second album in context: the Earth is in a dire state. Rising divisions between rich and poor, and intolerance and miscommunication are everywhere. Meanwhile, the rise of big business continues, while the culture of the self quietly keeps the “modern revolution” – helpfully prophesised by voting-sceptic Russell Brand, among others – pacified.

Kate Tempest came to the attention of many in 2013 with her Mercury Prize-nominated debut album, Everybody Down, an effecting concept album that focused on a young couple, their troubled relationship and hard-bitten city living. With her second album, Let Them Eat Chaos, Tempest has built on her experiences to produce a powerful reflection of life in Britain today, from the high-stakes city workers to the down-and-outs living on the breadline. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Ray Blk – Chill Out (ft. SG Lewis)

Ray Blk - Chill Out single (1417x797)Bitter truths about love and life are Ray Blk’s shtick. This south Londoner singer disarms with her rich tones only to keep you at arm’s length with her spiny outlook. Her latest single, In ‘Chill Out’, you have new classic when it comes to those bittersweet love games. 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

Music acts to watch in 2016

AOSOON at Annie Mac Presents, ICA, London, Feb 4, 2016 by Aaron Lee (1920x1080)Springtime is the start of new beginnings. Meet five young music talents who are just beginning to blossom and are already showing signs of greatness to come.

From an LA rap crew bringing back the sound of 90s hip hop to a south London producer rebelling against the selfie generation, these are the mavericks and melody makers who are brightening the music scene in 2016. Continue reading

Best albums of 2015: honourable mentions

AOTY 2015 - Hon college: Shareefa Energy, Masayoshi Fujita, Wondaland, Tara Busch (1448x815)Where did 2015 go, ay? It seems like only yesterday that I was writing about my lofty ambitions to hear 150-plus albums this year, and pointing out the absurdity of that goal. Well, I managed to listen to a fair number of the albums on my original preview list, and I’ve soaked up an even greater number than last year. But still, with an ever-growing to-listen-to-list, I’ve been in a state of never-ending improbability to hear all of the records that have come into my orbit this year.

Still, here we are once again, after a year of trials and tribulations, hurt and pain, success stories and retirements, sorrows and separations, fading dreams and whispers of hope, quiet triumphs and steady commitments – and that’s just the news.

In the world of music, things have been as turbulent and trying as ever, while still being encouraged and unimaginably fruitful. They’ve been new streaming services, new business models, new artists and, of course, new albums. Once again, I’m here to offer my thoughts on latter, with the hope that you’ll discover a piece of music that makes your life that much brighter.

Saturday begins my annual albums of the year round-up in earnest, where I run down 50 albums I’ve heard this year and deem to be among the year’s best. But, starting this year, I’ve decided to precede my main list with a selection of honourable mentions.

This unranked appetiser, which includes albums, EPs, mixtapes and even a spoken word poetry piece, is a chance to recommend a shade more 2015 releases that are worth listening to. 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

Jam of the Week: People Under the Stairs – Nobody Cares

People Under the Stairs press photo 2015 (750x422)Unless you’ve locked yourself away from the internet and the outside world for the last seven days, you can’t fail to have noticed we’ve been through one of those ‘weeks that changed the world’. As the media, politicians and, most importantly, ordinary people gradually come to terms with the recent attacks in Paris, Beirut and, just yesterday, Nigeria, it is heartening to see musicians, such as Thundercat, producing music in tribute to those that sadly lost their lives and to remind us of the need for unity.

Today’s jam comes from one of the most underrated west coast’s hip hop duos, People Under the Stairs. It isn’t a Paris tribute, but it is about community and what happens when the places that help strengthen the bonds between us are neglected. Continue reading