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.
When he’s not sizing up Nicki Minaj’s behind, getting snogged by Madonna, or getting dangerously close to Rihanna, Canadian rapper Drake has people around the globe whining their hips his to baby-making music. Views is his fourth album – not counting his critical and commercially successful 2015 mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late – and it’s his more palatable collection of music so far.
Nowadays, Kanye the celebrity is far more of the focus than Kanye the musician. “I got rid of my phone so I can have air to create”, West tweeted on September 14, 2016. That may be the entertainment tweet of the year. For real. But this, nor West’s bizarre fashion line can change the fact that his seventh album, The Life of Pablo, is a muddled affair that lacks real direction.
It took them a while, but they made it in the end. And they’ve done good.
Soon at the Latest is the debut album from Fur, an eight-piece hip hop-jazz collective from east London. Similar to the music of BadBadNotGood or El Michels Affair, this an album cramped with verdant instrumentals for late nights and crosstown journeys. It’s cheeky, it’s charming and it’s wildly refreshing.
For 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.
Jazz Cafe, LondonWhen a concert ends with the performer hopping down from the stage to dance with their fans, you know it’s been a big night. And this week has been particularly big for rising wordsmith, Kojey Radical. The poet and rapper received two MOBO Awards nominations, and his celebratory spirit was overflowing at his sold-out Jazz Café show.
Self-styled purveyor of “swanky music”, Jidenna, has been dishing out a string of killer tracks in the last 12 months. He’s released ‘Classic Man’, ‘Long Live the Chief’, ‘Knickers’ and ‘Extraordinary’.