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’.
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.
Progressive-agent-of-equality-cum-band-leading-music-CEO, Janelle Monáe has come good with the new material she’s championed so far from her fellow Wondaland Records artists. Jidenna’s ‘Classic Man’ was a Drake-like club appetiser that set Wondaland’s men and women of elegance away from contemporary hip hop tropes. ‘Yoga’, the new track from Janelle Monáe & Jidenna, is equally as stylish. It bears a groove that you might expect from a Beyoncé or Rihanna track, spliced with Monáe’s encouragements of “baby, bend over”. It’s a steamy, beautifully direct pop anthem from an artist who appears to be having a tonne of fun with her creative power.
Earlier this month, the genre-bending queen of pop for the discerning music fan, Janelle Monáe, revealed plans to unleash her Wondaland Art Society, the fellow artists and songwriters she’s collaborated with on her first two studio albums (which are among the finest records of the current decade), upon the Earth. Through a partnership with Epic, Wondaland Records is fostering and releasing music from Monáe’s close-knit inner circle. A compilation is due in May featuring music from all five of Wondaland’s current roster, including Monáe herself, who will debut ‘Yoga’.