Monday, 27 June 2016

Skepta - Konnichiwa (Album Review)

Label: Boy Better Know
Stream: Apple Music & Spotify
Download: iTunes & Google Play

Konnichiwa is easily Skepta's best body of work

Skepta has been enjoying a good run of form with previous singles "It Ain't Safe", "Shutdown" which took the North Londoner to the States and new single "Man" all highlighting his ability to make bangers. But although he's always had good songs, he hasn't always made good projects bar Black Listed which is the exception to this. So the Boy Better Know MC's much delayed new album, Konnichiwa, comes at an interesting time.

"Boy Better Know man went to the Brits on the train,
Man shutdown Wireless, then I walked home in the rain." - Skepta on "Konnichiwa"

At it's heart Konnichiwa is a Grime album and that is no more evident than the album's opener, title track "Konnichiwa." The production has a classic Skepta sound and the song features Skepta spraying bars with no chorus, as he would do on pirate radio sets or Grime raves.

"Lyrics" even uses the now infamous Heartless Crew v Pay As You Go clash sample and Skepta quotes one of Wiley's speeches during the clash for the chorus. The song features South London MC Novelist, who adopts a classic Grime flow that was used often in it's early days.

However, things slow down in the middle of the album with songs like "Ladies Hit Squad" - which has more of a mellower, Hip Hop feel to it. The song features ASAP mob's ASAP Nast on the hook alongside Grime legend D Double E. While it does add a change of mood on the album, it feels like Skepta is trying to reach for the American audience - which is a shame as it's great to see D Double E and Skepta on the same track.

Few people would turn down the chance to record a song with Pharrell Williams and it's a sign of how far he has come that Skepta was able to secure such an opportunity on the album. The Pharrell produced "Numbers" is an odd one; while the production sounds like an amalgamation of the two artist's sounds it's Pharrell who unsurprisingly sounds more comfortable with the subject (money) than Skepta on the song.

Best Songs
"That's Not Me"

Worst Songs

The album does features quite a few interludes, not all of which feel necessary, but none are too long or take away from the enjoyment of the song before or after. The interludes include a phone call with fellow Grime artist Chip addressing the now infamous first bar of "Nasty", random singing by ASAP Nast and a clip from an online gaming session, one that any online gamer will be familiar with.

Konnichiwa is easily Skepta's most consistent and best body of work. Considering the high level of interest and pressure surrounding him, that is an impressive feat. It's been five year's since 2011's Doin' It Again and while that's a long time, I'd be prepared to wait the same length of time for a follow up if it's this good.

What's The Best Music Streaming Service?

Choosing which music streaming service to sign up to isn't easy - there's loads: Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal plus many more. Do you go for the cheapest option, the one with the most songs or the one that your favourite band/ artist releases new music on first? We're going to answer this question with the help of people like you. Fill in the short questionnaire below (there's only three questions) and I'll publish the results in July. Thanks in advance.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Bugzy Malone - Facing Time (EP Review)

Label: ill gotten Records
Stream: Apple Music & Spotify
Download: iTunes & Google Play

Bugzy's songwriting has improved remarkably

Bugzy Malone is back with his Facing Time EP, the follow up to his 2015 debut Walk With Me EP. But can the Manchester Grime MC show that he'll be around long haul?

 Bugzy has always been a good MC, story teller and songwriter but on this EP you see both parts connect. You can hear Bugzy's songwriting has improved remarkably since 2015's Walk With Me EP. This all begins with the EP's title track, "Facing Time", which plays on time spent behind bars and the lack of freedom he know has that his popularity increases.

"Fame is a jail and not everyone here will survive" - Bugzy Malone on "Facing Time"

"Late Night In The 0161", one of the EP's standout tracks, was a banger when Bugzy released the video back in March and it's still a banger now.  The wobbling bass sets a menacing vibe that's perfect for Bugzy's gritty bars. The song was one of highlights of the Manny MC's set at Rinse FM's Born and Bred Festival a few weeks ago too.

As well as an insight into Bugzy's gangster life there's also songs like "Moving", which is one of the MC's most open and revealing songs on which he speaks about his family, younger years and darker times. Features Bugzy's trademark descriptive bars and similies that almost put the listener in the scene that he is talking about. Infact it's probably the EP's best song.

Facing Time is let down by songs like EP's closer "We Don't Care", which sounds like Bugzy is throwing barbs at Chip again, but here they're pointless light jabs. The Facing Time EP would have been better without this track.

"I make music to make me feel good, not to go on tours" - Bugzy Malone on "Moving"

"Mosh Pit Gang" is a song crying for attention and love, even going to the trouble of describing what a mosh pit is at the beginning of the song. But "I Suggest" is what "Mosh Pit Gang" wants to be without being forced or contrived.

Best Songs

Worst Songs

Rating: 3.5/5
Bugzy's story is an interesting one so it's great to see him mature and improve on his already strong skills on his Facing Time EP. With two EPs under his belt within the last year, it will be good to see if he can transfer that form to a full length album.

Drake - Views (Album Review)

Label: Young Money Entertainment/ Cash Money Records
Stream: Apple Music & Spotify
Download: iTunesGoogle Play

Canadian rapper, Drake's fourth album Views is probably his most anticipated release to date. It's been almost three years since his 2013 release Nothing Was The Same. Since then alot has happened such as Drake's partnership with Apple Music, Drake's beef with Meek Mill and his growing friendship with Grime MC Skepta. Sure you've heard last summer's breakout single "Hotline Bling" and seen the memes, but what else does Views have to offer?

Views is supposed to follow the four seasons in Toronto but apart from the weather sounds between some songs, this concept is hard to follow. It's also strange that "Summer Sixteen" isn't on here.

The Caribbean influence is heavy on this album; from the patois Drake uses which is sometimes used wrongly such as, "linking me down on my line," which Drake sings on "With You".  To featuring Beenie Man and Popcaan and even songs like "Controlla", "Too Good" and even "One Dance" which have obvious Reggae and Dancehall influences.

Drake being emotive is not a problem, what is a problem is the way he expresses it. With songs like "Feel No Ways" he is being expressive while still being entertaining, but on songs like "Keep The Family Close" it seems that he's just wallowing on.

"One Dance" is one of the album's best songs - it samples Kyla's UK Funky classic "Do You Mind," which is a surprising choice as it wasn't clear that Drake was a fan of the genre.  Its interesting that the Kyla's original has been transformed to a mellow Dancehall song. It's even more surprising that the transformation works. 

Best Songs

Worst Songs

The album's best song is probably the aptly titled "Too Good", on which Drake explains about difficulties he has dealing with his girlfriend. Rihanna plays the part of his girlfriend and although she'll help bring a bigger audience to the song, she adds little sonically. This would have been better as a solo track.

"Views already a classic" - Drake on "Hype"

Rating: 3.5/5 
Views is bloated, 20 songs is too much and it's a relief when you get to the end. Not all of them are good, so there's no reason for there to be so many. Drake hinted that he'd release more music following the album (and he did) so I'm not sure why he tried to cram so much music into one project.

You could delete half the album and be left with a really good batch of songs, unfortunately though Drake didn't dot that. So you must deal with *alot of fat* to get to the good stuff. Poor choice Drake.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Disclosure - Moog For Love (EP Review)

Label:Island Records
Download: iTunes & Google Play
Stream: Apple Music & Spotify

What the EP lacks in length, it makes up for in quality

It's only been around 9 months since Disclosure's last major release, but the brothers returned last week with a surprise release; Moog For Love. The EP marks a return to their earlier sound and came about partly because, "it feels weird not to have anything out and it be summer" according to the duo.

Picking a highlight is hard, Annie Mac made "BOSS" Hottest Record in The World last week and Zane Lowe went with title track "Moog For Love". While those two songs are good it's "Feel Like I Do" which most intriguing. Al Green sent Disclosure the stems to all his songs exclusively and the first result of that is "Feel Like I Do", which samples Al Green's "I'm Still in Love with You". The song starts like a classic soul record and transforms into a smooth laid back soulful house number. Whether we'll get a full Al Green and Disclosure project remains to be seen, but this is proof that it wouldn't be a bad idea!

In Summary
Many EPs that are released nowadays are quite lengthy, some even have 8 or 9 songs. So with only three tracks the Moog For Love EP feels a little short. But what the EP lacks in length, it makes up for in quality and probably longevity.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Waterm├Ąt, Becky Hill & TAI - All My Love (Video)

Having featured on Oliver Heldens' "Gecko (Overdrive), Rudimental's "Powerless" and Wilkinson's "Afterglow" - it's fair to say that Becky Hill knows a thing or two about making hits. Any one that doubted her ability should pay attention to new single with French DJ/producer Waterm├Ąt and London born, German based house DJ/producer TAI, "All My Love". It's a banging piano led house track with a slight tropical vibe to it. "All My Love" is a definite Song of The Day contender. "All My Love" is out now on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify. At the time of writing, "All My Love" was not available in north America.