This year has been amazing for music, we have seen artists rise up and leave us excited for what is to come in 2018. In particular for me grime had an insane year and female rappers started to be more heard. Check out the documentary I made on the struggles that female rappers face.
In January we saw Gucci Mane release 3 For Free, Migos – Culture and Loyle Carner – Yesterdays Gone but for me the real winner of the month was Wiley – Godfather. The long awaited album arrived on the 13th January, and he was back with a banger. Scheduled to release last September after many setbacks and outburst that he wasn’t going to release the album (the feels I had), Wiley’s 11th album finally came. He’s one of the few grime artists who made a successful transition into pop showing what a talent he is and this album is bloody good. It completes an amazing year grime had and showed us what 2017 had to come. It has a nostalgic feel for my liking, called the Godfather, the 38 year old artist has been grimes godfather for almost as long as I can remember. The album praises his MacBook Pro, gives advice and worrying about pensions. He has a mass of MC guests including Skepta, Devlin, Ghetts, JME, Chip to name just a few and Wiley literally praises his fellow MCs in almost every other bar. I was disappointed that his freestyle (released in December 2016) 6 In the Bloodclart Morning is not on the album as it was jaw dropping! But this album just shows the founder of grime has not lost it. I love each song individually, how Birds and Bars reminds me of sitting at the back of the bus for school with your walkman phone banging out eski. Holy Grime features Devlin in and when Devlin blew up he dissed Wiley like nobodies business so to hear them both together is a blessing and it’s ten times better than they’re diss songs. Godfather is full of fab one liners including one about George Best which makes you think how long has Wiley been working on this album.
This month kicked off on the 1st with Big Sean – I Decided and saw Mercury winning Sample release the winning album Process. Future released 2 albums this month ‘Future’ and ‘Hendrixx’ all in the space of a week. We new blessed with NAVs self titled debut album and Lil Uzi’s Luv Is Rage 1.5. But the winner for me was Stormzy’s Gang Signs and Prayers. Stormzy has fooled all of us with his succession of tracks on this album. I will admit that I did not expect it to be as great as it is. I really rate this which I am pleasantly surprised by. He has given us gospel aswell as grime. The tracklisting is careful crafted and you can tell how hyped he is in this album. It is a well rounded album that stays true to grime whilst adding a slight mainstream to the production which is why I love this album. This was the first grime album to reach number 1 in the charts which is such an achievement and something to be really proud about.
In March we were blessed with Section Boyz mixtape ‘Soundcheck’ and Kodak Black’s Painting Pictures but the big one for me was Drake’s playlist ‘More Life’. Gassed is not even the word for this playlist. On 18th March the 32nd episode of OVO Radio was streamed playing the playlist all the way through. I was so excited and it did not disappoint. When I first started listening to it however I wasn’t impressed but it got better and better. The use of English rappers is incredible and overall the features are mad! Giggs pulls through on this playlist, he is insane. In ‘Free Smoke’, Drake makes the one-liner reference to his former lover – rapping: “I drunk text J-Lo/ Old number, so it bounce back”. Also on the track ‘Teenage Fever’ he goes one step further by sampling her song ‘You Had My Love’, singing about a lady friend ‘to blame for what could have been’ before singing the hook from the J-Lo classic hit. The whole playlist is mad and has got such a good response. The transitions on the playlist are so good and lyrics are great. It is insane. Filled with 22 songs, Drake has treated us with this playlist. It demonstrates how talented as a musician he is. Check out my show which features a half hour special all about ‘More Life’.
A very tough month for music and I simply cannot pick Joey Bada$$ released ‘All Amerikkkkan Bada$$’ and then the 14th April saw Kendrick Lamar with DAMN. He has done it once again. The album features U2, Rihanna and Zacari on the 14 track album. The lyrics cleverly address the rapper’s having apparently taken subtle shots at other rappers like Drake, J. Cole and Big Sean. Kendrick singles out Fox News and President Trump as his targets. But the album is most interesting when Lamar is grappling with the repercussions of success. Too many of Lamar’s rap peers have allowed their famous-people problems to consume their music, but Lamar never loses his grip on reality as he ponders his King Midas complex. While DAMN. is more radio-ready than its predecessor, Lamar doesn’t sacrifice the artistic quality that drew critics to Butterfly, sounding as musically imaginative and politically vital as he ever has. On the 14th we also saw Playboi Carti release his self titled mixtape. I was so excited for this to release on the 14th. One of the most exciting young rappers has finally released his long awaited full length debut mixtape in the form of a playlist. Playboi Carti spends the whole of his discography extolling the virtues of surface-level attraction, the rightful heir to mentor A$AP Rocky’s swag-rap empire. He does not break new ground nor command the attention of the album it will understandably be dwarfed by in coverage, it’s sure a lot of fun. There is a theme of airy, spacious beats above which he talk-raps simplistic rhyme schemes, utilizing the production to evoke a druggy swagger. Then to end the month on the 28th Gorillaz released ‘Humanz’. In the spring of 2016, Damon Albarn tells Pusha T to picture, if he would, an album that envisioned Donald Trump winning the presidency. Albarn was working on new Gorillaz material, the first in six years, and he had been squinting at the man brandishing his shriveled claws at his Republican challengers and bragging about his dick size and imagining him in charge of the free world. “When it really happened,” Pusha T said, “I was like, ‘Wait a minute…I started wondering like, what type of crystal ball did this guy have?” Humanz is Gorillaz 5th album since 2011 and is packed full of guests. The deluxe version includes 20 tracks go spoken-word segues, complex themes and its eclectic mash-up of rap, dancehall, soul, reggae, electronica and indie-pop, Humanz takes time to get to grips with, but several gems emerge with repeat listens. An amazing album, Gorillaz have smashed it
This month saw Lethal B come back with ‘You’ll Never Make A Million From Grime’, Rejjie Snow release the long awaited ‘The Moon And You’, Bryson Tiller bring ‘True To Self’, Gucci Mane release another one ‘Droptopwop’ and Lil Yatchy release the great ‘Teenage Emotions’. But for me it was J Hus whole stole this month with ‘Common Sense’, this album was the soundtrack to my summer. He stepped up his game to another level, the album showed his diversity and that he has a distinct sound that cant be put into a box.
June came with some strong contenders including SZA – Control, NAV x Metro Boomin – Perfect Timing, Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory and Jay Z – 4:44 but for me it was Young Thug. Young Thug’s debut album it’s an album about dissolution, into love, into lust, into family, into the music. Young Thug has spent his career distinguishing himself, in fashion and in expression, and here he reaches the logical endpoint of all that idiosyncrasy: loneliness. For Thug, love is pure. Thug has never minced words when it comes to sex, especially with his fiancée who he’s sung about repeatedly. Thug implied that he would be distancing himself from the “thug” label, and implicitly trap, but here those roots are a source of infinite innovation. No longer obsessed with achieving or asserting his singularity, he’s set his sights on resolving it, constructing weird yet accessible songs that build upon his long record of experimentation and openness without falling victim to it—pop music, in other words. The quality of the songwriting and the accessibility of the songs make that vagueness and the long wait feel moot.
Tomorrow I will be releasing Part 2!