5 For Friday: Baby Keem, Emotional Oranges, RAY BLK & More

A new month almost guarantees new music. With recent government announcements creating a roadmap to relative normality, it means 2021 planning is in full swing. As we approach Spring, the games are sure to start beginning.

pgLang’s first signed artist, Baby Keem makes a sombre return to music with ‘no sense’. LA-based contemporary R&B duo Emotional Oranges cross the pond to connect with the rising star Biig Piig for a smooth, sunny day kind of vibe on ‘Body & Soul’. RAY BLK and Giggs jump in the booth together to deliver some wavy fire with ‘Games’. On Just his third single, ‘Thrilla’, Wesley Joseph shows he’s a talent to be reckoned with. Drake and Rick Ross connect in something that feels like a throwback to the peak MMG x YMCMB days. Drake is a master of late-night drive vibes and ‘Lemon Pepper Freestyle’ is more proof of him owning this niche.

Baby Keem – no sense

Baby Keem made waves in 2019 with his mixtape ‘DIE FOR MY BITCH’ and hit the consciousness of listeners with the lead single ‘Orange Soda’. He showed a strong versatility in rapping, melodies and songwriting skill. Something he might’ve learnt from pgLang co-founder and elder cousin Kendrick Lamar. Only aged 20, his well-rounded musical direction belies his years. He started veering into a darker style on last years ‘hooligan / sons & critics’ two piece combo. It seems he’s picked up where he left off. ‘no sense’ is sombre, mournful yet still entrancing and intriguing. The way Keem can switch from ignorant raps to creating a world rich in depth nods at an artist who’s got proper layers.

Emotional Oranges feat. Biig Piig – Body & Soul

Emotional Oranges came through like most post-2000’s R&B acts. Seemingly out of nowhere and shrouded in mystery. They’re more than just a funnily-named group. Their music is smooth, funky, expressive, easy to vibe with. Citing Sade as a core reference for them makes sense – with the way they prioritise groove-laden compositions and attempt to curate moods with their releases. Tapping in with Biig Piig works very well here, her sultry declarations carry the bassline with ease. In recent years, R&B has become the playground for contemporary musical experimentation. All kinds of meshes and blends of sounds to crack the code that makes the genre so enduring. Sometimes it’s just as simple as a solid piano loop, nice basslines and strong vocalists.

RAY BLK feat. Giggs – Games

RAY BLK’s sound and expression are evolving. A serious vocalist and songwriter, she’s experimenting with her creativity. With a new rap/R&B fusion in her deliveries, she’s showing a different side to talent. And it works. Her delivery is typically smooth, but has an extra bite in her lyricism “I’m way too drunk, too high / to think about the consequences”. Not as sweet as once thought. The production is spacey, 808’s thumping, it’s a proper bop. Giggs is inevitably gearing up for a new release following his Daily Duppy and single out of the blue with incarcerated crooner Max B. He’s heating up and drops a verse packed with the typical Giggs tropes. A surprise heater.

Wesley Joseph – Thrilla

Up-and-coming artist Wesley Joseph has a penchant for cinematic creations. ‘Thrilla’ is just his third single, but he’s already setting himself up as one to watch, literally. With an opening scene inspired by The Shining, a young Wesley walks down a hallway before opening a door that introduces grown Wesley sat in a therapist’s office. The drums start hitting now. Quick cuts to Wesley’s dark alter ego. Then he’s flexing with the gang outside a DeLorean. The song has three different stages to it, expressing childhood dreams, the stresses that come with adulting, a feeling of escape dominates the sound and the visuals. It’s a strong release and hints at even stronger work to come.

Drake feat. Rick Ross – Lemon Pepper Freestyle

When worlds collide (again). It’s been a while since we had a classic offering from these two, whose successes are fairly intertwined. Early career Drake leant on Rick Ross to give his squeaky-clean image a boost, while Ross leveraged Drake to enter new audiences and breath new life into his sound. The result? A consistent run of well-received collaborations. They don’t disappoint here – a classic Drake beat, skewered sample, classic, dark piano loop, gentle-yet-pulsating bassline. Sounds a bit like ‘Weston Road Flows’ off Views. Drake is at his best in this setting. Not mournful. Not scornful. But ruminating. Letting his thoughts fly off, with no real agenda, but packed with quotables. It’s where he shines as a rapper for sure. Rozay does his thing with the big flexes. Certified. We are still holding out hope for the joint-album ‘YOLO’ by the way.

Check out the updated Spotify playlist below.