5 For Friday: Baby Keem, Juls, Tamera & More

It’s a shame that we continue to look forward to the music more than the weather on these shores, but here we are. At the end of August crying out for the sun, it is the most important component of a summer. In other news, Damola and I are back with another rundown of 5 For Friday – which always features our favourite drops on New Music Friday. This week Baby Keem taps into his ‘family ties’, bringing his cousin Kendrick Lamar out of hibernation to smoke on people’s Top 5, audacious. English producer Joe Armon-Jones links up with Goya Gumbani to lace his alternative raps with that jazzy boom-bap sound. R&B songstress Tamera implores us to be strong for her in her latest release. Juls’ latest visuals show us that love actuially hurts, while

Baby Keem w/ Kendrick Lamar – family ties

The two cousins finally answer the questions of their familial link. In a madcap, firebrand return to the world stage, Kendrick Lamar eases his entry back in the music consciousness with Baby Keem’s fantastic support. As expected from both artists, the visuals match and in some cases top their towering verses. Keem sets the pace on a booming, triumphant underscore with scenes littered around the screen – like a busy computer desktop. In one frame, Keem stands there catching a whine. Then he’s hanging out of an old car. Before he’s surrounded by a harem of dancers. Then he’s hustling outside the bodega. All this action is interspersed with a verse that keeps rising in rhythm, matching how the narrative gets meatier too.

Keem has learnt from his older cousin how to balance vivid storytelling with varied deliveries and intonations – to keep listeners locked in. It works. Part II of the video sees the official return of Kendrick. Images of him holding a lighter flicker from inside a shed – a set that looks DONDA-esque. A bit of subtext, maybe. Because Kendrick declares that he’s “smoking on your top five tonight, tonight’’. A leaf out of his old ‘Control’ book. Kendrick set his targets firmly on the topics of the day “I been ducking the pandemic / I been duckin’ the social gimmicks / I been ducking the overnight activists, yeah”/ From here, the visuals get a bit Tenet-esque, with a feature from Normani as the resident femme fetale, while Kendrick and Keem defy the laws of physics. A strong showing.

Joe Armon-Jones x Goya Gumbani – Fix It

The New York-born, London-based rapper Goya Gumbani connects with producer Joe Armon-Jones who delivered some beautifully soulful, Dilla-esque soundscapes. The jazzy, boom-bap production is ideal for Gumbani’s golden age NY-style. Hazy drawls, and faded anecdotes, a city slicker who carries the feeling of his hometown in everything he does. There’s always an artist who comes through with a throwback feel every so often. But Gumbani works alongside producers who allow his sound to stay fresh. The acid-jazz like loops and piano structures from Armon-Jones lets Gumbani direct the traffic. Gumbani is a New York native, who’s made London his new spiritual home – “running round Dean Street doing ten four / notice how I came with the pain and the growth / wrote it on a note / put it in a bottle and threw it off the coast’’. Gumbani is saying so much in such small spaces, never giving too much away but always peeking at more – he’s an erudite and efficient rapper – with a story that keeps unfolding with each release.

Juls feat. Niniola – Love Me

As the anticipation for producer and DJ Juls’ upcoming debut album rises like heat, the exciting producer gives us another dose of what’s to come from the album. Following lead single ‘Wicked’, Juls’ second single ‘Love Me’ features Nigerian vocalist Niniola and is typical of the Afropop vibes that Juls has been providing, with horns and percussion that is remniscent of the late, great Fela Kuti. With visuals being directed by Ray Fiasco, we see a clear contrast between the sensual, romantic lyrics sung in Yoruba and English, and how the video plays out, watching on as the leading lady of the video commits a love crime. The end of the video suggests that this won’t be the last that we see of this story arc or our last output from Juls before the album. Watch this space…

Tamera – Strong For Me

London-based R&B songstress and self-proclaimed social introvert Tamera has been pushing her brand of R&B since the release of her debut single ‘Romeo’ back in 2019. Now, the Gravesend-reared singer is blessing us with her second reelase of the year in ‘Strong For Me’, a down-tempo number produced by P2J that allows Tamera to express her feelings in a contemporary manner. She uses her voice to good effect, the earnest tone in her voice accentuates the authenticity in what she is singing. “How can I be strong for you when I ain’t strong for me?” she says it all in the chorus, laying down her unwillingness to be the only one being a support beam in her situation. The visuals depict Tamera on her lonely, switching between red and white hues. Vibe out with Tamera as she articulates her thoughts, making a good impression in the process.

Headie One – 2 Chains

In the current generation of mainstream UK rappers, Headie’s pop culture references and various flows allow him to be one of the most distinct voices currently in the scene. Clearly not done after his endeavours on the EDNA campaign, he’s back with another record that displays his penchant for wordplay. “Turned him to a gunner, he ain’t Ljungberg, he ain’t Henry” shows his affinity for the slick football references. Directed by Flex God Daps, Headie finds himself by a few derelict buildings shooting off a flamethrower, perhaps a symbolism for the heat that he puts down in the booth. At this point, Headie One is having fun with rap at this point. One can only wonder about what Headie has in store for his fans, topping EDNA at this point is a hard ask.