It’s that time again. Five freshly sealed sound selections for your weekend rotation. Spanish-Irish singer Biig Piig links up with JD Reid for another banging collab with the smokey cut ‘Cuenta Lo’. The late, great Nipsey Hussle connects with another legend, Jay-Z, for the fight-night sounds of ‘What It Feels Like’ from the Judas And The Black Messiah OST. A film centred on another historic black figure – Fred Hampton. Two of North West’s finest, Skrapz and Nines, go back-to-back on ‘Jumpout’. The enfant terrible, slowthai, is back with his sophomore release – TYRON. It’s an album full of growth and admission – most clearly outlined on ‘i tried’. Finally, Dutch rapper Frenna connects with the certified vibe-makers, NSG with their bouncy drop ‘Guestlist’ (remember those?).
Biig Piig – Cuenta Lo
Cuenta Lo translates to ‘Count it’ in English. Though most of Biig Piig’s music to date has been in English, she lived in Spain for a long time – counting Latin music as a big reference for her. Connecting once again with London-based soundman JD. Reid, sonically, this is a different direction to their last collab, and to her generally lo-fi sound. JD. Reid seems like the ideal producer for Biig Piig’s talents – both artists who flit between genres with ease. The sound is spectral, organ-heavy, with gothic textures all over the production. It sounds a bit like The Weeknd in his Kiss Land phase. Dark, futuristic, yet smooth and sultry. But the breathy deliveries in Spanish give it an interesting balance that makes the song sound warm. The visuals carry this energy with it – dimly lit poker tables with warped faces and twisting silhouettes draped in red lights. Hopefully, Biig Piig and JD Reid aren’t done working together yet.
Nipsey Hussle feat. Jay-Z – What It Feels Like
Both rappers are hustlers. One named himself after it, the other can’t go one bar without reminding us of his come up. Jay-Z is a man who polarises opinion, but there can be absolutely no doubting his peerless craftsmanship. It’s a shame that it took the untimely passing of Nipsey, for these two icons with so much in common to finally connect on wax. Both men stand for the same things: black empowerment, black enlightenment, and black economic freedom. Fred Hampton, leader of the Black Panther Party, lived by these ideals – and died by them. In an assassination plot by the FBI. The production is perfect for both of these rappers. Triumphant horns and dramatic keys set the table for the long-awaited meeting of two bosses who represent rival coasts but share the same beliefs. Understanding they’re stronger together than separate in the struggle against black inequality. Nipsey proclaims, “Young Malcolm I’m the leader of the movement in this bitch” – if only he lived to recognise how true a statement that was. Jay does what Jay does, luxurious metaphors in between some real talk “you know they hate when you become more than they expect” – these are essentially the circumstances that led to deaths of both Nipsey and Fred Hampton. But, we as black people owe it to ourselves and our histories to go forward and be our best. The marathon continues.
Skrapz feat. Nines – Jumpout
On Skrapz’ latest single ‘Jumpout’, he along with ICB cohort Nines go back-to-back on a buzzy beat that sounds like a pending scheme. The playful keys are juxtaposed by both Skrapz and Nines’ anecdotes. Both rappers tell vivid stories with ease, underscored by questions of mortality as Nines mentions “even though tomorrow isn’t promised I include it in my plans…” the macabre nature of this line hints at the paranoia that comes with being a successful rapper living in Church Road. But, having gone number 1 with his stellar album Crabs In A Bucket – you can now find Nines “In a box seat same row as Ian Wright”. Those new-day plans aren’t going too bad at all. Never to be upstaged, Skrapz drops icy rhymes with his trademark blank face delivery “If I ever sign a record contract, I’m gonna buy some more packs, I know n****as probably think I sound tapped”. Skrapz has been doing his thing for a minute, Skrapz Is Back Part II back in 2014 got people listening – and his Daily Duppy in 2020 is what cemented his status as a serious rapper. Nines ran 2020. And his album rollout was a case study in releasing an LP. Hopefully, Skrapz has taken notes from his boy – and he can land with impact in 2021.
slowthai – i tried
Northampton’s finest is back with his long-awaited sophomore release TYRON. In some quarters, Thai is a tyrant. In others – he’s a creative titan. A combination of eras, channelling the rebellious energy of punk, the photorealism of Mike Skinner and The Streets, the angst of Dizzee Rascal and a lot of the cadence found in post-2010 hip hop. On this album especially, you can hear the music of those who’ve inspired Thai’s own sound (some of them feature on TYRON). On Disc 2, the more sombre side of the album, this is where Thai gets more introspective and honest. The first track ‘i tried’ opens with a sober admission, through distorted vocals “i tried… to take my life… i tried”. Thai isn’t new to raw honesty, but it tended to come in fits and bursts, here – he’s laying it all bare. The beat sounds like Tyler, The Creator’s take on Jay-Z’s famous ‘Song Cry’ instrumental. With the high-pitch sample of Bobby Glenn’s voice replaced with a very-LA sounding woozy guitar loop, creating a base for Thai to speak “Could say it’s dread but I guess it’s just what many need, hug the world with open arms and they treat me like a pest“. He might be referencing the NME Awards in 2020, and the reaction since, where he was heckled after being given an award. Thai has never hidden his faults, he’s always known who he is. That’s what makes the music so good.
Frenna x NSG – Guestlist
Dutch rapper Frenna enlists NSG to apply some trademark gas on his single ‘Guestlist’. Now, it’s been a long time since anybody needed on of those, but, in preparation for the return of normality – keep this on your playlists. Some motivation music. NSG have got a formula that really doesn’t miss. High energy every time, catchy hooks and some funny lines “gyal from Oslo, I forgot her name” – their influence over the last few years cannot be overstated. Their reach is growing – crossing the pond – tapping Frenna from The Hague. Whatever’s planned for the weekend, keep this in motion for good energy’s sake.
Check out #5ForFriday on the Spotify playlist too.