Last week of 2021’s first month. The Christmas recovery is complete and plans for the year are in full motion. We know what’s going on outside. But that doesn’t stop us from making moves. The last year is proof the only thing to bet on is yourself. Look at the retail investors in GameStop taking on the established order. Despite the authorities trying to change the rules, the evidence is clear: real change always is in our hands. Meanwhile, the conveyor belt of heat continues to spin.
Fredo’s long-awaited album Money Don’t Buy Happiness has finally landed. Executive produced by Dave, the standout ‘Money Talks’ takes visual cues from Tenet but tells a story with more truth at its heart. The multifaceted FKA Twigs joins forces with Headie One and Fred Again (again) with a powerful ode to the Black British creators making a difference on ‘Don’t Judge Me…’. M1llionz continues his world-tour, after touching Kenya in ‘Lagga’ he’s back home in Jamaica to deliver the ironically cold ‘BADNIS’. P-rllel continues a stellar 2020 with the smooth, lo-fi ‘Blue Denim Jeans’ featuring Lauren Faith’s calming vocals. A budding master of late-night drive vibes, Ragz Originale, drops his latest tape WOAH. From that release, the blue tint of ‘send 4 u’ is the highlight on an EP of glacier-cool sounds.
Fredo feat. Dave – Money Talks
On Fredo’s second album, his sound and subject matter is more mature. Though Fred is of the drip era, his music has always been rooted in his life experience. Now, the music has taken him into a new place, new opportunities, which, on paper – is far from the block he came up on. With that in mind, at 25 and a new father, it seems Fredo is questioning the things he once believed as fact. This track is produced by Dave – a first time producing for another artist – you wouldn’t have guessed. The ghostly sample, the dramatic synths, it’s progression… This isn’t a novice, after all – it’s Dave.
The stellar visuals take cues from The Dark Knight, Breaking Bad and most clearly – Tenet – while creating a world of its own. As Fredo questions the old adage “if Money Talks…” the money in question is the centre of many moral questions – exposing the cycle of life and road life, the people it affects, the pastor hiding demons, the inevitable damage money will inflict as it infinitely changes hands. This is a high-concept, thought-provoking piece from an artist showing a greater breadth – but this dilemma for Fredo isn’t new. He’s always delivered from the place of being a successful rapper who can’t shake the streets. Only it’s better now.
FKA Twigs, Headie One, fred again – Don’t Judge Me
FKA Twigs is a creative polymath – singer, songwriter, dancer, producer… she’s an artistic all-rounder. She enlists another all-rounder from a different lane, Headie One and producer fred again to tell a timely and powerful story. Dancing alone in a room, she delivers a choreographed fury directed at the inequalities that black people live with, everyday. Angular body jaunts into Bruce Lee-esque stances, her moves are matched by the pulsating bassline crafted by fred again. This is a high drama piece.
While she dances, Headie One is getting his daily lockdown walk in, talking about the injustices that he’s faced by the system(s): legal, education, media “No justice, no peace, ’cause we in pieces, Officer, am I allowed to breathe here?, I didn’t choose to be me, so why discriminate me?”. With rows of influential Black Britons such as Reni Eddo-Lodge, Benjamin Zephaniah, Solomon O.B, Munroe Bergdorf and Clara Amfo stood together, like a black renaissance painting, the symbolism is strong, as are the contributions black British talent has made. The message is critical: for us to see ourselves first. The judgment, the ignorance is inevitable. But so long as we see each other – the richness of our tapestry will continue to weave itself.
M1llionz – Badnis
Fresh off ‘Lagga’, M1llionz comes through on some ‘Badnis’. For an artist with only one year in the game, M1llionz is doing a lot. Generally, an artist shooting a video abroad was a sign of success – to have started off with two videos in Kenya and Jamaica respectively, tells you all you need to know. Back in his home country, he’s potting about with the locals, drinking up, digging graves.
There’s a mysterious nihilism in M1llionz’ delivery that is reminiscent of Pusha T. He says things with a blank matter of fact attitude that makes the world he comes from easier to see. Now he’s firmly on the come up, he says it’s “naive to think everybody around me had my best intentions” becoming successful offers a new perspective on things you usually wouldn’t bat an eyelid at. When artists or characters return home, it’s usually to leave tricky situations behind and clear the mind. At the end of the video, there’s a clue of the next piece in M1llionz’ story. His upcoming EP will have the answers on it.
p-rallel x Lauren Faith – Blue Denim Jeans
Producer and DJ p-rallel meshes garage, RNB, dub, lo-fi hip hop and funk influences into his music seamlessly. His sound ranges from early 00’s garage, with hints of 90’s hip-hop with flashes of dub in the mix. p-rallel’s style is a bit of a throwback – to a time where you’d have a proper sound smith of a DJ – who knows how to curate a mood with a number of different influences.
He’s a keen student of his art. On ‘Blue Denim Jeans’ the feel is distinctly 90’s/early 00’s – the clue is in the title, everybody’s received a Versace Blue Jeans aftershave set for Christmas at least once over the years. The warm, gentle vocals from Lauren Faith about missing somebody are straight out of the template left behind by Brandy and TLC. Lauren’s calm delivery on top of p-rallel’s breezy composition combine well for a track that rolls along effortlessly.
Ragz Originale – send 4 u
Ragz Originale is putting out some of his best music right now. Part of the MiniKingz family, Ragz’ approach is chilly, lo-fi, but not cold. His music doesn’t overextend itself – his new EP WOAH comes in at just over 15 minutes. But, the textured production, and the richness of Ragz’ vocals and features make his tracks instantly replayable.
This is mood music. The stuff you put on a late night drive with a special someone. It doesn’t intrude, it doesn’t overawe – it exists in the space between. A kind of spectral combination of sound, smart hooks, and confessions “close to the one but she ain’t wifey, romeo done ima play nicely”. The way Ragz puts his choruses and hooks together, hint at somebody who might’ve spat cruddy bars back in the day. They might hint at somebody who will again – who knows? Ragz is a talent who could jump many lanes.
Check out the Spotify playlist below. Updated every Friday for your audible needs!