As we approach the end of March, and the year promises to spring into life, the June 21st playlist options continue to emerge. Superstar producer Jae5 enlists rising star Rema and the legend Skepta for a melodic meeting of musical minds on ‘Dimension’. ENNY is building on the considerable promise shown on ‘Peng Black Girls – one of 2020’s standout tracks – following up with her latest effort ‘Same Old’. Joyce Wrice’s debut album has finally arrived, and it doesn’t disappoint – the opening track ‘Chandler’ makes the cut. Man of the moment M1llionz links up with Lotto Ash and producing extraordinaire TSB, to deliver ‘How Many Times’. Finally, Newham songstress Tiana Major9 enlists SiR for a cinematic-sounding remix of ‘Same Space’.
Jae5 Feat. Skepta and Rema – Dimension
In 2021, the connection between the diaspora and Africa, musically, are now more intertwined than ever. Over the last few years, the synergy has exploded into a new movement of modern African consciousness, one that reverberates globally. This week, both Burna Boy and Wizkid scooped Grammy awards. The UK has played a massive part in this and Skepta has been at the very heart of it. Skeppy has always been a proud Nigerian, but in his third (and possibly, final) career act – his connection to the motherland has bridged the gap between the UK scene and West Africa’s emergent talents. One of them is Rema, whose melodic croons float over Jae5’s layered production which merges influences from both sides of the pond with trademark ease. In Skepta’s final verse, he says “Nigerian, Ghanaian, Jamaican, Ugandan, Congolese and the Bajan”. Speaking directly to a variety of black people across the diaspora telling them this is for you. In a long, twisting career, with many highs and lows, Skepta’s unlikely role as cultural curator, as a musical diplomat of sorts, might be his defining legacy.
ENNY – Same Old
A classic 90’s boom-bap beat creates the foundation for ENNY’s rich ability to bring her anecdotes and lived experience to life through words. The honesty, detail and sharpness in her pen are reminiscent of the legendary group Hawk House. In many ways, ENNY might be carrying the baton Hawk House carried, but taking it in a whole new direction. Intentional or not. Her stories are vivid and instantly relatable “wanna chop life / get free from the Brexit / look at all the bills I’ve paid / look at all the days I’ve slaved…” She carries a perceptive eye and quick wit to match, “fuck you and your gentrification / why dya have to come up in my ends and try change shit?”. Her music carries the spirit of the everyday hustle, with her talent able to shine a light on the small parts, the bits that might be missed by somebody with a less perceptive eye. Every time ENNY drops, more layers of her talents are unveiled. Don’t miss the next episode.
Joyce Wrice – Chandler
Joyce Wrice is a classic R&B songstress, at her core, in the early 90’s mould. A bit like Brandy in her delivery. Her vocals are strong, smooth and soulful. But, as Brandy found with varying degrees of success, later on in the ’00s, versatility became the name of the game when R&B started becoming more experimental with its production – think Timbo and Aaliyah, Ashanti, even The Neptunes and Kelis. What Joyce Wrice manages to do is carry that classic R&B energy while being adaptable enough – for producers like KAYTRANADA and MNDSGN to get creative with. The whole album is an example of this duality, which is essentially the determining factor between success and failure in modern music. Now, ‘Chandler’. This song is more classic in its form. With its ascendant strings, compositions that wouldn’t be amiss in Kanye’s Late Registration sessions. The Motown bassline is carried sumptuously by Wrice’s vocals. Rich, layered delivery, that gets better with every listen.
M1llionz Feat. Lotto Ash – How Many Times
M1llionz is on a roll right now. His consistency has been key in his rise as one of the UK’s brightest talents. Up North has produced a number of household names over the last five years, and M1llionz is the next on the list. Supported by Lotto Ash, both of them reel off anecdotes of past times where they could’ve acted differently. Not necessarily better or worse, just differently. It’s an interesting song in this regard, and a testament to both artists’ ability that they can carry some serious questioning over a high-octane beat from TSB, something that merges drill, garage, with some hits of JME’s ‘Tropical’ era in there. This could be one for the BBQ, and could also help you smash your next 5K.
Tiana Major9 Feat. SiR – Same Space
Tiana Major9 has quietly been building an international presence. Established in London through her early singles and collaborations with Stormzy, in the last 18 months she’s begun to connect with major artists in the US. Her track ‘Collide’ from the Queen and Slim soundtrack was likely the catalyst that put her in the American listener’s consciousness. It makes sense. Her voice is well-suited for the American market. It’s full-bodied and versatile. Cult favourite SiR jumps on and delivers a B-side on the track that makes it sound like the lead duet on a big movie OST – a throwback in this regard, but it’s a good track to kick back to.