5 For Friday: James Blake, Dave, Juls & More

There’s no introduction needed on a fine Friday like this. With the sun rearing its radiant face and no impositions of lockdown (for now), it’s only right to skip the formalities and get straight into this week’s selection. Read on and press play as Damola and I combine once again for another 5 For Friday.


Dave – Three Rivers

Dave’s sophomore album has finally arrived. Considering the events of the last 18 months, the title We’re All Alone In This Together feels especially apt. But that’s Dave – a multitalented artist whose pen is only getting sharper in his Jordan year. The album has a bit of everything we’ve seen Dave become. The flows that got people talking from his ‘Game Over’ era. The afroswing inspired collabs. The B2B’s with some of the UK’s best. Then, his best pocket: the vivid monologues about his life. ‘Three Rivers’ is a bit of a hybrid. Dave is a big fan of the piano, as a very astute player it’s become a trademark of his in some ways. The song opens with some sombre keys, before Dave makes his subject matter clear “Tropical sun, this life in the ’60s comin’ from the Caribbean / You know Ian, Delroy, Vivian, Winston / Who got drafted to England / Windrush babies from Kingston to Brixton’’. He’s looking out at the people that have been done wrong. As the song progresses, his target goes from Windrush, to the Middle East, critically breaking down the roles of Britain and the West in global conflicts, and how his own identity is caught up in this tangled crosshair of politics, capitalism, commonwealth and diaspora. He taps up Daniel Kaluuya to tie up the water metaphor in the song’s outro. Listen to it. Swim with it.

Kanye West Presents DONDA

Kanye West’s long-awaited 10th LP looks to be coming soon. Yesterday, he capped a stellar roll-out with a live performance of DONDA in Atlanta. Draped in red, with a ski mask on, it was just him surrounded by 74,000 people. Speaking his truth. Since his estrangement from wife Kim Kardashian, Kanye West seems to be going back to his roots. Well, since The Life Of Pablo he has returned and embraced his faith in full. But now, the feeling seems to have merged more smoothly with his generational artistic vision. The album is said to be stacked with standout features – Pusha T, Don Toliver, Baby Keem, Playboi Carti and most spectacularly… Jay-Z. DONDA looks like a return to form for Kanye and the potential of “throne2” from two old friends who have since become billionaires and had families, will be exceptional, to say the least. DONDA is said to still be in the works. Jay-Z apparently handed his verse over just 4 hours before last night’s event. Whenever we get hold of it, it’s set to be special.

Isaiah Rashad feat. Doechii & Kal Banx– Wat U Sed

The Southern son of Top Dawg Entertainment has been on a roll this year as anticipation for The House Is Burning is sky high. Isaiah Rashad is no stranger to mixing his roots of Southern funk with the infectious trunk-rattling bass. On his third drop titled ‘Wat U Sed’, he provides that and more, getting into his ignorant bag with some help from Doechii and Kal Banx. Zay lets loose with lyrics like “bet my bitch eat me up while I’m drivin’ / and I swear it’s a show, not a riot / and I had a nightmare last night that I wasn’t countin’ up” and switches his flow with relative ease.

With inspired production from Amaire Johnson and Rory Behr, the synth-led knock is the perfect soundboard for Doechii and Kal to flex their chops with a cute verse and smooth refrain respectively. The House Is Burning on 30th July.

Juls feat. Sam Wise, kadiata & Knucks– Wicked

Producer, DJ and songwriter Juls wears many hats yet he wears them with ease, with contributions to music that feel like Midas’ touch. Genre bending in his approach, Juls isn’t afraid to spread his wings and progress his sound further, with collaborations that give the impression of a curator. His latest release ‘Wicked’ is case in point as he brings three of London’s most exciting artists in Knucks, kadiata and Sam Wise for a vibe that captures peak summer in the capital.

On a groovy instrumental that is infectiously laced courtesy of the influences in Carioca, Azonto and Baile Fun. This metropolis mix-up should come as no surprise – Juls is Ghanaian while Knucks is Igbo-Nigerian, kadiata is Congolese and Sam Wise is from Ghana and Sierra Leone. All three have a chemistry that is cemented in their previous collaborations, and it translates well on a cut that will no doubt raise the hype for Juls’ upcoming album.

James Blake – Say What You Will

The GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter James Blake is capable of coaxing several emotions from listeners. Some find it cathartic, others depressing, but his talent and penmanship are undeniable. With new album Friends That Break Your Heart due for release on 10th September, the London-born artists leaps into album mode with lead single ‘Say What You Will’, a song that mulls over finding your way, rolling with the punchlines and ostracization that comes with being yourself.

The hilarious video features singer-songwriter Finneas and pits the two together in something that should be titled ‘The guy she told you not to worry about’. The message is clear throughout; comparison is the thief of joy. With his signature harmonies blessing not only his own work, but British prodigy Dave’s on ‘Both Sides Of A Smile’, James Blake might be two for two today. Something different from the rest of our 5 this Friday.