Another week, another set of stellar releases. In both lockdowns, artists have been consistently dropping new fire. So wherever you can, try and support them with a purchase or a merch cop, or something. They’ve helped us remain sane in one crazy ass year. Anyway, Loyle Carner links up with one of the GOAT producers, Madlib, in a collaboration that makes so much sense you wonder: why didn’t this happen earlier?. Ghanaian-American musician Amaarae steps in with impressive debut release – making good on her considerable promise. Pa Salieu continues his breakout year with his first LP ‘’Send Them To Coventry’’. He doesn’t disappoint. Trapo’s long-awaited album sees him a return to classic form. Finally, out of nowhere, Uzi and Future drop a collaborative effort that’s packed with the kind of excess made for the motive. December 2nd ain’t too far now.
Loyle Carner – Yesterday
Hot off his collab with Knucks, Loyle links up with a legend, Madlib to bless us with ‘’Yesterday’’. Featuring all the classic sounds Lib is famous for – soul samples, blaring horns, heavy drums. Combined with Loyle’s quintessentially hip-hop flow, Yesterday shows the best of both artists. Loyle is a gifted storyteller, with a penchant for nostalgia. In the visuals, directed by him and his brothers, it’s a one-take shot of Loyle’s old bedroom. As the camera spins, we go through Loyle’s journey, from boy to teen, to man. He looks back on his family history ‘’it was only yesterday (sample) / my grandfather getting knuckled by the pepper spray / more fire Brixton riots like a renegade’’. He’s paying respect to those who came before him, those who fought for equality, to ensure a prosperous future for those who came after. The final shot is of Loyle cradling a baby. The story has come full circle.
Pa Salieu feat Eight9Fly – More Paper
Coventry’s prodigal son has had a great year. Building off the strength of his first single, ‘’Frontline’’, Pa has shown incredible growth in a very short space of time. On ‘’Send Them To Coventry’’ Pa shows off the full array of his musical talent – flows, melodies, rhythms. On ‘’More Paper’’ he’s in his storytelling bag, the beat lends itself to this, with a dramatic 80’s-sounding synth loop, next to some rhythmic drums, with support from Eight9Fly on the chorus, Pa takes us on a journey. He starts the track with ‘’my name is Pa and I’ve got a lot of enemies’’. Stark lyricism is what we’ve come to know Pa for – he’s bluntly honest. He follows up with ‘’I ain’t slept in years / it’s an old school habit / half-hearted blammers / tables turned I’m gonna finish you’’. Insomnia from the hustle, or paranoid his opps might’ve got to him, with the year he’s had, sleep should come easier.
Amaarae – Celine
The genre-bending Amaarae comes through with her debut release ‘’The Angel You Don’t Know’’. The album is a proper mix of styles, trap, hip-hop, RNB, rock, afrobeat, the lot. It merges expertly, likely due to Amaarae’s skill as a writer, producer and engineer. On ‘’Celine’’, Amaarae floats over some trap-infused drums, before she switches flows and starts rapping, seamlessly: ‘’no babe I ain’t got a milly yet / but I’m blowing on the internet’’. Kyu Steed jumps in on the act to support Ama’s energy. Before she returns to her breathy, smooth vocals. She moves between styles with incredible ease, singing, rapping, crooning – and this is throughout the project. With endorsement from Kojey Radical (who features on the project), another expert style-shifter, Amaarae’s first drop is a sign of things to come.
K-Trap – Street Side Effects
At long last, Trapo’s back. Though he’s released a project a year since his debut tape The Last Whip (TLW) – on each one, he’s mixed up the formula, showing off his wide talent as an artist. But, the storytelling on TLW is what made me and many others stand up and take notice when he first came through. He makes good on that promise, with an inward-looking track that marks a new direction for him. So on the title song on Street Side Effects, sets the tone for an album that tells his story, his journey, from a mature and considered point of view. In the visuals, he walks around restlessly, writing and thinking, trying to find the words that reflect his world. Over sombre piano keys, Trapo gets introspective – remembering friends he’s lost, relationships, the moments that made him who he is. He’s come a long way from being the man in the mask.
Future & Lil Uzi Vert – Plastic
This one came out of nowhere. But I’m not mad at it. Future and Lil Uzi Vert bring us Pluto x Baby Pluto. It’s packed full with bops, clout raps, flexes, spacey instrumentals. Assuming a ‘master and apprentice’ kind of approach, on ‘’Plastic’’ the sped-up horns and 808’s create a wavy soundscape for Uzi and Future to fire flexes at each other. Future leads the way: ‘’Trapped in a Rolls, suicide doors (Yeah) Swap hoes, swap clothes (Swap out)’’. Before Uzi gets in on the act: ‘’These bitches drop it down like my name was Uncle Luke, yeah / I’ma make a hundred million probably by next June (Yeah)’’. Their flows and ad-libs work together with ease. It’s an unlikely pairing at first, but with more listens, it begins to make sense.