There is a new generation of jazz musicians that have been reshaping and remoulding a genre that was once perceived as being reserved exclusively for the elitist listener. Of-course jazz has always been available for anyone to enjoy, however, with the breaking down of these imagined barriers, in recent years, UK jazz has exploded on to the map and into our ears (and not to mention our hearts). The latest to contribute to the ever-growing cohort of artists is Millicent B James who just released her debut EP Moyo, Vol. 1 – and it is beautiful.
Moyo, Vol. 1 is Millicent B James’ debut EP. In just 4 tracks she takes us on a journey that is wholly relatable, one of personal growth and determination which ultimately resides in a place of hope and possibility.
“Moyo is definitely a collection of me becoming more comfortable with my identity as a black woman, and not being afraid to just make music that is about these things that I have experienced.” – Millicent B James
From the opening, Moyo/Ancestors (Moyo meaning “heart” in Swahili), James’ enigmatic vocals are emotive and powerfully captivating. It feels like a reconnection with the past – a calling home. She has seamlessly interwoven a myriad of sounds, drawing inspiration from gospel, jazz, soul, contemporary classical, ambient and afro music, and the result is truly outstanding. Each track explores a different theme, providing a different piece of the puzzle, which when combined has created a beautiful mosaic – a space of pure transformation and healing.
Millicent B James, who currently attends The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, is clearly a very talented composer, cellist and vocalist. We look forward to what she has in store next!
East London’s very own Kojey Radical has dropped a run of limited edition tee’s in collaboration with Kopparberg – and we love everything about it! The release marks the launch of Kopparberg’s brand new dark fruit rum and is in support of the Music Venue Trust. This really is a celebration of independence, in support of independence.
Who better to collaborate with Kopparberg to design a tee than Kojey Radical, a through and through creative, known for his progressive style in both music and fashion. With a black long sleeve as the foundation, we see Kojey add his unique flair and style to a classic silhouette. His bold design draws inspiration from Kopparberg’s new dark fruit rum. The t-shirt depicts a masked character encircled by wolves with the words ‘We Are Different in the Dark’. Kojey says:
‘This artwork is a symbol of feeling like a superhero when creating, with the intention of making others feel that same energy when they’re interacting with the creation, be it music, videos, or visual art.’
Make sure you don’t miss out on this incredibly cool piece as there are only 500, and once they are gone that is it! They are currently available to purchase on Everpress; a platform that champions independent artistic talent. All sales profits will go directly to the Music Venue Trust; a charity helping to financially support independent music venues, as well as providing information on alternative sources of aid. This is clearly personal and important to Kojey, as he expresses the importance of the role, that independent venues have played in his journey as an artist. He said:
‘I attribute a lot of my success to performing at small and independent venues in London and when Kopparberg, as an independent brand with a love of music, approached me to collaborate, it seemed like the perfect way to show my support’
This is the perfect way to support the live music industry which needs us now more than ever!
Check out Kojey’s latest video Progression Freestyle 1 below.
NeONE The Wonderer initially appeared on our radar after releasing his first single Headphones Onearlier this year. Since then we have been eagerly awaiting what this Wolverhampton based artist would have for us next. Today that wait has ended with the release of his latest track Never Die – and we love everything about it.
NeONE The Wonderer incorporates a variety of styles into his music enabling him to traverse a multitude of genres whilst still maintaining firm roots in hip-hop. Never Die is the second single from this singer/songwriter/rapper/producer (yes, he does it all!). On this track, he blends trap and drill beats that carry jazz-inspired undertones creating a truly dark and mysterious hip-hop fusion sound that falls somewhere between a dream and a nightmare.
He does not compromise on the integrity of the piece for even a moment. Every aspect of the track is of high-quality. With an impressive production element, he maintains the standard with his lyrical content too. NeONE handles all the vocals himself on the track, switching from the melodic chorus to his grittily conscious bars, where he comments on the disparities that black people experience throughout life. With the prevalence of police brutality and Black Lives Matter on all of our minds, Never Die has not ever been more fitting as it explores the themes of struggle, death, and the ongoing murder of black people from the perspective of “The Ferryman of The Hood” (a character who also features in the must-watch music video, that parties in peoples dreams, whilst he ferries the souls of the dead to the other side).
It is evident that NeONE’s skillset reaches further than just musical spheres as he both created and directed this seriously incredible music video to accompany Never Die using GTA 5’s Rockstar Editor. Here we follow “The Ferryman of The Hood” as he collects the souls of those that have died from across the hood LA. It is dark, it is powerful and it is important – fitting the song perfectly.
NeONE’s talent and potential are not going unnoticed as he was announced as a Y5 Future Bubbler which is a collaborative project between Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings and Arts Council England. With previous Future Bubblers including the likes of Yasmin Lacey, Skinny Pelembe, and Kinkai, we are excited to see what NeONE The Wonderer has in store next.
Blue Lab Beats are back, and they have returned with another challenge! This time it’s the #DomeChallenge.
Earlier last week, London duo Blue Lab Beats dropped their Mahogany Session where they perform memories from their 2019 album Voyage. Mahogany are known for their incredible audio-visual quality, which means we get to hear and see these guys up close and personal in HD – and it is beautiful. This was followed by an interview where they discussed the importance of energy and vibes, and how they use them in the studio and during live performances – definitely worth checking out!
Today, on Instagram, they announced their latest challenge of the year, the #DomeChallenge. The challenge gives you the chance to add your own flavour to one of their beats. So, if you are an instrumentalist, vocalist, rapper, and/or singer head over to Soundcloud to download the beat and get your best 16 ready to take part!
This pair has one of the freshest sounds in the game right now. They are undoubtedly pushing the boundaries of contemporary jazz – and this hasn’t gone unnoticed. The duo feature on the collaborative Blue Note Re:imagined album out later this year (October 2nd) alongside an impressive line-up of artists. Blue Lab Beats are truly unique, we can’t wait to see what they have in store next and we love to see them getting the community hands-on and involved in their music.
After generating quite a buzz with his 2019 debut Chapters, this Birmingham born, music video producer turned artist continues to release some of the UK’s finest R&B with the latest addition to his discography – The Sunset EP. With a sound that is most definitely influenced by our cousins across the pond, his smooth vocals glide effortlessly over some really chilled out beats – making LANDEL seriously enjoyable to sit back and vibe to.
His second and latest video off of The Sunset EP, Somethin’ New, fits the feel of the project entirely. We see him donning a bright red Carhartt Tee (it’s dope) gathering the mandatory supplies (food, snacks & drinks) and hitting the park to enjoy the sunshine – demonstrating the perfect way to spend summer days.
His consistency and work rate are producing some real gems right now. We expect to see big things. LANDEL is most definitely one to keep eyes on.
I’m going to go right ahead and say it, after the release of Retrofuturism (2019) it is abundantly clear that KY’ORiON is Birmingham’s most underrated and understated artist. Self-described as “the greatest that ain’t never been heard” – and I have to admit that I agree. He is a raw talent with the potential to seriously readjust the landscape of rap music not just in Birmingham, but across the UK.
When considering rap and Birmingham, similarly to other UK cities, it is the notable grime MC’s that instantly come to mind. The likes of MIST, Jaykae & Lady Leshurr have been spearheading the rap scene in the second city for some years now. However, a shift has been brewing and is starting to reveal itself. There is a new wave of artists that are stretching the constraints of what we know and understand UK rap to be. KY’ORiAN is doing exactly that. He has been slowly simmering a different type of UK rap – and it sounds incredible.
2019 saw KY’ORiON release Retrofuturism, his fourth full-length project, following Goldsoul (2018),Lightwork (2017), and Steppin’ Stones (2015), and it is truly something special. The album perfectly sets the tone by introducing itself as 1147th Biological Appreciation Awards (BAA) winner and proceeds to spend the following 45 minutes beautifully demonstrating exactly why that is the case over some of the freshest beats to come out of the city in some time. On tracks like 1 Take and Gone With the WindKY’ORiON effortlessly displays his prowess as a wordsmith, subtly educating the masses whilst delivering bars that are riddled with knowledge and punchlines for those savvy enough to catch them. Nothing is by chance. It has been so beautifully crafted and constructed that the deliberation of every word and every syllable can be felt throughout. This is a true hip-hop album.
Retrofuturism is where we witness KY’ORiON seriously establish himself as not only a top-shelf lyricist but also a first-class songwriter – a skill that is often undervalued in this social media era of music. With each song, he gifts a piece of himself. Whether he is talking about his second-to-none work ethic, opening up about hustling, or contemplating whether to take music seriously, it grants the listener the ability to understand the world and life from his perspective.
Despite the official release being just over a year ago, new music videos are still being released in 2020 – the latest being for What You Know. KY’ORiON references Birmingham throughout the album and the visuals reflect that. They provide a view of the city through the eyes of KY’ORiON himself. With muted tones, graffiti-covered walls, and city skylines we see glimpses of a world that is far from perfect, yet full of possibilities for those who know how to navigate it. This may be a grittier depiction of Birmingham than many may be used to, but it is definitely an honest one.
The album as a whole is truly un-skippable. Every song has its place and serves a purpose creating a perfect combination of bangers like Take No Shit and more chilled out jams like Nostalgia. It is the type of project that grows with you allowing for new favourites to be discovered with every listen. Retrofuturism is definitely the epitome of his discography to date and the best place to start to get to know what this artist is about.
The question that now remains is, what’s next? When will we have our next injection of KY’ORiON? Since Retrofuturism he has released a single clean hearted/ hands dirty a collaboration with Brum Town MC’s Dirtz and Malik Md7. But we want more. In the meantime, KY’ORiON’s older works are definitely worth digging through to better get to grips with him as an artist, with highlight tracks New Bitchand HAF KY’ORiON has been quietly cruising in his own lane seemingly operating under the radar. Now is the time to make some noise as we welcome and encourage him to take his place on center stage – definitely one to watch!
Hailing from Hertfordshire, UK, Toch-UQ, and Timi B, commonly known as Cold Callers, have created a name for themselves as two of the smoothest kids on the block. This rap duo has been flawlessly injecting the UK music scene with a perfectly concocted jazz-hop low-fi soul-tastic vibe.
Dipping in and out of spoken word Cold Callers subtly blend poetry with a more traditional rap style. With this, they arrange silky smooth flows over the top of some of the most laidback instrumentals on this side of J Dilla’s The Shining. Everything you need for the perfect chill-out. When it comes to the listening of Cold Callers it is not an experience to be rushed. Much like fine wine and slow sex they are definitely to be enjoyed and savoured – making them ideal for late-night listening and road trips alike. First-timers, should start with EP’s As The Sun Sets (2017) and Swallowed by the Sun (2018) for the perfect introduction to the Cold Callers experience. Here they capture the very essence of summer that every 20-something has known – romance, late nights, spontaneity, and a care-free attitude reserved only for that stage of life.
For the visual consumer or those that just love a good music video – they have you covered too. Videos for singles Summer Lovin’ and Summer Nights demonstrates that these pair do indeed look as smooth as they sound. Simple yet highly effective. They provide a cinematographic experience that matches their overall nonchalant demeanour shrouding them in an air of natural cool-ness.
Although 2019 did not bless us with a project from Cold Callers, we were however gifted an array of collaborative works – most notably a feature on Subculture’sAlbum I Dream of Everything. With high hopes for their future, we look forward to what these guys have in store next. In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy the vibe and will be keeping eyes open for upcoming performances.
Since their EP ‘Same ol Shit’ in 2015, there has been a cohort of fans waiting for the next chapter to the Villain Park anthology. What would be next for LA’s best-kept secret? August 2019, the wait was finally over and they did not disappoint.
From the offset Bunge, Smoke and DJ Coly Cole, AKA Villain Park, have been systematically decimating the mumble rap stereotype that surrounds their peer group. Their 2015 EP ‘Same Ol Shit’ demonstrated that the new wave of hip-hop artists are just as proficient in delivering high-quality bars and beats as they are making catchy songs. Stand out tracks ‘Brain Cells’ and ‘Stache Box Villain, Pt. 2 (feat. Hugh Augustine)’ exhibit their versatility as young MC’s as they flow effortlessly over the top of simple yet effective instrumental loops. With this project, they created a sound that’s distinctly their own, yet has an undertone of familiarity that feels comfortable to any hip-hop head, making it the perfect induction for new listeners.
Existing converts, however, would have to wait 4 years for the release of VP’s much-anticipated debut album ‘The Recipe’. Was the wait worth it? Most definitely. With ‘The Recipe’ there is a huge progression of an already well-rounded group making it their best project to date. Solidifying and developing the sound established on ‘Same Ol Shit’, VP has created a style somewhat reminiscent of that of the Snoop Dogg & Warren G epoch of hip-hop and G-funk. Listening to VP really feels like a throwback firmly placed in the future of hip-hop.
‘The Recipe’ drops some incredibly hard-hitting tracks like ‘Visions’, where once again VP demonstrate their lyrical prowess and ability to body any beat. Not only have they themselves aged, but their music has matured beautifully alongside them. The quality and complexity of the music production involved across the entirety of the album have undeniably levelled up. It is evident this LA hip-hop trio are some of the most disciplined at their craft right now.
When it comes to hip-hop Los Angeles is infamous. It’s no wonder such a myriad of artists have used it as the backdrop for their work. ‘The Recipe’ is no exception to this. Touching on a host social issues, tracks like ‘Cold Game’ vocalise the serious nature and the harsh realities that have shaped the minds of VP in West LA. Nonetheless, their youthful confidence radiates throughout, making the overall tone one of fearless hope. The visuals for track ‘We Out Here’ epitomise this, providing a snippet into the world of Villain Park and the community that surrounds them – not to mention some pretty dope merchandise that can be spotted.
VP is an entire movement. They have made it clear that they not here to play creating a project that is a real pleasure to be consumed – Certified Classic.