Art & Design
INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS, EDITORIALS, ESSAYS, PLAYLISTS...
Get to Know Nappyhigh
Beneath the mire of jazz and soul samples of the past, funky key progressions, West Coast synths à la Dre’s genius, and the entangled mosaic of his many featuring modern guest artists, exists Channy Cardenas. And Channy Cardenas is a product of his environment. Born in Fresno, raised in South Central Los Angeles, and residing in Palmdale, his was an upbringing of the same environment that raised many of modern hip-hop’s most notorious influences. Everything about that seems obvious in his sound today.
ELHAE | Aura III
Backdropped by bass-heavy beats that seem to always find flight in the playful keys of their production, ELHAE spends the duration of the 11-track ‘AURA III’ seamlessly meandering his own musicality and his own mind. From the hard-hitting verses, to the vocally vulnerable croons, to ELHAE’s comfort in the moving middle grounds, his sound knows less boundaries than ever before. From the braggadocious, to the sensual, to the downright romantic, ELHAE’s songwriting opens a diary of sorts for the listener to get a glimpse into the daily life of an established Atlanta figure, and an emerging global star. And even amongst such range over a short half-hour exhibiting the breadth of modern Atlanta music, ‘Aura III’ also never feels lost. Instead, it encapsulates a listener’s attention from the jump, pulls them into ELHAE’s world, and gives us a Springtime taste of what is ultimately to come.
JVCK JAMES | JOYRIDE
JVCK JAMES recently released his JOYRIDE EP. The 6-track project – his second behind 2019 debut collection, DETOUR – is, as he says, his ‘best work to date.’ It feels pretty undeniable to say so, as the London vocalist has spent much of his four-year limelight run largely outside of it altogether. A bit illusive, JVCK JAMES’ emergence has been defined by occasional singles that, though rare, have still successfully soundtracked everything that romance, sunsets, and beach vacations have touched along the way.
Elaine Brown | Music to March to
At nine songs, Until We’re Free is a powerful, poetic half-hour bleeding with tales of Black struggles and pushing for a continued fight for equality and equity. When you hear Brown’s voice, it calls to mind the powerful and clear registers of so many modern soulstresses whose music, too, tends towards social justice. Almost 50 years since its release, her voice rings anthemic, her fight continues on, and her timeless album – goldenly so for its musical genius, painfully so for society’s frustrating lack of progress...
An Interview with Langston Bristol
‘Whatever your genre is or whatever you niche is, you have to listen to stuff outside of it because that’s how you evolve the sound’
More Than Music | J Chambers
The Manchester wordsmith is dynamic. Whether through music or the barebones emotionality of a spoken word performance, his is a stream of consciousness more vocabulary driven and thought provoking than just about anyone else on the modern rap-poetic spectrum. As alongside others on that spectrum, 2020 was especially challenging, and in response, an especially artful year.
Joyce Wrice | Overgrown
A sun-soaked reminiscence has always tethered the auditory aesthetic of California soulstress, Joyce Wrice not only to the Golden State, but to the Golden Era. It’s not to say that she’s not a figment of Neo-Soul modernity – having been a collaborative name and a standalone artist on the rise for something like half-a-decade – yet, her music could have ornamented the wavy birthstones of R&B as we know it, and no listener would dare question its placement in the 90’s or early 00’s. It’s her era of influence, after all. A young talent with the immeasurable grace and grip of the veteran she really is, growing up a fan of R&B and hip-hop during the eras that made the two spectrums’ collaborative partnership eternally intertwined, makes her modern take on it unavoidably reminiscent, yet daringly timeless. And her debut album – three years in the making, and more than five years since her debut single – bridges all the time she’s spent – all the space she’s known – as a fan of music, a creator of it, and a beneficiary of its healing powers.
Kota the Friend | To Kill A Sunrise
Ultimately, Kota and Statik is a collaboration that makes all too much sense. For more than a decade, Statik Selektah has been reinventing the East Coast wheel without ever removing himself from what that original aesthetic meant and continues to mean. Jazz samples, drum samples, vocal samples: complex building blocks spun together to create a texture instead seemingly simple; a texture that’s wide-ranging possibilities have allotted for most of hip-hop history’s greats to rap over. For the last four years, Kota the Friend has been invoking the greats of his city’s past, effortlessly belaying bars upon bars to forge a timeless web of lyrical steel on the hip-hop ceiling for his lesser-than-raw compatriots to look up at. Together, To Kill A Sunrise is to prove that after a countless collection of releases through a decade plus, a producer can still find creative collaboration with one of his most interesting and refreshing counterparts to date. To Kill A Sunrise is to prove that even so early on in a career, and albeit at the grip of a very focused sound, Kota the Friend can be pushed to evolve further, rap harder, and put out what is arguable his most – and therefore hip-hop’s most recent – lyrically-inclined masterpiece.
Clairmont The Second’s New 3-Piece is More than ‘intres-ting’
At the tail end of a short run of singles this year, Toronto’s – hip-hop’s – most experimentally masterful name, Clairmont The Second has reached a culmination of sorts – or at least another exclamation point. Upon the foundation built from 2020’s It’s Not How It Sounds – one of the most unique and dynamic projects anywhere in music through the year – Clairmont is now releasing a trio of tracks as an additional B-Side to the already expansive medley. Leading towards the B-Side’s release, he dropped two 2021 tracks: Hands & intres-ting
Collab Elation | Patrick Paige II & Devin Morrison
Collaboration between Patrick Paige II and Devin Morrison wouldn’t only be a fluid exploration of Soul, Funk, and R&B; of wide-ranging instrumentalism, focused production, and broadly understated vocalism, it’s probably also imminent. Both artists have been steadily collaborating with more and more artists in one another’s respective circuits because, frankly, their circuits are intertwined. As would be their tethered sound. With sultry basslines from Paige II and playful synth strokes from Morrison, the instrumental backdrop from the two would alone transcend eras.
Four Years Later, and the Significance of Smino’s ‘blkswn’ is Still Coming into Focus
At an hour-plus, blkswn is a marathon. But, to properly outline all the range that Smino’s sound encompasses, an hour-plus took precision production to pull off. For anyone who has listened all the way through – and any hip-hop fan should make it at least a monthly practice – we know how seamlessly it plays. Classic by its identity as an album that just also fluidly flows from beginning to end, blkswn is a nod to the idea that albums can still be long – an unpopular opinion in the fast-fashion world of SoundCloud rappers today. Musically, it’s more than a nod in any one direction.
A Series & Playlist Dedicated to the In-Depth Exploration of Black Music's Most Significant Statements
Reviews & Reactions to some of Music's Most Important Works
A Hypotheical Exploration of Collaborations We Want to See in Music
Your Weekly Synopsis on the Releases You Have to Hear
Reflections on our Best Concert Experiences
Narratives Culminating in the Ultimate Live Show
Conversations with some of the World's Most Interesting Artists
Two of Our Writers Pen their Organic Responses to Album Releases
Pit of my Dreams
April + VISTA
To Kill A Sunrise
Kota the Friend + Statik Selektah
Clairmont The Second
End of the Earth
Boys Wear Pearls
M-Side Odyssey 2
It's Not You, It's Me
Sy Ari Da Kid
Michael Da Vinci
Lyrics to Go, Vol. 2
Kota the Friend
From RyAnnae, With Love
Every Race is a Solo One
Gems in the Cornerstore
Elujay + J.Robb
Whie The World Was Burning
F*@k It, Burn It All Down
if You Feel
Tenn Toes Down
No Moor Bad Days
Rap N Roll
Aphelion's Traveling Circus
Yours Truly, Jai
Postcards I Forgot to Send
In The Middle