2021 : Week Four

Clairmont The Second Drops Fiery Audiovisual Exhibiton of Bars, 'Hands'
 

 Released: Jan 22, 2021 

It’s his elusive nature; It’s his encapsulating bars; It’s his irreplicable flow; It’s his god-level production; It’s Clairmont The Second; And it’s all in display with Hands. The Toronto rapper who is as unparalleled in his broad artistry as he is in his underappreciated position in the game, is more than freakishly talented, but ultimately, groundbreaking, trendsetting, and dynamic in the way that he achieves his always fluid sound. Certain signatures always let a listener know who’s on the mic, at the keys, behind the vision, or behind the camera (shout out to perma-present cinematography force & more, Beee). There is just something intangible about the Clairmont aesthetic that only he can bring to a hip-hop scene starved of all-encompassing creative powerhouses like himself. And he’s tired of it – or at least tired of the lack of recognition.

 

With Hands – a single and a visual project as is so often the case from one of the most ubiquitous hip-hop visionaries aware of the range in his artistry – there is – as is always the case – an incredible nod to the balancing act of his craft. Clairmont’s penmanship, production, and ultimately, the way he conveys it all on screen receive equal weight, and tell a broader story of his creative breadth. Fiery bar after bar leaves no room for a hook through the three-minute barrage of lyrical angst. And yet, even through the flame of his words, deeply layered, funk-strewn, and dynamically harmonious production grabs a listener’s attention, too.

 

And as if that weren’t enough, the video also boasts a timeless feel. The fuzzy interpretation of classic film in low light, the slow withdraw of the camera from its subject, and the simplicity of a stage set for Clairmont to be doing something as simple as working on a model car while addressing his thoughts on the state of hip-hop as it pertains to his own superior brand, all draw a viewer into his crystalline poetry and the simultaneous subtle fumbling of his Hands.

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Ayra Starr's Debut EP is Worthy of her Lustrous Name and her Roots in the West African Renaissance
 

 Released: Jan 22, 2021 

Lagos by way of Benin, 17-year-old Ayra Starr is an emerging force worthy of her lustrous name. Like a flurry of fellow artistry emerging from the West African Cultural Renaissance over the past couple years, her sound is one rooted equally in the past of her foundations and in a future where the cultural exploits being explored across music, fashion, photography and cinematography in Nigeria, Ghana, and Benin now, ultimately impact the future of global pop culture. Naturally, her influences also breathe of that range: Angelique Kidjo and Rihanna; Shakira and Beyoncé – culturally embedded pop stars whose global rises brought the unique flavor of their respective upbringings into the limelight with them. Make no mistake that Ayra Starr is doing the same.

 

In one fell swoop, the announcement of her signing to Mavin Records and the release of her debut EP made quick and striking waves reaching much further than the cultural capital of Lagos. Instead, thanks to her blendalline sound merging so many stylistic explorations into one Benin and Ghana rooted aesthetic, Ayra Starr is already a star on the rise.

 

Her-self titled debut EP boasts only five tracks, but brings in tow a broad glimpse into where she’s capable of taking her music in the future. With some tracks speaking more to the highlife and Afropop roots of her sound (Away & Sare), and others focused more on bringing her R&B influence into focus (DITR), her reach has no limit, and her talent backs of the boundlessness of her sound.

 

For those experiencing a cold and lonely Winter right now, Ayra Starr is the ultimate escape. And for those lucky enough to be somewhere where her Summery aesthetic can shine, Ayra Starr is the perfect soundtrack. In either circumstance, the project won’t only bring some much-needed good vibes into your life, but some damn good music as well.

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Maryland's Malik Elijah Drops Hard-Hitting Bravado, 'Don't Trip' Featuring Kipp Stone
 

 Released: Jan 19, 2021 

Maryland’s Malik Elijah is a young rapper whose lyricism is as dynamic and hard-hitting as his flow. Seamlessly maneuvering his style through any and every beat that comes his way, perhaps his greatest strength is his range. And with it, his particular brand of hip-hop breathes of modernity by way of its stylistic breadth, yet speaks to hip-hop’s past per his never-ending bars and poetic rhymes. At the beginning of 2021, on the heels of a 2020 that saw the releases of a flurry of videos, singles, and even a project, Free Lemonade, he’s back with another single.

 

Don’t Trip draws its beat from the trappy, electro-nuanced underground, and draws his and Kipp Stone’s verses from the heaviest of bravado driven hip-hop spheres. It’s a banger by the most classic sense of the word, and serves as another bookmark in the rangy exploration of Malik Elijah’s young but ever-evolving canon.

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James Tillman & Flwr Chyld Rekindle the Necessity of Live Music with 'After Hours'
 

 Released: Jan 22, 2021 

As fans, we all know the artists whose live performances bring that special something. It’s in their aesthetic. It’s in their demeanor. It’s in that indefinable part of their artistry that makes them such well-rounded forces of creativity and expression. And two of them are James Tillman and Flwr Chyld. The vocalist and producer are longtime friends and collaborators whose work with one another spans project releases in each of their canons across years of their careers. As individuals, they also shine. James Tillman’s timeless, soulful register breathes of that raw, real expression that seems to sperate his Neo-Soul from the rest of the world’s R&B. Flwr Chyld’s silky keystrokes and instrumentally founded production are unearthing a new chapter for Atlanta – long overshadowed by trap and bravado, but always, also thriving in the realm of grassroots, raw R&B music.

 

In accompaniment of one another, they’ve brought to fruition a short live tape, After Hours, and it’s just the kind of project any listener in need of an emotional release, a moment of calm, or a quick 12 minutes of reminiscence on the special something of live music, can find something necessary within. So, put down the phone, pick up a glass of white wine, and play After Hours from beginning to end. Maybe it’ll transport you somewhere else.

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