Stormzy – Big for Your Boots

Regardless of your thoughts on the quickly saturating “Americanized” Grime sound, it’s hard not to be excited by rise of Stormzy. “Big for Your Boots”, the first single off his upcoming debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer, has been making waves, pulling in almost 3 million Youtube views in its first week.

And for good reason: it’s pure verbal aggression, with the added bonus of production credits from Kano (and Adele) producer, Fraser T Smith. Plus I just really like the way he says “boots”.

Gang Signs & Prayer is out February 24th on #Merky Records.


Little Simz – AGE 101: DROP X

If nobody loves you, just know Little Simz loves you. She just dropped the newest installment of her EP series, Age 101, with the mixtape Drop X. The “X” comes from this being her TENTH solo project, which is crazy impressive. After releasing her debut album in September, A Curious Tales of Trials + Persons, she is rounding out the year strong with this seven track mixtape. Features on the mixtape include Isaiah Rashad, Jesse Boykins iii,  and Mick Jenkins.

Powerful lyrics accompany beautiful chords in “Just a Dose” – “Picture me in a galaxy / somewhere in different spaces / Treasuring every moment / Before they want to invade it”


Novelist – Endz

Grime is just making its descent into American hip-hop culture after years of being on the outside looking in. With artists like Dizzy Rascal, Wiley, and Skepta finally getting the spins they deserve, there is no reason Novelist shouldn’t be included in that bunch. The young grime rapper released his highly anticipated, self-produced single “Endz” yesterday, paying homage to popular British music TV station, Channel U. According to FACT Mag, Novelist’s debut album will only feature production by himself and Grandmixxer, and is due out sometime before the end of 2015.

Strange U – EP #2040

In my recent efforts to become more familiar with the UK rap scene, I have very happily unearthed a grungy, hardcore group by the name of Strange U. The mysterious duo combines power boosted beats with dare I say Doom-style lyrics and the result is anything but sissy. Often times, I have a hard time understanding UK MC’s lyrics (because of my lack of knowledge of local slang), but Strange U comes through clear and concise. Though still very tastefully UK, their style bridges something more American while maintaining their credibility.

Keeping their faces hidden, Strange U is quickly running a train in the UK, releasing their first EP last year. EP #2040 is seven songs packed with grit and a hard punch to the chest. Lyrically, Strange U takes it all over the place. Some are silly and playful while others are radical and violent, adding to their seemingly ‘End Pussy Rap’ initiative. On the production side, no one can touch them. Captain Murphy-type-beats bang through speakers with heavy distortion, in part due to the “true hip-hop sound” they seem to be reinventing.

Check out EP #2040 above and be on the lookout for their next effort, the Aliens in Suites EP due out in April of next year.

Favorite Tracks: “The Cake Is A Lie”, “Vaporous”, “Beast Moog”, “Strange Ones”

Stray – Since You’ve Been Gone

There isn’t much on the Internet about London producer/DJ Stray. Yet Johnathan Fogel, Stray, has a fairly good collection of music out for the worlds listening pleasure. The young producer let’s the music speak for itself and why would he do it any other way? His mind-touching blend of soul, trip-hop, and electronic music is as much an old head’s dream as it is a progressive one.

Recently, I was turned onto Stray while looking for something I could listen to while reading. At first, I passed up Stray’s music for such a duty because of it’s rather lyric heavy make up. However, I resorted back after finding nothing to fit my exact preference. I wasn’t disappointed. “Since Been Gone” is Stray’s latest official project release since his “Chatterbox EP” came out 6 months ago. In the projects description on Soundcloud, Stray stated the mixtape is “full of tracks that never got released” and “wanted to draw a line under this material before setting out to record a debut ‘LP’.” The 11 track project varies in sound across the board, with some very stoic sounding tracks as well as some more traditional trip-hop/soul type beats with some recognizable samples here and there.

The project’s title song “Since You’ve Been Gone” is my favorite on the mixtape, blending an easy break beat with powerful vocals. Though one of the softer tracks on the tape, “Since You’ve Been Gone” sets a great mood and allows it to grow and build beautifully. In the opposite sense, the next track on the project “Tonight” takes things quickly into full rotation. With a much more upbeat feel, “Tonight is much more disco while maintaining the true essence of Stray’s hip-hop root. The last track on the project, “Hey Ya!” is a straight 70’s rock song with a RNB twist, mixing stadium guitar riffs and drums with spine tingling soul vocals. A monumental end to a wild arrangement of different types of music.

Be on the look out for a debut LP coming from Stray and check out his Soundcloud for more mixes, tracks, and remixes if “Since You’ve Been Gone” rubs you the right way.

Harley Maxwell-Delicate Eloquence Feat. Frankie Stew & HaZod (Prod. by Warren Xclnce)

This was a pleasant surprise. Consisting of solid rhymes by Brighton-based Harley Maxwell, Frankie Stew and HaZod, as well as a top-notch instrumental courtesy of electro beatsmith Warren Xclnce, this track is somewhat reminiscent of an old-school classic (due to its head-bobbability [that’s not a word]). But aside from the drums, the production adds a more futuristic aura, creating a pleasant contrast that still manages to sound harmonious. :notes: :gb: :barber: