Yet another month goes by and yet some more bangers come out. This past month we saw the rise of British culture at the BRIT Awards with Stormzy taking home 2 awards and having a dazzling and important performance, whilst we also lost a pioneer in the UK music scene – Stormin. Here’s to the good times though, good music galore here so check out my essential releases of February 2018 below!
VARIOUS ARTISTS – BLACK PANTHER SOUNDTRACK
Black Panther not only broke records across the board for one of the best-selling opening weekends ever, but it also had an amazing soundtrack curated by Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg. The soundtrack featured a host of names from Kendrick’s Black Hippy cohorts ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock and Ab Soul to Vince Staples, Saudi and more. It perfectly brought together African and American rappers to make a wonderful soundtrack to a wonderful movie. The bars on display from everyone got people talking, whether it be ScHoolboy’s somewhat controversial line of “not even Kendrick can humble me” SOB x RBE member DaBoii’s effortlessly cool “You ain’t really in the field you just tweet a lot”. It’s stuff like that that showcases the real rappers from the fakes, both witty and something that rings true about other competition. The movie will definitely go down in history and the soundtrack will as well, it’s both something for the culture and for the world to witness and take note. Be sure to watch the Kings Dead video below as well from yet another amazing visual feast from The Little Homies.
EARTHGANG – ROYALTY
The Atlanta duo are back with another mixtape and what it lacks in quantity it makes up for it in quality. At only 5 tracks long it shouldn’t take up much of your day to listen to, and you won’t regret it. It’s feel good rap mixed with that realness, real life struggles and stresses and it makes the music that much more pure and coherent. Listen to Cocktail, a perfect example of what I just described, a trumpet infused beat and skippy flows from the two members making an honestly astonishing track to me that has been on repeat since its release, bravo Earthgang.
TOWKIO – WWW.
WWW. is another project that will go down in history, SAVEMONEY member Towkio reached a 92,000+ feet altitude so he could drop his album from space. How incredible is that? It’s an inspiring feat and perfectly illustrates the creativity the Chicago rapper has. Opening track Swim shows off his rapping credentials immensely, anecdotal story telling rap whilst being low key braggadocious yet so endearing to listen to. It’s a fun project, and something the scene needed right now, the aforementioned SAVEMONEY collective have a lot of talent that have emerged from it (Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa for example) and it’s nice to see they still collaborate, they’ve been a force to be reckoned with in past years and with soulful sounds like WWW. they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
REJJIE SNOW – DEAR ANNIE
Undoubtedly one of Ireland’s best kept secrets for a long time, Rejjie Snow has grown as an artist so much in the past few years borrowing sounds from all over the world to create a really original and impressive blend of music. Dear Anne is one of the better projects to come out of the scene in recent years, not to be cliché and compare him to other artists but there’s tracks like Spaceships that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Kendrick or N.E.R.D album. It’s refreshing to hear all of this; Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop, Blues, Grime, Funk and so much more come together to make a great piece of music and signal Rejjie as a legend in the making – definitely go out of your way to hear this.
ERICK THE ARCHITECT – ARCSTRUMENTALS VOL. 2
Kick back and listen to some inspiring beats here from one third of the hip-hop group Flatbush Zombies as Erick the Architect will take you on a spiritual and diverse journey through his soundscape. Honestly this is something that aspiring rappers should hop on to, record freestyles to it and it’ll definitely help you get noticed. Erick’s has consistently been improving his producing credentials and is now undeniably one of the most interesting producers in the scene. Make sure you give this a listen and also keep an ear out for Flatbush Zombies new project coming soon.
OCEAN WISDOM – WIZVILLE
I wouldn’t be surprised if people buy this off of the features alone; Dizzee Rascal, P Money, Rodney P oh yeah and METHOD MAN too. Ocean really is the star of this show though, his notoriously quick flows matched with his lyricism just proves he’s a star honestly. The Brighton based artist really showed off everything he has on this album and it’s paid off, Brick or Bat is that classic sound of UK hip hop, a beautiful guitar loop on the beat mixed in with some harrowing string sounds and nice drum loops provide the background for Ocean to completely murder the track. At 21 songs long it can get a bit drawn out at some times, but it’s something that has an incredible replay value.
SOB X RBE – GANGIN
Having already gained a mention on this month’s list via Black Panther soundtrack, SOB x RBE find themselves on here yet again as they dropped their latest project GANGIN. The collective have been making waves on the underground for a while and it’s easy to see why: they’re so good to listen to, shit that makes you bop your head and throw your hands up without even thinking. Great samples on the beats that will have you wondering how on Earth it works, as well as back to back bars and flows from some of the most energetic individuals I’ve heard in a while. Listen to the opening track Carpoolin’ and you’ll be hooked for sure.
KOTA THE FRIEND – ANYTHING
An insightful project here from an artist who deserves much more exposure than he’s got at the moment, the opener Smile got me hooked with the simple piano beat and his singing it then built into something so passionate yet so nonchalant. He raps with such a distinctively cool yet tranquil style, it’s very easy to listen to and just relax to. Although he’s from Brooklyn he reminds me more of a North West/Washington type artist a la GoldLink and J. Pinder. His choice of beats is superb and helps entice the listener that much more, my pick of the project is Sydney, a song about girls spat with the aforementioned cool style but it’s the beat that stands out to me.
ONRA – NOBODY HAS TO KNOW
The Parisian beatmaker only caught my ear last year but I’ve been listening to his stuff ever since and just like prior releases, Nobody Has To Know is a solid project. Entrancing sounds that you can easily close your eyes to and picture you’re somewhere else, melodic beats all throughout he flips the sound of boom bap and classic hip hop tropes into something so original and so worthy of people’s times. Able to provide the backdrop to almost any situation in life with his music, Onra has done it again. Best track on here is in my opinion Not Long Ago, a slow brooding beat that builds up with 80s vocals and synths – it’s just so good to hear.
MIST – DIAMOND IN THE DIRT
The Karla’s Back star dropped his new EP this month to much fanfare, with a plethora of features from other street rapping legends like Nines and new talent like Not3s. On the track Game Changer he raps “Mist from the ends he’s the kids role model” and he’s not wrong, his rags to riches success story has not come without it’s trials and tribulations along the way but he’s matured into one of the better UK talents around these days, creating a wave that a lot of artists have hopped on. It was however Mosh Pit – the most un-Mist-like track on the EP – that got a lot of people, well, hyped for this EP. A video was shared of Mist, MoStack and Swifta Beater in the studio and the anticipation for the official release got a lot of people excited and rightly so, the anticipation was met to a project that exceeded my expectations and made me realise why Mist is constantly regarded as one of the most feared, respected and well versed artists the scene has ever produced.
Words by Rohan Parmar