I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Unfortunately the end of the festive period means it’s time for the glumness of January to swoop in. Never fear though, as music never rests! Here’s the 10 best releases from this past month.

ANFA ROSE – SHE BEEN WAITING II

A highlight of the Australian music scene, Anfa Rose has been patiently waiting on the cusp of stardom and this project is surely going to propel him into some sort of spotlight soon. Brooding R&B/Trap sounds a la Bryson Tiller, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Amir Obe etc, he proves it’s a universal sound and that he’s able to master it. It’s a very honest project that sees him sing and rap over a multitude of beats and do it all so well, despite being in the genre of the aforementioned artists, he has his own sound. The piano and the echo on Drunk’s chorus get me everytime. Anfa has something to really be proud of here and you need to go listen.

LIL WAYNE – DEDICATION 6 RELOADED

When Lil Wayne dropped Dedication 6 on Christmas, it was worth the wait, then only a few weeks later he drops this. I’ve been too pleased by this, and it shows Lil Wayne still has it, regardless of what others say. Gumbo (over 6ix9ine’s Gummo beat) is the star of the show, everything from wordplay to flow is on point from him, truly one of his best in the past few years – Gudda Gudda really surprised me here and blew me away with his verse too. Weezy F Baby will always be relevant and it’s due to quality releases like this, he’s spitting over other people’s beats and making them his own.

SKEME – ONE NIGHT ONLY II

Skeme has been one of the best names on the West Coast for a while now, making songs with some of the biggest names out there. But he’s not just a bit part, he’s a main event calibre talent. Similar to Lil Wayne’s Dedication, Skeme is rapping over other people’s beats but he’s making them seem like they were meant for him. He’s able to shine here and it only helps to build anticipation for his new album Overdue. Go check Rik Flair which is my pick of the project.

DOMO GENESIS – AREN’T U GLAD YOU’RE U?

Domo Genesis, one of Odd Future’s most talented members has kept up with his past releases by putting out yet another thoroughly enjoyable project. Aren’t U Glad You’re U? sees Domo branch out even further and explore even more musical routes, with a lot of success. He raps “I’m the under-celebrated greatest” on the opening track, and in many ways he’s right. He’s been so good for years but was overlooked for other members of the collective he was in, I suggest you go listen and see how right he is. Also he raps “I’m locked in like I’m Kurt Angle on your ankle” and everyone knows I’m a sucker for wrestling bars.

SIR – NOVEMBER

TDE just can’t really do much wrong, SiR is one of their lesser known artists but his music still packs a punch. It’s such a perfect blend of R&B, jazz and rap, and it’s something he lets the listener know he can do very well, it’s a highly personal project with some quite blunt lines. “I’ve been through enough to drive me crazy, I don’t think my mama’s gonna save me” which is so bleak, yet so captivating. The piano of Something Foreign is so beautiful, and perfectly provides the background for SiR and ScHoolboy to paint pictures. I cannot recommend this enough, go out of your way for it.

EVIDENCE – WEATHER OR NOT

It’s very hard to go wrong when you have production from DJ Premier and Alchemist on your mixtape, and Evidence knocked it out the park completely here. I’ve never really listened to him before, but the Rhymesayers rapper really brought it here. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this, and new artists to me rarely get my attention this quickly, but I’m already certain this is one of the strongest projects that will be put out this year. “I hope emotion is respectable, Question is: Is emotion superseding technical?” are bars that will stick with you for days after your first listen, hats off to Evidence here, he’s made a new fan.

MIGOS – CULTURE II

The sequel to last year’s Grammy nominated Culture has turned a few heads due to how long the track list is – 24 tracks in total – but it holds up as another good body of work from The Migos. They’ve shot to superstardom since last year and their music has grown with them, more refined production, as well as more refined adlibs and flows. You know what you’re gonna be listening to if it’s a Migos album so don’t expect pure hip-hop/rap etc, Migos stylised and perfected the triplet flow pattern, and they’ve used it incredibly here. Perhaps my favourite track here is Flooded, the beat is so sinister and all three of them ride it so well. The saga is aptly named Culture due to the amount of pop culture references packed in it, from Batman to Danny Phantom, there’s something for everyone.

JUSTIN SKYE – ULTRAVIOLET

A solid release from Justin Skye shows her credentials as an R&B artist put to the test here, and whilst it may not be the best project you’ll ever hear it still is worth a listen. Don’t Think About It is a perfect use of the chart sound but manipulated to a pretty good original track, even if it does sample Jay Sean’s Ride It flow (yes I noticed). She’s come on leaps and bounds as an artist and with a bit more work can become a big name in the scene, for now this project is pretty damn good.

CADENCE WEAPON – CADENCE WEAPON

One of Canada’s most celebrated rappers returns with a pretty solid release, Cadence Weapon has been renowned around Canada for a while now and this release can help prove why. He’s a lot different to the artists making it out of there right now, and this electro-rap project is proof. It’s more similar to a Kid Cudi or even a Bloc Party sound than a Drake and it’s so refreshing, go check High Rise and see for yourself.

MAXO KREAM – PUNKEN

Highly respected on the underground trap scene, Maxo Kream yet again shows his brilliance here. He delivers hefty bars over a plethora of trap beats, and regardless of him being an artist in a scene that purists look down on, you should be able to appreciate. The creativity he showcases throughout is so good, Bussdown reminds me of a proper West Coast banger – the beat suggests so but Maxo’s Houston style contradicts it in a way that makes for a really satisfying listen. His music quality means he could blow to a very high level very soon but for the time being he’s one of the underground’s best kept secrets.

Words by Rohan Parmar

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