The year is drawing to a close and in the penultimate month a lot of good music has been put out, there’s a feeling in me that feels quite a few of these will make it into numerous end of year lists. Without further ado these are November’s essential releases.
Dave – Game Over EP
One of, if not the, most talented rapper coming out of the new school in England at the moment, Dave’s release is a heartfelt, emotional rollercoaster that takes you through the trials and tribulations, the roads he’s walked on and the houses he’s been in. No Words rivals the catchiness of the songs you’ll hear on the radio whilst it still boasts originality through MoStack’s idiolect and Dave’s still incredible flow. Question Time poses questions that so many people throughout Britain can resonate with. How I Met My Ex has been met with reviews on Twitter likening it to one of Drake’s best – Marvin’s Room – that could make anyone want to shed a tear. He’s really mastered his craft and proven his worth with this project, and this is really shown with My 19th Birthday, a tour de force of emotion that thoroughly tells a real story that needs to be shared. “So many man my age have got PTSD and I don’t think that it’s hit them”. Few songs have me in silence with a dropped jaw, but this is one of them that does every single time, Dave really hit the mark.
Yung Lean – Stranger
Leandoer is back with a highly anticipated release. He’s grown a lot from his sadboy aesthetic days into an artist with artistic and creative direction like not many around him. The Swedish artist brings a lot to the table, much more than just rapping. The production he has on his projects are always incredible, as is his singing. Whilst the singing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the sound itself has had so many people replicate it, making Lean an even hotter name. His spoken word rap is reminiscent of both Mike Skinner and King Krule and boasts incredible potential from him, you should free up some time to listen to this and try understand his hype.
DRAM – #1HappyHoliday EP
There’s nothing like rappers to get you in the mood for Christmas, right? From RUN-DMC to Pete Rock to Kanye West, there’s something special about rap artists donning the Christmas spirit. D.R.A.M was able to sing his way through this 3 track EP and did it so gracefully. Many people have suggested his new record might even sound like it, which would be a treat. The titular track is the best, D.R.A.M’s soulful voice fills you with joy and is definitely something I’m gonna have on repeat for Christmases to come.
Dom Kennedy and Hit-Boy – Courtesy of Half-A-Mil
A surprising duo to begin with, Dom Kennedy and Hit-Boy really know how to make, well, hits. They have such good chemistry which allows them bounce off one another so smoothly. This is the 4th release from them in just under a year and it sees them keep on form, being two of the more varied artists in the scene just makes that seem quite easy for them however. My favourite is Full Circle, it’s such an easy going rap song, nice beat and flows that compliment it so well. These two have been stars by themselves and seem to be destined to be stars together.
YG Hootie – Hubris
Compton’s YG Hootie carries the flag high for the city each and every time he puts something out. His underrated, underappreciated wit, charm and style on any beat mean he’s sort of a hidden gem, even if he does have Kendrick on this album. The west coast vibes are on full blast here, reminiscent to YG’s Still Brazy it’s a 2010s record that has you bopping your head like it’s a 90s release from Death Row, add to this his Atlanta inspirations and you realise Hootie achieved something rare here. It’s definitely time to give him the respect he’s due.
Mick Jenkins – Or More; The Anxious
Chicago’s Mick Jenkins has been carving out his own path for quite a while and this latest mixtape just shows yet again, he’s one of the best about. I’ve been a fan of him since Jazz and he’s never let me down. This mixtape is a testament to his ingenuity, as he’s coming with just more and more headturners of songs which would make a lot of rappers quiver in fear at the thought of having to make stuff like him. The year long hiatus between his album and this have made this even more well received and in an official statement he said the songs on here and helping him make the songs for the next album, and if that’s the case then you know it’ll be special. You owe it to yourself to listen to this, at only 7 songs long it won’t even take up your lunch break.
Cam’ron – The Program
Dipset’s very best put out his first release in over 4 years, and of course he’s welcomed back with open arms. One of the most suave, shit-talking but also emotion evoking rappers hasn’t hit the likes of Purple Haze but it certainly does build hype for what Killa Season 2 will be like. Cam’s longevity in the game has allowed him to see realness in rap and that’s what helps him succeed as an artist, his comedic timing in rap is like a friend telling you a story and it keeps your ear so well, his sound is so recognisable and makes it such an enjoyable listen. It’s Killa is probably my favourite on there with it being almost a throwback to his earlier days you’ll be able to understand why. Also I’m pretty sure this is riddled with Ma$e disses.
Emeli Sandé – Kingdom Coming
One of the brightest sparks in British music, Emeli Sandé’s Kingdom Coming is soulful, beautiful, hard hitting and so much more, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did if I’m honest. The instrumentals weave the songs together perfectly and the features on it are pretty mad too. Giggs, Dave East and Wretch 32 are able to showcase their skills to a new audience in what is a really stellar EP. Giggs’ verse is my favourite from the 3, effortlessly smooth as always. This EP really deserves a lot, her artistic visions are on show here as it’s not like her more commercial stuff, you need to check it out.
Cyhi the Prynce – No Dope on Sundays
GOOD Music’s Cyhi the Prince has hit the ground running with his impressive debut. With a plethora of features from GOOD Music cohorts like Kanye and Pusha, he also brings in ScHoolboy Q and 2 Chainz amongst a host of other names to make for one of the best hip-hop albums of 2017. No Dope on Sundays is a wonderful collection of songs and really does have that GOOD music feel to it, and it’s good to hear Cyhi as the centre of attention and not just a feature. He holds his owns with the aforementioned names and this release is quite a refreshing piece in today’s day and age. Although there is some songs that seemingly go nowhere and some bars that just don’t hit, “when you speak of my name, put me with the all timers” for example, I just can’t agree due to it being his first release, but there’s a start to everything and let’s hope for more of this from Cyhi.
Jaden Smith – SYRE
A lot of people didn’t or still don’t know what to make of Jaden Smith, seemingly ever in his dad’s shadow, I feel he’s really beginning to step out of it with the release of Syre. His first release under Roc Nation has Jaden firing on all cylinders as he strives to become one of the top names around. Him being his father’s son has hindered him in the sense a lot of people don’t take him seriously but with features from A$AP Rocky and Raury it shows he’s getting love from those in the game already. Not to mention songs like Batman may only be a somewhat very similar homage to Jumpman but still provide a good listen. Icon is the album’s standout, good lyrics, great flow and a warning shot to the rest of the game, Jaden Smith really stepping up here.
words by Rohan Parmar.