Hey everyone! Hope everyone’s feeling good and spending time with loved ones. It’s been a hectic, weird year but I hope you’ve all found some form of peace with music. This week’s roundup will be the last of the year as I gear up for list week next week and the week after. I will, unfortunately for some, be stopping the weekly roundups after this year as I’m rethinking branding, structure and bringing more varied and exciting content. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has discovered the website this year and through the weekly roundup in particular. I appreciate every single one of you, and I’m super excited for some of the content coming next year. Anyways, there has been some excellent music that has come out over the last few weeks, so let’s celebrate them!
As Above So Below is ANKHLEJOHN’s most cohesive and soulful project to date
DC hip-hop musician ANKHLEJOHN has been releasing gem after gem this year. The eclectic emcee has been able to capture a gritty, dynamic and personable sound that has captured so much emotion this year that he’s become one of the most interesting musicians of the last few years. His 2020 project The Face of Jason is an example of his talents, as he showcases incredible variety and a knack for the wild and eccentric. His brand new album is titled As Above So Below, a soulful and intricate body of work that showcases his skills as a rapper perfectly while capturing a soulful tone throughout. The production is handled by Navy Blue, and it is beautiful throughout the 12 tracks on the album. There’s quite a contrast between ANKHLEJOHN’s aggressive delivery and Navy Blue’s smooth production, but it fits perfectly. Definitely one support! Read more
Moor Mother & billy woods – BRASS
This collaborative body of work by two of the most fascinating and enigmatic voices in hip-hop frankly deserves its own standalone review. Philadelphia artist Moor Mother has teamed up with New York’s finest emcee and poet billy woods for an album titled BRASS. Being familiar with both of these musicians, I was psyched to learn about this album, and well… it did not disappoint one bit. The harsh, dominant and eclectic production throughout makes for a difficult but rewarding listen. The tribal tones and mystic production on “Furies” sets the tone for the album, bringing a hypnotic sound that draws you into their expansive world of intricate lyricism, dystopian realities and dark tonalities. The production throughout, handled by the likes of Moor Mother herself, The Alchemist, Preservation, Olof Melander, Child Actor, Navy Blue, Messiah Muzik, Steel Tipped Dove, and WIllie Gree, is expansive and memorable. The soul of “The Blues Remembers Everything The Country Forgot” featuring Wolf Weston of Saint Mela is an example of their softer, more soothing and beautiful sound, while the hellish, percussive “Rock Cried” is a direct contrast to that sound. In terms of lyricism, I’m probably going to leave that for a more in-depth review because I think it deserves it, so for now I’ll let the music do the talking.
Ohbliv – Spirit Medicine
In the spirit of celebrating incredible talent this year, I wanted to cover Ohbliv’s Spirit Medicine again, now re-released along with the B-Sides via Chong Wizard Records. What is there to say that hasn’t been said about Ohbliv already? His loops, his samples and his arrangements are legendary, and the way the supremely talented producer is able to convey a message and feeling through sound is just so inspiring. Tracks like “Rest Of Your Life” and the swirling, colourful “Angels Needed” are examples of his genius at play. The way hte’s able to consistently release gem after gem is truly a gift to the world, and I wish him nothing but success and happiness in 2021. Go support!
Waajeed – Acts of Love Mixtape: Act Two EP
Detroit-based House legend Waajeed has come through with a new project titled Acts of Love Mixtape: Act Two EP. The 5-track EP features some incredibly smooth and rhythmic moments that bring so much infectious energy. The vocal cuts on “Lift Me Up” are so soulful, and the beats throughout this track and the EP are full of energy. With 2020 being such a difficult year for everyone, hearing tracks like “Let Go!” build and grow into an infectious, crazy groove makes it such a positive and beautiful listen. There is beauty and peace to this dynamic body of work and it just reminds me of all those House nights I used to go to in London before all this covid shit hit. Thank you Waajeed for bringing these joyful and textured grooves again. Well worth the listen!
Don Glori – Dawn Calling
Melbourne-based musician Don Glori has come through with a mesmeric new album titled Dawn Calling. This is my first introduction to the talented artist and I was so incredibly impressed to listen to such a gorgeous, textured and ethereal jazz release. The compositions throughout are emotive, detailed and soulful. Tracks like “Fly Low” and “Voyager” take you on a journey of rhythmic drums and basslines, wailing strings and subtle piano melodies that intertwine with each other so beautifully throughout. The groovy “Pachinko King” is excellent as well, with its funky basslines and infectious melody throughout. The whole project is just so beautiful and his ability to create something that is uplifting is really something special. Definitely go support!
FYI Chris – Black Dragon Loop
South London electronic duo FYI Chris has released an excellent new EP titled Black Dragon Loop. With House and 2-step grooves, this release is packed with infectious grooves and rhythms that are dynamic and incredibly well produced. The beat and groove of “Black Dragon Loop” is definitely inspired by some classic disco tunes from back in the day, with incredible guitar and synth-led melodies that are complemented by tribal and energetic beats. The keys on “Youth Jazz” are fantastic too, as the slow-paced rhythms of this one build and grow, exploding into like throughout the second half. The beat on “Gap” featuring featuring Simeon Jones is funky and really groovy. Overall it’s a fantastic listen, and one you should definitely be checking out for the upbeat rhythms and vibes.
Jarren – Mina EP
LA-based electronic musician Jarren has come through with an infectious new House EP titled Mina. This is my first introduction to the talented producer and I was immediately drawn to his colourful synth melodies and infectious beats throughout. It’s got the perfect balance of energetic and smooth. The synth leads on “Silk” kick things off with an infectious melody and beat that carries itself throughout the 6 minutes. The jazzy “Rewind” featuring Jacob “JD” Crouch is another fantastic moment of infectious and intricate rhythms. The thumping beat on “4 Ur Trunk” with its synth leads is another highlight for me as well. Overall this is a stellar body of work and I look forward to hearing more in the years to come!
KUTMAH – Isolation Tapes (IZWID008)
Berlin-based beat legend KUTMAH has released a new series if beats in his Isolation Tapes series. IZWIDOO8 has some murky, hypnotic and spiritually sounding beats. The spacious “passage of time” is an example of this mystical sound, and throughout the album KUTMAH finds himself experimenting with some mesmeric sounds. “this shit is fresh” is a driving beat that perfectly captures the urgency of some of his music. with differing tones and rhythms throughout his tapes, he is able to find a balance between more ethereal and atmospheric production, such as on “ras g is all around us” (RIP), and more hellish, dense sounds like on “wtfu (ain’t no joke out there)” with its string leads and cacophonous beats. It’s a phenomenal project that shows KUTMAH’s eclecticism as an artist and I’m sure he’ll continue releasing gem after gem in the foreseeable future.
Glia & Matthewdavid – Gliamd EP
LA-based composer Matthewdavid and Virginia-based composer Glia have come through with an experimental 3-track EP titled Gliamd. This isn’t any usual ‘beat’ release, the rhythms and tones of this project are subdued and eclectic in their composition. Focusing on developing a moody and atmospheric sound rather than something to actually groove and vibe out to, both musicians have created a unique body of work that reflects the oddities of this year. “185630-mxd” and “firerain-mxd” feature more cacophonous and eclectic beats, while the synths of “gliamd-mxd” provide more melody. It’s an interesting listen and one to definitely check out.
Raashan Ahmad & Rita J – Black Koala
Santa Fe musician Raashan Ahmad teams up with Chicago artist Rita J for a dynamic boom-bap hip-hop release titled Black Koala. I’ve been familiar with both artists for a little while now, but I never really got into their music like that, but this collaborative album is such a mesmeric and stellar project. The production is crisp and soulful, with beats that hit hard and melodies that are so soulful. The grooves of “Buggin Out” is groovy and infectious, with Rita J and Raashan’s fantastic flows and lyricism shining through. “Hard Times ” is great as well, with a distinct Tribe and Pharcyde influence shining through. The production is handled by Vienna Producer Mez & French producer 20 Syl, and both artists do a great job capturing the soulful and rhythmic groove of some of the classic hip-hop tunes that made me fall in love with the genre in the first place. Special mention to that closing track “Vibing” featuring the legend Georgia Anne Muldrow – a beautiful track that perfectly captures the soul and aura of her artistry. Definitely recommend you check this project out!
ANKHLEJOHN – Code Naming ft Navy Blue (As Above So Below)
ANKHLEJOHN – Harlem Nights (As Above So Below)
ANKHLEJOHN – As Above So Below ft Wiki (As Above So Below)
Mach-Hommy – THBLKGD (Single)
Adé Hakim – SUPPORTED BY MY FAM FIRST ft Master Holy (Single)
Raashan Ahmad & Rita J – Step Up (Black Koala)
Intalekt – PASTURES (Single)
Ghetts – Proud Family (Single)
slowthai – Thoughts (Single)
FYI Chris – Youth Jazz (Black Dragon Loop)
Kutmah – Passage of Time (Isolation Tapes)
Ego Ella May – How Long ‘Til We’re Home (Josette Joseph Remix) ft Lex Amor (Single)
Don Glori – Dawn Calling (Dawn Calling)
Burial, Four Tet & Thom Yorke – Her Revolution (Single)
Glia & Matthewdavid – gliamd-mxd (Gliamd)