We’re in the endgame now. The sun is coming to show itself, and all roads are leading to June 21st. We move… Finally. *breathes out*.
This week sees Greentea Peng back on form in typically ethereal fashion with ‘Nah It Ain’t The Same’. Joyce Wrice and the most consistent rapper around, Freddie Gibbs connect surprisingly well on ‘On One’. J Spills talks big bank and hood politics with his new single ‘VISA DEBIT’. Dreamville’s heir to the throne, JID, drops a spectral ode to the historical city of ‘Tuskegee’. Finally, NSG tap up Potter Payper for the assist on ‘DRUNK GUITAR’ for the slight sonic shift to Potter’s usual style – which I’m not mad at.
Greentea Peng – Nah It Ain’t The Same
When mystifying artists like Greentea Peng go quiet for a bit, preparing their next evolution, you can never be sure what to expect. With her debut album set to release this summer, this snippet of her new sound is – as you’d expect – on her own terms. Still working with Earbuds and The Seng Seng Band, they’ve managed to fuse classic hip hop and jazz inflexions with neo-soul rhythms, that build into a crescendo that sounds something like… Drum and bass? It’s a proper collage of styles that Greentea’s solemn, rhythmic musings carry along with ease. The video transitions from activists activating, to the monotony of pulling seeds from a pomegranate, to penning a self-portrait on a park bench. The visuals move just as fluidly as the sonics do – while Greentea moves more fluidly than both. Keep an eye out for that album.
Joyce Wrice Feat. Freddie Gibbs – On One
Living in the era of collaborations, it’s very easy for them to get complicated, and for the idea to become oversaturated. But this drop here from Joyce Wrice and Freddie Gibbs is a bit of a throwback. Kind of like Ashanti and Nelly’s legendary collaborations. Just a smooth bassline, funky composition, with Wrice’s sweet but strong vocal delivery – and Freddie on there to throw a bit of gravel on the whole thing. Produced by acclaimed R&B sound smith D’Mile, it’s a classic meeting of worlds between R&B and hip-hop. In an era where the lines between both genres are entirely blurred, if not, meshed, sometimes throwbacks like these where the parameters are firmly drawn help you appreciate the quality of both genres as individual things.
J Spills – VISA DEBIT
On only his second track, the energy J Spills steps in with points to somebody who’s in it for the long haul. There’s something kind of old-school about Spills’ energy. Hailing from Newham, a place that birthed many of grime’s finest acts, he’s no doubt been inspired by some of the local legends from his manor. He’s blending classic grime energy with drill deliveries and of course some afrobeat-inspired adlibs – “jaiye, jaiye / yahoo yahoo” and of course – the cold football reference “my female striker got a fattie like Ansu”. The visuals combine still photography, fast cuts, black and white then night vision scenes to build a world of fast-paced paranoia, one that builds intrigue for what Spills might deliver next.
JID – Skegee
JID is a wildly talented rapper and lyricist. Yep, both. Because many think you can only be one – but every generation serves up a few stellar talents who can do both. JID is one of them. So it’s always surprising to see how his name is rarely mentioned when talking about the new vanguard in hip-hop – cause he’s right up there. J. Cole had the foresight to sign him up, so with Dreamville, he’s in good hands.
With a warbled, classic rock/grunge sample that’s a bit chopped and a bit screwed, JID wields the mic like a paintbrush, delivering a rousing, loaded social commentary about being black in America but with special reference to the Alabama Experiments that took place in Tuskegee. Where more than 600 black men were experimented on between 1932 and 1972. The visuals play out like a short film, depicting the community and the struggle Tuskegee’s residents have lived through, and continue to. JID says “take a chance my lad / you got all the same tools that the greats have had / maybe lesser than that…”. He isn’t lying. While we’re out here building for our future selves and future generations, never forget those who came before, and enabled that future.
NSG Feat. Potter Payper – DRUNK GUITAR
One that came out of the blue, but we aren’t complaining. The perennial vibe makers NSG tap up Potter Payper to assist with the energy in ‘DRUNK GUITAR’. Typically uptempo with the tightly loaded strings of a Spanish guitar, the NSG model is on flawless form once again. Signature sound, signature direction (rotating shot, object transitions) – they’ve developed their own inimitable style. Potter comes through on a blue, Belly-esque backdrop, and never misses a beat, even finding time for funny bars “not Maggie Simpson or Maggie Thatcher”. After dropping one of 2020’s best bodies of work in Training Day 3, the subject matter is very different here. But he’s earnt the right to have a bit of fun with it. As we all have. Keep this on the countdown to June 21st playlists.