A new week brings new music, as s the current climate of music. A flurry of releases at the end of the week, meaning that some artists will get lost in the discussions. Rather than mull over this bleak fact, we will celebrate artists being able to turn in their finished work and just on the general state of the UK’s scene at the minute. I can’t remember a time where we have celebrated so much quality in LP releases. From Dave, Ghetts and Little Simz to acts like Sam Wise, M1llionz and Cleo Sol, we have seen quality and consistency this year. As we drop our latest 5 For Friday, Damola and I hope that we continue to see musical wins of this magnitude and more. Diatribe aside, let’s move onto this week’s 5. Tems and M1llionz bless the people with sophomore and debut projects respectively, CASISDEAD emerges from the shadows with a rare drop, Orlando outfit Cruza give us a taste of the groove in a brief showing and Kehlani pays her respects to the dead with an uplifting record. Press play.
CASISDEAD feat. La Roux – Park Assist
The elusive CASISDEAD has finally returned. Sporting a new, more sci-fi led aesthetic, his latest evolution proves to be just as compelling as his previous ones. One of the first UK artists to don a mask and really maintain it, a trope that has become popular in rap and UK drill especially – as evidenced by the likes of LD, K-Trap, V9 Homerton, M-Huncho and others. CAS used to tap into the MF DOOM-like supervillain energy that comes with being masked. But with this evolution, that seems more dystopian and Blade Runner/Mr Robot inspired. It seems CAS is trying to make a point about the more systematic tyranny of modern society with this evolution.
The song opens with a synthesised drawl that typified the legendary score by Vangelis for Blade Runner. It glitches and bounces around before CAS’s booming voice flies in. It was only at 1:24 that lyrics came into the track – feeding into the cinematic atmosphere he’s created. Once the bars start though, you remember why he is such a respected rapper “little pricks don’t know the half of it / soft as Haagen-Dasz / Hark at him, he ain’t barking it / this gang shit’s gone pop now / that’s how they market it / it’s targeted / No Lagerfeld / I’m on a lager tip’’. His target is the current moment. CAS’s subject material is always thoughtful, carefully curated, and always comes with a deeper layer of meaning. La Roux’s welcomed vocal flourishes give the track an added dimension of scale. It keeps you interested in what’s coming. CAS knows how to do that well.
M1llionz feat. AJ Tracey – Provisional License
Birmingham rapper M1llionz has impressed on a slew of solo cuts and features in the last year, so anticipation for his debut solo project was warranted. The 23-year-old however has taken this in his stride, building his reputation as one of the hottest newcomers with a dexterous flow to match. This is on display throughout his debut mixtape Provisional Licence, most especially on the title track that features AJ Tracey and features an immaculate sample flip of the classic Brandy and Monica duet ‘The Boy Is Mine’, courtesy of production by Fanatix. The bouncy, garage-reminiscent cut finds both artists gliding on a drill-led tempo. While the collaboration is unexpected, its execution is effortless and marks another London to Birmingham connection.
Directed by Kelvin Jones, the visuals capture M1llionz in various settings, from sharing a lift with various people, to posting up in a drop top with some eye candy, and a choice rotating cut with AJ Tracey, the editing is clean and is in touch with the theme of his mixtape. A clear standout from the mixtape already, expect this one to feature on several playlists as he garners praise for his debut project.
Tems feat. Brent Faiyaz – Found
Nigerian born and bred singer-songwriter Tems has garnered attention and praise for her ability to mesh her heritage with genres such as R&B and neo soul, not to mention stellar features on WizKid and Drake’s latest albums. The newest signee to Since ‘93/RCA has since dropped her second project If Orange Was A Place – an intimate five-track offering that allows us to get to know the songstress better on her terms. One of the highlights on her latest EP is ‘Found’ an acoustically led R&B record that features our favourite hedonistic crooner of the moment, Brent Faiyaz. The tandem approach this from different angles; Tems displays her vulnerability as she expresses her inner thoughts while Brent plays his role like a true gent as he just wants them to dance their troubles away. The Guily Beatz production is downtempo affair that plays well to the singing tones employed by both singers. Hopefully this is the start of more to come from Tems.
Kehlani – Altar
Kehlani is gearing up for the release of a new album titled Blue Water Road and given the acclaim that her sophomore album It Was Good Until It Wasn’t has received for it’s maturity, composition and overall direction, it’s no secret that we are expecting more of the same from her. The first single taken from her upcoming album is ‘Altar’, an uplifting record that she dedicates to her loved ones lost in the last year, acknowledging the healing aspect of the grieving process. With production from Daoud and Pop Wansel, this record brings the songstress’s pen game to light while accentuating her voice with guitars and soft percussion on a mid-tempo. The visuals do well to surround Kehlani with natural lighting and features some choreography – it is easy to forget that the singer is also a dancer. ‘Altar’ shows her range outside of romantic love songs and with showings like this, we hope the album drops sooner rather than later.
Cruza – Groove Therapy
In modern music, the genre lines are blurred… everywhere! Collaboration culture has attributed to this. But even generally, artists are less inclined to market their music as a specific thing or a type. Artists just want to create things that they like and things that sound good to the listener. This kind of grey area regarding genre means they can create however they want and transform their sounds with no specific pressure – other than that they put on themselves. CRUZA, the Orlando via San Diego-based band are a classic example of this. Their music evokes hues of classic, California-sounding beach/alternative rock with strong R&B influences. The result is music that’s hard to pin down but immersive in its sound. Their last single ‘Indeed’ was featured on Virgil Abloh’s Worldwide FM. Virgil himself is another genre-defying creative. This track, ‘Groove Therapy’ is short but sweet. Another example of their ability to merge influences to create music that becomes more of a feel rather than a sound. With an EP coming in November, there is more to come from CRUZA.