Soul

OthaSoul - The Remedy

ARTIST: OTHASOUL

ALBUM: THE REMEDY

LABEL (YEAR): SELF-RELEASED (2015)  

FOR FANS OF:  LITTLE SIMZ, JEHST, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, SOULS OF MISCHIEF

 

Words by Jasper Morvaridi


In recent years, UK hip-hop has in many ways been overshadowed by the growth of grime. Although the likes of Jehst and the High Focus Records roster have continued to keep the hip-hop flowing, last year Camden-based OthaSoul breathed new fresh air into the UK scene with their self-released debut, The Remedy. The trio are made up of Louis VI, Dozer Carter and DMobbs, and this album is their follow up to 2013 EP, Real Talks, cementing their neo-soul inspired boom bap hip-hop sound.

The Remedy is a very considered LP, in which you can really hear the trio’s deep musical knowledge and influences through their flow, subject matter and production. On their Bandcamp, they aptly describe the album as a “reflection on the state of the world and the struggle of their home city”. Conscious lyrics address the politics of race and the fact that so many of our generation are being habitually screwed over by inequality and a ruling elite. Despite the laid back delivery of such hard-hitting topics, you can still sense the trio’s anger and frustration.

In terms of production, beats are carefully constructed and you can really hear the influence of groups like A Tribe Called Quest and Souls of Mischief. On ‘The Sickness’, for example, the group’s use of a jazz sample acts as a nod to early-90s hip-hop. Guest appearances from Nikki Cislyn, Poppy Ajudha and Soulection’s Tom Misch round off an LP that truly exhibits OthaSoul’s incredible potential in making an album that neatly fuses hip-hop and neo-soul.

This is a great example of how hip-hop coming out of London is back on the rise. With other artists such as Little Simz also self-releasing successful rap albums in 2015, it would appear that a new era in the UK scene is upon us... And I’m more than excited.


Robert Glasper Experiment - Black Radio

ARTIST: ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT

ALBUMBLACK RADIO

LABEL (YEAR): BLUE NOTE RECORDS (2011)  

FOR FANS OF: ERYKAH BADU, MOS DEF, D'ANGELO, JILL SCOTT

 

Words by Milo Craig


Welcome to the Robert Glasper Experiment. You won’t regret this.

First question: Can this record, one that uses tried and tested genres, truly be called ‘experimental’? A thousand times yes. With Black Radio, The Robert Glasper Experiment smashed all goals and hypotheses to deliver unto us a eureka moment of jazz/hip-hop/r’n’b perfection. Black Radio is a precise fusion record, at times transcendent, always beautiful. It pushes the boundaries of just how perfect an album can be and the best part is that it’s refreshingly approachable and un-elitist. You are in safe but ambitious hands when listening to Robert Glasper.

Second question: How the hell did this guy not buckle under the pressure? Just look at the roll-call of Mobo talent; we have Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Badu(!), a pre-retirement Yasiin Bey, Lalah Hathaway and so many more (bonus: it’s not totally exclusive, don’t sleep on the David Bowie and Nirvana covers). What’s striking is that there is perfect balance – no single voice jostles for space over the others. Each is afforded their own place to shine freely and equally, probably due to the sheer consistency of brilliant songwriting. It sounds like the music could only have ever been vocalised by each performer and nobody else. 

Black Radio is an album that caresses, that communicates, that lovingly invigorates the listener and, like a smug dog that rolls onto its back to be stroked, I only want more. It’s an album to get stoned to and feel sonic textures but also to have moments of absolute clarity. It’s an album to make love to, it’s an album to be alone to in the middle of a rainy night, tenth glass of rum in hand, realising that all your previous days were shite and grey and life should be more beautiful. Hendrix had his Experience, Prince had his Revolution, thank god that Glasper has his perfect Experiment.


Fatima - Yellow Memories

ARTIST: FATIMA

ALBUMYELLOW MEMORIES

LABEL (YEAR):  EGLO RECORDS (2014) 

FOR FANS OF: ANDREW ASHONG, TAYLOR MCFERRIN, ESKA

 

Words by Jasper Morvaridi


Released in 2014, Fatima's debut is a truly incredible record. The combination of the London-based singer's vocals and production credits from Floating Points, Flako and Theo Parrish, to name a few, make Yellow Memories an all killer-no-filler LP.

Fatima's vocals form the mood of the record, immersing the listener in her world of RnB and soul. It's an album where collaborations with producers in no way disappoint. Rather, they deliver consistent yet varied production to each of the ten songs, pulled together by Fatima's singular voice. On Flako-produced 'La Neta', the melody and rhythm neatly complement the vocals - especially in the change in time-signature halfway through the track. By contrast, downtempo hip-hop beat ‘Underwater’ sees Stones Throw Records’ Knxwledge taking production duties. Personal highlights include ‘I Can Do Better’, ‘Family’ and ‘Talk’.

Now Yellow Memories is almost two years old and I can't wait to hear more from Fatima. If her recent live show at Union Chapel is anything to go by, we won't be disappointed.


Nneka - Soul Is Heavy

Artist: Nneka

Album: Soul Is Heavy

Label (Year): Decon 2012

For Fans Of: Ms. Dynamite, Alicia Keys, M.I.A., Grace Jones, Fela Kuti

 

 

 

Words by Emerald Rose Lewis


You may recognise Nigerian soul singer Nneka’s voice from Chase and Status’s chart smasher ‘Heartbeat’, released back in 2009. Nneka’s music moves me - especially as I feel that West African artists that make their way on to our record players, into our hard drives and through our radio airwaves are seldom women. She bridges the gap between afro beat and soul in a movingly poetic way, and there’s even an edge of rock to it instrumentally, with occasional heavy and fast drum beats, electric guitar solos, and powerful string sections.

For me this album touches a part of my soul that often lies in pain. Every single strain of vocal carries such passion and emotion that you can’t help but feel something with every word. There is a sense of injustice yet hope, pain yet love, sorrow yet joy. She combines light and shade effortlessly. Her voice is technically small, but the feral, wild edge to it means allows her to wail. She has no trouble getting her message across.

Lyrically, the album tackles the love/hate struggle of the human race. At times it can seem Nneka’s personal spat with love/hate is what dominates, but she is putting forward an altogether bigger picture and larger message. For me, this album makes me sit up and listen, and leaves me feeling like I respect and admire this artist each time I do. I even feel a sense of endearment towards her.