Showing posts with label grime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grime. Show all posts

Monday, July 15, 2019

video review: 'no.6 collaborations project' by ed sheeran

Hmm, a little surprised by how well this is getting received... guess the benefit of low expectations will take something a long way...?

But on the flip side, speaking of expectations... yeah, that's coming tonight, stay tuned!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

album review: 'no.6 collaborations project' by ed sheeran

So I brought this up originally on Billboard BREAKDOWN a month or so ago and I think it's important to state it here to provide some context: sometimes if you're an artist and you finally get the clout, popularity, and influence to create your dream project, it's worthwhile going back to when you first conceived of this dream and ask whether it was a good idea to begin with. I'm not saying this is an easy task - it demands self-awareness, the willingness to acknowledge your roots but also how far you've come, and will likely not be helped by the crowd of enablers you've accumulated thanks to your success - but it's one worth doing.

Now if you're an Ed Sheeran fan at this point you're probably a bit scandalized - he's proven himself time and time again that he can work with other acts, from writing to singing alongside them, why shouldn't he be allowed to curate a massive collaborative venture as a natural expansion from the EP he self-released in 2011? And if me saying that out loud didn't highlight at least some level of ridiculousness to this whole affair, it should come in understand what No.5 Collaborations Project was, an independent fusion of his brand of pop folk with a slew of grime acts that are not common names stateside. And while it becomes abundantly obvious that Ed Sheeran's writing has tightened up considerably since the beginning of the decade... well, it's leaner and darker and surprisingly cohesive, something that I didn't expect at all would be the case for this new album, which spans from Justin Bieber to Eminem, Stormzy to Skrillex, Chris Stapleton to Young Thug and Cardi B! And given that I've had kind of mixed results with the singles he's released thus far... look, I expected this to be a mess, or at the very least nowhere close to his best - when you have too many cooks in the kitchen, that happens. But okay, what did we get from No.6 Collaborations Project?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

video review: 'GREY area' by little simz

Yeah, this review probably should have been out last week if not earlier - real struggle with how I felt on it, to be honest.

But while I'm on the subject of hip-hop...

album review: 'GREY area' by little simz

I always feel a little out of my element talking about UK hip-hop, be it grime or otherwise. Now I'm fairly certain some of that is obvious in the few reviews where I've discussed the genre, but I'll freely admit some of it comes from just not having the same connections or context to speak on an artist who is building serious traction, and so when I started hearing that Little Simz was racking up some serious critical acclaim for her third album, I was dejectedly preparing myself for another act I'd appreciate but likely not love to the same degree as fans across the pond.

And that didn't happen with Islington MC Little Simz. Yeah, colour me intrigued, but in checking out her 2015 debut album A Curious Tale Of Trials + Persons, I found a lot that really gripped me, from her strident and assertive delivery, a commitment to real hooks and bars that managed to bring in a lot of striking insight, and production that hit the balance between icy and catchy as sin to pull me in. And while I was a little less enthused with 2016's Stillness In Wonderland - despite a fantastic stretch of great tunes midway through it does meander a little more than it should and not all the experimentation connects - hearing that GREY Area was her most focused and hard-hitting project to date and seeing real acclaim from hip-hop heads from both the U.K. and stateside alike made me want to find time to check this out, so what did we get?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

video review: 'gang signs & prayer' by stormzy

Honestly, this was a quick review to throw together... and an unsatisfying record to boot. Eh, it happens. Next up should probably grab more attention, so stay tuned!

album review: 'gang signs & prayer' by stormzy

I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before I contended with this subgenre of hip-hop. And while I'm not going to say I was avoiding it, I will say I was hesitant to approach, mostly because I wasn't really sure what to expect and I knew immediately that those more familiar with the genre were going to inundate me with more suggestions the second I stepped in than I would know what to do with.

Yep, folks, let's talk about grime, the UK-based brand of hip-hop partially derived of a combination of UK garage, jungle, breakbeats, and elements of dancehall - a mutation more than specific subgenre, also pulling on elements of rough-edged gangsta rap in its aggression and depictions of urban decay. Now I've recognized grime names for a while - Dizzie Rascal, Skepta and Wiley spring to mind the most - but I hadn't really heard a lot of crossover until I started tracking the UK Official Charts a couple years ago. And given that hints of tropical rhythms starting landing in North America across last year, it was only a matter of time before some acts began importing their sound overseas, or at least picking up consistent traction in the mainstream in the UK. And one of the names that I've seen peppering the UK charts was Stormzy, who was looking to blend in more R&B sounds with grime's typical brand of aggression for the obvious mainstream crossover. And thus far he's gotten significant traction - hell, put aside the tide of people wanting me to cover this on Patreon, he broke into the top ten in the UK with 'Shut Up' and his remix of Ed Sheeran's 'Shape Of You' is doing particularly well. So okay, for someone looking for a beginner's step into this genre like the majority of people on this side of the ocean, I had to hope Gang Signs & Prayer might be a good introduction, right?