The UTM writers pick a handful of the most lit and intriguing tracks from the past 30(ish) days.
Higher Brothers x Bohan Phoenix – No Hook
Higher Brothers have refused to let a month slip by without forcibly adding a banger to this list, and of this month’s picks ‘No Hook’ is undoubtedly the strongest (‘Nomadic’ ft. Joji suffers a little from a lame beat).
It’s a nearly a full 90 seconds before our boys turn up, but Bohan Phoenix puts in work with a suitably lit introduction. From then on, UTM’s favourite boyband (sorry Brockhampton) appears with successive verses, as the title suggest, forgoing the hook.
DZ’s (the heartthrob) choppy syllable repetition and shrill bar finales are super charming, MaSiWei’s (the cheeky one) buzzy tone never relents, Psy P (the bad boy) kills it with his confident frenzy and Melo (the other one) concludes the track with the least flashy but most reliably stable verse.
Joji – Rain on Me
Joji has already proven his place in the world of ‘serious’ music, and his Pink Guy persona isn’t getting in the way of new track ‘Rain on Me’ either.
It’s a soothing affair clocking in at under 3 minutes (AKA Optimal Track Time in 2017) that, towards the final hurdle, stutters into a Tyler, The Creator type breakdown, making it a distinguished example of music made as a stream of consciousness.
If we were reviewing ‘Rain on Me’ with the sardonic scrutiny (read prejudice), we’d say that this Joji track would be lost among a YouTube playlist of ‘LoFi Chillhop Beats to Study to’. However, Joji’s music is so far removed from the nonsense that to not give it a fair shake would be disingenuous.
Purity Ring – ‘Asido’
Purity Ring might describe their standalone offering ‘Asido’ as “a parable that holds nothing before and nothing after”, but the notable detail of its release falling on the 5th anniversary of their debut Shrines suggests there was a conscious effort to harken back to their roots. The divisive, sickly sweet sugarcoating that 2015’s Another Eternity was glazed in has all but melted away – and what remains is the swirling melancholy that established the group as ringleaders amongst their peers.
With ‘Asido’, Megan James’ lyricism continues to be as gothically poetic as ever. The song’s opening line “from a black widow’s reckoning/your fortuitous spine” sets a picturesque precedent of things to come, but it’s the comparatively plain-spoken refrain of “feel as lonely as I do” that elicits the most empathy here – words of vulnerability that slash through the track’s expansive but nonetheless enchanting production.
Ryan Hemsworth – Hunnid (ft. E-40 & Yakki)
You wouldn’t expect Ryan Hemsworth’s typically cutesy bounce to be a particularly inviting sound for the shouted aggression of rap veteran E-40, yet in ‘Hunnid’ his verse finds brief space in the track to impress, especially as Hemsworth leans further into his love of trap more than ever before.
However, the one who shines most on the track is Yakki. Coming across like the sunshine Future, Yakki and Hemsworth are well matched partners (apparently both as artists and mechanics), as he glides over the perfect bed of bass stomps and muted twinkle synths. Yakki’s cadence makes every single line feel like a delightful hook, so prepare to repeat “I can make a Hunnid in a day” 100 goddamn times a day.
Baths – Dream Daddy
Dating simulators are cool, but have you ever wanted to play a date sim where you create your own Dad character and romance other Dads, soundtracked by Will Weisenfeld better known as Baths? Yes? I mean, obviously, amirite? Well then, your daddiest dreams have come true.
This is a real thing because it’s not April and no one would go to such lengths to produce trailers, spawn articles and PUT THE GAME ON STEAM for a joke???
It is funny though, so funny that Baths fucked up so many takes because he couldn’t stop laughing. It’s quite disgustingly catchy, and as he sings “who’s it gonna be, who’s it gonna be?” the intrigue levels are skyrocketing in my brain. Also the confused sexuality levels, because the ginger bear in the Hawaiian shirt looks v cute when he blushes.
Kitty – ‘Miami Garden Club’
HOLY MOTHERFUCKIN’ SHIT KITTY‘S DEBUT ALBUM MIAMI GARDEN CLUB IS COMING OUT ON AUGUST 25TH AND IT’S GONNA BE MOTHERFUCKIN’ BOP CITY (SORRY TERROR JR BUT THAT AIN’T EXCLUSIVELY YOUR SHTICK) AND YOU’RE GONNA FUCKING LISTEN TO IT ALL BUT FIRST YOU’RE GONNA LISTEN TO THE TITLE TRACK FROM THE RECORD WHICH HONESTLY IS WAY TOO CHILL TO WARRANT THIS OBNOXIOUS ALL CAPS TOMFOOLERY BUT FUCK IT IT’S EXCITING AS HELL AND YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO BADGER HER WITH “WHERE’S ‘FLORIDA’? WHERE’S ‘OKAY CUPID PT. 2’?” AFTER LISTENING TO IT. AUGUST 25TH, WHERE YOU AT ALREADY?
Millic – Paradise (ft. Fanxy Child)
Of all the tracks Fanxy Child have released so far, including the dark gloss of ‘Bermuda Triangle’ and frenetic cypher ‘Fanxy Child’, ‘Paradise’ finally feels like it’s been perfectly crafted for the clean, trendy images of the crews most recognisable names.
As a union of 2 rappers (Zico, Penomeco), 2 singers (Crush, DEAN) and 2 producers (Millic, Stay Tuned), nearly every member gets their chance to prove their worth to Fanxy Child. Over Millic’s ticking, soothing, cloudy beat, Zico starts out with a lengthy verse which sits somewhere between being effortlessly chill and passionately biting. With Crush on chorus duties, a straightforwardly pure counterpoint is provided, with the “You’re my utopia utopia utopia” part being a captivating highlight. With further verses, DEAN acts as a low key yet equally impressive vocal talent and Penomeco has a knockback verse that is pulls of both autotuned rap glide and vocal delight. With ‘Paradise’, Fanxy Child once again prove themselves as a rare case of a crew with no disparity in talent levels.
#410 Syikes X AM X Rendo X Rudez Ft Moodie – Anti
Syikes latest mixtape Sychology is a culmination of the strength of UK rap in 2017 – whilst the release straddles g-funk, infectiously autotuned rnb, it’s the UK drill material -exemplified by lead single ‘Anti’ – that truly enables the mixtape to come to life.
The track, backed up by cold as fuck keys, and thundering orchestral movements is a perfect example of the cooking pot of influences currently lurking in the UK drill scene. Whilst all of the #410 affiliates spitting on the track come through with serious heat – it’s Rendo’s baritone vocal, and grime inflected flow, that takes the lead.
It’s the touch of grimey dynamism that’s essential to ‘Anti’s success, inflecting the mumble rap-centric core of drill with an array of far more varied, aggressive vocal styles, which sets Syikes and ‘Anti’ apart from the rest.
Khary & Lege Kale – ‘Fujiko’
Providence rapper Khary possesses an enigmatic world outlook that very few rappers emerging from the messy and monotone SoundCloud culture of today could dream to match. His ear for beats is also very good, and Tidal Graves – a collaborative EP with Lege Kale, perhaps best known for his work on Kyle‘s mega hit ‘iSpy’ – takes great strides towards significantly amping up the voices of both artists.
‘Fujiko’ is an immediate highlight from the record that presents a candidly real take on love and all of its intricacies. It’s rife with mushy confessions (“love is like/love is being happy you exist”) and wry jabs (“love is like contemplating/but not really burning all my shit”) towards his token interest that swing back and forth just like they do in actual relationships. Kale’s wavy production proves to be equal parts smooth and turbulent, syncing up perfectly with the aquatic motif that’s permeated through all of Khary’s projects thus far – which stems from a personal fascination with water, if you ever found yourself pondering why.