The UTM writers pick a handful of the most lit and intriguing tracks from the past 30(ish) days.
Tobias Dray – Lost (feat. YunB, Reddy, Paloalto)
Paris-based producer Tobias Dray has made a point of celebrating Korean music throughout his brief Soundcloud career, from remixing Jay Park’s sensitive lullaby ‘Stay With Me’ into a more club ready banger to imploring people to focus more on the musical aspect of K-Pop in an accompanying video for his latest EP, Silent Faces. Said EP also entirely features Korean artist as its guest, with the likes of the sensitive R&B focused JUNNY and wistful indie man CIKI putting in appearances, but blockbuster guests are Hi-Lite Record’s boss Paloalto and his labelmates, YunB and Reddy.
‘Lost’ doesn’t only stand out because of the features, but as an abrasive counterpoint to the thoughtful R&B that dominates Silent Faces’ tracklist. Production-wise it’s a fascination exploitation of space, at times it’s sparse, leaving you hanging on the explosive bass hits, at other times it’s colourful in details, due to it’s demonic flutes and mechanical wails. The rappers aren’t slacking in the face of challenging production either, YunB’s hypnotic hook glides, while the usually laid-back Reddy employs motormouth flows to keep up. Paloalto continues his streak of having ridiculous fun on recent tracks (like his label’s posse cut ‘Break Bread’) pinballing rhyme schemes and pausing occasionally for a confrontational “hmmmm” aiming to shame all other adlibs.
Czarface & MF DOOM – Nautical Depth
Last month, DOOM came out of his cave to school hip hop (or to yell at a cloud, depending on how old you are) with ‘Lil Mufukuz’, and this month the Metal-Faced messiah is back again to make his point stick.
With the help of one of the most underrated Wu-Tang Clan members, Inspectah Deck, DOOM fires off a warning to remind everyone that hip hop is no joke.His first line, a throwback to ‘Gazillion Ear’ – “No friendly warfare, this ain’t wrestlin’/There’s nothing staged over here, you’re trippin’ mescaline” – is a cautionary tale to rappers trying to fake their way in hip hop.
Credit where credit’s due though, it could’ve all sounded a bit hat-store-rap without the sub-nautical beat from 7L & Esoteric, which pings out wobbly sonar waves, receiving the hardest New Yorkian drum loops in return.
Janelle Monáe – Make Me Feel
Whether it be orchestrating her ambitious Metropolis concept series to establishing her Wondaland Records label imprint, Janelle Monáe has never been one to do things in half measures – and judging by the lead single from her forthcoming album Dirty Computer, she’s only interested in delving into even bigger, bolder and better affairs.
Infused with the spirit and handiwork of the late, great Prince, ‘Make Me Feel’ is the year’s first quintessential bop – a slinky, synth-laden beast that’s electrifying beyond measure. If you’re not intent on making pop music as vibrant and eclectically colourful as the lighting that adorns the song’s glitzy video, maybe you should hang up your flannel shirt and reassess whether you should be contributing to the soundscape of the genre at all.
SOPHIE – Faceshopping
Recent SOPHIE output has seen her reach a whole new level creatively, the truly heart-wrenching melancholy of ‘It’s Okay To Cry’ was backed by captivating twinkles while ‘Ponyboy’ saw her lean back into her dissonant impulses, without any of the usual garish topping. In ‘Faceshopping’, it feels like SOPHIE is coalescing these aspects into one of her most compelling tracks yet.
Vocal duties are shared between SOPHIE and Mozart’s Sister, operating with the pseudonym Cécile Believe, with the lyrical focus on faces and the importance placed on them as a “shop front”, with SOPHIE listing out various means to artificially improve beauty from simple make-up to surgeries, always remaining ambiguous as to weather this is to be criticised or celebrated. Mozart’s Sister also handle an inspired moment heavily taking pop obsessions with repetition, transforming some simple “nana-nana-nana-nana” into unsettling hypnotism.
It’s says alot about SOPHIES progression that the lyricism now deserves a deep analysis, and sonically ‘Faceshopping’ doesn’t let down either. Recalling her work on Vince Staples’ ‘Yeah Right’, it’s mostly a relentlessly abrasive wave of shrill synths and overblown drums, giving way for a necessary breather that feels like it’s been cut out from a contemplative power ballad. Another loving tribute that confirms that SOPHIE is at her best when pulling from her influences with genuine intent.
Higher Brothers x HARIKIRI – Nothing Wrong
It’s fair to say that DZ is Higher Brothers’ superstar member, the initial rappers react video that helped them blow up saw America’s own superstar rappers drawn to his fiery verse, solidifying the DZ verse as the moment in to always pay attention within their prolific output. That feeling extends to the latest Higher Bros EP Type-3, which collects solo tracks from each member, with DZ’s solo ‘Nothing Wrong’ shining as the inarguable highlight.
What immediately stands out about ‘Nothing Wrong’ is that it doesn’t fall in line with the Higher Bros canon, it’s far from a trap tinged banger, instead, producer HARIKIRI choses to bring together hurried drums and pummelling bass, into a laidback collage of synth splashes and playful rings, setting a soulful stage for DZ. Unsurprising is his mastery of speedy flows as DZ finds many moments to flex his rap muscles, however his sensitive vocals reveal a whole new aspect to his personality. Bouncing back between these two styles, he ensures no moment is wasted basking in variety and constantly providing thrilling moments, proving that a career without his fellow Higher Brothers is more than viable.
SAINt JHN – I Heard You Got Too Litt Last Night
Arriving ahead of the release of his eagerly anticipated debut full length Collection 1, SAINt JHN‘s ‘I Heard You Got Too Litt Last Night’ is a glorious insight into the Brooklyn born artist’s penchant for shaping hooks and addictive melodies. An atmospheric R&B banger awash with a haze of purple, it’s as cloudy as the song subject’s recollections of the party-fuelled night before. The clarity of the song’s overwhelming pop star appeal amidst its spacious production, however, couldn’t be any more prominent.
A Track That is NOT Higher Brothers – Trickery
Seeing as we’ve already done one Higher Brothers track this month (and what a banger it is), it would be pretty dumb to do ANOTHER HB track, wouldn’t it? I mean, we couldn’t possibly give more shine to HB than some other artist, it just wouldn’t be fair!
So this is a track for UTM’s Monthly Bangers that isn’t ‘Trickery’ by Higher Brothers. You know, that smooth-ass RnB banger that somehow didn’t make it onto the recent Type 3 EP with Harakiri. The one that has DZ doing stellar Michael Jackson ad-libs, reflecting on how fake the personas we put on for other people are, spitting that honest fire.
Yeah so this is not about that track, because that would be really lame and fanboyish to put two Higher Brothers tracks in. Would you look at that, I’ve hit my word count and accidentally put the wrong YouTube link at the top…