From post-apocalyptic dance anthems to jumpy Jersey club tunes and luxurious rap cuts to industrial jungle heaters, here are the tracks taking us into 2024.
Words Liam Cattermole (@liam_cattermole)
10. ‘Drumz!’ by K-Lone
K-Lone blessed DJs with a care package of club tools this month, to sign off what was already a prolific year for the producer, who released his second full-length project, Swells, in July. ‘Drumz!’ is our pick of the bunch, bathing in a bed of syncopated bongos and cybernetic synths, the marching afro tech heater will certainly keep dancefloors warm this winter.
9. ‘Bandit’ by The Crying Nudes
Dean Blunt’s had yet another quietly consistent year, releasing under several of his monikers and soundtracking Burberry’s most recent runway show. The Crying Nudes, and their slacker, slowcore indie, helped us in moments of contemplation; the alluring vocals and hooky instrumentation sedated any anxieties that came our way. On ‘Bandit’, taken from one of two three-track EPs released this year, the enigmatic outfit operates lawlessly, snatching indie’s tropes and making them completely their own. Like any of Dean Blunt’s elusive projects, little is known about the WORLD MUSIC signees but we’ll be eagerly waiting to see what they do next.
8. ‘Don’t Be An Opp II’ by Miles From Kinshasa
For Miles From Kinshasa’s uncompromising mixtape, if not now, then when, the songwriter revamped his kadiata-produced hit, ‘Don’t Be An Opp’, with a selection of the UK’s brightest rappers. Sam Wise and Knucks provide effervescent verses, forming an Avengers-esque alliance of features who demonstrate their alt-rap expertise through intricate wordplay and storytelling.
7. ‘Blue Litghsaber’ by IZCO, Reek0
IZCO and Reek0 always grab our attention when they announce any joint releases. On ‘Blu Lighsaber', taken from their six-track EP, Wun 2, the DJ and MC unite euphoric soul samples, frantic jungle drums and clash-ready verses, shifting UK dance music from its future-focused formula, harking to the past, and coincidentally, pushing the culture forward.
6. ‘In The Studio With My Bestie’ by Unkle G, Gavsborg, Tóke
On Gavsborg’s debut project under his vocal moniker unkle G, the producer reminds us that there’s joy in what we take for granted. Titled An Honest Meal, the project journeys through vignettes of his time as a musician, relaying studio stories with hints of irony and sarcasm, over various frivolous club beats. ‘In The Studio With My Bestie’ perhaps best encapsulates this. A vivacious jungle banger, led by amen break cacophony and his monotonous Jamaican drawl, the track’s lucid qualities make it the ultimate pre-club anthem.
5. ‘Infinity Club’ by BAMBII
BAMBII’s brand of dancehall-by-way-of industrial jungle, UKG and techno sounds like the giddy excitement just before a club opens its doors on a Friday night. ‘Infinity Club’, the title track from her debut EP, is a dusky, Burial-esque jam, succumbing to nocturnal textures and earth-shaking drums. The project, which features Ragz Originale, Lamsi, Lady Lykez and Aluna, is well worth checking out in full, as the DJ-producer barely allows you to breathe among the wobbly basslines and restless beats.
4. ‘MAGAZINE’ by Ashbeck, Rushy
Known for their unique interpretations of the UK rap game, north west and west London-hailing Ashbeck and Rushy crowned their collaborative streak this year with Rush Hour: a thrilling four-track EP based on the buddy action comedy starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. Spitting with lavish eloquence, the duo knock back their verses like a whisky on the rocks, firing shots of lyrical ammunition at their rivals while reflecting on an impactful few years. ‘MAGAZINE’ and its bursts of aspirationalism is our pick of the bunch.
3. ‘Back It Up’ by BXKS
The brain-rattling basslines of Jersey club became even more popular among UK rappers in 2023, thanks to artists like Nemzzz, Kasien and Russ Millions. On ‘Back It Up’, a collaboration with electronic producer Lamsi, BXKS proves nobody does the sound quite like her. A bonafide hip-shaker, the track chronicles a hedonistic night around the capital as the Luton native sprays her contagious flow across an infectiously jumpy beat. Despite proving herself in cyphers alongside grime and drill heavy weights D Double E and Unknown T, BXKS has bided her time this year. 2024 will be a completely different story.
2. ‘Nurse!’ by bar italia
‘Nurse!’ set the tone for what more was to come from breakout band bar italia in 2023. Sludgy riffage and muddy melodies entwine with desolate lyricism, which tears at your heartstrings easier than the ripping of a lager-soaked beer mat. Tapping our innate desires to let loose, the track speaks to failed dreams and hopes for better times, as the three piece come out of the fog and surrender themselves to the spotlight, having signed to Matador Records and dropped two compelling albums in six months.