April has been yet another decisive month for underground British music. Lockdown has failed to halt the creativity of our country's artists, which is shown in this list of purely English and Welsh musicians. Kick back, make a cuppa, and run through our picks for last month.
Louis Culture - Being Me
Driving London rap forward, along with his Elevation Meditation co-members, Louis Culture’s Being Me looks to battle preconceptions. Pullen, Fredwave, Ben Beheshty and Culture all have credits on the production, and the result is a percussive tech/hiphop mash up, which complements the Battersea M.C’s understated flow flawlessly.
NAYANAIZ - Final Hour
The Nine8 collective member treated us to a couple tracks in April, and both could have ended up on this list. We have chosen the deeper cut, Final Hour, as it stretches Nayana’s lyrical veracity more, and features a boisterous verse from LorenzorsV. Give it a listen.
Novelist - Wanna War
Nov has been a busy man this year; Rain Fire is his third EP thus far, and Wanna War is our pick. Featuring Raj Forever, a rapper also from Brockley, the track was made in Novelist’s whip, where he has devised a portable studio. Every project the Londoner’s released this year has been meticulous.
Oscar #Worldpeace - MMM
With three artists as diverse as Oscar #Worldpeace, Ragz Originale and Benji Flow, MMM was always going to be special. Utilising a contagious boom-bap beat and muffled bass, the vocalists go head to head, delivering braggadocios bars and catchy rhymes.
MANIK MC - Shade (Breathe Deep)
Since his colours show in 2018, Manik has been relatively absent from the rap world. Fans have been waiting patiently for new music, but Shade’s subtle jazz tones and harmonious hiphop nature certainly make up for it. Hopefully we will finally see a follow up to the Midnight Express EP this year,
Jamie XX - IDontKnow
Known for his ambient affairs with the XX, the mesmerising debut album In Colour and a thunderous album with Gill Scott Heron, James Smith’s latest single is as visceral as it gets. Putting his own spin on the growing U.K. footwork sound, the DJ and producer took everyone completely off guard with Idontknow. Could there be another LP on the way?
Kelly Lee Owens - Nights
Kelly Lee Owens’ latest run of singles would have defined the after hours shenanigans at many of Britain’s festivals this year. Nights is her second single from the fourthcoming album Inner Song. Morphing ambient synths, floaty vocals and stomping bass, the tune is a strong follow up to Melt!, which has been played umpteen times by DJs across a range of radio stations.
BINA. - Boundaries
Following 2019’s Humble Abode, BINA. is back with another pristine, soul infused single. Her vocals enrich the beat’s woodwinds and keys effortlessly, making the track a very wholesome affair. It's a fitting single for the world's current affairs - hopefully BINA. has more coming this year.
Yussef Dayes - Frontline remix
Since hearing this remix on Benji B’s show, we have been craving its release. Dayes couldn’t tease us a lot longer, and a few weeks ago his percussive rework of PA Salieu’s Frontline finally hit streaming services. The drummer’s new album with Tom Misch is also well worth a listen.
Jesse James - Don’t Worry
Taken off his Bleak EP, which follows in vein of Strata, Don’t Worry is a devilish cut that accentuates the project’s title perfectly. Hissing synths, piercing high hats, and Jesse’s intrinsic delivery complete yet another atmospheric tune from one of the best voices in UK Rap.
Teeze, Feux & Adi - Elevate
Elevate is the second single off Teeze’s upcoming MediTape, and it’s yet another banger. Feux’s adaptable delivery loops over the boom-bap beat and funky basslines, whilst Adi provides an immaculate guitar break half way through. Very much looking forward to the fourthcoming project from Teeze.
Harve - Blue For You
Building up to an EP, with a string of single releases, Harve’s spacious melodies and scintillating vocals are just what we need in isolation. Blue For You follows their harmonious collaboration with Fred Wave, and the fourthcoming EP features production from Kwes Darko. For now, have a listen to Blue For You below.
Idris Miles - Fall
Miles’ first offering of the year, Fall, enlists grammy-nominated producer THEBEATPLUG for a visceral single. With punchy dictation, sharp adlibs and an inherently catchy groove, the track evokes a ferocity that coincides with the dark and lucid beat. It is evident, in this single, that Miles won't be falling off anytime soon.
Svlstice - Sanctuary
It's hard to dislike any song with a steel drum in, but yet the instrument still has a rather understated presence in electronic music. Svlstice's Sanctuary curates a blissful ensemble of sonics with them at the epicentre; its a track that feels as fitting at 3AM after a brain wiring Netflix bender as it does resting in the afternoon sun. True Bonobo vibes on this one, so check it out.