Mrley, the pseudonym of 23 year-old Marley Rutherford, today shares his debut single, “My Side Of London“. Growing up in South-East London, Rutherford’s debut single is a testament to his home ground.
The track is raw in both its aesthetics and vocals. Rutherford makes a declaration of passion for the streets he grew up on, “They wish they were from my side of London / That’s why the speak like my side of London” he proclaims as he addresses gentrification and prioritisation of street culture. Backed by a potent motion of grunge heavy guitars, Mrley fuses together elements of punk and rap to create a sound that bursts with untampered energy.
Speaking on the track and video Mrley said:
“The internet and social media means people are no longer glancing at life through the lens their environment provides. It’s now fashionable to be “struggling”, you have kids raised in Kensington running around pretending to be kids from Kennington.
It’s progress that people of all backgrounds are being brought together through the love of art but I think it’s important to let the people whose profits are thriving from street culture know that “I’m not your something, your something to play with”.”
Toronto-based rapper DijahSB has shared their new album Head Above The Waters, an honest, forward-thinking, undeniably fun ride.
Dijah, born Kahdijah Payne, is a clever and agile emcee whose rhymes are as witty as they are raw. They take a balanced approach to their music, fusing candid, personal lyrics about their experiences as a Black, Non Binary person navigating heartbreaks, breakthroughs, and more with modern beats and infectious hooks. Their music effortlessly glides across drum-heavy boom bap, grungy guitar rock, and trap’s booming bass with lyrics that are raw, relatable – a small light pushing through dark cracks of an artist in a constant state of observation and growth.
Dijah cites Kid Cudi, Pusha T, and Lupe Fiasco as some of their main influences and idols, but their emcee style is so unique and fun, it’s hard to compare. Ever earnest and open about their struggles with depression, mental health, and financial instability, their music serves as a balm; a friend baring battle scars that might serve to soothe your own.
Of the album, Dijah shares
“’New Harrison’ is probably my fave track on the album, accompanied by my boy Terrell Morris. We went to high school together and we’ve both been doing so well music wise it was only right that we linked up. Harrison is on the beat and it’s just a smooth record in total. I love to tap into the slower beats to really show off my abilities. ‘Head Above The Waters’ follows a theme, I wrote this album with that in mind, because at the time it’s what I needed to hear. so I know someone somewhere might need to hear it too. the waves might be crashing into you and trying to keep you from floating but you gotta keep coming up for air and try your hardest to keep your head above it.”
Head Above The Waters by DijahSB is out now, buy/stream it here.
Genesis Owusu, born Kofi Owusu-Ansah brings about his debut album that is packed full of twists and turns, sights and sounds, and messages of hope that seek to highlight racial injustices and mental health struggles. This album is said to be a document of 12 months of Owusu as an artist and that statement rings true in every aspect. Not only does this album secure Owusu as one of the most exciting new rappers/ pop stars/ funk singers/ any other label you can fit him under, but it sets firmly in stone his statement as an artist that has no limits.
Over the course of this album Owusu shifts through various styles and sounds almost seamlessly. Whether he’s dabbling in R&B on the sensual “Centrefold” or a more psychedelic jazz sound on “Waitin’ For Ya”, there’s a clear level of excellence that passes through every corner of this album. The recording of this album was made with an in house band that consisted of Kirin J. Callinan (who delivers a fantastic vocal performance on “Dive”), Touch Sensetive, Julien Sudek and producer Andrew Klippel, and although each of these artists come from various backgrounds of genres respectively, they unite seamlessly on each track to create an album that subverts these genres. You can hear the influence of styles that Owusu is drawing from, with tracks like the grinding “The Other Black Dog” having the similar synth drives and beats that Yves Tumor packed into their Heaven To A Tortured Mind last year. But thanks to Owusu’s dexterous performances on every track he makes them his own.
His vocal performances are perhaps the greatest aspect of this album that help unite the ever shifting sounds that back them. On “Gold Chains” his smooth melodies dance blissfully over the chorus synthesiser, but then once he enters the almost spoken word rap passages of the chorus you’re left clinging on to every word and syllable as they roll seamlessly from him. Even on the heaviest of moments like the punk infused “Black Dogs!” Owusu feels authentic in every role he takes. He spouts the grinding verses with perfect conviction and then flawlessly switches to his smooth falsetto on the chorus without missing a beat.
This phrase of “Black Dogs” is one that is repeated throughout the album and is Owusu’s way of characterising racism and depression. But it’s not as if Owusu is trying to portray these issues as any less real than they are, but giving them this gothic persona allows the horror of each to shine out. On “I Don’t See Colour” Owusu questions how “somehow my actions represent a whole race” as he describes being watched at the mall simply because of his appearance. And on “Whip Cracker” he holds accountable those who have been still allowed a platform despite their racist views. “Why you askin’ why I’m so jaded?, Who forgot your thoughts on the races?” he questions. Moving then to declare “This ain’t the 50s, you ain’t talkin’ shit” as he reminds these people just how outdated their views are.
The other ‘Black Dog’ of depression is viewed in a few lights on this album. The title track of the album “Smiling With No Teeth” distills the notion of how Owusu puts on a face for everyone that sees him “Slathering honey on our demons for the palate of the apathetic”. He’s covering up his true feelings for those that see him but deep down the depression is tearing away at him until he’s left “Smiling with no teeth”. But once we reach the end of the album on the likes of “No Looking Back”, Owusu is facing his depression with only progression in sight. “I tell myself that, there’s no looking back, I lost the light in those years, locked myself in those tears” he confirms over the yacht-rock style melodies and keys. And this lighter, more free flying sound backs up this feeling of becoming more positive in his outlook.
Perhaps the unsung hero of this album is producer Andrew Klippel, who creates such vibrant and expansive sound palettes that on some listens you just want to focus on what’s happening in the background. Whether it’s the glitch-pop beats of opener “On The Move!”, the cut-up dancing sampled chorus vocals on “Centrefold” or the 70’s Chic-esque funk infused switch up on “Whip Cracker”, there’s so many diverse and interesting moments of sound design that you hope that at some point an instrumental version of this album gets released. That’s not to take anything away from Owusu’s vocals, after all these songs were written by him, but the two aspects individually are equally as versatile; put together they make something truly remarkable.
Being 15 tracks long and standing at just over the 50 minute mark, this album certainly comes packed with a lot. However it’s not as though any of that time is wasted or left as filler. There’s moments within songs here and there that could be shortened or trimmed, but as a complete project this album has so much to digest that the run-time is completely justified. And hey, were certainly not complaining of more Genisis Owusu, in fact, we can’t wait to hear how he expands on this sound next. For the time being though lets keep getting lost in this debut borrows from many different times, but is sure to stand the test of time.
Northampton’s prodigal son returns with his second album, prominently titled with Slowthai’s real first name, TYRON is a story of two tales. Whilst his debut album, Nothing Great About Britain soared him to greater heights than perhaps he could have predicted, fuelled by political message and its depiction of modern day Britain for what it really is, this second album takes a more introspective journey into the mind of Tryon Frampton.
This time last year there was controversy surrounding Slowthai after being inebriated and making crude remarks towards comedian Katherine Jenkins at the NME awards, later apologising after a joke went too far. Jenkins herself even went on to say that she fully accepted his apology and didn’t feel under threat. This however lead to a tyranny of backlash, people feeling that the true Slowthai had been revealed. It may seem as though some of the anger felt around this situation continued onto this album, however the likes of “CANCELLED” where Skepta and Slowthai bounce back and forth listing accolades that mean they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon “Twenty awards on the mantelpiece, Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury” were plights of ammunition that had already been stocked up. He did released reactionary single “ENEMY” shortly after the controversy but says that “got all the anger about the event out of his system“.
The first half of this album however is still drenched in this reactionary rage; all track titles being written in capitals. From the haunting soundscape of opener “45 SMOKE” to the siren induced “WOT” as Slowthai sings of absurdist childlike insults “In the rave, drop a eccy with your mum”. This opening half is Slowthai swaggering about, still declaring his worth. On the hypnotising “MAZZA”, which is Slowthai’s way of saying ADHD, a condition the rapper suffers with, he’s trying to break down his newly found fast paced lifestyle. But this front that Slowthai is trying to put on soon breaks down. As the nostalgia induced sound of “PLAY WITH FIRE” sweeps in you can hear him starting to pull back the curtain on his mentality. “I wish I pressed skip, everything is negative, It gets hectic, strеssin’, if you’re from the place I livе” he declares as the verse opens, slowly descending into an almost therapeutic spoken word passage towards the end of the song.
This then leads to the mood and feel of the second half of the album, reflective and self doubting. This mood is even set by the all lower case letters on the track titles, the vail has been pulled back. Throughout the next seven tracks Slowthai gets his most introspective, gritting his teeth through the trauma. “No one I can lean on so I’m limping with a walking stick, People keep talking shit I cut through the thick of it” he raps with a more laid back feel on “focus”. Through this inwards look you see an artist who is trying to come to terms with the position he’s in, no matter what he does he will be judged for it, whether it be holding up a fake decapitated head of Boris Johnson on live television (although this stunt was definitely trying to induce a reaction) or simply releasing a song that attacks cancel culture, the haters will always be there.
But from realising the problem he tries to turn things around, shifting his perspective from the negative, self pitying to the positive, being grateful for what we have. The true pinnacle of this album comes in the form of “nhs”, similarly to his debut album this song very much captures a moment and feeling within British life. Broken down the lyrics reflect on the way as a society we always want that bit more, but one thing doesn’t come without the other, and focusing too much on the negative is “gonna make you depressed”. Aptly titled, this ode to Britain’s health care system is trying to understand why something so precious to us is only truly appreciated when we’re in desperate need of it, still some don’t give it the appreciation it deserves “Jack the lad, only happy when they clap (NHS)”.
There of course has to be mention of the production of this album, though the tracks shift through varying moods and soundscapes there’s always a consistency in its diversity that ties everything seamlessly together. Mainly fronted by Kews Darko, who produces a large majority of Slowthai’s discography, there are appearances from the likes of hip-hop mastermind Kenny Beats on “terms” and SAMO on “MAZZA”. An aspect that stands out are some of Slowthai’s most melancholic soundscapes that appear on the latter half, from the acoustic driven “push” featuring some truly dreamy chorus vocals from Deb Never to the crooning “feel away” that is drenched in nostalgia. James Blake’s ASMR induced vocals not only compliment the slower grit of Slowthai’s vocals but bring a real sense of serenity to the album at this late stage. With the rolling piano line and ambient soundscapes it’s hard not to be encapsulated by each level of emotion that every contributor to this track puts in.
Originally this album was intended to be Slowthai’s third album, with another politically charged outing set for his second, he’s not stepping away from that style though rather saying that “When the time’s right I’ll be there, but now’s not the time” . Instead what we got was an album created during a time where people needed reassurance, and Slowthai is here to give it to them. The technical self-titling of this album serves as a perfect summary of the core of this album, it’s every part, every part of Tyron Frampton, it’s loud, it’s in your face, you’re never quite sure when he’s being serious or just creating a character for himself, but deep within is the intricate musings of a young man trying to take in the chaotic world around him.
Pink Siifu and Fly Anakin have announced a new EP $mokebreak, set to be released on March 19th via Lex Records. They have also shared single from the EP “Open Up Shop” along with an accompanying music video directed by 30onme. The EP will feature guests including Mavi, Bruiser Brigade’s ZelooperZ, Chuck Strangers, and Black Noi$e.
This comes after the duo released their PinkSiifu album last year, which we named as one of the best of the year. Revisit our Best Of The Year List here.
Slowthai has released “MAZZA” featuring A$AP Rocky, from upcoming sophomore album TYRON, set to be released on February 5th via Method Records. This is the third single from the upcoming album following on from “nhs” and “feel away”.
Earlier in the day Slowthai released a statement saying that although the UK has just entered a new national lockdown, the release date of TYRON would not be changed. “films, art and music have helped me most in my darkest moments and with the majority of this album being made last year i would hope that it can help someone as a distraction amongst the chaos and shift their mindset positively”.
Since last speaking with Tony Bontana just over a month ago for his EP Eurotony, Tony returns again for his latest venture Di-Splay; a full length LP becoming available to the public October 3rd. This album follows Tony’s latest single “Rocks Often Shine The Brightest” and EP Cognitive Dissonance. Di-Splay features guest appearances from the likes of oghost, Dan Oddysee, Dylantheinfamous, Hughie and many more.
The track listing for Di-Splay follows as such:
Don’t Lose Faith (Prod. Tony Bontana)
Keep It A1 (Prod. Dylantheinfamous)
Bleeding Guns (Prod. Tony Bontana)
New Age Poet (Prod. Glasshouse)
The Leak ft. Dan Oddysee (Prod. oghost)
Key2Kuestion (Prod. Tony Bontana)
No Games (Prod. Aloisius)
Villain (Prod. Dan Oddysee)
I’ll Hold You (Prod. Tony Bontana)
Flying Over Broken Wings ft. Origho (Prod. Hughie)
Producer, rapper, mixing and mastering engineer Tony Bontana hails from midlands metropolis, Birmingham. Bontana moves with eagerness, since the creation of his co-run label Everything Is Perfect just over a year ago, the label and Bontana have seen an explosion of releases featuring a diverse variety of sounds, messages and voices. The labels music and Bontana’s work comes at a point in Hip-Hop where the genre is evolving and these records are the forefront evidence of this case. Before his latest LP Eurotony, I was able to exchange words with Tony and talk all things Bontana and Perfect.
What’s your story? How did you come to producing music? Whatmade you start?
Born in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Birmingham) 3rd October on a Thursday evening. Moms said i came out rapid Word is the nurse had to catch me…. I was born moving. I Started playing with the guitar real early, like 6/7. I got my first guitar as a birthday present while i was in hospital (for asthma.) My relationship with music is perfectly summed up by those times because i was just recreating any sounds i like on my guitar or learning tabs to my favourite bands. I Joined my first band at 16 and it was my first time being part of something bigger than myself we had support all over the world I had never experienced that. We did a few tours around the UK / Europe over the next few years until the band split in 2018. Life was busy for all the members so we ended it before it got tired. After that i didn’t really have anyway of getting music out so i learned to produce for myself (thanks to my old flat mate dan he let me use his Mac OD to produce) and the rest is history.
Throughout your music, it’s clear to see that both lyricism and production are so clearly fulfilled with uniqueness and passion. When making a track how do your lyrics and samples find you?
As with everything in life its a feeling. I just know when somethings right for me.
Who or what inspires you as an artist?
My life and my loved ones inspire me thats where i draw inspiration for all my music. I really try to keep it as literal as i can.
What are three records or artists that have changed your life?
In response to your single I’ll Hold You (you know i would) and the sounds you use in general, you are pushing a new boundary for hip-hop. It seems as though the genre has potentially developed a new focus. How do you think the sound of the genre has arrived to the point where we are today?
I appreciate that. Thank you bro. I feel that as the world continues to change people are becoming more and more open to a “new” way of thinking. Emotional intelligence. Honesty & Love. You can hear it. The truth sounds so good no matter how it sounds. A lot of people speaking their truths right now.
Your latest LP Eurotony is out 1st August, how did this record come into fruition?
I became inspired by the artists around me / the label (Kristallo Stone / Myst1k / Venom22k / Hughie) To try a certain sound. They’ve been going crazy and pushing this new alternative futuristic trap sound and it’s really happening in Birmignham. The city don’t even know but it’s about to go crazy in the next few years! I digress lol. I hit up Hughie (Exec Producer) and pitched the idea and he was immediately down to work. We probably finished this project in two weeks…..we work similar, efficient. He really made this happen.
What music are you currently listening to on repeat? The Cure – Disintegration (Album) Husker Du – Don’t Wanna Know if you are lonely Hook (My favourite rapper no cap)
The label you run with Sink600& oghost, Everything is Perfect Records, has seen an enormous output since its creation just over a year ago. Collaboration seems like a key part of the label, especially on Hickupz last release. How do you meet like-minded producers and lyricists?
You get back what you put out….. We really love music and like minded people just gravitate. When you love music it’s a bond that transcends alot of A-typical relationships.
What are your favourite places in Birmingham? Selly Oak cus it’s the ends. Nice food spots too especially if you’re Veggie / Vegan. Moseley Just because it’s got a taste of everything and Digbeth but it’s gonna be gentrified soon so…. (I’m real cut about that. The government is literally destroying culture for a rahted slug & lettuce.)
Do you go to The Diskery at all? I can imagine that’s a gold mine for samples…
Yeah I love the diskery. My dad spent his first paycheck there! I only got a vinyl player a few days ago so only been digging a few days lol.
What can we expect to see from you and the label for the rest of the year?
Music and Growth. This is still the infant stages of the label so we’ve got a lot of learning to do but just know the output is gonna be special.
Thanks for having me.
(Tell your loved ones that you love them if you haven’t already today)
A big big big thank you to Tony for taking part in this interview. Tony’s latest LP Eurotony is available to listen to through Spotify. Some of his works can also be found through Soundcloud, Bandcamp along with Everything Is Perfect‘s discography. I hope everyone is able to get a little more Bontana in their life.
JPEGMAFIA has shared brand new single ‘THE BENDS!’ and an accompanying music video. The single follows in a series of singles the noise rapper has been churning out this year, such as ‘BALD!’, ‘COVERED IN MONEY!’ and ‘BODYGUARD!’.
JPEGMAFIA has also spent the year interview frequent collaborators in his How To Build A Relationship documentary series such as Denzel Curry, Kenny Beats, Orville Peck and Ariel Pink.