Jamar – Beat It Up


Beat It Up is a new single from DC based rapper Jamar. It’s from his upcoming EP, Room Service, which he worked on throughout college. Beat It Up actually has excellent backing music. The beat has an uplifting sparkle to it, regardless of whether or not the listener engages with the lyrics. Jamar has a decent flow and appears to have had some vocal training. Most importantly his vocal tone and style matches the music. This song has a very 90s hip hop / pop feel to it. The video features Jamar training in a boxing gym, but I’m not quite sure the song is about boxing if you catch my drift.

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Sun J. – DILLI (Delhi) – Khatarnaak

sun j

I’ve been doing this a long time, and I freely admit I had no idea there was such a budding young hip hop scene in India. Much of it is being fueled by a collective known as “Khatarnaak,” which was founded by an artist known as Sun J. One of his latest singles is DILLI (a slang for New Delhi.) Sun J’s delivery is quick and his tone is gritty and street-like. The song is essentially Sun J’s representation of the city he identifies with. Also interesting is how hip hop is adapted here to create a distinctly Indian sound, thus lending itself to a newly recognizable, emerging sub-genre of hip hop. Sun J’s a talented rapper and does a fine job of representing the region musically and I suspect there will be a growing respect for hip hop produced by artists in that part of the world.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sunjofficial
Website: http://www.khatarnaak.com/

Dominique Mathurin – Love is Contagious


Dominique Mathurin’s Love is Contagious is a reimagined version of the 90’s hit song by Taja Sevelle. Dominique has licensed and remade the song here in her own image. One major element which distinguishes this version is that it is mostly guitar driven, whereas the original was more of a bubblegum synthpop jam. The guitars give this song a twangy kind of avant garde, R&B pop sensibility. It’s just so much more groovin’ and has a very elegant, classy vibe. In terms of vocals, this song has a very high level of difficulty and Dominique somehow manages to pull it off. Granted, contemporary production makes it easier to produce this kind of music and conceal flaws, but I promise these parts are not easy to sing. Do not try this at home. Most remakes and cover versions of songs do not live up to the quality of the original, but this one does and in the process evolves its own personality. The combination of a clear artistic vision and Dominique Mathurin’s all out vocal performance is ultimately what gets it there.

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Roddie Mira – Better Off


Better Off is a new single from international artist, Roddie Mira. Already a well established musician (having opened for iconic groups like Wu-Tang Clan) his most recent big break came when a recent release was used in a German Mcdonalds commercial. It isn’t difficult to see why he’s achieving some commercial success. As his performance on Better Off demonstrates, this guy can sing. He has a smooth, soulful R&B style and is able to hit notes on the higher side. It particular his vocals make great use of alternating harmonies with dynamic solo parts. You just can’t fake this style of music. Either you can pull it off or you can’t, and Roddie most definitely can. The backing music is a laid back, charming beat with some contemplative piano and synth vibes. A lot of times when I hear this type of song, I mention how it is good enough to stand alone as just an instrumental / dance track. In this case though, even if there were no instrumentals, beat or musical backing of any kind, Roddie Mira’s vocals could stand on their own. He could release an acapella version of this jam, and it would still be good. His voice is just incredibly versatile. One wonders what the limits are to what it can do.

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idkanymore – Consequences (featuring Austin Hull)


Consequences is a new jam from “idkanymore,” a singer/producer duo (Nicklaus Grassett & Alexander Conway) based out of Arizona/Delaware. The group is currently signed to Higher Reign Music Group. Consequences blends ambient synth music with hip hop to create a dreamy, almost haunting mood. I guess you could classify this music as darkpop or maybe even “chillhop.” The best way to describe it is that this is music you could meditate to while on the dance floor. The keen combination of rap lyrics, EDM ambiance and synthwave pacing results in a genre classification defying concoction that works. These guys are ambitious, and I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more from them.

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Arasa – Leads (feat. Chaotrope, Michan & Nuzulia)


Leads classifies itself as a “depression awareness song.” It is largely an instrumental track, featuring some exquisite piano work to complement the ambient backing beat and light guitar sound. There are a few lyrics and lovely vocalizations, but since the singing does not appear to be in English it’s difficult for me to translate the meaning. However, the musical tone manages to convey a sense of empathy and comfort. One doesn’t need to understand the complete context in order to feel the effects of the song on an emotional level. While it is listed as “lofi” I have to mention that the production quality is much better than what one would expect a from lofi track such as vintage Daniel Johnston. This recording is very professional and particularly well mixed.

The video is a powerful piece of performance art which deals with strong themes, such as depression, loss and even death. The masks worn by the subjects in the video seem to be a metaphor illustrating how depression and painful thoughts are often concealed behind a jovial appearing personality and cheery facade. This song ultimately helps people recognize the importance making others comfortable about sharing their hidden emotions and fears before it is too late.

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JRS3 – Shutdown


Shutdown is a new track from hip hop artist, JRS3. As the title suggests, it’s a contemporary political song which literally deals with some of today’s hot button issues. It touches upon Trump’s broken campaign promises (how he would pay for the wall, etc) among other things. There is even a reference to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ultimately though, the message is about being heard, and how “our” voices won’t be shutdown. Setting aside the political messaging, which will resonate with some people more than others, the song is well produced, professional label quality. The song’s lyrically repetitive nature makes it quite catchy. It represents an anthem for all sorts of people who are dissatisfied with the direction of the country and the ever present threats to freedom of expression.

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Echoglass – Stories From the North – EP


Stories from the North is a new EP / mini-album from Echoglass, a band which originated in Blackburn, Lancashire. It’s important to know that for context because when they talk about the “north,” they’re referring to the Northwest of England, not Canada, the North Pole, the Union states during the American civil war, or North Korea. In fact, if I hadn’t looked it up ahead of time, I would not have guessed right away from briefly listening to parts of their songs that they were from England. I initially assumed they were American. After listening more closely though, their accents are unmistakable.

It’s difficult to classify this band musically as the songs are very eclectic, and Echoglass seems to draw from a wide array of musical influences. There are hints of alternative, classic britpop, adult contemporary, and all kinds of other stuff. The EP contains 4 tracks, but it feels very complete to me, as it’s full sounding and the band doesn’t cut corners. There are no filler or throwaway tracks on here to pad the length. Each song has enough going on to where it could stand alone as a single. I’ll give some brief remarks on each one:

Youth is kind of an upbeat power pop song and a duet. The male vocalist reminds me a bit of Elvis Costello, while the female has a voice similar to the singe from Letters to Cleo.

Sett End strikes me as very alternative. It as a very 90s rock sound. It’s very polished though and not whiny, apathetic or angsty. The lyrics and tone are actually very motivating and uplifting.

Peppermint Place in my opinion is the most britpop sounding track. It’s also my favorite song on the album. Slightly new wave, it has that bell-like synth and deep reverb driven ambiance we’ve come to associate with classic 80’s and 90s British pop songs. Think One Christmas Catalogue.

Belgrave Road is the darkest song on here. Literally the lyrics speak of “the sky growing dark” and how “dreams die here.” Despite the bleak phraseology, it’s a beautiful song and contains an epic synth backing.

Suffice to say this EP is highly enjoyable and punches above its four song weight. From an artistic standpoint, the band’s output lives up to that of the bands and musicians they list as influences, even if they haven’t quite achieved the same name recognition as of yet.

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Sorrow Sky and Pronto – Percocet


Sorrow Sky (real name Matt Sowards) is a hip hop artist and producer from New Port Richey, FL. He runs a label and music platform called “Total Damage Records” Percocet is his latest single, which also features another artist, “Pronto.” The song is a straightforward and free flowing hip hop jam, notable for its effective usage of echo and deep reverb. It gives the song a dreamy almost laid back surreal ambiance, despite the lyrical content which speaks of impending aggression and takes a verbal few pot shots at a female he doesn’t seem to like very much. This is an above average indie hip hop jam, and the artist shows some promise both as a performer and producer.

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heno – Fragments of a Memory


London based artist “heno” has been producing music for over a decade. Fragments of a Memory is his latest album. It consists of 13 tracks of artful instrumental ambiance. The songs are very professional and would make ideal soundtrack music for film or video games. Some jams are strictly beats while others incorporate guitars. There’s a lot of variety among these tracks stylistically, though a slow methodical pacing is consistent throughout. The best way to describe this album is that it’s an amalgamy of thematic elements. It’s mood music, often cold, contemplative and haunting.

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