Tyler, The Creator - IGOR
Who has had more of an artistic reinvention over the last couple years than Tyler? Flower Boy put him in the prestige tier and now IGOR has locked that down with a break-up record of such sweet sorrow that his Odd Future buddy Frank Ocean (one of many uncredited guests) would be proud of. Fully self-produced, glossy and yet still challenging, teeming with emotion through his sincere themes and his ragged and effected voice. By the time the clock’s run down on the final track, Are We Still Friends?, you’re left a little speechless and what a blessing when art can do that.
Institute – Re-Adjusting The Locks
Quality modern punk with an emphasis on screaming guitars, curb-stomping rhythms, and tuned down vocals. Good luck picking a lyric outta this one, it’s all fury and mood. With thirteen songs but totalling only half an hour in length it churns along nicely though track seven, Shangri-La, is where this one reaches a whole new level. Short songs. Sharp riffs. Plenty of political charge with a particular dose of thunder reserved for the neoliberal agenda… fire it up, mate.
Curren$y & LNDN DRGS - Umbrella Symphony
Cheeky little collabo project here with Curren$y linking up with the duo of LNDN DRGS which means that Sean House’s g-funk-ish production and Jay Worthy’s slick dialect meets Spitta. What a combination and this 7 song nugget is exactly what you need when you’re cruising around Aotearoa.
Cate Le Bon – Reward
Always keeping it deliciously weird, Cate Le Bon took a break from music for a while there to learn how to build furniture. She then bounced back with another DRINKS record last year now here’s her fifth solo effort. There’s less of her wonderfully twitchy guitar work here, more instrumental oddities as she expands the ol’ sonic template. It’s woozier. It’s wearier. It’s wonderful and the Welsh lilt, as always, is the icing upon a beautiful cake.
Larry June - The Port Of San Francisco
With some production from Sean House, there is a bit of LNDN DRGS crossover in this Larry June project consisting of 9 tracks. June hails from San Francisco and with a mellow, laid back style on the mic, June offers the type of tunes that will have you quoting all sorts of dimes. This is a monthly must have and if you’re not up on Larry June, give this a jam and then tell ya cuzzies.
Earth - Full Upon Her Burning Lips
This is vibe out music. This is what you put on the speakers when you’ve got rituals to perform, when you need to get your mind into a specific state. Dylan Carlson and Earth have been around since the 90s doing their particular drone metal thing but each album has its own little dose of funk. FUHBL’s funk is that it’s actually kinda sexy in its own way, got that witchy magick going on. Close your eyes and nod your head.
Steve Lacy - Apollo XXI
From The Internet and the ol’ OFWGKTA family tree, Steve Lacy takes a break from The Internet duties to serve up a solo album that is simply cool. Light on features and guest appearances, Lacy is responsible for the vocals and production which comes together for an album that is super funky and bright, yet perfect for a rainy day when you’re stuck indoors. Easily one of the low key best projects from May, Apollo XXI arrives just in time for a kiwi winter.
YG - 4Real 4Real
Any time YG combines with Mustard, things will be funky and with the two West Coasters teaming up for a few tracks on 4Real 4Real, the slapping simplicity immediate gets you in a groove. Like with Schoolboy Q and Mac Miller, YG had to endure the death of his comrade Nipsey Hussle and this offers a different twist to 4Real 4Real with a couple tribute elements, but generally this album has YG offering new creative twists on the same ideas he tends to roll out. A track like ‘Go Loko’ is the epitome of this and there are endless creative wrinkles to explore in what appears to be a simple landscape.
ScHoolboy Q - CrasH Talk
Having endured a fair amount of life’s bumps in recent times, ScHoolboy Q has stuck to his script with his latest album CrasH Talk. Offering less experimentation and more of the standard thumpers that many love Q for, there are introspective moments blended in with the street commentary of Q and CrasH Talk feels like a comfy couch in which you are re-acquainted with the homie Q. With longtime producers DJ Dahi, Sounwave and Cardo contributing, as well as features from Kid Cudi, 21 Savage, Travis Scott, 6lack, Ty Dolla Sign and YG, CrasH Talk is really is comfort in ScHoolboy Q fashion.
Flying Lotus - Flamagra
A new FlyLo album is an event. There’s nobody on his level when it comes to that particular plenty of jazz/electronica/hip-hop and you can always guarantee the finest of collaborators (he has David freakin’ Lynch on one track, mate). Over 27 tracks there’s a bit of room for all the funky explorations that FlyLo’s known for but it’s best not to start picking out tracks until you’ve absorbed the whole thing in its intended 67-minute form. As always it unfolds like an underwater, under-the-influence daydream.
Mavis Staples – We Get By
Even at 80 years old, Mavis Staples is still laying down absolute wisdom. Following on from a late-career resurgence working with Jeff Tweedy, here she teams up with Ben Harper for a bluesy affair that allows the soul legend to stretch things out and live in the emotions. Musically it’s nothing dramatic but that’s exactly what these tunes need as Mavis, still strong of voice, grieves for the hard times but offers hope for the future too.
Beast Coast - Escape From New York
Consisting of Pro Era, The Underachievers and Flatbush Zombies, Beast Coast is a project offering that brings together an underground wave of New York hip-hoppers to break their New York shackles. Trying to fit so many creatives into an album can be a bit niggly and this vibe is present in moments throughout Escape From New York, but for those who have long been familiar with the different voices of Beast Coast, hearing then try to combine is a pleasure. This isn’t quite as lovely as their separate projects, however such a coming together has been a long time coming and it’s nice to experience this before moving on to more individual stuff from Beast Coast artists.
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