I’m so urban.
1. Wiley – The Zip Files
It’s been years since there was this much buzz about Wiley, and he’s recaptured attention not by producing a great LP, but by neglecting to do so. After months of wrangling with his record label and his manager, and unable to decide on a tracklisting for the forthcoming album, he’s cracked and simply uploaded everything he’s done to the internet. Over 200 songs; most of them absolutely brilliant. Wiley is clearly unmanagable – endlessly creative but constantly sabotaging his own career. It’d be a tragedy, if it wasn’t for all this stuff we’ve got to listen to.
Here’s Wiley, rapping off the top of his head, in full, devastating flow – like the man says: “Got so many bangers in my Mac / when I flick through, fam, I’m dying to leak one / so many bangers I’m dying to leak one”.
2. V/A – Shangaan Electro LP
Honest Jon’s Records is the best record label in the country, having released almost all of my favourite records of the last couple of years (Simone White, Moritz Von Oswald, Katell Keineg, the ‘Open Strings’ and ‘To Scratch Your Heart’ compilations) but this is perhaps the most amazing and interesting. It’s a compilation of super-fast, propulsive dance music from South Africa. Clip below; it’s incredible.
3. Jammer – Jahmanji LP
Wiley’s released about six LPs in the time it’s taken Jammer to get his debut out, but it’s very welcome. Not as dense or sonically interesting as I’d have hoped for, but it’s got some fab stuff on it, particularly the two Toddla T productions, which are cheerfully bonkers. Jammer really can’t rap, but his beats are awesome. And the following tune’s got some decent stuff from the always reliable JME and Skepta.
4. Big Boi – ‘Daddy Fat Sax’
I’m actually well behind the trend on this one; everyone’s been reserving special praise for OutKast for over a decade, and I’ve never quite got it, a few amazing singles (and that guest appearance on TLC’s CrazySexyool) aside. The new Big Boi LP, however – he’s one half of OutKast – gets the combination of hyper-inventive rap, lustrous funk and sheer ludicrousness just right. Next I should go back and revisit his back catalogue, right?
5. Janelle Monae – ‘Tightrope’
Big Boi’s Fingerprints are all over this, too – his short rap in the middle of this terrific single is one of its many highpoints. I’ve not heard Monae’s (supposedly great) LP yet, but I’ll certainly seek it out. This is brills.
6. Martina Topley Bird – Some Place Simple LP
Yet more on Honest Jon’s; Martina Topley-Bird’s new record is completely stripped down – ukulele, electric piano, bass and a cheap drum machine. The space really gives her songs, and her lovely voice, room to breathe. It’s great.
7. Central Line – ‘Walking Into Sunshine’
I’m not sure the teenage me could bear to admit how I discovered this, but I actually heard this for the first time played on Radio 4 courtesy of Tony Adams, who was on Desert Island Discs. He described the young David Rocastle and Michael Thomas getting him into it; a notion that can’t help raise a smile. I thought I hated Arsenal as much as I love British Electro from the 1980s; but turns out I was wrong. This is sumptuous.