Review: Whereas Joji's acclaimed 2018 debut album was an evocative and atmospheric concoction that sat somewhere between lo-fi trip-hop, experimental R&B and bubbly electronica, this hotly anticipated follow-up is a much bolder and more musically advanced affair. That means that the Japanese-Australian artist's evocative, eyes-closed vocals come cloaked in sweeping strings, crunchy guitars and twinkling pianos, while resting on booming basslines and punchy, tweaked hip-hop and R&B beats. It's a formula that only enhances his already impressive songs, while the presence of some high-profile collaborators - Diplo and Yves Tumor included - only emphasizes the top-tier circles he's now moving in.
Review: When Blackmarket Seminar first surfaced in 2014, it was already ancient. Kazi, then a mic man as much as a beat-maker, recorded it with the mighty Madlib way back in 1996, but for whatever reason it was never released at the time. The fact that it has been reissued is a very good thing indeed, because many hip-hop heads may have missed it previously. Kazi's rhymes are of course good, but what makes the album so special is Madlib's incredible beats, which are typically dusty, crackly, jazzy and atmospheric, with samples and scratches complimented by the legendary producer's own subtle instrumental touches and tight drum programming. If you dig the deeper, more blunted end of the hip-hop spectrum, you need the album in your life.
Review: Back in 2019, beat-maker and MC R-Juna made his solo debut with a seven-track set that blurred the boundaries between dub, reggae and hip-hop. On Intelligent Design, his second set, the Indiana-based artist has gone back to his roots, returning to the mic to rap over his own boom-bap and golden era hip-hop beats. It was a wise choice. His chunky, head-nodding beats and layered jazz, soul and funk samples provide a perfect backdrop for his own largely conscious raps, which on some tracks come accompanied by guest verses from A7mc, Zagnif Nori and Chuck Chan.