Recommended Music | 18 May 2018

NVDES | Skepta | Kojey Radical| Ric Wilson | Carly Paige

What’s in a name? This week felt like a special one in the Vincent household as my 17-month-old daughter learnt to say hers for the first time. As a parent, it kinda feels like a big moment; a tacit, if unreliable, reassurance that her Mum and I didn’t make a mistake and burden her with something tease-worthy (I know what that’s like; when my primary school classmates found out Simon means ‘snub-nosed’ in some archaic language I was followed around for at least two whole weeks by kids pushing their noses back like pigs and snorting. It’s cool. No big deal. I’m over it now. I don’t still hate every last bastard one of them any more. At all.)

But my point is there’s something reassuring about the idea that my first-born has learnt that one particular word is now an intrinsic part of her identity and, to whatever extent she is able at this stage, she has somewhat embraced that.

It was, therefore, interesting to me when I realised that all of the artists I’ve chosen this week are solo and yet the majority have eschewed their given names for pseudonyms; in at least two of the cases as a means of fostering a new identity.

It also happens to be undeniably the coolest selection of tracks I’ve pulled together; not intentionally, they’re simply the tracks I liked the most this week. Perhaps the two are linked in some way? Food for thought.

Anyway, enough of me snorting away; enjoy this week’s selection, won’t you…

nvdes

1. The ‘Charm Offensive’ – NVDES: ‘Anything Goes’

What I Know:
Google search-baiting NVDES is better known to his Mum as Josh Ocean (thank God!) and may be best known to some of you as one-half of the chillwave / electro-pop band Ghost Beach.

Kicking around his solo sounds since 2015, his biggest break to date was when his track D.Y.T. (Do Your Thing) was featured on an iPhone ad last year.

What I Like:
Sane British people and anyone from abroad won’t know that we have a TV programme in this country called Naked Attraction. It’s essentially a dating show but the ‘twist’ is that contestants get to choose who they want to go out with based almost entirely on seeing their naked form.

The presenters like to tell you its a programme that celebrates how beautiful all human bodies are in all their multitudes of forms.

In actual fact, it often makes me think how weird and funny all human bodies are – even the ones you think might actually be nice-looking when you see them in clothes. But maybe that’s just me.

The point is, that nudity is both exciting and a bit stupid and funny, no matter who you are, and that is precisely why NVDES is such an excellent name for the artist behind Anything Goes.

As much as a song ever can do, it sounds like how it feels to get your willy out and pogo around the room like a mental person.

From the dance beat to the high bouncy synth melodies to lyrics that talk of “places where energy flies to”, “where everybody exists in fragments, bumping into each other and flying into sparks” and where there are “celebrations of beautiful colour” it’s weird and silly and not at all sexy.

But its also brilliantly bonkers; a celebration of freedom, a casting-off of inhibitions. If it went on Naked Attraction, it probably wouldn’t get picked but it’d have a great time showing itself off.

Like this? Try these:

  • Ghost Beach: Miracle
  • Anderson .Paak: Am I Wrong
  • Nnamdi Ogbonnaya: dOn’t turn me Off

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skepta

2. The ‘Military Coup’ – Skepta: ‘Pure Water’

What I Know:

Better known to his Mum as Joseph Junior Adenuga, Skepta is a Grime pioneer and, along with mates Stormzy, Lethal Bizzle, Kano and Wiley, is widely credited with bringing the notoriously underground sound of the genre to the mainstream.

Fun fact; he’s also been installed as a chief in his Nigerian hometown so, there, he’s also known by his chieftaincy title, Amuludun of Odo-Aje.

His big break came with the release of 2016 album Konnichiwa which featured the massive hit Shutdown.

What I Like:

I’ve seen and heard a number of people this week complain about the Arctic Monkeys new record, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Their objections, it seems to me, centre around the fact that the music therein is so different to that which has come before.

And that interests me when placed alongside this new Skepta track because, in many ways, both artists have been held up as visionaries in the past.

What’s interesting is the direction in which both artists have taken their sound in the 10 years or so since their launch because while Alex Turner and co. have felt the need to completely revamp their sound, Adenuga’s music has matured and developed but not actually changed an awful lot.

Listen, for example, to I’m There from Skepta’s debut release Greatest Hits and you’ll hear a now familiar set of grime tropes, from the trademark British accent, to the deep basslines and skip-hop hi-hats.

But what he’s done with Pure Water is add an extra layer of eeriness with a high drone, eastern-sounding scales and dubstep stabs. It’s subtle and understated (unlike his lyrics, which are the work of a nincompoop) but it’s still highly effective.

And what it actually highlights to me is the ground-breaking quality of the original grime sound that Skepta has done so much to champion. While the Arctic Monkeys appear to have grown bored of their own punchy, punky – but fundamentally traditional – rock sound, Grime’s finest continue to use the template first debuted in the mid 00’s and that is a tribute to its longevity and vibrancy in the first place.

Like this? Try these:

  • Meridian Dan: ‘German Whip’
  • D Double E: ‘Street Fighter Riddim’
  • Kano: ‘P’s and Q’s’

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Kojey-Radical

3. The ‘Peaceful Protest’ – Kojey Radical: ‘Water (feat. Mahalia)’

What I Know:
When Kojey Radical’s Mum is asked what her son’s name is, she answers Kwadwo Adu Genfi Amponsah (or probably just Kwadwo, thinking about it). But Mrs. Amponsah’s progeny needs no introduction to long-term 45-fans as I first covered Radical’s song Kwame Nkrumah back when this blog existed purely as a podcast.

Back then, he was releasing his politically charged debut record, 23WINTERS. Since, he’s released 2017’s album In God’s Body and now he’s back with the single Water, for which he’s joined by vocalist Mahalia and producer Swindle.

What I Like:

On the surface, Kojey Radical’s sound has undergone a massive transformation. On Kwame Nkrumah it was patently obvious he was angry. Really angry. It was what I loved about that track; the way he shouted on those choruses?… Eesh!

And yet, now he returns with Water which sounds about as cool and suave as you could imagine.

Much of the credit for the change in tone must go to his collaborators here with Mahalia’s velvety tones adding a softness and a melodic quality to the song while Swindle’s majestic jazz-tinged production is particularly apparent in the Fender Rhodes and trumpet flourishes throughout.

But still waters run deep, as they say, (pun entirely intended) and, look under the surface and you’ll see Radical still at his angry lyrical best.

“I still don’t watch the news
Barely trust the facts now.
Liar liar liar, throwing stones
Then hide hands. Wow.
That don’t make no man proud.
Tears might make my city drown.
I’m too scared to speak to God,
There’s shooters in the churches now.”

It doesn’t take a genius to work out the references, particularly in the week that followed all the commentary around Childish Gambino’s This is America.

Taken as a whole it makes Water a stunning piece of work – probably an even more powerful one than Kwame Nkrumah and certainly one that warrants and rewards multiple listens, no matter whether you wish to bathe in its shallows or get lost in its depths.

Like this? Try these:

  • Tom Misch: Water Baby
  • Joey Bada$$: Legendary
  • Jordan Rakei: Blame It On The Youth

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ric wilson

4. ‘Guerilla Warfare’ – Ric Wilson: ‘Sinner’

What I Know:
Kaiser Chiefs fans, be not dismayed. The singer of your shite, shouty sack-of-twats favourite band hasn’t suddenly lost the ‘ky’ from the end of his first name, grown some charisma and started releasing reggae-infused Summer jams. No, this Ric Wilson is a self-styled “Blk & Colorful” rapper from Chicago.

And he’s living up to his own billing, having garnered a reputation as quite the showman with 2016 album Soul Bounce and last year’s EP Negrow Disco.

What I Like:
There’s actually some pretty profound messages in Sinner, you know. Messages about racism (“I don’t need you colour-blind, just need you to respect my skin”), messages about forgiveness (“My niggas make hella mistakes, but they are not their sins”)… all sorts of ‘proper’ subjects.

And Wilson doesn’t just ‘talk the talk’ either; so passionate is he about fighting police brutality in his home city that he’s presented in front of the U.N. on the subject with a campaign group called ‘We Charge Genocide’, formed after 23-year-old Dominique Franklin was tazed to death in Chicago by a police officer. 

What I love about this track is that Wilson could have easily set such lyrics against an evil, N.W.A.-style soundtrack and let us all know exactly how many shades of pissed off he is.

But instead, he wraps it up in a package so fun and frivolous that it can’t possibly be seen as offensive or threatening.

Everything is presented with a beautifully synthesised and compressed bow around it from the tinny drums pit-pat-put-ing out the worlds smallest reggae beat to the gurgling bass-line and the wibbly synthesiser chords.

And all of the time, over the top, you’ve got guest vocalist Nick Kosma’s powerfully erotic D’Angelo style falsetto.

The effect is to actually subvert the stereotype to such an extent that Wilson automatically wins the argument, after all – if someone wants to label you a ‘sinner’ the worst thing you can do is sound like one; hence Sinner’s playful tone.

The track appears on the EP, BANBA which is released today.

Like this? Try these:

  • Thundercat: Them Changes
  • Parliament: Flash Light
  • D’Angelo: Betray My Heart

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carly paige

5. The ‘Quiet Riot’ – Carly Paige: ‘Babe’

What I Know:
Google ‘Carly Paige Music’ and her official website, unsurprisingly, appears top of the rankings. However, the metadata (the bit under the blue bit you click) pulls through a description of an image she’s embedded in her site which her web developer has labelled ‘white Spotify icon’. Initially, I mistook that for her PR team’s description of Ms Paige… ballsy, thought I, to describe an artist with barely three songs to her name as an ‘icon’ and unorthodox for a white person to describe themselves as such, but c’est la vie.

Anyway, Paige hasn’t been releasing music very long (she was only born in 1997, bless her, she’s barely had time; a fact which also, worryingly, means she presumably has no opinion on whether she’s Blur or Oasis so, sadly, we can’t be friends.) Babe follows singles Hide and Seek and Drive Slow.

What I Like:
My wife is enjoying belittling my passions at the moment. My football team is in the final of Europe’s premier club competition yet she is acting like I’m being immature for wanting to watch it completely on my own just so I can cry myself to sleep and declare the end of the world if we don’t win.

And it was in the same spirit that she entered into giving me her review of Babe.

“It sounds like Taylor Swift” she said, all with the secret aim of turning me against the track. Well, more fool her ‘cos I actually like at least two Swift songs so I’m not offended by that at all.

Plus, this has got far more going for it than that “you’re so cool, it makes me hate you so much” nonsense. For a start, it doesn’t have lyrics like “you’re so cool, it makes me hate you so much.”

From the woozy, muted introductory chords, to Paige’s breathy delivery, to the percussive backing track that sounds like a slightly sped-up version of Kanye West’s Say You Will, this is anything but bubblegum.

However, when it wants to go pop, it sure knows how to do so. My particular highlight is when Paige hits the high notes in the pre-chorus but the “better, better, better, better, oh” in the chorus comes a very close second.

A debut EP is apparently on its way… that’s if the world doesn’t end before it gets here.

Like this? Try these:

  • Violet Days: Just a Little
  • Kim Petras: Heart To Break
  • Taylor Swift: September

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The Outro:
And so we reach a cease-fire for this week. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.

For a full list of the current week’s Like This? Try These choices (updated weekly) click here.

If you like my choices (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter.

The silence is broken again next week when I’ll return with five more selections for your consideration. Until then, thank you for reading and go in peace.

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