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  • Writer's pictureEvan

Monthly Rewind: February '24

Despite a few promising releases, February ended up just as uneventful as January when it comes to the mainstream. Waiting for new albums, I spent the month exploring UK garage and funk, both genres I wish I had discovered sooner. From Parliament to Talking Heads, my February was packed with classic albums, but of course I left space for underground releases, with dozens of incredible rap records having dropped these past few weeks.




 

Little Simz – Drop 7 (2024) [UK Hip Hop]

 

With instant classics like Grey AREA and SIMBI under her belt, Little Simz has quickly become one of my favourite rappers ever, but unfortunately, Drop 7 doesn’t quite hit the mark for me. In terms of production, I adore it. The fusion of hip hop and dance music makes for a gorgeous, vibrant soundscape full of pulsing synths and thundering drum patterns, with highlights including the energetic “Torch” and the mesmerising drums on “SOS”. Where Drop 7 falls short for me is in Simz’s contributions. On many tracks her contributions are too brief to make much of an impact, whether it be her 20-second verse on “SOS” or the one-minute rush that is “Power”. On other songs, she lacks the passion and animation that made her past few records so special, reading her lines in an almost monotone voice which lessens the sharpness of her lyrics. Despite my disappointment with the EP, I hope that Simz continues down this path of dance music, as the potential is there for a fantastic album.

 

Bruiser Wolf – My Story Got Stories (2024) [Hip Hop]

 

Bruiser Wolf is one of the strangest rappers in the game today. His conversational flow and hyper-humorous delivery create the effect of a standup comedy set, with the MC’s frequent one-liners adding even more to the hilarity. My Story Got Stories is his finest work yet, boasting 14 tracks of comedic tales and wordplay-laden verses. Joined by elite rappers from Danny Brown to Stretch Money, every feature delivers, adding to the grimy atmosphere with a more serious presence to contrast Wolf’s carefree style. On the production side, the album is consistent from front to back, but few beats stand out as particularly memorable. They serve well enough as background noise for the MC to flex his skills, but Bruiser Wolf himself is the highlight of every song.





Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues (1983) [New Wave]

 

Some of the band’s funkiest, most irresistibly catchy work, Speaking In Tongues rivals Remain In Light for Talking Heads’ best album. Every bassline is thick and rippling, matching the drums that snap, the guitars that squeal, and the synths that screech. Each track is a cacophony of blaring sounds which somehow coalesce into a neat package of synth-funk masterworks. David Byrne has endless charisma, shouting into the microphone to rise above the synths in his signature wild, unpredictable delivery. On heartfelt tunes and raging funk bangers alike, the band perform at their highest level, delivering a true ‘80s masterpiece.

 

Sunship – Is This Real (1998) [UK Garage]

 

Garage albums are hard to come by, with most DJs opting instead to drop singles rather than complete projects, so to discover a garage album as lengthy as this one – and equally as consistent – is a rarity. Is This Real is a must-listen for all fans of electronica, with the diced-up samples and tight drum patterns rivalling the symmetrical genius of Todd Edwards. Living up to its name as a UK garage album, every instrumental is laced with chopped-up vocal samples and jittery hi-hats, with the listener offered no moment to breathe as the album transitions from one fast-paced banger into the next. Sunship is also a master with the synthesiser, injecting colourful solos here and there to add to the perfectly-timed chaos of the record. There is so much diversity on Is This Real, with each track boasting unique strengths. The gorgeous lead vocals on “Friendly Pressure” make it an instant highlight of the album, whereas the relentless, stuttering drums are what make “Sun Funk” so special.

 

Parliament – Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome (1977) [Synth Funk]

 

Articulating the brilliance of Parliament is a near impossibility. The summery mess that is Funkentelechy is so rich in detail and off-the-wall ideas that no amount of words could truly capture the genius of its sound. Highlights like “Bop Gun” and “Sir Nose D Voidoffunk” are lengthy tracks where various choruses and refrains repeat over and over, with layers of rippling bass and blaring horns washing over their voices. The instrumentals ebb and flow from minimalist to maximalist, with the lack of any predictable structure keeping the listener on their toes as the band scream and improvise. The sheer energy on display is palpable, with the entire band coming together to forge one of the most vibrant and passionate records in the history of funk.




 

Marc Andre & Soek – Reloaded Faith (2024) [Hip Hop]

 

The crossover between Parisian rapper Marc Andre and Arizonan producer Soek, the duo bring out the best in one another on Reloaded Faith. Andre’s pen game is sharp and introspective, spilling out his thoughts over a range of lush, soulful beats provided by Soek. The MC’s delivery is rough and aggressive, making every bar stand out against the angelic backing vocals and smooth strings which make up the instrumentals. A perfect example of contrast, the clashing styles of Andre and Soek are what make Reloaded Faith so captivating. Switching back and forth from French to English, you don’t need to be fluent to hear the passion in the rapper’s voice, tearing apart every beat with a variety of relentless flows and sharp cadences.


nofacerapper & Foule Monk – And It Was Beautiful (2024) [Hip Hop]

 

Among the strongest rap records of the year, And It Was Beautiful sees nofacerapper and producer Foule Monk unite for 15 minutes of abstract excellence. “Precioso” features one of the strangest beats of 2024, where a lonesome drum struggles to keep with the rhythm of a warped sample swaying backwards and forwards, suddenly interrupted by a guitar-driven beat switch. Despite how bizarre the instrumental is, noface conquer it, flowing effortlessly with a confident delivery and razor-sharp sense of lyricism. The rest of the record is just as brilliant, with noface tackling themes as dark as depression and suicide with the lyrical precision to master every topic covered. Featuring some groundbreaking production and a range of impressive verses, And It Was Beautiful is too short for anyone to have an excuse not to listen.


Sunmundi & klwn cat – Lived and Born (2024) [Hip Hop]

 

Back again just a month after CYCLEBREAKER with tau, abstract producer klwn cat has graced the underground with yet another timeless collaboration, this time with lyrical titan Sunmundi. The duo work together perfectly, with the dry, serious mic presence from Sunmundi well-complemented by the sparse production from klwn. Many tracks are entirely drumless, with that lack of rhythm creating a sense of emptiness which reflects the dread and fear in the MC’s rhymes. Tackling a range of existential topics like death and decay, but contrast them with flickers of hope, with even the darkest tracks made brighter by Sunmundi’s messages of ambition and perseverance. The spacious, atmospheric production makes Lived and Born far from a casual listen, inviting the listener into another world in which it feels like a betrayal to interrupt the flow of the record for even a moment. An achievement in the underground scene, this LP is further evidence that klwn cat and Sunmundi are some of the most promising figures in modern rap music.

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