After a short intermission, the breakthrough playlist is back! Each week, we sift through musical submissions from all over the world, documenting the latest and greatest music from upcoming, almost exclusively independent artists across the globe, both geographically and musically. These playlists are a great way to discover some incredible upcoming artists, and
- Kyle Bent, Afraid (Second Guesses)
Opening this week’s playlist on not one, but two songs from Kyle Bent, both of which feature on this upcomer’s brand new 15-track album Dreams of a God. Afraid begins on a delicate organ, paving the way ahead of Bent’s opening verse. Each track shows off his wonderful flow, playful at times, intense at others, partially melodic, but mostly focused on lyrics and storytelling, as we get to know the young rapper. Keep your doubts and your fears to yourself, cos I ain’t second guessing myself,” he repeats at the end. Beautiful
- Kyle Bent, Wouldn’t It Be Nice
For anyone who likes to say that they aren’t making real hip-hop anymore, I am so happy to shove stuff like this in their faces. Another gorgeous song from Bent’s new release, the soft production sets the tone, making way for his incredibly insightful verse, addressing his journey so far, the recent changes in his life (he was recently signed to Made in the Shade), being thankful for his own life, etc. “Wouldn’t it be nice?” he ponders, dreaming about fame, money, a family. “I don’t ever really wanna lose myself.” Kyle, if you keep going at this rate, you’re going to blow up and your life will change. Remember this song when that happens. I know I will.
- Des Brennan & Derlee, Game On (co-Produced By King Shi)
I love the real classic vibe on this one. The tone has a kind of softened Immortal Tech vibe to it, and while the production is quite airy and smooth, the influence of Tupac and the like can be felt through the rhythmic make-up. Like Kyle Bent, it’s artists like these that give me total, complete faith in the future of hip-hop. “I’m up for a culture with no gimmicks” immediately stuck out to me, but the whole track is full of gems.
- Amy Syed, You Go To My Head
Immediately, this track struck me as something fresh, something special. Those delicate opening beats and plucks create an incredible, eerie atmosphere, and the vocal melody and stunning piano add splashes of vibrant colour. Syed’s lyrics, too, are remarkably surreal and poetic. Coupled with the dramatic piano and sparse instrumentation, it feels featrical, almost like a kind of synth-y, futuristic cabaret song, sung beneath a spotlight, backed by velvet drapes.
- THEY., Say When
Again, the instrumentation quickly stood out to me here, as did the vocal topline,which kind of balances this line between trap and rock-rap, with a heavily processed guitar riff playing around with the melody, the rhythm of which continues to creep closer and closer to a trap sound, but instead of falling into the all-too-familiar autotunes and synths of Future, it gets heavier and more aggressive. I absolutely love it.
- Monoman, Hollow ft. Aimee Montague & eMbi
I’ve written about Monoman before, and I’m stoked that there’s another new song to share today. Hollow has a simple and familiar format, but its the quality that stands out. Each layer enters on its own time, from the rhythm to Montague’s hook, to eMbi’s excellent verse, breading down to a distant beat, before a pitch-shifted bridge, and back again. There’s a lot happening throughout this track, and all of it is really good fun.
- Relself, Playin Catch Up
Anyone who follows these playlists knows I’m a sucker for jazzy, conscious hip-hop, and this fits the bill to a tee. The cool, calm instrumental evokes a laid back feel, while the verses are really interesting, both rhythmically and lyrically, including some really amazing, really detailed rhyming schemes throughout. It’s the kind of track I can (and have) listened to a number of times in a row,and can discover something new each time.
- Nuit Oceān, Falling Night
And now for a little change in pace, comes a slow, forlorn and softly-spoken slice of future-soul. There’s a lot of emotion running through this track, felt through those sweeping vocals, and the bulging atmosphere, as guitars and percussion begin to fill the space. It balances that contrast between the lengthy vocal phrases and lush instrumental builds really well, allowing the listener to stay really attentive throughout.
- Des Brennan, Right Now (Produced by DJ Grumble)
I love this track, the second on today’s list featuring Des Brennan. The track really reminds me of the kind of thing Atmosphere do best – a bright, pleasant instrumental, contrasted by remarkably revealing, and often quite sentimental and sad lyrics. The soulful hook coupled with Brennan’s thought-provoking, confessional verses are beautiful to hear. It sounds like Brennan is truly on his way down the road to change, and should be proud of taking that and turning it into such heartfelt music.
- Rare Treat (Myke Bogan, Neill Von Tally & The Last Artful, Dodgr), Mornin’ Dew
I love how woozy and chilled this entire track is; from the glowing, spaced-out synths, to the hazy verses, the Anderson .Paak-esque hook and beyond, there’s so many layers, so many flavours blending together and working with one another here, and the result is really magical. The overall vibe is so laid back – hip-hop doesn’t always put you in a good mood, but this is so warm and soulful that it genuinely puts a smile on my face.
- Kenny Sharp, Brown Liquor Music
We’re nearing the end of the playlist, so let’s tone it down with some acoustic guitar and naturally stunning vocals from one of my favourite folky-soul discoveries, Kenny Sharp. His voice is incredibly dynamic and emotive, even dramatic, particularly outstanding considering it’s totally exposed, accompanied by nothing but his guitar. It’s no secret that I’m not usually a fan of acoustic tracks like this, but this immediately crept under my skin, and I’m so glad that it has.
- Sarsha Simone, Casualty
Finally this week comes a seductive electro-R&B number from Sarsha Simone. The pristinely produced track is equal parts ready for the club and the bedroom, with its slinky rhythm, a rich, powerful melody from Simone, whose voice is gorgeous, not to mention diverse. The slowed down trap-inspired elements gives the track a darker edge, overall creating a really interesting, really cool tune.
Image: Kenny Sharp