Music

Run The Jewels 3

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Judging by the opening track you might think that Run The Jewels spent the two years since their last album in anger-management classes. Compared to the in-your-face opening line of their previous album (“I’m gonna bang this bitch the fuck out!”), RTJ3’s opener “Down” reflects on dark days trying to cope with “a pure absence of hope”.

But these aren’t downbeat observations. RTJ draw strength from those times, resolving instead relentlessly to assert themselves through their music. The anger of the previous two albums is still here, only much more focused.

We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service

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A Tribe called Quest’s new album is a breath of fresh air in the stale halls of “new” hip hop.

For the last couple of years a dominant theme in US hip hop has been the emergence of trap music. Artists such as Future, Rich Homie Quan, Lil Uzi, Young Thug and others have been propelled into the limelight, and signed for millions, due to their categorisation as trap artists.

Political music

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Music often has something to say about the world we live in. Sometimes it simply reflects that world, good and bad, but sometimes it goes further, commenting on it and, on occasions, trying to be part of changing things and actively engaging with movements and society at large.

AIM

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MIA’s fifth album is fresh, vibrant and bold, encapsulating everything that is unique about her as an artist. Her songs are infused with politics and are as relevant as ever.

Throughout the album there is a consistent theme of opening borders and explicit references to the ongoing refugee crisis that has yet to be resolved in Europe and across the world.

MIA has been criticised for her writing but any fan knows that lazy lyrics are part of her style. She aims to be simple, to the point and in your face.

Blonde

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Frank Ocean is a 21st century enigma. His ability to surround himself in mystery is impressive, given that we are in a time where celebrities’ personal business is aired freely among all channels of social media and the television.

It has been a feat, especially after the breakthrough success of Channel Orange (2012), his debut studio album, earned him a shed load of award nominations and a top 5 spot in various end of year album lists. So the extraordinary hype surrounding Blonde has been justified.

Hopelessness

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In a year that has seen many great artists pass away, those still living and working among us can be overlooked. One such artist is Anohni, whose work under her former group Antony and the Johnsons has attracted international acclaim with albums such as the Mercury Prize-winning “I Am a Bird Now” and “The Crying Light”.

Her dramatic, other-worldly vocal style and intimate music have previously inhabited the world of torch song popularised by the likes of Marc Almond and the dark glamour of her mentor Lou Reed. But Anohni has undergone a remarkable transformation.

Songs for Our Mothers

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If you haven’t yet been exposed to Fat White Family, they are a South London six-piece that have gained prominence in the last two or three years, mainly through their energetic (and very, very messy) live shows.

Known for their low-fi, dirgy sound, they seem to aspire to the filthy style, shocking lyrics and chaotic atmosphere of bands such as The Fall, Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party, Butthole Surfers and certainly Industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle. If that’s what you’re into, they do it pretty well.

Art Angels

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Pop music is political again. If it’s not that X Factor alumni Little Mix tweeted against the bombing of Syria, it’s that one of the most critically acclaimed records of the year is about climate change. Art Angels is Canadian Claire Boucher’s fourth studio album, and certainly her most ambitious to date.

On this, her first self-produced album, vocals are layered on top of each other, creating an otherworldly electropop. Sounds of the rainforest and the natural world are heard over energetic beats.

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