Music

Waiting Game

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“Break down the walls til patriarchy falls” goes the line in “The Anthem” on Waiting Game, the new album by Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, a collaboration with Aaron Parks and Matthew Stevens. On No Justice (For Political Prisoners), the words of activists, newsreaders and prisoners echo.

Since becoming the youngest union card holder in Boston aged 10, Carrington has been politically engaged for all of her 40-year career in music, as drummer, producer and educator.

Heavy is the Head

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When word dropped that Stormzy’s new album Heavy Is The Head would be released on 13 December there were, to my mind, three possible scenarios. Firstly, it would be the perfect toast to a stunning Labour election victory. Alternatively, it would offer consolation in the wake of a devastating defeat. Finally, the “Fuck the government and fuck Boris” refrain of Vossi Bop would be the defiant slogan of the continuing struggle.

Cheap Queen

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King Princess burst onto the scene in 2018 with singles “1950” and “Pussy is God”, which unambiguously rejected heteronormative sexuality in a pop packaging, as in the line, “I hate it when men try to chase me”.

The newly minted queer young icon releases her debut album Cheap Queen to much anticipation. Now 20 years old, the title and cover photo where her face is painted like a drag queen are nods to a lineage of underground LGBTQ+ culture.

The debut album is more interesting as a window into King Princess’s emotional exploration than musical journey.

Kiwanuka

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Home Again and Love & Hate, Michael Kiwanuka’s first two albums, were both nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. Little wonder then that his eponymously titled third release was eagerly anticipated.

Born in Muswell Hill, north London, to parents who fled Idi Amin’s Uganda, Kiwanuka’s music similarly has a multicultural inheritance.

Swimming Lessons

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The Skints’s sound combines punk, ska and reggae. Their recent tour promoting new album Swimming Lessons offered the audience a blast of emotions, whether they were jumping around to some songs, or swaying slowly to others.

They have made a name dealing with political issues. On the Short Change EP, “The Cost of Living is Killing Me” was an exploration of the deteriorating quality of life under a system intent on destroying the welfare state that Labour built.

Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides Remix Album

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Scottish-born, LA-based experimental pop producer SOPHIE turns over her groundbreaking debut album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides to further transformation in this non-stop, club-ready remix album.

For the album’s release in 2018, SOPHIE shocked fans by appearing unobscured and singing to camera for the first time in the video “It’s Okay to Cry”. Previously altering or obscuring her image and singing in eerie high-pitched vocals, the video and song were a celebration of her coming out as a trans woman.

Early

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Joy Crookes is hugely talented emerging artist from Elephant & Castle in south London with Irish and Bangladeshi origins. Her husky tones make for some very easy listening. “Early” is her first collaboration with Irish hip-hop artist Jafaris. An excellent blend of hip-hop and soul, this track is about love and bad timing, a theme few people won’t have experienced.

All Mirrors

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One of Angel Olsen’s most memorable lyrics is “Guess we’re just at the mercy of the way that we feel”. To an extent, Olsen’s fourth album All Mirrors centres around that simple fact.

All Mirrors features extensive use of a 12-piece string section to add a dramatic film soundtrack quality. Olsen takes inspiration from the music of the 50s and 60s, but her use of synths and 21st century subject matter is thoroughly modern.

Eve

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MC Rapsody’s third album follows Laila’s Wisdom, which was nominated for Best Rap Album at 2017’s Grammys, helping open doors for other female rappers who at the time had not won in this category since 1997. Rapsody continues to explore and critique the reasons for this in the feminist hip-hop experience that is Eve.

Eve is largely a commentary on the portrayal of black women, particularly in the rap industry, as well as the systems which have and continue to oppress black people. Permeating the album are strong themes of slavery and freedom, sexism, unity and sisterhood.

Hoodies All Summer

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East Ham’s grime pioneer, Kano fires back against a broken system, racism and wealth inequality in his sixth album – Hoodies All Summer. After the release of Made in the Manor in 2016, Kano once again has solidified his position as one of grime’s best.

Having recently featured in Ronan Bennet’s Top Boy on Netflix, all eyes have been on Kano. His emotional, passionate performance continues into the album, expressing the desperation people can feel as a result of the system they are born into.

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