Artwork by Ellis Mckenzie.
Originally published for The 405.
I just want to quickly address how much of a bitch this new SoundCloud ‘preview’ feature has been on my life recently. How is one meant to scour through the depths of SoundCloud looking for new artists for hours on end with these kinds of restrictions? I am shocked and appalled by this inconsiderate behavior on SoundCloud’s end. I thought we were cool; I thought you were the one, but you’ve well and truly let me down bae.
Anyway, moving on, I’ve been on a bit of a smooth jazz/funk kick lately, mainly in honour of The Purple One himself, so this month’s selections are very much in that vein. We’ve got instrumentals from my current favourite Soulection signee, IAMNOBODI, and just about every Chicago rapper’s go-to producer, Cam O’bi – as well as new tracks from The Internet’s Steve Lacy, South London newcomer RAYE, fellow London songstress Ruby Francis, and LA singer/producer Sunni Colón.
Steve Lacy – ‘That’s No Fun’
Fans of The Internet will already be aware of Steve Lacy as 1/6 of the group, headed by Odd Future alumni Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians, and co-executive producer of their Grammy-nominated album Ego Death. However, that’s not all Lacy has dipped his talented little toe into: he recently collaborated with Kali Uchis on her latest release, ‘Only Girl’, and co-produced a track, ‘Selfish’, on Jhené Aiko and Big Sean’s Twenty88 album, all the while working away on his own material and focusing on finishing high school – that’s right, he’s only 17. Just take a moment to let that sink in and then imagine, if he’s producing tracks this good at 17 then there can surely only be bigger and better things to come in Steve Lacy’s future.
Ruby Francis – ‘Paranoid’
From a member of The Internet to a fan of The Internet; Ruby Francis claims to have been inspired by the sounds of Odd Future and The Internet and you can certainly hear those Neptunes vibes in the jazz/neo-soul stylings that filter through her music. The London-based singer takes her first steps into self-producing on latest release ‘Paranoid’, having co-produced previous singles ‘On My Knees’ and ‘Move’, with Rae Sargent and Shift K3Y respectively. ‘Paranoid’ is distinctly more funk-influenced than Francis’ previous releases, nodding to some of her biggest influences like D’Angelo and Chaka Khan, but is still in keeping with the whole future R&B thing she’s got going on.
IAMNOBODI – ‘At the crib’
I am so into everything that Soulection is putting out right now and my current favourite artist on their roster is producer IAMNOBODI. It’s only been about a month since he put out the Imani EP and already he has graced us with another amazing track in the form of ‘at the crib’: a proper old school jazz/funk beat that Lauryn Hill needs to jump on ASAP, please. The Berlin-based producer has also been dropping hints about an upcoming album via his Facebook page, claiming to be working with “the guy who produced Q-Tip and played for Stevie Wonder,” and posting pictures with Thundercat, so clearly there’s even more to look forward to from him in the near future.
Sunni Colón – ‘Way You Talk About Me’
Sunni Colón, aka Thierry Tetsu, has been quietly releasing an array of interesting, experimental, multi-genre tracks for a couple of years now, but has failed to really achieve the recognition he deserves, despite support from labels like Kitsuné and Roc Nation. However, with pretty much a song a month dropping since the start of the year, and his debut album due for release later this year, Sunni seems to be limbering up for a mammoth 2016. Continuing to play about with different sounds and genres, ‘Way You Talk About Me’ is more of a lighter sound than what we’re used to hearing from Sunni but definitely needs to be added to your summer ‘chilling at the beach’ playlist right now.
Cam O’bi – ‘Loti’s Dreamland’
Cam O’bi (aka Cameron Osteen) has probably produced some of your favourite modern hip-hop tracks and you didn’t even know it. A frequent collaborator of Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa, Cam has also recently produced tracks for fellow Chicago rappers Mick Jenkins, Rockie Fresh and Saba, as well as non-Chicago natives Domo Genesis and Rejjie Snow. Known for his smooth jazz/funk influenced, super chilled beats, in the description for ‘Loti’s Dreamland’, Cam writes, “What it sounded like in the womb before I was born,” and, if that’s the case, then said womb must have been real chilled.
RAYE feat. Stormzy – ‘Ambition’
The latest in a string of young talent to come out of South London is 18-year-old singer RAYE, who has teamed up with everyone’s favourite back-up dancer (and MC) Stormzy on new single ‘Ambition’. Off the back of her debut EP, Welcome to the Winter, released in 2014, RAYE has drawn many comparisons to none other than Rihanna, with her gritty vocals and electronic/hip-hop influenced beats. ‘Ambition’ follows suit, with its incredibly sparse production leaving room for RAYE to really show off her vocal abilities. The track is set to feature on RAYE’s upcomingBack 2 The Winter EP – evidently her favourite season – but the EP has not been given a release date as of yet, so you’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled on that.