‘Family and Loyalty’ by Gang Starr (feat. J. Cole)
In their first project in sixteen years, classic rap duo Gang Starr (featuring J. Cole) harken back to the golden age of hip-hop with a single reminiscent of their seminal album, Moment of Truth. DJ Premier constructs a jazzy, boom-bap beat around an unreleased verse from Guru, who tragically passed away in 2010. The beat perfectly suits Guru’s flow, with the gentle pianos underscoring his smooth voice. The lyrics are unsubtle, with ideas of the longevity of friendship and classic rap at the forefront, which is juxtaposed with comparisons to the modern genre that is moving away from conscious rap. Cole’s feature serves to hand over the baton to the next generation of conscious rap, and whilst his flow sounds clumsy at times, his message is no less important and relevant. This is a well-constructed single that reinforces the value of old school rap to the rest of the genre.
– William Scott
‘Into the Surf’ by Foals
Following the glorious first part of the double-album, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost released in March, Foals have been teasing us with singles from the second half of the album ahead of its release on 18 October. ‘Into the Surf’ follows ‘Black Bull’ and ‘The Runner’ in the build-up. Having hit us with a heavier sound in their new music, the slower sound of ‘Into the Surf’ showcases Foals’ ability to move between, and seamlessly marry, a heavy rock sound with ethereal melancholy in the same record. Like all slow songs, the lyrics feel poignant: expressing feelings of loss and longing – on top of the echoing melodies – ‘Into the Surf’ is an emotional one. By sampling the instrumental track ‘Surf, Pt.1’ from the first part of the double-album, Foals leave listeners wondering: what other connections will we see between the two albums?
– Imogen Phillips
‘Boys Like You’ by dodie
Having followed dodie since she was just posting her original songs to YouTube, I feel very privileged to have watched her grow as an artist. Her latest offering, Boys Like You is a haunting yet relevant alternative pop tune for anyone who has a tendency to fall for the wrong type of boy. The music video and lyrics convey the situation perfectly: the reluctance to go back to someone who treats a relationship like a game, yet being unable to resist. Dodie’s music has a long history of addressing unhealthy relationships, yet as she has grown as an artist the production on her songs has become more elaborate and polished, and her lyrics move away from the autobiographical and towards the universal, giving her work a more mature feel. The bridge is delightfully creepy, especially when accompanied by the eerily still dancers in the video, and the overall song leaves a slightly uneasy atmosphere, enhanced by the abrupt ending. Whether this is part of a larger project or not (and I suspect it is), I can’t wait to hear the next work dodie has to offer.
– Ellie Foulds
‘February 2017’ by Charli XCX (feat. Clairo and Yaeji)
Released as one of a number of promotional singles from the futuristic and experimental Charli, ‘February 2017’ (feat. Clairo and Yaeji) is a song about asking for forgiveness with Yaeji’s verse being described by Charli as one of the most “intimate” parts of the album. Clairo provides her dreamy vocals as Charli reminisces on a past relationship, questioning whether she could ever be forgiven for what she has done. Being the shortest song on Charli, it still manages to stand out as a highlight as it is one of the most vulnerable and personal tracks on the album.
– Tilly Attrill