Kamaiyah brings the spirit of 90s hip hop to the modern era
Kamaiyah – ‘Build You Up’
With her mixtape A Good Night In The Ghetto, Californian rapper Kamaiyah proved to be one of the most exciting new voices of 2016. Honestly, if you’re into good hip hop and you haven’t heard that album – get onto it immediately.
After such a solid introduction, the pressure is now on Kamaiyah to maintain the quality as people begin to discover her immense talent and she’s easily done that with her new single ‘Build You Up’.
As with all her best work, its production features a healthy nod to the great 90s hip hop and R&B that was all over the radio through Kamaiyah’s childhood, but her delivery is very much steeped in the modern hip hop parlance. She raps with a kind of dissociated cool, a measured and assured confidence behind her semi-tuneful approach.
‘Build You Up’ is a beacon of positivity. A firm message that demands women treat themselves with respect as well as be shown that level of respect from everyone around them.
‘Hold yourself to a standard, we know that's real / Show respect, well-mannered, and own that care / Bein' a queen really means you gotta show yourself love,’ she raps in the second verse.
The key to its effectiveness lies in Kamaiyah’s confident delivery. She quietly demands her message be heeded and makes it sound so good.
Big Thief – ‘Shark Smile’
Another glorious cut from one of the best albums of the year so far. ‘Shark Smile’ is a breezy sounding song in which Adrianne Lenker lets loose with more of her brilliantly evocative storytelling. While Big Thief’s music is sweet and laidback here, the song’s ending is anything but. The nonchalance with which death is dealt with here just makes it more affecting.
Tom Cooney – ‘Sinking Feeling’
More sad and beautiful work from Brisbane’s Tom Cooney. ‘Sinking Feeling’ is stunningly intimate as Cooney sings about just how awful life is when you’ve just ended a significant relationship. Most of us know that sinking feeling all too well and Cooney does a remarkable job capturing it. Perhaps too remarkable. There’s no way you can feel happy once this is through, but there’s great beauty in that.
Liam Gallagher – ‘Wall Of Glass’
Liam Gallagher finally ponies up with some solo material after all these years and does a pretty damn good job of it, too. It’s not up there with Oasis’ classic material, but it’s a perfectly passable cut of soaring pop-rock, replete with big hooks, cunning lyrics and intriguingly soulful musical elements.
Lincoln Le Fevre & the Insiders – ‘Undone’
One of the Australian underground’s most celebrated songwriters shows us his knack for captivating storytelling through a punk rock prism on ‘Undone’. His band sounds great – all muscular and polished – but it’s Lincoln le Fevre’s lyrics that will stick with you here. They’re totally relatable and you just want to hang on every word he sings. It’s a powerful gift and he uses it so well.
Mojo Juju – ‘Think Twice’
This is probably Mojo Juju’s best pop song to date. It’s a taut, hard-hitting piece of dark, soulful pop that showcases her unbelievable voice and some really interesting production elements. There’s a little bit of a 90s Michael Jackson vibe here, but Mojo imbues it with such grit that it lands with serious impact.
Mutemath – ‘Hit Parade’
Mutemath’s ability to make peculiar prog-pop has not diminished since 2015’s Vitals, with ‘Hit Parade’, the first taste of their fifth album Play Dead, showcasing all the beloved hallmarks of the band. It’s a little bit retro, a little bit futuristic, a little bit anthemic and musically as ambitious as always. It’s a big, powerful piece of music that will come across as ostentatious to some and completely perfect to others.
Kele Okereke – ‘Streets Been Talkin'’
Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke will release his new solo album Fatherland in October and ‘Streets Been Talkin’’ suggests it might be a fairly intimate affair. A simple acoustic guitar progression and bassline drive the song, Okereke casually croons over the top. Auxiliary horns take it from plaintive folk to something more theatrical a couple of minutes in. It’s really pleasing, but honestly quite unexpected. Will Okereke make as big a splash as a folk artist as he has working in indie rock?
Planète – ‘Guided By Flux’
Planète’s flawless track record continues unabated with latest single ‘Guided By Flux’. The Melbourne producer makes such beautiful electronic music that would be equally at home in your lounge room or your favourite nightclub. Though it would have to be an impossibly cool club to play music this good. Ambitious, unpredictable, beautiful and strange, ‘Guided By Flux’ is a seven minute journey you just need to take for yourself.
Tentendo – ‘One Stop Shop’
Caleb Williams gives us some unbelievably accomplished future soul as Tentendo. A perfect vocal (from a familiar, but unnamed voice) and spacious, playful, ultra-modern production combine to make for an utterly brilliant first taste of his work. Australian artists are making some of the best modern R&B right now and that’s something to be proud of.