Posted in Album Reviews, music, UK Music

Mixtape Review: Unknown T – ‘Rise Above Hate’. – Collab with ‘Shahna Says’

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey everyone! Another week, another EP review! Today’s post is extra special as I collab with the hottest journalist on the scene ‘Shahna Says’! We were both excited for the launch of this tape so figured it would be the perfect time to collaborate together.

UK Drill rapper Unknown T blew onto the scene with his smash hit ‘Homerton B’ back in 2018. Instantly, his infamous deep voice and unique flow became a household name. It can definitely be argued that he was one of the most important figures that contributed to the recent success of the drill genre. There was a setback with a recent jail stint but luckily, he was able to overcome and has finally got the time to shine. Straight in at the deep end, Unknown T releases his debut mixtape ‘Rise Above Hate’ and it’s clear from this tape that he is here to stay. One thing you can be guaranteed with an Unknown T project is that you will get unlimited hits. Having released many freestyles in between it was clear that Unknown T was more than just a ‘Drill” rapper. (One of my favourite live lounges from him has to be the Busta Rhymes cover).  He has proven himself to be an artist and more importantly a versatile one. For me, this was one of the reasons I highly anticipated this mixtape launch.

The tape starts off quite calmly as if Unknown T is preparing us for a big journey to come. Throughout the tape however, we are taken on a fun ride with all kinds of surprises along the way. Here are some of the tracks that we loved:

Deh Deh

For me the intro track was just a preparation for what was to come. ‘Deh, Deh’ is really where it all begins. Unknown T’s signature emphasis on the pronunciation of words is so evident on this track too! In this song Unknown T reminds us that he raps about his personal experiences. The accompanying video is great too as we are able to witness Unknown T executing his signature dance moves!

Addicts

M&L: I like the switch up from this song. The song starts off melodic with the voice of M Huncho along a trap type beat. The breakup allows us to have a bit of a break from the known greaze of Unknown T. It takes a talented artist to have songs with different sounds and still make it work. Unknown T is the king of this. When his verse comes in, it works so well without having to change the tone of the song. There are a few real messages I picked up in this song such as “It’s kinda sad that kids are killing kids” as M Huncho and Unknown T both touch on how the environment some kids are brought up is a key factor on how they turn out.

Shahna Says: Addicts’ with M Huncho has got to be one of my favourites and not because I’m an M Huncho super fan but because of the vibe they have together. We see Unknown T slow down his flow and sound a bit to compliment Huncho allowing him to take the first verse and chorus before we hear Unknown T. ‘I’m trapped in the ends with skengs, drug addicts and drillers, ballies and dingers’ lyrics like this give a nod to the artwork of the block of flats he grew up in and the whole projects theme. Other songs such as ‘Prison’ and ‘Fresh Home’ deal with the same openness with listeners appreciating the fact that he is out and all that he has been through.

Main Squeeze Ft. Young T & Bugsey

M&L: This song features the UK duo who have owned this quarantine period after the success of their song ‘Don’t Rush’. They provide their signature sound on this song and provide us with a memorable chorus and hook. This is not to take away the way Unknown T did his thing on his verse. His delivery and entrance on the song was just a prime example of how effortlessly talented he is. This song is also a great indication of how the UK scene is on top right now with both artists showcasing their individual talents in one track. It will be extremely hard to convince me that there is a genre Unknown T cannot make his own. I can see this being a commercial single.

Shahna Says: Main Squeeze’ has already hit the radio playlists, easily becoming the UK’s fave alongside his promo single ‘Deh Deh’. Main Squeeze is a girl song you could say and we hear Unknown T singing to a potential love interest and the placement of the song allows the listener to move away from the drill lyrics to a vibe that can be played while driving or in the club. Balance. Young T and Bugsey always bring their own vibe giving the song that afro swing feel. I look forward to a video for this one.

My thoughts on some other tracks I loved:

  • SS Interlude – This was a pleasant surprise on the tape. It’s clear that Unknown T enjoys switching up within his music. This may be a short track, but I feel he uses this interlude as a diary and a way to be vulnerable. He sings “Sometimes I struggle mentally”, a juxtapose from all the rough and tumble he is used to rapping about. It also seems like he is directing this at a love interest. I liked the change in pace at this point on the tape.
  • LV Ft. Young Adz –  I really enjoyed this collaboration. Since the release, this is one of the songs I’ve had on repeat. I love the production on this song, it reminds me of the type of sound you would hear on a game.
  • Leave Dat Ft. AJ Tracey – I don’t know where I was when this song was originally released a year ago but wow! I’m not usually a fan of AJ Tracey’s style but I feel this is the sound for him. We are all used to hearing Grime AJ but maybe he should consider more drill. His rapping style compliments the fast pace of the drill beats so well. These two could easily make a joint tape! What a track! A year later or not!

Ambition

M&L: The final track on this tape and wow what an outro! The stripped back production and slow pace prepares us for what feels like a heartfelt response from Unknown T. He uses the track to look back on how far he has come and how much of it has paid off. He also lets us know that he is not done yet; “I’m coming for the game, that’s my main ambition”; hinting that he is only beginning. This is exciting to hear as I truly believe Unknown T is one of the most talented artists in the UK right now. It’s clear that there are no limits to where his talent can go, and it is promising to hear that he is just getting started.

Shahna Says: The final song ‘Ambition’ feels very heartfelt and reminds me of other rappers such as Skrapz, Blade Brown, Asco and Nines when it comes to rapping about your previous life and what you’ve been through. The pain and drive is felt and heard in Unknown T’s voice as he explains he’s coming for the game that’s his main ambition. Touching on now being able to have designer clothes, dealing with relationships and his dream and vision overall. A perfect way to end the project.

Overall, this tape for me has been everything I expected and more. Unknown T constantly proves his talent and it is such a pleasure to hear his constant growth. I really hope there is more to hear from him in the future and it will be such a joy to see and hear how he expands his already growing fanbase.

Don’t forget to pop over to Shahna Says’ page to read more of her views on the project. The great thing about music is that it hits everyone differently! Hopefully this is the first of many more collabs with her!

Link for her page is also: https://shahnasayss.wordpress.com/

Posted in Album Reviews, feminism, music, Uncategorized

WHO RUN THE WORLD? New Releases from Black Women of the Hour:

Hello all, hope you are all well! It’s been a very traumatic month for most people, me included but I hope you are all taking care of yourself. Before we go even further, a friendly reminder that BLACK LIVES MATTER…ALWAYS HAVE…ALWAYS WILL.

This post is dedicated to all the incredible women out there doing their thing and working twice as hard to be considered on the same level as men. The post is specifically highlighting the talent of Black women. I truly believe black women have the hardest ladder to climb sometimes, in music, sports, the corporate world. With sexism and racism against us, sometimes I feel we are always underestimated and overlooked. Today’s post is about all the new music that has come out recently from some incredible black women. There’s always a misconception that female artists have to act or dress certain way to be noticed. Each women in this post represent different aspects of womanhood in their own unique ways. Hopefully the different women in this post prove that you can be anything you want to as long as you are unapologetically yourself.

Have a read and listen below to some female power! (HAVE A LOOK OUT FOR THE MOOD/THEMES IN EACH ENTRY DEMONSTRATING THE VERSATILITY OF FEMALE ARTISTS).

Beyoncé – BLACK PARADE

THEME/MOOD: ACTIVISM, HUMAN RIGHTS, BLACK POWER

Queen B is back with another song and this one is an ode to all things black. The song was released on the same day as the Juneteenth celebrations. A day that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. In addition, she also released the song with a very important message; “Being Black is your activism. Black excellence is a form of protest. Black joy is your right“. Words to remember. I liked how she emphasised her views in the second verse with; “Yeah, yeah, I’m for us, all black All chrome, black-owned“. On Beyonce’s website following the release she listed many black owned businesses celebrating black excellence reiterating the point in her verse. Another stand out part for me in this song is in the second verse when B sings; “Rubber bullets bouncin’ off me…Made a picket sign off your picket fence“; for me the metaphors are a representation of despite all that is thrown at her and black people, we will never stop fighting for our rights. This is not the first time and I’m sure not the last that B has spoken about injustice and racism and activism. I am however happy that the song is quite positive and motivational for the black community. Beyoncé’s harmonies in this song also make it even more soothing on the ear. Have a listen below;

City Girls – City On Lock (Album)

THEME/ MOOD: CAREFREE, DETERMINED, RICH, FEMALE BOSS, SEXY.

City Girls are back in full form!!!! The duo had to unfortunately release the album earlier than scheduled due to a leak a few days earlier. However, as one of the millions of fans of this duo, it was great news for us! For me, City Girls represent women in an unapologetic form, I feel they say things that many of us women think but would never say. I believe every woman has an inner city girl within them! They’re fun and exactly what we need at a time like this! Listening to the album had me smiling throughout, I found myself living vicariously through the music describing their carefree and fun lifestyle. In comparison to their first two albums’ “PERIOD” & “Girl Code”, you can hear the maturity in this album, Yung Miami definitely takes more of the lead on this album too which I assume could be due to JT’s time away. I would definitely warn that this album is very Rated R! Here are some of my favourite tracks;

  • Enough/Better – This intro track features two different songs. My favourite is the second song ‘Better‘. While ‘Enough‘ is very fast paced and jumping straight into City Girls and what they do best, ‘Better‘ starts off a bit slower. On this track, JT & Miami summarise their life in the past few years referencing their growing success, their lows and the trials and tribulations they have faced. It ends on a positive note reminding us all that they have overcome every problem they’ve faced. A perfect way to start an album.
  • Jobs – After the release of this album, this was the promotional song that followed. In this song the duo express the fact that they no longer have to go to jobs as they are the work. A BIG FLEX!!! I loved JT’s verse on this song, she came in so sick too!
  • Broke N***as – This was one of my favourites from the first listen and still is! The song was produced by Traxamillion. The beat on this and the way Yo Gotti sounds on this is perfect! The song has a West Coast feel to it! Perfect beat to have playing in the sun!
  • P***y Talk – Produced by Yung Miami’s very own boyfriend Southside, this song is a great follow up to the above. The song features Doja Cat who unfortunately isn’t anyone’s favourite at the moment. Regardless, I liked the song and loved the fact Yung Miami took the lead on it. I’m usually more of a JT fan but I’m really enjoying hearing Yung Miami become more versatile recently.
  • City on Lock Ft. Lil Durk – The title track on the album which features Lil Durk. I liked him singing on the chorus.
  • Flewed Out Ft. Lil Baby – The title of this song of course coming from Yung Miami’s infamous phrase. City Girls’ and their labelmate Lil Baby always make good music together. This is another song I can see doing well for a while.
  • Rodeo – You can guess what this song was gonna be about from the name already! Regardless I loved the beat on this song too and the way JT’s voice sounded on this.

Teyana Taylor – The Album

THEME/MOOD: SEXY, VULNERABLE, LOVED,SAD,HAPPY, SATISFIED.

I’m a fan of Teyana’s music. I’ve always felt she wasn’t given the respect she deserved. However I’m noticing that recently she has been respected and praised a lot more which is great to see. Her previous album was released 2 years ago and I enjoyed that project. This new album is even better in my opinion. There is so much depth on this album, we really feel all the emotions she feels on this journey. Her features on this album are some of the best I’ve seen. Nearly all of them work so well and compliment one another perfectly. Here are some of the songs that have stood out for me:

  • Come Back To Me Ft. Junie & Rick Ross – As soon as I saw Rozay on the tracklist for this song, I knew this would be one of my favourites on the album. The song also features a cameo from Teyana’s adorable daughter Junie. This is a signature Teyana song, slow…sensual and soft.
  • Wake Up Love Ft. Iman – This is one of the songs Teyana released with the album and I’ve really warmed to it. This song features her husband Iman and I really feel his rapping style is appreciated in this song. The song feels even more romantic with the both of them on, you can tell this is definitely an ode to their love. The video is beautiful too!
  • Lowkey Ft. Erykah Badu – I read an article where Teyana claimed she was so scared to ask Erykah for a feature as she was her idol. Honestly Teyana hit the jackpot with features on this album. This could be my favourite one! Erykah rides the song so well and her tone of voice is so refreshing.
  • Morning Ft. Kehlani – Another one of the songs released before the album release. For me this is one of the most sexual songs on the album! Kehlani provides one of my favourite feature verses from her on this song. She has about three different flows on her verse! Both of these women’s voice gel so well and I really hope this is the beginning of more features from them.
  • Boomin Ft. Missy Elliott & Future – It’s so nice to hear Missy on new music!!! Her harmonies with Teyana on this song were so beautiful to the ear. Future of course does his thing too! This song samples ‘808’ by Blaque which was originally released in 1999.
  • Killa Ft. Davido – This song contains a feature from popular Nigerian artist Davido. It’s nice to hear an afrobeat blend on this track.
  • Lose Each Other – One of the few ballads on the album, the song is quite stripped back. I like the realness and rawness of this song. it focuses on the times when you may not be with a person you love or once loved. Teyana states that it shouldn’t have to be a bitter situation, “I meant it when I said “I loved you” and love just don’t go away”. True words. The song highlights the sometimes-grey area in relationships and breakups.
  • Try Again – The beat, the mood, the sound of this song IS such a vibe. I think this a song that you will hear in a few years and remember how much of a banger it was. There’s no way you won’t be doing a little dance/movement to the chorus of this song.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album and it will be on rotation for a while. The album is filled with so many gems! Honourable mentions to ‘Concrete‘, ‘Friends‘, ‘How You Want It‘ Ft. King Combs, ‘Made It‘ and ‘We Got Love‘ featuring the legend that is Lauryn Hill!!!

Chloe x Halle – Ungodly Hour

THEME/Mood: Female Power, Love, Sisterhood

R&B Sister duo Chloe and Halle are back, this time with their second studio album. To be honest, I’ve never listened to a whole project of theirs before this album. I listened to this one and I really enjoyed it. It seems like the sisters have certainly matured in their music and content. This album for me is like a rebirth of Chloe and Halle, a new age, a grown and unapologetic version of them. I think my opinion on them has changed slightly and it’s nice to see their growth in the music business. One thing I will say is every single song on this album was produced so well, every beat is perfect for the song. Here are some of my favourite tracks from the album:

  • Forgive Me – I love the motto of the song; “Don’t ever ask for permission, ask for forgiveness”. The song is focused on the art of unapologetically being yourself. A very positive and inspiring song.
  • Baby Girl – The intro beat of this song is enough to get you hooked straight away. This is another female anthem, a nice song to help uplift you when you’re feeling down.
  • Do It – This is one of the popular songs from the album and a recent release. For me this song demonstrates their talented vocal ranges.
  • Busy Boy- This song emphasises the grown sides of the sisters. A playful song referencing the situations some female friends go through.
  • Don’t Make It Harder on Me – Another one of my favourites from the album, the sisters harmonise so beautifully on this song. The song is all about temptation and has an old school feel to the production.

Some other singles from some other Melanin Queens to check out:

  • Shenseea Wasabi (Dancehall Queen treats us to another banger!)
  • Simi Dudke (Nigerian singer Simi has such a sensual and soothing voice, check out this song from her) I absolutely adore her voice, reminds me of Nigerian high life music.

If you haven’t already…check out my Summer playlist below and feel free to follow and enjoy!! Have a nice weekend everyone!