These recommendations are carefully ‘ear’-picked each month from a selection of bold, contemporary artists who are experimenting at the boundaries of genre and sound. Some of what we’ve been listening to, some that’s kept us moving, inspired. A few even offering a pertinent lens through which to view issues of identity & belonging within the geopolitics of our fragmenting world. With each complete album, there’s a story waiting to be told – offering a holistic peak into the artist’s ruminations.
This month we begin with a concise project by Independent, Mumbai Hip-Hop artist, Ankur “Enkore” Johar. In his six track project, Bombay Soul, he displays not only his lyrical prowess and storytelling skills but does so with great ease switching between Hindi and English. His emotions are laid bare and the questions he grapples with bold and unafraid – tracks like ‘Soul’ takes on the spirit and soul of the city he calls home while ‘Port Wine’, with the help of artists Aarifah Rebello and Ramya Pothuri, looks back on to college days and the growing pains of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood.
Next, we move to the posthumous album by Mac Miller, Circles. For fans around the world, Mac’s death in 2018 was a huge shock. From listening to his music, his struggles are clear, but this was shattering nonetheless. It wasn’t a stretch to assume that he would have been working on a new project before this, but it wasn’t clear whether any of that work would see the light of day. Mac’s family entrusted Jon Brion, who was already working on this project with him, to complete it and release it. And what an incredibly heartbreaking body of work, we are treated to. One that feels like a warm, comfortable hug from Mac, reassuring us that he’s okay.
Next, we shift mood and atmosphere to the sophomore album by UK artist J Hus, Big Conspiracy. The second outing for the London native, is as bombastic, confident, and unique as its predecessor. But this time, the MC is somehow more measured, precise, and silky. His verses are simple yet profound. With his previous work, his influence on the UK music scene was clear: he confidently assumed his English and African roots for all to hear. Now he’s back, the lost son of Gambia, sharing his talents and is as assured and secure as he has ever been and he’s not afraid to share it with us.
Finally, we bring you the second studio album by Childish Gambino, Because the Internet. An incredibly ambitious and complete work by the writer, rapper, actor, talent from Atlanta. When the record was released, it was accompanied by a 76-page screenplay that created an entire world for listeners (and readers) to enter and live in. We follow the story of “The Boy” and how his joy of trolling celebrities online and hosting lavish parties works only to amplify his persisting loneliness. The lyricism and production of the album are considered, confident, and jarring all at the appropriate intervals. It’s to be believed that this story laid the foundation for Donald Glover’s FX show ‘Atlanta’. This project creates an atmosphere that can be appreciated whether you listen to it from start to finish, or in bits and pieces. The work speaks for itself and seems to only get better and better with time.
enkore – bombay soul
Mumbai based rapper and hip-hop artist Enkore’s second album Bombay Soul released in 2018. Mixed and mastered by Mumbai producer Vineeth Patil with New Delhi hip-hop producer Sez On The Beat taking the reins on production, this work is a smooth blend of desi hip-hop, smooth R&B, old-school soul, and chill lo-fi blends.
mac miller – circles
American rapper and singer Mac Miller’s sixth studio album Circles was released posthumously on Janurary 17, 2020, by Jon Brion who completed the production.
j hus – big conspiracy
Big Conspiracy is the second studio album by British rapper J Hus, released in January 2020. It blends African pop, dance hall, reggae and US and UK rap.
childish gambino – because the internet
The second studio album Because the Internet by American hip-hop recording artist Donald Glover, was released in December 2013 under the stage name Childish Gambino. It received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album.