Loski – Censored
A rising star of the UK drill scene, South London’s Loski has already been involved with two of the year’s best tracks – his own ice-cold “P.U.G.” and SR’s riveting “Snap It – Remix”. Whereas the 19-year-old’s 2020 debut album Music, Trial & Trauma: A Drill Story was a sprawling, eclectic affair, rife with elite guest stars such as Stormzy, Fredo, and Mike Skinner, Loski’s newest mixtape Censored is a more refined proposition. These ten tracks feature limited guest spots and focus exclusively on sharp, muscular, and futuristic drill. The brilliant “P.U.G.” is the mixtape’s strongest track, although the punchy “Break It” and apocalyptic “Rats” are as equally brutal and viscerally thrilling.
Dom Kennedy – From the Westside With Love Three
Dom Kennedy’s exquisite From the Westside With Love Three is just the tonic we need in this chaotic, fractured world. A follow-up to his 2010 debut (part one) and 2011 breakthrough (part two), From the Westside With Love Three is a modern west-coast classic, rife with relaxed rhythms, sun-scorched textures, and good-vibes a-plenty. Highlights include the timeless boom-bap of “LAX”, the smooth, evocative “Deep Thought”, and the perfect g-funk/trap fusion “Rollin Papers”. There are one or two less-engaging tracks (“Still Grind’n”, “Good Lookin”), but as a whole, From the Westside With Love Three is a sun-kissed, romantic, and deeply stoned drop-top cruise around Los Angeles.
MF Doom and Flying Lotus: FlyloDOOM / David Begun
Following MF Doom’s passing last year, producer extraordinaire Flying Lotus revealed that the two were working on a collaborative EP at the time of Doom’s death. David Begun’s mashup goes some way towards imagining what this tantalizing proposition could have looked like and results in a finished product that is infinitely better than it has any right to be. Each of these 16 tracks is marvelously crafted, expertly fusing Fly Lo’s intricate instrumentals with Doom’s complex-metered bars. The greatest compliment that can be given to it is that you stop trying to find the seams and embrace these mashups as their own singular entities.
JPEGMAFIA – LP1!
JPEGMAFIA (real name: Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks) is a quintessential product of the internet age’s irreverent sense of humor and post-everything blending of styles and form. LP1! is another unpredictable and innovative work, rife with countless effective experiments. “THOT’S PRAYER!” repurposes lyrics from Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time”, “END CREDITS!” samples both the prog metal act Animals As Leaders and wrestler Arn ‘Glock’ Anderson (yes, really) and “NEMO!” resembles an IDM remix of the Animal Crossing soundtrack. Amidst all the strangeness, there’s heart and soul (“DAM! DAM! DAM!” is especially affecting), and there are even two different versions of this sprawling full-length to get lost in. LP1! is a lot. However, it’s also never anything less than wholly enthralling.
Black Josh – Heartbreak Hostel
One of the UK’s top contemporary underground rappers, Black Josh’s latest full-length Heartbreak Hostel is another lively, bold, and complex album to add to a discography that’s starting to stack up full of them. Released on the ever-brilliant Blah Records and full of the label’s trademark ad-libs and twisted sense of humor, Heartbreak Hostel sees Black Josh contorting himself into innumerable eclectic creative shapes. The opening and closing tracks are both lightly psychedelic, “BECKHAM”, “PEPSI” and “AGENT K” all flirt with cold trap rhythms, while “GET MEH” and “THE BIRDS” push deeper into the menacing Blah sonic palette. This is one of the most singular UK hip-hop releases of the year and cements Black Josh’s reputation as a cult icon of the UK scene.