When I say “New Music to Hear”, I’m really stretching the meaning of
new. The extended plays in the following list came out as late as last winter. But the tracks sound just as fresh now as they did when first released.
We explore the latest EPs by American rapper Tierra Whack, British rapper
Flohio and singers Ama Lou and Alewya. These songs are sure to brighten
At Least We Have This EP by Ama Lou
Genre: R&B, dance
Highlights: “Same Old Ways”, “All I Can Say
This 4-track EP is a glimpse into Ama’s musical prowess, and it boasts of versatile
sounds and vitality. Each song is filled with confident performance and is stylistically
distinguishable from each other.
While “Trust Nobody is a wise-cracking little R&B number, “Same Old Ways” reminds us of the afrobeats-inspired dance songs by Lou’s contemporary, Alewya. And why not? Ama Lou has filmed an Insta reel of herself vibing to the British-Ethiopian artist before, so the resemblance is not only well done, but welcome. The track is bouncy and shimmers even more with some unexpected – but very welcome – dry rapping by Ama.”
All I Can Say” is a garage-influenced dance track that directly name-drops the EP’s
title. Garage is a British-origin sound that has lately been seeing a resurgence among
pop’s brightest and most promising artists: from Charli XCX, PinkPantheress and Remi Wolf to Kilo Kish and Lost Girl. The choice of this sound puts Ama Lou and others
ahead of the curve as the 2020s are likely to bring back 90s-influenced music, including R&B, hip-hop and garage.
And finally, we have “Talk Quiet”. The track utilises a very ‘English’ drill beat that
illuminates Ama’s signature angst and frustration that leaves us hungry for more music
from the artist. Lou’s team sure know how to keep us on our toes, waiting for her to drop the next gem. Some might argue that At Least We Have This makes for an incomplete and rough cut. The singer-songwriter seems to be aware of this as she herself acknowledges it as filler material simply meant for the fandom until the highly
anticipated album comes out.
There is interesting material here. We can happily stream At Least We Have This while
we wait for the LP.
Stream At Least We Have This on Spotify.
Listen to the EP on YouTube.
‘Panther In Mode’ EP by Alewya
Genre: Dance, afrobeats
Highlights: “Spirit_X”, “Play”, “Dragon”
Panther In Mode is one of the strongest and most charismatic debuts in indie music in
the 21st century. The EP by Ethiopian-British artist Alewya is at once patriotic, ferocious, self assured, joyful, spiritual and sporty.
Alewya states her resistance to Western soft power by both promoting and paying
homage to her Ethiopian roots. There is a profound sense of Ethiopian – and African –
pride in the afrobeats utilised in the club tracks and the accompanying visuals. It truly
feels like Africa is pumping blood in the artist’s veins, and we feel the continent with her in this powerful – but brief – sonic and transcendental journey.
The bravado, the anger and the restlessness. All these emotions make for an
unforgettable ride in the form of Panther In Mode, and ends sooner than one could ever wish.
Stream Panther In Mode on Spotify.
Listen to the EP on YouTube.
‘Rap? Pop? R&B?’ EP trilogy by Tierra Whack
Genre: Hip Hop, R&B
Highlight: “Body of Water”, “Cutting Onions”
Rap?, Pop? and R&B? are three different EPs with 3 songs each. Joined as a trilogy,
they have 9 songs in total.
Released only a week apart from each other, each EP attempts to embody the
characteristics and quirks that each genre is known for.
The first EP titled Rap? begins with the opening track, “Stand Up”. It has a thumping
bass with confident rhymes that spew sass and arrogance with equal measure –
qualities that the rap genre is known for. Whack also references Eminem’s Slim Shady
persona with her opening lines. Rap? goes on to be even more bold with the
succeeding tracks “Meagan Good” and “Millions”.
Pop? similarly sticks to the quirks of the pop genre. The opening track, “Body of Water”
is playful, chaotic and zany, refusing to take itself too seriously. The hook takes us back
to comedy film scores of the 2000s.
And finally the third and final EP, that is R&B?, plays with the classic style and themes
of R&B music. It is sad, calmer and remorseful. The most touching of the trifecta with
emotional depth known only in the best Whack songs, R&B doesn’t shy away from
exploring death, longing, loss of loved family members, and the craving to join them in
the afterlife. Rap? is perhaps the most consistently brilliant work among the trio.
Tierra Whack wonderfully confronts and plays with the stereotypes of each genre,
teasing their boundaries and sometimes even parodying them. Ultimately, by playing
with different genres, Whack makes us realise how versatile her work really has been,
with each EP reminding us of different tracks she has done in the past.
Stream Rap? Pop? R&B? on Spotify.
Listen to the trilogy on YouTube.
Final Rage’ by Flohio
Genre: Hip Hop
Highlight: “Rollercoaster”, “Marbles”
Final Rage is London rapper Flohio’s 4-track EP.
The record is delightfully packed with industrial sounds: engines revving, tires
screeching, explosions, all these sound bites are sprinkled strategically to provide
The result? A gritty, visceral, aggressive sound that smells of riot, smoke and gasoline.
The vivid image perfect encapsulates Flohio’s state of mind as she raps about ambition,
rivalry and cut throat competition in the hip hop scene.
80s synth mixes with modern drill beats in “Whiplash” and there is heavy drill in
“Gobezerk”. The chaotic, disturbed atmosphere of Final Rage is further highlighted by
title tracks such as “Gobezerk”, “Whiplash” and “Rollercoaster”. One can see real
thought was put into making this a consistent thematic body of work.
Flohio may not have set down new rules for modern day hip hop, but with this EP and
her previous mixtape, she has surely followed the existing rules to display her undeniable talent.
Stream Final Rage on Spotify.
Listen to the EP on YouTube.
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