Riz MC – “All of You” (Featuring Plan B & Aruba Red)

Burban, Dubstep, Grime, Hip Hop, R&B, Rap, UK Asian, Video

SCORE: 8.2

The hypnotically sexy “All of You” gets a fresh new remix verse courtesy of Riz MC’s old pal, Plan B. Pretty much everything works startlingly well here: that grinding beat, distorting your senses; the verses (Riz in particular is on great form); the ambiguous chorus, luring you like a siren onto the rocks. Plan B’s inclusion is merited, and should also help garner the attention that this standout cut fully deserves. This is the polar opposite of making music for the sake of it. Superb stuff. (Reviewed by Jesal)

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RKZ – “Gonna Be That”

Dubstep, Grime, Hip Hop, R&B, Rap, UK Asian, Video

Score: 7.2

Thanks to the video, it’s quite hard to tell what the new RKZ joint “Gonna Be That” is actually like. Firstly, it edits out the swear words, and there is a lot of swearing. Secondly, although it is quite funny and creative, the visuals are somewhat self-indulgent – the “Jaaneman” part feels like it goes on forever – and thus, unfortunately, the rhythm of the song is entirely truncated. Three times, in fact. Of course, the video has nothing to do with the score you see above – it’s just that it takes a lot of concentration to get the feel of what the song is supposed to be like. ADP provides a pretty hot dubstep beat, with clattering synths bouncing off one another like patients in a padded cell (bizarrely enough, however, we almost prefer the beat at the very beginning); RKZ deliberately delivers a completely OTT braggadocio chorus, with an impressive rat-a-tat flow switching lanes with a more Rick Ross-baiting one. In the third verse, he states that he’s the “greatest” but on Twitter, he inserted numerous caveats into the statement: why? Sure, for political reasons, it’s understandable, but believing you’re the “best” in the rap game is part of the fun, and he shouldn’t feel the need to downplay his own achievements (plus everybody takes what MC’s say with a pinch of salt, anyway). All things considered, it’s not a truly stellar moment but another incredibly measured move that keeps RKZ’s star in ascendency.

Jay Sean – “Where Do We Go”

Pop, R&B, Soul, UK Asian, USA, Video

Score: 8.8

When you’re an artist at Jay Sean’s “level” you have pretty much surpassed all your peers, in terms of fame/money/reach etc. The problem arises when you become blinkered, and become reliant on the same formula that worked well enough last time. What happens when that methodology just doesn’t work anymore? You have to honestly question where you’re at, and try to figure out the next move. It’s gotten to that point in Jay Sean’s career, and it’s also the crux of “Where Do We Go” – his beautiful new end-of-relationship ballad. The slow build acoustic guitar – there’s virtually no percussion until two thirds into the three and half minute track – is pitch perfect, as are Jay’s hitherto underused vocals (he stays on the finer side of melisma when handling those soaring melodies). The video betrays the hidden meaning of “Where Do We Go” – it environmentally appears to be about his relationship with music – and almost every aspect of it is handled with care and dignity, coupled with a simmering sense of frustration. It’s the kind of open, honest, emotionally complex song that we weren’t sure Jay Sean still had in him. But it’s here, and it’s pretty stunning.

Jay Sean – “Hit the Lights” (Featuring Lil Wayne)

Dance, Hip Hop, Pop, R&B, Rap, UK Asian, USA, Video

Score: 6.1

Jay Sean had a polite, media-trained rant during one of his acceptance speeches at the UK AMA’s a few weeks back. In it, he stated that he knew Asians don’t like to spend money, but they needed to, in order to have a product that can sit comfortably alongside the big-budget offerings. This, of course, is undeniable. However, how many artists have access to those kinds of funds? It is a genuine struggle, and whilst it is entirely true that the whole club/girls/cars treatment has been done (literally) a thousand times over, why is the video for “Hit the Lights” so devoid of novelty? The video actually looks pretty poor, and kind of (dare we say it) on-the-cheap. Jay’s dancing is terrible and he doesn’t convey much confidence. Whilst, of course, we aren’t rating the visuals, it does indeed highlight the problem the currently sits with Jay Sean: he is a trailblazer, a consummate performer and a thorough professional. These may not sound like problems, but read between the lines – he is a performer that seems to have virtually no interest in making innovative, trailblazing music. “Hit the Lights” is decent radio fodder, successfully apeing Taio Cruz in almost every way. The beat, in particular, is urgent and melodic in equal measure (with a brilliant dubstep breakdown, hence the length). But it’s just all so professional, and that’s the absolute limit to Jay Sean’s depressingly low ambitions. FYI Lil Wayne phones in a half-decent sixteen. It will probably make the Top 20 on the Billboards. And that’s it.

Caravan Crookz – “Bhangra Video”

Bhangra, Dance, Diss, Hip Hop, Parody, Rap, UK Asian, Video

Score: 4.8

“Those who lack imagination cannot imagine what is lacking.” This is true. However, we still can’t imagine where the fuck Caravan Crookz are heading with this, and what the point of it all is. Apart from the easiest of targets – c’mon, seriously, Bhangra videos?? – we find them preaching that “half of these waste-cats look stoned.” But really, it comes across as if they themselves are trying to make subversive stoner music. Or, even worse, this may well be their attempt to break into television (in the vein of “Trexx & Flipside”). Either way, it just feels like Swami Baracus would be better off trying to save this music for his own album, so either do it better or kill off this vanity project for a while. Parody works best when placing your comedic microscope over the hilarious minutae of life that everybody else has missed – this just sounds like a conversation over sheesha with Brit Asia on in the background.

Jaya – “Outta Control”

Dance, Grime, Hip Hop, Parody, Pop, R&B, Rap, UK Asian, Video

Score: 7.4

It’s difficult to separate the laughably insane video for “Outta Control” from Jaya’s excellent new song, “Outta Control.” The former is a low-budget effort with a ridiculous narrative, twist ending and Razzie-esque overacting. It’s memorable because it’s just so, so bad. But when you’re bumping this track on your iPod, it’s the song, not the video, that matters. And bump, you will… As a pop treat, it’s very good, and considerably better than “DJ Do It Again.” Aside from the completely needless inclusion of Young Simmons, and the somewhat non-committal (but professional) verse from Wretch 32, we have a tempo-shifting beat, powerful melodies, a chorus that implores suggestively and a strong vocal performance from Jaya. She can be proud of this song, but oh, that video….