Nihal’s “Burban in the Booth” – Sam Kay & Mz Bratt

Bhangra, Burban, Freestyle, Hip Hop, Rap, UK, UK Asian

Score: N/A

The inaugural “Burban in the Booth” from Nihal’s Radio 1 show. First up, Sam Kay and Mz Bratt (going over the “Jaaniye” beat by Bikram Singh & PropheC). Arson.

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TaZzZ – “I Am” (Featuring Humble the Poet & Raxstar)

Burban, Hip Hop, Panjabi, Rap, UK Asian, USA

Score: 7.2

Solid conscious rap curated by TaZzZ, this timing flying in Humble the Poet to collaborate with Raxstar. Regarding the Luton MC, well – you’d probably know pretty much all you need to by now. He’s on pretty good form here, going over the moody and atmospheric beat by TaZzZ with a degree of fervour that suggests this is his more favoured branch of hip hop. The star of the show, however, is undoubtedly Humble the Poet: at times reminiscent of Big Pun’s tongue-twisting polysyllabic rhyme schemes, at others beaten but defiant warrior, he’s a revelation. Good stuff. (Reviewed by Jesal)

Raghav – “Top of the World”

Burban, Canadian, Dance, Pop, R&B

SCORE: 5.1

One of the great things about Raghav has proven to be that, over the years, even though he hasn’t achieved the “level of success” that Jay Sean has managed, the Canadian with that gifted voice of gold just keeps on being himself. A recent example was the superb single produced by UK wunderkind Labrinth “So Much” which was better than anything Jay Sean has dished out in the last few years (except “Down”) and, arguably, a career highlight for Raghav. Here, on “Top of the World,” it’s somewhat unnerving to see so many similarities with Jay’s solid “2012 (End of the World)” – both musically and visually. Except this effort isn’t as good: it’s bland, repetitive and displays a total lack of ambition. A shame, because we need a Raghav focussing on his own strengths (not on being another Jay Sean/Taio Cruz carbon copy).  (Reviewed by Raman)

Top Of The World - Top Of The World - Single

AC – “True Story”

Grime, Hip Hop, Rap, UK Asian

Score: 7.2

A powerful new track and video from AC. Unfortunately, he’s only too right that “this shit happens all the time.” The beat is perfect for story-telling rap, AC’s voice is just the kind of pissed-off-rapper vocal that “True Story” needed, and covers up the slight bumps in the flow that prevent this from being as effective as Smartz’ recent offering. Perhaps the most impressive thing is the ground that AC covers, with him finding little areas of interest that others just haven’t quite picked up yet. To be perfectly honest, it works best in combination with the excellent visuals, but it still works well as a shocking piece of social commentary.

Juggy D – “Okhe Pound” (Featuring The Truth)

Bhangra, Rap, UK Asian

Score: 8.2

Ahhhh, so this is what we were waiting for… Featuring a nice feature from The Truth, and possibly the best beat Mentor has produced in years, Juggy D comes back hard on “Okhe Pound” – an absolute banger that works excellently on every level. Juggy sounds fresh, focused and he delivers his impressive vocals with subtle aplomb; The Truth does a solid job, adding another authoritative voice to the mix; Mentor smashes the hell out of the instrumental, and that’s just the first twenty seconds… It is tough. Familiar samples mix with modern percussion rhythms, resulting in a genuinely interesting sonic feast. When Juggy and Mentor click, all these years later, it’s nice to know that they’ve still got “it” – consider this a success all round.

The Truth – “Jaan Jayegi” (Featuring Mehi)

Bhangra, Hindi, Hip Hop, Pop, R&B, Rap, UK Asian

Score: 7.0

The Truth is a complex artist to get a handle on. From all accounts, probably even himself, he’s not the greatest MC in the world. His lyrics need a certain tempo to shine, his flow ranges wildly and a year ago, one couldn’t really imagine him as a contender for “the crown” (which, right now, seems to be a cardboard one from Burger King). However, knowing your own limitations (see Gary Neville) can result in working harder than more naturally blessed rappers, and eventually overtaking them. In conjunction with Mentor and Bobby Wonda, The Truth seems to have an uncanny knack of providing the right song for the right audience at the right time. “Jaan Jayegi” is another example, a romantic rap song (very much in the vain of “Love the Way You Lie”) with a great chorus from Mehi, meaning that actually whatever The Truth spits is largely irrelevant – it’s already “job done” to a certain extent. We do think the tempo needs to be substantially quicker, as the MC is left with too much space and the flow doesn’t come across as tidy as it could have done, but this will get radio play, break new markets and please the girls. Even the really fussy ones.

Keiran – “The Mask”

Pop, R&B

Score: 5.9

There are clearly defined good/bad points when experiencing “The Mask” for the first time, although they should change with further listens. Firstly, the beat (by Gifted the Great) doesn’t start well – but once you’ve listened to it a few times, it’s actually quite superb, with lush synths and a deliberately slowed down tempo working well with the various switch-ups. The concept is well-executed (girl with figurative/literal mask on, etc) and the chorus, whilst understated, is rather good. However, though the video is well done and everything is extremely professional, it’s Keiran that – in conjunction with whoever mixed/mastered the vocals – has really let the side down, unfortunately. He’s just not that great or confident a singer yet, and the points where he delivers a more simple tone work infinitely better than when he tries something more complex. That one can forgive, as hopefully he should just improve with time and experience, but closer listens show that the vocals aren’t even tracked properly (meaning they are minutely off beat). Whoever was recording it should have made him work harder on his singing, simplified it all, and (ironically) masked the lesser vocal takes with further studio effects. Plus tracked it on beat. It’s a real shame as “The Mask” is sabotaged – it could have been in the Best New Music section, easily – but hopefully Keiran will learn from the experience.