It always starts with the music! Bringing you a pick of the month’s best releases, our resident writers Maria Hanlon and Jojo Jones present 10 tunes that have hit their decks – and got a reload – in April. Starring Jeshi & Obongjayar, Ibeyi, Leven Kali, Poppy Ajudha, Chronixx, Dreya Mac, Sukaina Yasin, Kieron Boothe, Lan’do, SAULT, Amie Blu & Reuben James…
Jeshi & Obongjayar
For fans of… Slow Thai, Little Simz, Brockhampton
Why listen… A killer verse from Jeshi and an irresistible baseline makes this the perfect midnight listen.
Before he drops his album, Universal Credit, east London rapper Jeshi has blessed us with this 6-track Protein EP, with its title track taking rightful place front and centre as the opening song. ‘Protein’ sounds like how it feels when you step outside on a winter’s day, a quick intake of breath at just how cold it is. Produced by fellow Londoner Ear Buds, this track is sweet and bitterly good, as Nigerian singer Obongjayar dances over the infectious melody with bragging lyrics of “his pockets getting bigger, it’s the protein”. (JJ)
Lavender & Roses ft Jorja Smith
For fans of… Alicia Keys, Ama Lou, FKA Twigs
Why listen… A catchy R&B pop tune which is sure to soundtrack many first loves.
To soundtrack your sunny days in Spring, the sisters Ibeyi have birthed a mini EP of 3 tracks featuring some of the UKs finest. These include the likes of R&B songstress Jorja Smith on this track and rapper Pa Saliu on ‘Made of Gold’. With smooth synths and rising harmonies, Ibeyi show off their vocal range and have made a track that is so catchy it begs immediate repeat. This is the kind of song I know fans will sing along to at live shows with tears in their eyes. This song proves the return of the Afro-Cuban & French sisters Ibeyi, after a hiatus, has been long awaited and this is just the tip of the iceberg of what they can create. (JJ)
LET IT RAIN
For fans of… Kaytranada, Lucky Daye, Thundercat
Why listen… You can’t help but two-step to this instantly classic R&B electro.
There are some tracks that seconds into hitting play you know you are going to like, and Leven Kali’s ‘LET IT RAIN’ falls easily into that category. Kali was born in Holland and raised in Santa Monica, bringing the sunshine of the West Coast into his music with this summer barbeque ready track (although ironically named after stormier weather). This is also one of those songs that you could spin at a party and are guaranteed to have people asking you what it is. Complete with expert R&B vocals and major Thundercat-esque baseline, you can’t help but shoulder shimmy to this joint. (JJ)
HOLIDAY FROM REALITY
For fans of… Jorja Smith, Tom Misch, Arlo Parks
Why listen… Upbeat guitar chords, jazz infused vocals and important lyrics makes this a must listen.
The upbeat chorus of this song contradicts the serious lyrics that seem to signal burn out, pressure and the need to be released from everyday reality, but this duality makes this song an absolute stunner. Poppy Ajuda, founder of the Strong Woman podcast and constant advocate for women and non-binary people in the music space, has finally released her debut album THE POWER OF US. This song features third on the tracklist (my favourite of the album), as it brings trademark Ajudha authenticity with a catchy beat and bassline, with hard-hitting lyrics that could be unpacked for days. (JJ)
Never Give Up
(Forever Living Originals)
For fans of… Bob Marley, Koffee, Wizkid
Why listen… A tune dripping in summer vibes from a modern reggae legend.
If you search Chronixx online, his Wiki page will tell you his music has been hailed as a ‘reggae revival’. This song has that old school reggae feeling and if you told me it was released in the 70’s I would believe you. But luckily this is a new release and deserves its place in this best of April list. The Jamaican artist has had big features with artists like Wizkid, but it is this humble classic reggae track with a gorgeous meaning of hope and resilience that really shows off his talent. Stick this one on in the morning as the sun shines in and the coffee brews – it will make your day. (JJ)
Ain’t No Way
For fans of… ENNY, Doja Cat, IAMDDB
Why listen… Dreya Mac’s brand new single will have your head bopping along in no time thanks to her bold bars and bouncy backing beat.
West London rising star Rapper Dreya Mac is back with ‘Ain’t No Way’. This time Dreya Mac teams up with Producer AC Flow to create this fun bop. This is Mac’s most recent release after ‘Own Brand Freestyle’ with FelixThe1st and Finch Fetti which went viral on TikTok last year. Similar to the song, the music video for ‘Ain’t No Way’ grabs your attention from the get go and maintains energy throughout. Dreya Mac also shows off her dancing skills in the video and she directed it too. Talk about multi-talented! (MH)
Sukaina Yasin, Kieron Boothe, Lan’do
Thinkin’ Bout You
For fans of… Finn Foxell, p-rallel, Aaliyah
Why listen… Emerging artist Sukaina Yasin has teamed up with fellow creatives Kieron Boothe and Lan’do for mellow masterpiece ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’.
Sukaina Yasin’s production is enticing and engaging as she starts the song with her smooth vocals. Kieron Boothe and Lan’do then come to the forefront of the song and give it depth and layers, with Boothe rapping and Lan’do adding to the beautiful backing vocals. The trio effortlessly weave in and out of each other’s vocals, complimenting each other and creating a really strong sound. The lyrics are based on their significant other being on their mind which adds to the dreamy and romantic sound even more. (MH)
(Forever Living Originals)
For fans of… Michael Kiwanuka, Little Simz, Cleo Sol
Why listen… Just when we thought we knew SAULT’s signature sound, they surprise us yet again with a cinematic, classic and choral album that is simply stunning.
The track ‘Air’, which shares the name with the album, takes us on an orchestral journey for 5 minutes 54 seconds. The song starts with soft vocals then expands into a heavenly piece that feels as if you are flying through the sky whilst listening. Although SAULT are groundbreaking and hard to define, the song could be called contemporary classical with the involvement of an ornate orchestra. It’s utterly encapsulating and almost meditative, leaving you feeling calm and cheery as it comes to a close. (MH)
Are We Alright?
(Ciao For Now)
For fans of… Amaria, Ego Ella May, Sasha Keable
Why listen… Amie Blu’s warm, inviting voice and heartfelt lyrics will make this your new favourite R&B track for when you want to feel all the feels.
Nineteen year old Amie Blu is an alternative R&B Singer/songwriter from London. Amie Blu graduated from the highly regarded Small Green Shoots programme, which helped launch the careers of the likes of Jorja Smith and Mahalia. Amie Blu’s latest release ‘Are We Alright?’ is incredibly intimate as she shares her story of heartbreak with her relatable lyrics and soulful sound. Blu only has three singles released on Spotify, so hopefully there’ll be more music from her soon as ‘Are We Alright?’ has left us wanting more, more, more. (MH)
All I Wanna Do
For fans of… Jerome Thomas, Blue Lab Beats, Children of Zeus
Why listen… ‘All I Wanna Do’ is a slow and soothing love song filled with emotion and euphoria.
Following the release of his single ‘What U Need’ earlier in April, Birmingham’s Reuben James shares another song ‘All I Wanna Do’ from his forthcoming album ‘Tunnel Vision’, released this week. ‘All I Wanna Do’ is a soul-infused romantic track that, whilst having simple lyrics, has the ability to take us back to the feeling of falling in love. The music video is shot in the desert so is hot, hazy and feels nostalgic – just like his music. (MH)
Words: Jojo Jones (JJ) & Maria Hanlon (MH)