Listening Post #13

by James Wijesinghe

1. The xx – On Hold

They’re back. Your favourite minimalist trio have returned after four years with a new album I See You just around the corner. On Hold is the album’s first single and it sees the band float onto the dancefloor and break into a joyous shuffle. Pulling in the inventive electronics from his solo work, Jamie xx holds onto the group’s tranquil elegance but drives syncopated percussion and samples straight through. The song’s production is crisp and both vocalists carry delicious melodies, but whilst the instrumentation is unique, the track’s lyrics lack the same originality. Both gloomy and bright, On Hold is set to be heard everywhere.

2. Flatbush Zombies - Aries (Ft. Deadcuts)

Released as a soundtrack to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new edition of Marvel’s Black Panther series, gritty Brooklyn outfit Flatbush Zombies’ track Aries is a haunting commentary on our world’s race-relations. Provided by London band Deadcuts, the hook is eerie and a demonstration of how artists from different genres can effectively feature on varying formats. Meechy Darko delivers a typically graphic verse calling out, “emancipation, castration, mass-hating, white-washing” as he depicts our near-apocalyptic world. Since Black Panther is a symbol of black power and justice against oppression, the rappers’ lyrics fearlessly address structural racism and paint a powerful image of a system reminiscent of the slave trade. Complete with a beat crafted by the genius Erick Arc Elliot and profound lyricism, this is an important track giving diversity to the group’s output.

3. Childish Gambino – Redbone

When he hasn’t been writing comedy or channelling his inner Lando for the upcoming Han Solo movie, Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) has been building a follow-up to his debut LP Because The Internet. As the only Donald the US actually needs, his new single Redbone is a soulful tune with a plodding groove. Gambino’s pitched up vocals usher in an ambiance that stinks of sex, and along with lines like, “my peanut butter chocolate cake with Kool-Aid”, create a cheeky single that ventures far from his previous hip-hop. Inspired by his father’s love for Funkadelic, the song interpolates Jaco Pastorious’ 1976 track Portrait Of Tracy. Look out for his new album Awaken, My Love! dropping this December.

4. Zane Zephirin – Idiosyncrasy

UK producer and songwriter Zane Zephirin is continuing to release a stream of entrancing singles on his Soundcloud. Between skatty DJ sets under his rave-lias ZANAX and mixing house, Zephirin has been perfecting the intricacies of his iconic and allusive sound. With delicate vocal cuts and glistening synths, his brooding lyrics echo amongst piles of cosmic hi-hats. Now, with the whole jingbang becoming bedroom producers the scene can seem saturated and repetitive. But the visionary artists like Zane Zephirin, who are clearly skilled musically, are helping maintain originality and progression. Check him out and ride the waves.

5. A Tribe Called Quest - We The People….

Stating that “black folks”, “Mexicans”, “poor folks”, “Muslims and gays” all “must go”, in the song’s hook, Q-Tip offers an ironic rendition of the US Constitution. “We the people” is the constitution’s opening phrase and is used by the quintessential hip-hop group to call out members of recent politics of neglecting the utopian promise they pretend to stand for. Released on their 18-year-awaited album We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, the track even features a verse from the sadly deceased Phife Dawg recorded between treatments. The whole project is sonic brilliance. Although this is their final LP, their credibility and contributions in the world of music will remain for even more generations of fans to come.

Listen to the PearShaped Listening Post #13 Playlist below.