Aul Kanye gets a hard time but this song with dirty disco vibes and a bounce so smooth, your shoulders develop a rhythm of their own. The Life of Pablo is full of songs that give us insights into an unhappy life (No More Parties in LA, Real Friends) but Fade is a filthy club hit with dark undertones.
Beyoncé – Formation
I was at a party full of Irish people in London when Formation dropped and we ended up pausing all other playlists and had the song on repeat for the rest of the night. Its combination of pop culture and political statements make it one of Beyoncé’s most powerful songs, adding to the resurgence of protest music for the masses.
Drake – One Dance
When mopey Drake is kicked to the curb, we get dance delicacies like One Dance. This, for me, will forever be the sound of summer 2016. Even when I’m old and weary, the first few strains of this will take me back to dancing at a chip van in the wee hours of the morning at music festival, refusing to go to bed.
All Saints – One Strike
Now, this is a comeback. Influenced by Nicole Appleton’s divorce from Noel Gallagher, One Strike is an understated break up song about defiance that throws All Saints right back to that realm of cool that they specialised in in the late 90s and early 00s.
Rihanna – Kiss It Better
With its shrilling electric guitar riff and durrty R&B groove, Kiss It Better strikes me as the type of song that Lenny Kravitz wish he wrote. This song evokes wind machines, silk shirts and impractical sex scenes normally displayed in movies like Top Gun.
Run the Jewels feat. DJ Shadow – Nobody Speak
Not since Mousse T. has a song had so much horn. The collaboration between Run the Jewels and DJ Shadow is instantly recognisable and with lyrics that portray the worst of humanity, it’s an anthem for this trainwreck of a year that we’ve all managed to survive.
Ariana Grande – Into You
Although many pop fans were hesitant to accept another pop diva in our lives, Ariana came along with this song and we apologised for ever doubting her. With flirtatious lyrics and a throbbing beat, the dance floor becomes a very dangerous place when Into You starts to play.
NAO – Inhale Exhale
NAO was the breath of fresh air that the pop scene needed this year and Inhale/Exhale is a smooth and swirling R&B treat that melts in your mouth.
Tove Lo – Cool Girl
Tove Lo is the bold outlaw of the pop world, writing songs that celebrate our shameful moments instead of hiding them. Cool Girl trips over itself and the words roll into each other, making it an effortless ditty that challenges the power play in relationships.
Adultrock – Put ‘Em Under Nazareth (Jack Charlton v Justice)
Jesus Christ. The first time I heard this, I felt like I had been reborn. Put ‘Em Under Pressure should be Ireland’s national anthem but this version gets the blood pumping and it awakens a tribal roar that you never knew you could muster. Paired with the national pride we had during the Irish fans’ triumph at the Euros this year, this was an attack of the emotions.
As per MCD, Drake has been announced for a 3Arena show on February 19 2017 as part of his The Boy Meets World Tour (he really isn’t very good at naming tours is he – last one was Would You Like A Tour?)
Tickets on sale Friday through Ticketmaster and are a whopping €85+ fees.
Stevie G is a DJ, radio presenter and all-round legend from Cork; a lover of soul, hip-hop, disco and R&B, a maker of tracks, a mentor, a promoter and label owner. Here are his 10 favourite tracks of the year.
This one crept by virtually ignored but it was a very significant record in some ways. A limited 7 inch dropped from the sky on Record Store Day, and a guy even more reclusive than D’Angelo managed to submit a remix. Ludovic Navarre is the man behind St Germain and some amazing jazz, soul and house music, but he has been out of the spotlight for over 10 years. Gregory Porter is one of the finest jazz singers and writers of his generation and the original of this was a good example of a great artist who has something important to say too. The remix uses subtle bits of the Roy Ayers produced “Daylight” by Ramp (a hip-hop staple since the days of A Tribe Called Quest), and it’s a beautiful combination.
2. Saun & Starr – ‘Hot Shot’
We are always slaves to the past but soul music, like jazz, is producing great new artists and music too. These two have backed Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings live but their debut single on Daptone is an irresistible brass infected jam that is typical of the label. I was inspired by labels such as Daptone in starting my own Soul Jamz record label this summer and we released “Deep Down south” with Christiana soon after, hopefully the first of many singles. Shookrah are another Cork band worth mentioning here, but in truth, there’s loads of good soul music out there if you dig.
3. D’Angelo & the Vanguard – ‘Prayer’
“I believe that some day we will rise”. It could have been almost anything from this album; a stunning reminder that he’s still got it. And then some. Soul music probably needed this shot in the arm, as it will throw more light on many of the other artists doing very good stuff. Sonically it is incredible and it keeps up an impressive record of one great record every decade!
4. Ilovemakkonen – Tuesday’ (Drake remix)
I played this for weeks and weeks before it got any bites, but that moment when it hit home was special. I actually play every Tuesday night, to a young student crowd, and they are very open to newer hip-hop and r&b so it works out. This, the Rae Sremmurd singles, Future, Tyga, Schoolboy Q, Young Thug, Tinashe and many more were all big for me in quite a productive year for low slung throwaway minimal music.
5. Run the Jewels – ‘Love Again’ (Akinyele Back)
“I think I’m in love again”.
Many hip-hop fans are reluctant to move past the ’90s; but if there’s one group capable of waking them from their slumber it’s Run the Jewels. El-P and Killer Mike are pretty much veterans of the game at this stage, but their two albums together have helped ensure things are still going on an upward trajectory. They’ve got a lot to say, and were among the most vocal rappers after a turbulent year which included tragedies such as Ferguson. Special shouts to Danny Brown and Dej Loaf for great singles as well.
In Ireland, we had some great hip-hop too. Mynameisjohn, Lethal Dialect and Corkman Trigger all coming out with impressive albums, while the likes of Deviant and Naive Ted, Spekultiv Fixtion, Jimmy Penguin and others continued to represent prolifically for the underground. Also, domestically, a few of us helped set up anam recordings to release music from Tommy KD, a recovering addict who has enlisted the legendary Hazo and DJ Mek in his team and who is already causing a stir too. Keeping it real for 2014.
6. Lorde – “Tennis Court” (Flume Remix)
I’m a big fan of this track in it’s original form, but this remix bangs and brings back some great memories of 2014, particularly my set at Body and Soul Festival in June. SertOne’s remix of Hannah Diamond’s ‘Pink and Blue’ is another that killed it in 14.
Lots of the best jazz these days is made by electronic artists, or even hip-hoppers who grew up discovering jazz through sampling and rap. We now have jazz artists covering hip-hop classics and it’s all gone full circle, as bands like BadbadnotGood have shown really well. FlyLo’s jazz credentials are in his family tree, but his Brainfeeder label showcases some amazing music from Thundercat, who is an essential element of the FlyLo sound, as well as Ras G and more. Taylor McFerrin made one of the jazz albums of the year on Brainfeeder, with the long awaited “Early Riser”, while FlyLo’s latest opus did not disappoint either. He managed to once again get big names like Snoop and Herbie Hancock to compliment his sound, and this track with Kendrick offers a big hint of what is to come from the Compton rapper, as he prepares to deliver one of the most eagerly awaited rap albums in years in the the next few months
8. James Vincent McMorrow – ‘When I Leave
Beautiful track, which he released on soundcloud, and which is on the bonus version of “Post Tropical”. Also worth mentioning Talos here. He released a couple of great singles on Feel Good Lost and there’s plenty more where that came from.
9. Doc Daneeka featuring Seven Davis Jr – ‘What’s it gonna be’
This is great. The whole EP is really good, and Seven Davis Jr released some wonderful stuff on his own too, including “P.A.R.T.Y.” and “Friends”. On a similar tip SBTRKT brought us “New york New Dorp” featuring Ezra Koenig. Lots of mixed reaction to their music this year but I like the album and love that jam.
10. Jhene Aiko – ‘The Pressure’
The influence of Aaliyah grows stronger as time passed. A year of some fine minimal soul and r&b vibes with Kelela, FKA Twigs, Fatima, The Weeknd, Kali Uchis, Jasmine V, Mapei and many more all contributing some great music. Also big shouts to King Avriel, who I first read about on this blog, and who’s “180” kicks off a mix i did of some of the best hip-hop and r&b from 2014 it’s a free download.
London bass-heavy trio YOGI pulled off a major coup by having Pusha T on their huge ‘Burial’ single, no doubt helped by their presence on Skrillex’s OWSLA label. Their debut EP is out on May 5th but before that we asked them what songs are floating their boats.
1. What song(s) have been inspiring your new material?
Blake: ‘Partition’ by Beyonce and ‘Coast Is Clear’ by Skrillex ft Chance The Rapper.
Drake once again makes it difficult for people to say they like him by calling his current tour – Would You Like A Tour? Right. Well, shitty name or not, Drake will be back to play in the O2 next March 18th, a Tuesday, and he’s bringing along his mate The Weeknd. Tickets on sale Thursday at 9am FROM €59.40 plus fees from Ticketmaster. Sheesh. ‘Hold On We’re Going Home‘ is still my jam.
John Talabot returns on a DJ Kicks tour on Saturday December 7th for a Body&Soul presented gig in Button Factory. Doors are at 11pm. Early bird tickets on sale now priced €15 (+fees) from Ticketmaster and general tickets €20 (+ fees). Check ‘Without You’ from the comp.
Whelanslive.com presents His Clancyness live Upstairs in Whelan’s on Monday November 18th. Tickets just €10 plus fees on sale now from whelanslive.com, wavtickets.ie or 1890 200 078 (50c per ticket service charge applies on phone, internet or credit card bookings).
Harmonic presents a slimmed-down Crystal Antlers, the rock band are now down to three members for their third album Nothing Is Real and play The Workman’s Club on Friday February 28th. Tickets €15 plus fees on sale now from Ticketmaster.
Ryan Lott, the man behind the dizzying experimental pop of Son Lux will be in Dublin for a gig in the Workman’s Club on Friday 24th January 2014. Tickets: €14.50 plus fees on sale now.
LA six piece Fitz and The Tantrums play their first Irish show at The Academy on 3rd March 2014. Tickets €26 plus fees go on sale this Wednesday at 9am.
Dublin Laptop Orchestra play Kevin Barry Room, National Concert Hall at 8.30pm on Wednesday November 13th. Tickets €10 or €5 concession available from the National Concert Hall Box Office (10am-6pm Mon to Sat)