Popular Music, like nigh on everything else, has been dominated with political sentiment in 2017. In a year where issues of race, class and gender were (sometimes painfully) brought to the fore of civic discussion, music has dutifully followed suit.

In fact, much of this year’s popular music can be viewed as a reaction to political stimulus, whether it be civic, social or body. Barring the possibility of a new mega-hit emerging in the rest of December, the year’s most popular song is undoubtedly ‘Despacito’, sung by Luis Fonsi and guest featuring Daddy Yankee.

The Grammy-nominated song, considered by many to be a shoe-in for the award, has continually broken commercial records since it’s original release in January of this year. Perhaps the most relevant broken record of all associated with the sultry Latin smash hit is it claiming the mantle of having the most weeks at the number one spot for a primarily Non-English song.

Considering the recent growth in anti-immigrant sentiment across the political landscape the fact that a loud and proud Latin song became the monster tune that it did speaks volumes about where the political allegiances of the youth lie. Even though it remains only token, it is a sweet gesture none the less.

“Lamar, on the other hand, seems intent on highlighting, criticising and interrogating many of the underlying attitudes and behaviours of the society he exists in.

Any discussion of popular music in 2017 must include an examination of African-American rap and hip-hop. While ‘Despacito’ may grab all the record consumer numbers, the most influential album of the year must be accredited to DAMN, Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album release. Lamar has always been an artist able to bridge the gap between the conscious and the commercial, yet the release of DAMN has seen his name become synonymous with popular culture while providing some of the rappers most thoroughly provoking and controversial lyrical content.

Most artists seem to grow more conservative upon reaching a certain level of super-stardom. Lamar, on the other hand, seems intent on highlighting, criticising and interrogating many of the underlying attitudes and behaviours of the society he exists in, even if this process is painful for both the artist and the audience.

Most of the lyrical content throughout DAMN focuses in on racial issues. Lamar does also provide commentary on the shortcomings of capitalism and prescribed gender behaviours. It’s hard to imagine such an artist becoming the mainstream and critical tour de force he is without the current political climate motivating his music.

“Considering the recent growth in anti-immigrant sentiment across the political landscape the fact that a loud and proud Latin song became the monster tune that it did speaks volumes about where the political allegiances of the youth lie.

2017 has also seen many non-traditional forms of rap and rappers emerge into the commercial field. Trap music, also diminutively known as ‘mumble-rap’, has finally reached the top of the Billboard charts after many years of mainstream dismissal. Georgian trio Migos’ second album Culture, released in January and debuting on the top of the Billboard chart, has had a massive part to play in this process.

For many years the West and East coasts of America have held sway over the rap empire, now the emergence of Southern Trap has offered a third voice in the debate. The album reads as a who’s who of Southern trap, with features from Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz and Lil Uzi Vert. It sported three separate charting singles. A very impressive feat from a movement that until this year was considered by many to be hugely unequal to its East and West coast counterparts.

Race was certainly not the only set of politics to dominate popular music in 2017. In a year where the leader of the free world has been caught on tape promoting sexual harassment and countless Hollywood industry leaders have been accused of the same, many pop artists have responded with strong messages of female agency.

“In many ways Cardi B’s ascent to mainstream stardom can be read as running parallel to the growing debate around gender equality”

Next to ‘Despacito’, the most popular song of 2017 is Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow’. In many ways Cardi B’s ascent to mainstream stardom can be read as running parallel to the growing debate around gender equality. Writing and performing from a genre typically populated by males, her dominance in the Billboard chart is in it of itself a challenge to gender norms. So too is the lyrical content of her songs, promoting sexual liberation and a confident body image. It is exactly B’s refusal to reject or even hide her own personal history from her songcraft, even if much of society dictates that she should, that allows her the voice of a 21st century female icon.

When compared to the musings of female pop stars in the 2000s, the messages being emitted from contemporary pop stars such as Cardi B, Beyonce and Adele make it clear just how far the discussion on gender politics has come in such a short space of time.

The fact that Solange Knowles was awarded the Billboard 2017 ’Impact’ award for her stunning third album A Seat At Table is further proof of the matter. An album interwoven with alternative messages of African – American and female empowerment, its nod of approval from the people who run the charts is a large step forward in giving a platform to politically conscious female pop music.

Now that the dust is settling on a tumultuous year, it’s clear that in 2017 music must tap into the every day of the people for it to be popular. Having grown up in a time where pop music consisted of faux-deep sob stories and club bangers it’s nice to know that the political appetites of the common listener have expanded into their taste in music. Now more than ever, people turn toward artists and cultural leaders more so than anyone else to set the example that we all follow. Despite everything else that may be going on in the world, it’s comforting to know that they’re setting the bar so high.

Here’s to another fantastic year in popular music.

Posted on December 7th, 2017


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Kendrick Lamar is heading on The Damn. Tour in February around Europe for 15 dates that start in Dublin on 7th February in Dublin at the 3Arena and heads to the UK and mainland Europe across the month.

Guest on the tour will be James Blake.

All dates:

Tickets for Dublin from €62 plus fees go on sale Friday 06 October at 9am via Ticketmaster.ie.

Posted on October 2nd, 2017



On Friday, Kendrick Lamar dropped his brilliant new album DAMN. On Sunday, King Kenny slayed his Coachella performance. As rumoured there was no second album following the Jesus is risen narrative, but that’s perfectly fine, there’s a lot to unpack with DAMN. as is.

‘DNA’, the album’s most intense cut which is framed by a Fox News anchor Geraldo Riveria reacting to his performance at the BET Awards in 2015, which also appears in the song in the form of the Geraldo sample – “This is why I say that hip-hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism in recent years.”

‘DNA’ is a response to that idea. “I know murder, conviction / Burners, boosters, burglars, ballers, dead, redemption / Scholars, fathers dead with kids / And I wish I was fed forgiveness.”

In the video by Nabil & the little homies and for the song, Don Cheadle represents authority and society as the pair trade bars of the song with Kendrick in handcuffs (and the same Coachella outfit). DNA stands for ‘Dead Nigga Association’ in the video.

Posted on April 19th, 2017

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Kendrick Lamar’s new album DAMN. was released today and it’s DAMN. good! Dispensing with the sprawling jazz style of To Pimp A Butterfly, DAMN. returns to more established hip-hop sound.

Fears about U2 were going to fit into all of this were unfounded as the track they feature on ‘XXX’ is one of the album’s highlights, a song that puts siren Bomb Squad-style production with a segue into the second half with Bono sounding his most soulful with the rest of the band playing a loose groove – Mullen on drums, Adam Clayton on bass and presumably The Edge (whose credited but hard to determine his role) helping out too.

Badbadnotgood feature on ‘Lust’ (with Kaytranada on uncredited autotuned vocals) and James Blake co-produced track four ‘Element’ , Rihanna sings the hook on ‘Loyalty’ and new singer Zacari features on another Kendrick-sung highlight ‘Love’ which is more electronic pop than anything else.

It’s already been noted by conspiracy-loving fans that the album’s cycle is a full circle and that Kendrick dies in its opening track, potentially meaning (or it’s wishful thinking), that a second album will drop on Easter Sunday – a resurrection. There’s a few reasons for that thinking but it feels unlikely, not impossible though.

DAMN. Production Credits

Composer(s): Anthony Tiffith, K. Duckworth, D. Tannenbaum
Producer(s): Bekon, Anthony Tiffith

02 DNA.
Composer(s): K. Duckworth, M. Williams II
Producer(s): Mike WiLL Made-It

03 YAH.
Composer(s): D. Natche, Anthony Tiffith, K. Duckworth, M. Spear
Producer(s): Anthony Tiffith, DJ Dahi, Bekon, Sounwave

Composer(s): R. Riera, J. Blake, K. Duckworth, M. Spears
Producer(s): Bekon, James Blake, Ricci Riera, Sounwave, Tae Beast

05 FEEL.
Composer(s): M. Spears, K. Duckworth
Producer(s): Sounwave

Featuring: Rihanna
Composer(s): K. Duckworth, D. Natche, Anthony Tiffith, M. Spears, T. Martin
Producer(s): Terrace Martin, Sounwave, DJ Dahi, Anthony Tiffith

Composer(s): K. Duckworth, A. Wise, Anthony Tiffith, S. Lacy
Producer(s): Bekon, Anthony Tiffith, Steve Lacy

Composer(s): K. Duckworth, A. Hogan, Michael L. Williams II
Producer(s): Mike WiLL Made-It

09 LUST.
Composer(s): M. Spears, K. Duckworth, C. Hansen, D. Natche, A. Sowinski, M. Tavares L. Whitty
Producer(s): Sounwave, DJ Dahi, BadBadNotGood

10 LOVE.
Featuring: Zacari
Composer(s): Z. Pacaldo, T. Walton, Anthony Tiffith, M. Spears, G. Kurstin, K. Duckworth
Producer(s): Sounwave, Teddy Walton, Greg Kurstin, Anthony Tiffith

11 XXX.
Featuring: U2
Composer(s): D. Natche, L Mullen, P. Hewson, A. Clayton, K. Duckworth, D. Evans, M. Spears, M. Williams, II, Anthony Tiffith
Producer(s): Mike WiLL Made-It, Anthony Tiffith, Bekon, DJ Dahi, Sounwave

12 FEAR.
Composer(s): K. Duckworth, D. Maman
Producer(s): The Alchemist

13 GOD.
Composer(s): M. Spears, R. Riera, D. Tannenbaum, K. Duckworth, D. Natche, R. LaTour, Anthony Tiffith
Producer(s): Cardo, Ricci Riera, Sounwave, DJ Dahi, Anthony Tiffith, Bekon

Composer(s): K. Duckworth, P. Douthit
Producer(s): 9th Wonder, Bekon

Posted on April 14th, 2017



Kendrick Lamar dropped the tracklist and title of his new album DAMN to drop Friday and it will feature U2 and Rihanna as titled guests.

Presumably that means that the U2 featuring-song ‘XXX’ will feature the band performing as opposed to the sample (unless U2 asked for a title credit).

Production credits for the album include Mike WiLL-Made It, DJ Dahi, Sounwave, 9th Wonder, BADBADNOTGOOD, The Alchemist, Greg Kurstin, and J. Blake who must surely be James Blake.

DAMN features the brilliant return single ‘Humble’ and the following tracks:

DAMN Tracklist

  1. Blood
  2. DNA
  3. Yah
  4. Elemental
  5. Feel
  6. Loyalty feat. Rihanna
  7. Pride
  8. Humble
  9. Lust
  10. Love
  11. xxx feat. U2
  12. Fear
  13. God
  14. Duckworth

Posted on April 11th, 2017

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After cryptic Instagram clues, Kendrick dropped his new single ‘The Heart Part 4’ last night, the fourth in a series of songs under ‘The Heart ‘ name that started in 2010.

The song addresses Trump’s White House shadiness – “Donald Trump is a chump, know how we feel, punk / Tell ‘em that God comin’ / And Russia need a replay button, y’all up to somethin'”

The chorus references the James Brown song “Don’t Tell A Lie About Me And I Won’t Tell The Truth On You” and at the end of the song, there’s talk that there may be a new album coming on April 7th?

“Y’all got till April 7 to get y’all shit together,” so please, get your shit together by 4/7.”

Posted on March 24th, 2017


Thundercat’s Drunk album arrives on Friday and everything we’ve heard from it has a falsetto-lead yacht rock funk vibe to it.

Even this track, the long-awaited collaboration between Kendrick Lamar on Thundercat’s own turf, Kendrick grabs the mic on a languid rhythm and adds some urgency and turns it into a song that sounds like an out-take from To Pimp A Butterfly.

See also: ‘Friend Zone’, ‘Bus In These Streets’

Thundercat plays Vicar Street on March 27th.

Posted on February 22nd, 2017


Coachella, one of the biggest drawing music festivals around announced its lineup today and it includes some big names: Radiohead, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar at the top.

Coachella takes place in Indio, California over two weekends in April: 14th-16th and 21st to 23rd.

Other names of note on the lineup for the festival include The xx, Lorde, Future Islands, Father John Misty, Bon Iver, Roisin Murphy, The Avalanches, Schoolboy Q, Kaytranada, Devandra Banhart and mutherfucking Hans Zimmer.

Posted on January 3rd, 2017


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Danny Brown dropped another track from his forthcoming Atrocity Exhibition, out 30th September on Warp.

‘Really Doe’ is produced by Black Milk and features TDE’s Ab-Soul and Kendrick along with Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt.

“Me and Kendrick always talked about doing stuff, and I had the idea to get K-Dot and Earl together …but first I got me and Ab-Soul. And then one day when I was mixing the album with Ali, K-Dot snuck in and just laced it. I had to be patient and wait on Earl, but it was all worth it you know because hip-hop needs that posse cut. We just wanna make the best possible song cause we know the hype on paper. I know it’s gonna satisfy, my feet is up.”

Atrocity Exhibition also features Petite Noir,Kelela, Cypress Hill’s B-Real with production by Paul White, Evian Christ, The Alchemist and Black Milk.

Also hear: When it Rain.

Danny also gave us the Clams Casino-produced ‘Pneumonia’

Posted on September 20th, 2016

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As a measure of how next level Kendrick Lamar has become in the last two years, last week’s surprise collection of demos unfinished or displaced is better than most artists’ regular albums.

While To Pimp A Butterfly‘s sprawling dense ambition invited much listening and interpretation, untitled unmastered. is unburdened by any grand narrative. Its pleasure is partly derived from its temporary unfinished state.

Lamar has performed two of these songs live on TV shows of late Colbert and Fallon and a verse of one at the Grammys, and those live versions have more urgency and are in a more evolved state than the versions collected here (there are no song titles just ‘untitled’ and a date the song was worked on).

What the album does do in spectacular fashion is quietly underscore the leap that Lamar made on TPAB. That these songs didn’t make it to that song on merit is understandable but the calibre of the songs are up there up there on the same prolific plinth.

The jazz sound of this phase of Lamar’s music is most prominent with Thundercat, Bilal, Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper and Anna Wise contributing. Production comes from varied sources: A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad with Adrian Younge, Mono/Poly and eh, Swizz Beats five-year-old son. SZA and Jay Rock feature. Cee Lo Green provisions the breezy bossa nova ‘untitled 06 l 06.30.2014.’ with a focused hook.

It moves from dystopian blunted jazz to fever dream to interstitial R&B to the sprawling jazz rap that is echoed in demo form later on the collection. ‘untitled 03 l 05.28.2013.’ is the breeziest and most succinct track here with Lamar using the wisdom of racial heritage and culture against a backdrop of music industry taking advantage of talent.

Lamar’s rhymes are as authoritative and explorative as we’ve now come to expect, but they are undiminished by any familiarity or expectation.

For a collection of demos, untitled unmastered. is an unheralded reminder of Kendrick’s next level status and is a reaffirmation of his considerable craft.

Posted on March 11th, 2016



It’s fitting that International Women’s Day is the day that Anna Wise’s new song ‘BitchSlut’ came this way.

Like last week’s Everything Shook song, The song addresses the expectation on females by a male-dominated society. “I know what kind you are / If I say no, I’m a bitch / Say yes I’m a slut,” she sings cheerily on a woozy hip-hop beat. The song calls out those false perceptions that men have of women in public, something, maddeningly happening still in my own city all too regularly.

I’m walking down the street with my hands tied
Cause I wore a skirt, you think I’m down to ride
You think I wanna fuck cause I comb my hair
Cause I’m at the bar next to an open chair
Cause I always have to be polite
Cause I look you in the eye
Cause I grin back, green light
Go ahead, give it a try

Wise featured on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, good kid, m.A.A.d. city. and last week’s newly released untitled unmastered. She’ll release her own EP later this year.

Posted on March 8th, 2016

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Looking for more new music? Follow the Nialler9 New Music playlist on Spotify. Updated weekly. Hit the last page for the Soundcloud playlist.


Kendrick Lamar

‘untitled 03 05.28.2013’

kendrick-lamar-6A surprise demo album called untitled unmastered. dropped Thursday night.

Kendrick Lamar’s untitled unmastered. in its title and track listing suggests a temporary unfinished state. A collection of demos recorded from 2013 to 2016 without a place to go. Lamar has performed two of these songs live on TV shows Colbert and Fallon, but they’ve evolved much since these recordings. This temporary missive gives those songs a home while also showing us a jazzier side to his craft.

Despite this status, there’s much to enjoy and most of it comes from Lamar’s rhymes. An appearance from CeeLo Green is a highlight but the most well-rounded track is ‘untitled 03 05.28.2013’, an urgent rhyme matched by a celebratory beat that sounds close to completion.



‘Do It, Try It’

M83’s new song is grandiose and cheesy yet great

The music of Anthony Gonzalez, M83, over his discography has transformed from ambient electronic pop to the kind of large-scale electronic compositions that work well juxtaposed with Hollywood blockbusters. Sitting in between, was an 80s-inspired synth electronic pop that brought the former to the latter.

Nostalgic grandiosity has always been key to M83’s music.

On Junk, the new forthcoming album (April 8th), arriving five years after Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and that album’s apex – ‘Midnight City’, Gonzalez says he’s returned to the influences of his early career – Tangerine Dream, Kevin Shields, Aphex Twin and Brian Wilson, yet has tried to expand his sound again.

That epic quality is still evident on the album’s first single, after all Gonzalez excels at it. ‘Do It, Try It’ has its backbone in synth and electronic pop and pushes into ’80s French pop, ’80s prog and as the chorus suggests – “A dance on repeat / A trance of a heartbeat”, a kinship with dance music’s more euphoric elements.

“Listen to a sound of a new tomorrow,” the song’s introduction goes. When it comes to M83, the sound of tomorrow, is always primarily the past, and it works.

Original post.

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Posted on March 7th, 2016

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Kendrick Lamar took home five Grammys last night of the 11 he was nominated for his album To Pimp A Butterfly. And while he didn’t win the Album Of The Year (Taylor) or Song of the Year (Sheeran), he did put in a stunning performance of ‘The Blacker The Berry’, ‘Alright’ and an untitled new song as is becoming customary.

Here were the winners:

Song of the Year: Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”
Record of the Year: Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk”
Album of the Year: Taylor Swift’s 1989
Best Rap Song: Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”
Best Rap Performance: Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”
Best Rock Album: Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Kendrick Lamar’s “These Walls”
Best R&B Album: D’Angelo and the Vanguard’s Black Messiah
Best Urban Contemporary Album: The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind The Madness
Best R&B Performance: The Weeknd’s “Earned It”
Best Rap Album: Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly
Best Music Video: Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” with Kendrick Lamar
Best Dance/ Electronic Album: Skrillex And Diplo Present Jack Ü
Best Rock Performance: Alabama Shakes – ‘Don’t Wanna Fight’

Posted on February 16th, 2016



Well, the first acts announced for Longitude 2016 in Marlay Park from 15 – 17 July.

Kendrick Lamar, Major Lazer & The National are each of the day’s headliners.

Also playing are Jamie xx, Father John Misty, Chvrches, Roisin Murphy, Action Bronson, MØ, Courtney Barnett, ASAP Ferg, Tyler, The Creator; Rejjie Snow, All Tvvins, Otherkin, Pleasure Beach and Saint Sister.


Tickets will go on sale next Friday 29th January at 9am at €159.50 + fee and day tickets cost €64.50 + fee. Three customers can get their hands on Longitude tickets before anyone else, presale tickets go on sale at www.three.ie/plus 48 hours before general release. Tickets will be available from Ticketmaster.

Posted on January 22nd, 2016


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Looking for more new music? Follow the Nialler9 New Music playlist on Spotify. Updated weekly.

1. David Bowie – ‘Dollar Days’

A man immortal in his music passes away at 69.

Even in death, David Bowie remained an artist. The Starman’s parting gift to the world, we wouldn’t find out for three days, was the release of his 25th album Blackstar, on Friday.

His lifelong producer partner Tony Visconti wrote today: “His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift.”

A lush, rich jazz-inspired experimental rock album, it will hereafter be viewed as a poignant closing statement, which is how Bowie intended it to be. The signs were all there – on Blackstar he sings “something happened on the day he died,” On ‘Lazarus’ he sings “look up here, I’m in heaven.” The videos for the tracks point towards a final transformation, in a career defined by them.

On the album track ‘Dollar Days’, the melancholy consumes the song and Bowie hints at explicitly saying what we now know. “I’m dying to / Push their backs against the grain / And fool them all again and again.” That now reads as “I’m dying too.” Bowie was always chasing, always pushing, always seeking. “If I never see the English evergreens I’m running to / It’s nothing to me / It’s nothing to see,” he sings.

When artists release albums close to their death, the “late style” of the release adds extra resonance, as in J Dilla’s Donuts. On Blackstar, Bowie is always aware of his imminent death. He spent 18 months with cancer before he lost, yet he remained in control of his own artistic destiny. Bowie remained a music maverick, the magician who orchestrated his final departure in his art.

My Bowie Spotify playlist.

2. Kendrick Lamar – ‘Untitled 2’

With last year’s list-topping To Pimp A Butterfly universally-acclaimed as one of the albums of 2015, Lamar is showing us there’s much more to come. 2016 will see a lot more live shows around the world from the Compton rapper, yet he’s already showing us he’s not content to rest. In an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night talk show last week, Lamar debuted an untitled new song.

The jazz-lead rap style from TPAB is in effect, but there’s a searing energy in Lamar’s delivery, as he weaves an unstructured freestyle rap that feels like it could go anywhere at any time and in its five minute running time he talks of his career, his fear of the police, a black woman’s life choices, desire, his inspirational time in South Africa, his money-enriched life and his community. By the time, his raspy voice is intensely bellowing “You ain’t gotta tell me that I’m the one / Yes, I am the one,”, there’s little doubt that Lamar is a rapper at the top of his craft and only improving.

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Posted on January 11th, 2016

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