2015 was understatedly a great year for music, and 2016 is shaping up to be another blockbuster year. What with major record labels announcing imminent releases from artists such as Future, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga. But while these mainstream icons receive the limelight, it’s time to shine a different coloured light on a few lesser known projects that are heating up. So here are three upcoming releases to keep tabs on this year:
MF Doom & Ghostface Killah—DOOMSTARKS
DOOMSTARKS is the elusive collaboration that has been on the tip of every hip hop fan’s tongue since 2011. MF Doom is the metal masked overlord, ruling the underground with his comic book villain aesthetics and sampling. Ghostface on the other hand, is a bold and brash Wu-Tang Clan member whose lyrics focus on the seedy gangster life—a true villain. Many believed this dream collaboration to be pure fantasy; but with an album cover, new track, and Ghostface confirming the album’s release in February, all systems are go. MF Doom looks to stay on a creative flow, following up his NehruvianDOOM collaboration. Ghostface Killah meanwhile, is hot off a collaborative album with jazz up-and-comers BADBADNOTGOOD. The possibilities for this record are endless. Whatever dastardly deeds these two get up to, it’s sure to be a rhythmical master class.
Fellow Villains: Odd Future, Notorious B.I.G, Wu Tang Clan
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Frank Ocean—Boys Don’t Cry
Frank please. If we don’t get this album everybody is going to be crying. His sensual and passionate vocal delivery won us all over on channel ORANGE; an electro funk and pop soul fusion masterpiece, with themes of love, sex, and longing that won him the Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album in 2013. The only problem is since that groundbreaking album, Frank has become an enigma—a ghost. He has appeared on a few features, most recently in a small adlib on Kanye West’s Life of Pablo; but for the most part, radio silence. There were rumblings in late 2015 of an album to accompany his new magazine, but much to the public’s dismay nothing has been heard since. We are willing to be patient Frank, but patience can wear thin…
Similar Sad Boys/Girls: Bryson Tiller, D’ Angelo, Erykah Badu
Death Grips—Bottomless Pit
“The game is mine… I deal the cards.” When an artist samples Charles Manson they are either insane, or in another realm of musical enlightenment. Death Grips are both. Their music not for the faint of heart. MC Ride, Flatlander, and Zach Hill are the shamans of this super secretive, pseudo cyber-punk, industrial hip hop group. With in-your-face vocals more akin to heavy metal, frantic drums, and searing synths, you come out of a Death Grips record short of breath and begging for more. Exmilitary was their hypnotic and primal debut. The Money Store set a later, more accessible entry point, while retaining their depraved lyrics and a sense of overwhelming energy. In the years following, Death Grips would proceed to cultivate one of the most ambiguous media presence’s of recent memory. They left their Epic label deal, leaked their albums, and decided a picture of a member’s member would make a fantastic album cover. With their double album Powers that B they returned to the aggression, sampling Bjork on the first half and tackling their darkest fears on the second half. To say they are inaccessible is an understatement; their new track “Hot Head” is no exception. Does that make them any less exciting to follow? Not even a little.
Similar Madmen: Clippng, Hella, Deafheaven
Check them, scrutinize them, and enjoy them. New music is always an adventure and in this time of new beginnings, why not switch up the soundtrack a little?