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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » hip-hop

Tunisian techno, Xitsongan rap and Satanic doo-wop: the best new music of 2019

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas, Laura Snapes and Ammar Kalia | Scene | Fri 28 Dec 2018 11:00 am

From cheeky rappers to explosive hardcore punks, we introduce 50 artists sure to make an impact in the coming year

She has already sung backing vocals for Chance the Rapper, guested on Sam Smith’s last album and steals the show on Mark Ronson’s forthcoming LP of “sad bangers” – all because of a truly remarkable voice that marks her out as the coming year’s Adele. Here’s hoping her superhuman vocal control will be put to service on equally strong songs.

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Tell us: what was your album of 2018?

Delivered... Guardian readers | Scene | Fri 21 Dec 2018 7:00 am

We will publish a selection of readers’ favourite albums before the end of the year

After canvassing over 50 of our music writers and totting up their votes, we’ve announced our 50 best albums of the year, topped by Christine and the Queens’ sensual neo-boogie classic Chris.

But a list of 50 – and you can see the whole thing here – inevitably misses out out dozens of brilliant albums, so we’d love to hear from you about the recordings you think were unfairly overlooked by our vote. In love with the latest chapter of Father John Misty’s wry catalogue of self-obsession? Outraged that Guardian critics bucked their stereotype and didn’t reward Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s collaborative album? Did you think great soundtrack recordings – Black Panther, A Star is Born, Phantom Thread – should have been recognised?

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here.

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Deconstructing Jantelagen

Delivered... Susan Lindholm | Scene | Tue 11 Dec 2018 7:00 am

The Scandinavian code of conduct «jantelagen» encourages modesty, conformity and goodness. Swedish feminist and anti-racist punk rapper Silvana Imam celebrates the exact opposite: pride, individuality, and diversity, as shown in the multi-faceted documentary Silvana by Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, und Christina Tsiobanelis. Screened on January 11, 2019, at the 9th Norient Musikfilm Festival in Bern, Switzerland.

Filmstill: Silvana (Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, und Christina Tsiobanelis, Sweden 2017)

«Do not think that you are special or better than us!» This statement sums up the central theme of a code of conduct called the «jantelagen», or Law of Jante, commonly used as a term to describe a condescending attitude towards individual success and personal ambition in Nordic countries.

The code originated in the satirical novel «A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks», written by Dano-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose in 1933. Set in the fictional Danish town Jante, the novel describes the inhabitants’ attitudes, and contains a list of ten rules that are variations of the theme: «do not think that you are special, better, smarter, or more important than us!» Although the origin of the term is not necessarily well known, the law itself is often brought up in discussions focusing on a mentality prevalent in Nordic countries.

Praise of Diversity and Individuality

The work of queer hip-hop artist Silvana Imam can be seen as a clear challenge to such a code. Imams brand of queer feminism is explicitly sexual and based in praise of diversity and individuality. With the titles of her albums and tours she advocates (queer) empowerment, as her representation of queerness provides positive recognition, both of and for her fans. An album she released in 2014 was called «När du ser mig – se dig» (when you see me – see yourself), with an accompanying tour entitled «Jag ser dig» (I see you). However, Imam revolts against more than just heteronormativity: she also speaks from a position outside of Swedish mainstream culture in terms of whiteness.

Filmstill: Silvana (Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, und Christina Tsiobanelis, Sweden 2017)

In her song lyrics, such as, for instance, the song «Hon va» (she was), Imam specifically stresses her migrant background; her mother is from Lithuania, her father is of Syrian descent, and the family came to Sweden in 1990 («hon va fyra år när hon kom hit/ till Kiruna bagage utan flyttbil» – she was four years old when she arrived here/ to Kiruna, luggage, without a moving truck). Growing up in a suburb of Stockholm, Imam was teased for her «strange» last name that made her different. However, in a Swedish context, the Law of Jante is explicitly based on the idea of not being special. It can therefore be argued that the Law does not apply to Imam, or others marked as «different», and thereby «special» to begin with.

Resisting Jante through Rap

The biographical movie Silvana Imam – väck mig när ni vaknat (Silvana Imam – wake me up when you have woken up) contains several themes and scenes that can be understood through such a lens. Painting a close and personal portrait of the artist, the film charts Imam’s rise to fame against the backdrop of her family history, and her relationship with singer Beatrice Eli.

Filmstill: Silvana (Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, und Christina Tsiobanelis, Sweden 2017)

It shows an unapologetically opinionated artist on a mission of queer empowerment, an artist who is aware of the «jantelagen» that warns her not to think that she is «special or better than us.» In one of the film’s initial scenes, we meet Imam in a recording studio, listening to a radio program in which she is announced as the artist of the year for 2016. Reacting to the announcement she exclaims: «What kind of a fucking country is this where it’s wrong to admit you are great? It’s fucked up! I’m just so great!»


9th Norient Musikfilm Festival 2019

Grammy nominations 2019: Cardi B, Kendrick Lamar and Drake lead the pack

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Fri 7 Dec 2018 5:31 pm

Strong showing for female and hip-hop artists suggest renewed focus on diversity – but it’s a mediocre year for British acts

After controversy about the Grammys’ failure to recognise women’s achievements at the 2018 ceremony, female artists dominate key categories in the nominations for the 2019 awards. Country stars Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves, rapper Cardi B, pop futurist Janelle Monáe and Lady Gaga could all take home major awards at the 61st Grammy award ceremony in Los Angeles next February.

Elsewhere, Kendrick Lamar and Drake dominate proceedings, with eight and seven nominations respectively. Along with Childish Gambino, AKA Donald Glover, they could rectify the other dispute that emerged from this year’s awards – namely the Recording Academy nominating but not awarding major hip-hop artists.

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‘The British music industry needs to update’: Paloma Faith, Nao, Sleaford Mods and others on 2018’s music controversies

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Fri 7 Dec 2018 7:00 am

Artists including Kojey Radical, Let’s Eat Grandma and Róisín Murphy discuss the year’s biggest stories, from Childish Gambino’s This Is America to the rise of K-pop and Jessie J’s success in China

April: Kanye West reaffirmed his support for Donald Trump on Twitter, part of a turbulent year in which he claimed slavery was “a choice”, released several albums, visited Trump in the White House, handed out Yeezy shoes in Uganda and announced he was thinking of building a flying-car factory.

Kojey Radical: I feel conflicted. I’ve got Yeezys on right now. The problem is, for all the contribution he’s made to music, he’s gotten to the point now where he just likes the conversation.

I listen to drill from the comfort of my nice home, but it’s bleak. These lads are virtually crying on the microphone

Related: This is America: theories behind Childish Gambino's satirical masterpiece

Surely certain powers will be extremely happy to see the rise of K-pop. It’s cultural warfare, in a way

I get called to talk at Oxford because I’m a black female. Just by existing, I’m political

Related: Why has the UK stopped producing pop superstars?

Related: Has 10 years of Spotify ruined music?

If a young artist came to me now and said: 'Do I need to get signed?’ I’d probably say no

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The 50 best albums of 2018: 50-31

Delivered... Electronic music | The Guardian | Scene | Tue 4 Dec 2018 7:00 am

Our countdown of the year’s most exciting sounds – updated every weekday – brings intensely confessional pop, otherworldly blues and the magic of twisted flamenco

Over to James Blake, who tweeted of Rosalía’s second album:
“Just what the actual afjhkhhhhhdiquyhqkzjdhjsnbahjkbbsbdhsjajbaFfdfffdffffffffffffffffffff.” Indeed. El Mal Querer sounds like nothing else released this year: the 25-year-old Catalan trailblazer’s fiercely passionate and subversive concept album combines flamenco tradition with an avant-garde approach to R&B. Read our full review.

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Flohio review – frenzied flows from UK rap’s most vital new voice

Delivered... Katie Hawthorne | Scene | Mon 3 Dec 2018 1:18 pm

The Art School, Glasgow
The London-via-Lagos MC is small in stature but a giant on the mic, with an astonishing staccato style set to dystopian beats

It’s 1am when Flohio takes the mic. The decks are in the middle of the floor, and SE16’s brightest rapper is balancing on a block to make her small stature visible. Beckoning the eager crowd even closer, she grins: “I wanna make sure I have someone to catch me.”

Born in Lagos and based in Bermondsey, Funmi Ohiosumah has a crooked smile, androgynous style and a powerful, magnetic presence. She dropped her first EP Nowhere Near in 2016 and chased it with infectious, postcode celebrating collaborations with London producers God Colony. Since then, she’s shown genre-defying dexterity through shrewd producer partnerships, from the skittering, bass-heavy minimalism of west Londoner Cadenza to the monstrous energy of Berlin techno innovators Modeselektor. For this Glasgow stop-off on her first headline tour, the bill is curated by trusted local tastemakers OH141.

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The top 100 songs of 2018

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes | Scene | Mon 3 Dec 2018 7:00 am

Guardian music writers have picked their favourite songs of the year – from UK drill breakthroughs to pure pop anthems – and put them all on a giant playlist

Kicking off our roundups of the best music of 2018, polled from votes by more than 50 Guardian music writers, we count down our favourite tracks of the year – topped by a man who managed to unpick US racial politics, launch a thousand thinkpieces and reach No 1 in the US charts, all with a single track. Read about the top 20 below, and hear the whole top 100 in playlists on Spotify and Apple Music. We’ll be counting down the albums of the year throughout the rest of the month, with No 1 announced on 21 December.

Related: This is America: theories behind Childish Gambino's satirical masterpiece

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50 great tracks for November from Sheck Wes, Ider, Architects and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes | Scene | Mon 5 Nov 2018 1:19 pm

Deerhunter return, Bruce delivers the techno track of the year and Pistol Annies brilliantly sketch a loveless marriage – read about 10 of our favourite songs of the month, and subscribe to the 50-track playlist

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50 great tracks for October from Noname, Julia Holter, Objekt and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Mon 1 Oct 2018 10:59 am

From Behemoth’s satanic metal to a triumphant return from Lana Del Rey, here are the tracks you need this month – read about our 10 favourites, and subscribe to all 50 in our playlists

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50 great tracks for September from BTS, Marie Davidson, Boygenius and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Mon 3 Sep 2018 10:00 am

From Empress Of’s modern classic to the magnificent angst of Boygenius, here are 50 new tracks you shouldn’t miss – read about our 10 favourites below, and subscribe to the playlists

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Bland on Blonde: why the old rock music canon is finished

Delivered... Michael Hann | Scene | Wed 29 Aug 2018 11:35 am

The 1970s brought about the idea that rock was important – and needed a canon of greatest albums to match. But in a digital age, is definitive musical excellence a ridiculous notion?

Rock’s flight into seriousness in the 1970s had many ill effects. There was prog rock, jamming, not releasing singles – and the idea that the couple of decades since Elvis had produced enough music of sufficient worth to produce a canon. In 1974, like a university English department sending out a reading list to undergraduates, NME polled its writers and published its list of the top 100 albums of all time. The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was No 1, Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde was No 2, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds was No 3 – you could imagine just such a top three being published today.

A few period pieces aside – it’s a long time since Spirit, Frank Zappa, Johnny Winter, Joe Cocker or Country Joe and the Fish featured in a generalist greatest albums list – it set a template for the pop canon that has remained largely untouched for more than 40 years, by adhering to certain rules.

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Everybody get up! The dance crazes changing the world

Delivered... Lior Phillips | Scene | Fri 10 Aug 2018 11:00 am

Drake’s In My Feelings is the latest viral sensation to get people moving. And from black culture to queer identity to feminism, the global reach of pop choreography makes it the perfect way to change cultural perceptions

When In My Feelings hit No 1 in the US last month, it meant not only that Drake had racked up more weeks at the top of the chart than any male solo artist in 60 years, it also established the latest in a long history of viral dance crazes.

The trend was kicked off by Instagram comedian Shiggy dancing along to the track, his moves perfectly synced to Drake’s lines: hands shaped into a heart when Drake asks if Kiki loves him; turning an imaginary steering wheel for lyrics about “riding”; waggling his finger back and forth when Drake asks Kiki to say she will never leave his side. Instagram users around the world followed suit, mimicking those moves and adding their own flair, often hopping out of a moving car while doing so, to the horror of the police. The #InMyFeelings challenge was born, making it the latest instance in which pop and dance have proved inseparable.

#Mood : KEKE Do You Love Me ? @champagnepapi #DoTheShiggy #InMyFeelings

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50 great tracks for August from Travis Scott, Robyn, Halestorm and more

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura Snapes | Scene | Tue 7 Aug 2018 10:13 am

From Future’s cry for help to Jlin’s brutally funky footwork, here is the best of the month’s music – read about our 10 favourites and subscribe to all 50 via our playlist

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Contemporary album of the month: Walton: Black Lotus

Delivered... John Lewis | Scene | Fri 20 Jul 2018 7:15 am

The electronic minimalist composer takes apart the sonic signatures of grime music and reassembles them with clockwork precision

The writer Albert Goldman once observed that every dance craze – from ragtime to rumba to rave – tends to go through a similar life cycle. Each starts as slightly scandalous underground scene that is painted as a symptom of decadence and criminality. It then goes overground, reaching out beyond its core demographic. It then fades from the mainstream and starts a gradual process of gentrification, to be curated by ethnomusicologists and rare-groove archivists.

It’s a cycle we’ve seen repeated for more than a century: from tango to techno, from habanera to hip-hop. Weirdly, with grime – a music that’s been a part of the British musical landscape for nearly 20 years – all of these stages are still happening simultaneously. Grime is still scandalous (and parochial) enough to attract massive police attention, mainstream enough to spawn such huge stars as Stormzy and Skepta, yet gentrified enough to attract the attention of highbrow bloggers who’ll archive pirate radio recordings and rhapsodise about grime’s references to gamelan and Steve Reich.

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