In the era of producers it has become the norm to credit production work above vocals in recent times, but perhaps an example of an artist who hasn’t quite got the recognition he has deserved is Venezuelen-born Dalston resident Arca. Lending additional production to Yeezus in 2013, Arca ascended into the mainstream with an educated and diverse approach to music production and consulting, as well as exploring into the world of audio-visual performance. His debut album Xen, rightfully critically acclaimed, dropped in late 2014 and served as a further showcase for his distinct musical talent. Watch out for Arca’s production on upcoming Bjork album later this year.
Another fascinating producer is Canadian artist Tommy Kruise, signed to Jacques Greene’s Vase label. His eight-track free download Fete Foreign in 2014 included grime track Calm featuring our own JME and, amidst a mix of glitchy hi-hats, synths and vocals from upcoming rappers, Kruise’s creative talent evidently gleamed. 2015 looks to be a breakthrough year for the fluent-French-speaking producer; watch out for some exciting rap collaborations.
Perhaps lesser-known but also worth a mention is Manchester-born electronic rising star Oceaan, whose production blends the sounds of UKG and R&B (see here), drawing comparisons with the likes of James Blake. Similarly not one to sleep on, Hayden James is leading the gang of producers pioneering the future bass genre and his impressive track Something About You dropped late December 2014. A final mention goes to French producer Phazz, who will drop a follow-up EP this year after his impressive four-track Marble EP. Watch out for his grime-influenced remixes and his approaching European Tour.
18 year old Atlanta-born Raury made it to number four on BBC’s prestigious Sound of 2015 list and had an eye-opening 2014, which included the excellent EP Indigo Child and the feature-track ‘Higher’ on SBTRKT’s album. Echoes of early Outkast sound in his music, but most exciting is the overwhelmingly evident Kid Cudi-influence, who Raury lists as his idol. It is evident Raury has both lyrical and vocal talent, and a large, sentimental hat he wears a lot. Claims that he has been working hard in LA recording his 2015 album have us sitting tight in anticipation.
Other breakthrough artists set to have a stellar year include Top Dawg Entertainment’s SZA, Atlanta rapper Rome Fortune and Brooklyn’s latest hiphop star, 19-year-old Joey Bada$$, who will release his long awaited studio album B4.DA.$$ later this month.
To talk of the big-timers of 2015, this year’s must-have albums include Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar’s follow-ups to the incredible debut efforts Channel Orange and Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (release dates to be confirmed). Equally not to be missed, Kanye West looks set to release a seventh solo album this year, after a relatively quiet 2014 letting us bask in the glory of critic-splitting Yeezus. Recent collaborations with Paul McCartney and a beautifully produced track with fellow Chicago artist Chief Keef suggest he has been busy making new music.
The biggest album of 2015
If there’s one thing Drake loves more than feelings of over-sensitivity, it’s his eternal love for his city. Views from the 6 will be a tribute to his Toronto area code, which is tattooed on to his ribs in large block lettering.
Over the past eighteen months Drake has transcended the hate warranted from his second record and had a Platinum 2013 with the brilliant NWTS. After releasing a horde of free music, including Trophies, How ‘Bout Now and 6God, the world’s most prolific pop artist has blurred the line between credible production and self-mockery-parody-rap and has recorded another album to help the youth connect with their emotions. And it will be the most important hip-hop record of the year.
Words by Antonio Infantino