Nick Murphy, the Australian musician formerly known as Chet Faker, has worked his way up to precipitously high festival poster placement in recent years, in part because his approach to music is so fluid and omnivorous. So he likely found a kindred spirit in Kaytranada, the adventurous Canadian producer who has applied his magic touch to a wide range of pop, rap, and dance tracks in recent years. Kaytanada produced “Your Time,” the lead single from Murphy’s new EP Missing Link. The project is named to illustrate the transition between the Chet Faker and Nick Murphy phases of Murphy’s discography, and the song represents a different sort of bridge: between Murphy’s sleek, soulful future-pop and Kaytranada’s fidgety, all-inclusive approach to dance music.
Vince Staples doesn’t just find angles, he operates at intersections. His new album, Big Fish Theory, is about rap’s complicated place in broader cultural and social conversations. “It encompasses things: Being larger than life in a smaller world,” he told Complex. “How rappers are perceived and perceive themselves.” Rappers stand at the center of modern culture, but they still operate in what Staples refers to as “a smaller, facilitative space.” This creates a unique lens through which to view a society that has both been shaped by hip-hop culture and is at odds with its creators.
The newest offering from his album, “Big Fish,” is a meditation on rap’s transformative properties. Unlike “BagBak,” which considered rap’s impact on the wider world through racial profiling, gentrification, and class warfare, “Big Fish” engages with rap as a mechanism to escape poverty, evaluating the wealth gap between an emerging rapper’s past and present. The idea is best illustrated from inside his Benz, where he has flashbacks of paranoid bus rides, armed and wary of possible headhunters. But, as the song unfurls, Staples reveals he’s merely traded in one form of paranoia for another: trying to keep what he has. “Swimming upstream while I’m tryna keep my bread/From the sharks, make me wanna put the hammer to my head,” he raps slickly. There’s a sense that, regardless of the circumstances, he can never truly be at ease.
The production on “Big Fish” casts aside the clanging, dreary tones of Summertime ’06 for something more buoyant, and Vince moves as nimbly as ever in new waters. There’s an unsteadiness to his raps, which drag syllables and clump words yet constantly shuffle and zigzag. He frequently overlays his new life atop his old one, eventually concluding that chasing fortune was the right call. His message is amplified by the recurring voice of Juicy J, one of rap’s most prolific showboats. “I was up late night ballin’/Countin’ up money by the thousands,” Juicy proclaims. But even as his wealth and standing in rap continue to grow, Vince Staples is mindful of his position in the larger American ecosystem: Even the biggest fish are at the mercy of an apex predator.
Kero Kero Bonito – Fish Bowl (Frankie Cosmos Remix)
Starting from today, Kero Kero Bonito will be releasing a new remix every week in May, and the first comes courtesy of Greta Kline’s New York-based band Frankie Cosmos.
“Kero Kero Bonito is one of exceedingly few bands that all four of us in Frankie Cosmos love and admire with an equal fervor and, to be honest, we wanted to cover ‘Fish Bowl’ even before they asked us to be a part of this project,” Frankie Cosmos wrote of their curveball-chucking reworking. “One of the absolute best parts of doing what we do is forming friendships with likeminded artists around the world, and occasionally getting the opportunity to collaborate with them. We had a blast arranging and recording this song.”
Retaining the original’s bleeping GameBoy melodies, Frankie Cosmos take ‘Fish Bowl’ in an entirely different direction, and to be honest, it’s a bit of a treat.
For the last year or so Hazel English’s recording output has not just been remarkably stellar – but impossibly consistent. Perhaps that’s a result of English totally nailing a formula, and continuing to master it. Psychedelic guitars and dreamy vocals intertwine – leaving just enough room for her confessional lyrics to shine.
But new song ‘That Thing’ isn’t like anything she’s done before. In fact, not only is it probably her finest moment to date, it might just be her first proper foot-stomping pop banger. Produced with Justin Raisen, who worked on Angel Olsen’s delightful ‘My Woman’, English seemingly moves out of her comfort zone, by embracing a big drums and a catchy keyboard hook – with stunning results.