Single Review – RAY BLK – Doing Me

Winning the BBC’s Sound Of isn’t always an absolute indication of greatness but with previous winners Adele and Sam Smith’s obvious global success the poll really isn’t something to be ignored. Particularly when it some to the obvious attention it can generate for new artists. And London singer/rapper RAY BLK is without a doubt worthy of more attention. New single ‘Doing Me’ surges, throwing back to 90’s RnB with some Lauryn Hill honesty and frank talk about lust, love and the need to be true to yourself in the face of the judgemental; ‘A short skirt doesn’t mean that I want it, my appearance doesn’t represent my wallet, this is for the ignorant ones with opinions, keep your two cents inside your pocket.’ With the help of producer Jimmy Napes ‘Doing Me’ is an uplifting, US styled RnB summer anthem but that isn’t to say BLK has let go of her London roots. Lyrics are still heavy with her authentic British slant; ‘It’s about being yourself no matter what and not caring about judgement. People are going to judge you whether you do bad or good so you have to do you regardless.’ Watch out for RAY BLK at Reading and Leads and Glastonbury.

Hayley Miller

BBC Sound of 2017 Poll – Insight


When a New Year rings in, we find ourselves wanting new things to complete the cycle of rebirth, whether it’s a new attitude, new clothes or even new music. The BBC Sound of List helps us do this. It began in 2003, with the aim of showcasing the most promising artists (they must be the main artist on a UK top 20 before the end of October the previous year) for the upcoming year – previous winners have included Adele, Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, HAIM, Years & Years and Jack Garratt.
2017 saw Ray BLK top the list. Ray BLK is an unsigned soul singer-songwriter with roots in rap. I had the chance to interview the 22 year old South London songstress, on the red carpet at the Rated Awards in September 2016. I can definitely say that her genuineness and infectious personality infiltrates into her music.
Her stage name Ray BLK stands for ‘Building Living Knowing’ and many of her lyrics are inspired by her love for English Literature. Her first EP, the Havisham EP, was themed around Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations – whilst studying the novel she said, “I was so inspired by the story. I felt like Miss Havisham was like a lot of women around me, who got their heart broken and turned cold and began to hate men.” She has collaborated with artists such as Stormzy and Wretch-32 and has featured on the NME 100 List of Essential New Music for 2017.
It will be interesting to watch how her journey unfolds in 2017 and she said: “Winning the BBC Sound Of 2017 has to be the most surprising thing that’s happened to me thus far.” If the alumni of winners are anything to go by, I think it’s safe to say we can expect magic from her this year. 
Listen to Ray BLK’s latest song Patience (Freestyle) released 6th January below.

Ony Anukem

Kwabs – Love + War Review

Kwabs is the stage name of Kwabena Adjepong from Central London. He’s already received much attention in the mainstream media of from the BBC and MTV, having a song featured on the FIFA 15 video game and becoming a Number One overnight sensation in parts of Mainland Europe. Superficial points aside, Kwabs’ moulding of the burgeoning Neo-Soul genre saw him produce a successful EP last year in collaboration with Vienna based producer SOHN. With his debut album Love + War, he’s teamed up with SOHN again as he looks to replicate his success and the acclaim he has garnered in places like Germany as one of the most promising British acts around… no pressure then.

With ‘Look Over Your Shoulder’ SOHN provides the sombre whirrs of electronica as his minimalistic approach brings out the wholesome and smooth quality of Kwabs’ baritone vocals. He also demonstrates his impressive, yet cool vocal range and variations without ever sounding like he’s made much of an effort and in this sense his vocal performance reflects off the instrumentation very effectively. This track is well instrumented and structured as it sends out that intricate, yet punchy rhythm and harmony behind the fluid foundation that is Kwabs’ vocal performance. ‘Layback’ is a more soulful and spaced out affair which features Kwabs isolated vocal reverberating and trembling in the verses and harmonising with the sweeping electronica of the chorus in a wave-like melody. Despite the power of the chorus and the detail of the verses, it still gives off the essence of a laid back and chilled track and that really is a credit to the production and to Kwabs’ effortless vocal ability from which a complex and smooth pop song has came into fruition. ‘Forgiven’ is a track of great strength and power via another immense vocal performance that runs in conjunction with a dramatic vocal instrumentation which basically drives the song with only subtle reverb and electronica being added. It’s a towering performance enhanced by a minimalist production and arrangement.

The album opens with the title track which opens as a heavy electronic affair with whirring and warping synths and flashing samples strung together by a blocky bass line before somehow falling away effortlessly and turning into a groove filled piece by the end of the verse. Again it goes on to fool you by the chorus as it slips effortlessly into a track made of heavy percussion with Kwabs vocals sailing through them. This goes on throughout what becomes a euphoric track and a heightened piece of pop music. Of course there is that hit track that shot him to the top of many of Europe’s charts and that is ‘Walk’. It is a track of consummate boldness and prominence from the apprehensive piano chords that launch the song into it’s churning and rumbling chorus which punches it’s way along as opposed to progressing peacefully. These parts drop off the face of the earth and the song is still carried on Kwabs’ vocal before launching back into the bold and uncompromising chorus. Nestled in amongst these big tracks are the simple string laden, piano ballads of ‘Perfect Ruin’ which simple and more graceful and whilst far from being the best track of the album, it offers up a more emotive quality and a sense of balance for the album. Those such as ‘Wrong or Right’ advance the notion of neo or alt-soul music in a positive light whilst those such as ‘My Own’ or ‘Make You Mine’ offer up some oddly placed moments of pop cheese and see’s Kwabs delivering Justin Timberlake-esque tracks. These are the only weaknesses of what is a more than promising debut from a genre smashing artist with one of the best vocal performances of the year. When is his next album out?

Kwabs – Love + War = 8.5/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Kwabs – Look Over Your Shoulder

Kwabs is the stage name of Kwabena Adjepong from Central London. He’s already received much attention in the mainstream media of from the BBC and MTV and having a song featured on the FIFA 15 video game. Superficial points aside, Kwabs’ moulding of the burgeoning Neo-Soul genre saw him produce a successful EP last year in collaboration with Vienna based producer SOHN. With his debut album Love + War set for a September 11th release, he’s teamed up with SOHN again for his new single ‘Look Over Your Shoulder’. SOHN provides the sombre whirrs of electronica and his minimalistic approach brings out the whole and smooth quality of Kwabs’ vocals. He also demonstrates his impressive, yet cool vocal range and variations without ever sounding like he’s made much of an effort and in this sense his vocal performance reflects off the instrumentation very effectively. Kwabs is certainly a rising British talent and he’ll only cement that status with an album as solid as this track.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Shelter Point – Fossil

Keep a keen ear out for Nottingham based duo Shelter Point as they’re starting to gain the attention of a wide range of BBC radio DJ’s from Zane Lowe and Annie Mac to Tom Robinson as they’re dreamy electronica starts to take hold of the airwaves. They’re to release their upcoming EP Weird Dreamers on February 2nd and as a pre-cursor to that, they are releasing the lead track from it with ‘Fossils’. It fits the picture of uprooted and fluid electronic that has only subtle fixing points to the tie the song down. These are mainly born out of the vocals that sometime lift into a falsetto to match the airy instrumental production to pull the song into all directions. A dispersive track with open minded production.