As we pull the plug on 2016, a year in which we lost David Bowie, Phife Dawg, Prince and George Michael, gal-dem reflect on some favourite music projects that have graced our ears over the last 12 months. Despite the list of 30 below, there will be a few that haven’t been mentioned but that’s because it’s been a great year for music, so this task isn’t as easy as it looks. We found it particularly difficult to rank them in order of preference so we’re giving it to you in chronological order. We even pulled together a playlist of our favourite tracks from each project.


Anderson .Paak – Malibu 

After a stellar debut album Venice, 2016 saw the long-awaited rise of the multi-talented producer and artist Anderson .Paak. Malibu proves to be a nostalgic, funk-driven, emotional journey through the mind of one of R&B’s freshest talents. His intelligent lyrics tell stories of growth and love as they’re sung and rapped over infectious grooves, decorated with gospel and jazz backings and carefully selected radio recordings. Joined by the likes of The Game, Schoolboy Q, BJ The Chicago Kid and Talib Kweli, this album is such an exciting collaboration of talents, fearlessly marrying musical elements to create an atmosphere that is uniquely Anderson .Paak: both incredibly new and yet so comfortably old school. Ranging from party anthems like ‘Come Down’ and ‘Am I Wrong’ to the introspective and romantic down-tempos of ‘Room in Here’ and ‘The Bird’, Anderson .Paak’s versatility is what makes this record so incredibly hard to tire of.

Faves: ‘Come Down’, ‘The Season/ Carry Me’

Natty Kasambalah


Florist – The Birds Outside Sang 

Behold, the striking whisper of 2016’s most victorious underdog. The creation of Emily Sprague, a young songwriter from Albany, Florist released the debut album The Birds Outside Sang in January this year. Tackling themes of gender, identity, mortality and mental health, this album is sparing in sound but not in nature. It doesn’t seem accurate to use the word “indie-pop” at all when describing such a personal and heavy piece of work. Songs such as ‘I Was’ and ‘1914’ act as an admittance of human flaws and weakness whilst providing a healing calm that allows you to seek comfort inside the spaces within the loose arrangements and ghost-like echoes. This one is for fans of calming sounds by way of Palehound, Frankie Cosmos or CocoRosie.

Faves: ‘Rings Grow’, ‘I Was’

Natty Kasambalah


Kanye West – The Life of Pablo 

The one where Frank’s voice cracks on the end of Wolves shredding a piece of your heart or the one where Sia’s snarling vocals kind of ruin it? ‘Ultralight Beam’ is on both so, to be honest, it doesn’t matter. This was almost the album the Kanye faithful waited for. After the much-needed abrasion of Yeezus, The Life of Pablo offers escapism. The samples on ‘Ultralight Beam’ and ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt I.’ can make a man levitate; on ‘Fade’ you’ll find the throwback bassline to blot out the weak attempts of recent years; and ‘Real Friends’ and ‘No More Parties in LA’ gave us a glimpse of the old Kanye and ‘I Love Kanye’ reminded us that our problematic fave doesn’t care what we think. Yet somewhere, (possibly in the mess of Pt. 2) TLOP got lost in the sauce. Too many tweaks meant a slightly overcooked album just short of the depth he promised. But that’s ok, because a dedicated fan fixed it for him.

Faves: ‘Ultralight Beam’, ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt. I’, ‘Real Friends’

Grace Shutti


Santigold – 99¢

There are few people I would throw the word “underrated” around with, but the way that black audiences continue to sleep on Santigold warrants it. Because the fearless risk-taking and experimentation that we’ve loved about FKA twigs or ABRA in recent years, has always been a part of Santigold’s craft and she’s been doing this for 10 years now. No one else could take a subject like consumerism – by now done-to-death – and imbue it with new life like she has on the stand-out track, ‘Can’t Get Enough of Myself’, or evoke Blondie, hip-hop and bubble-gum pop on the same record. With 99¢, Santigold shows off her playful side and reminds us how to have fun in the process.

Faves: ‘Can’t Get Enough of Myself’, ‘Who Be Lovin’ Me’, ‘Rendezvous Girl’

Fatma Wardy


Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.

So soon after releasing the masterpiece To Pimp A Butterfly, the last thing Kendrick fans expected is more music, so soon. But here was untitled unmastered. to sneak into our streaming services overnight, with no fanfare. Could these really be unmastered offcuts from the last album or… is it like when you send a snapchat pretending to be super candid but you’ve actually been trying to get the right shot for ages? However, if anything these speculations only further highlighted the calibre that Kendrick holds himself to and exceeds consistently, maintaining the political urgency of its predecessor with slower rhythms and quieter questions. With untitled unmastered. we gain insight into a part of Kendrick we’ve yet to witness in his studio recordings, making this album so worthy of recognition in its own right.

Faves: ‘untitled 03 05.28.2013’, ‘untitled 06 06.30.2014’, ‘untitiled 07 2014 -2016’,

Natty Kasambalah


Kamaiyah – A Good Night in the Ghetto

2016 will be remembered for a lot of things that shouldn’t have happened, but for me it was all about the year of the #carefreeblackgirl. Everyone from Cardi B to Solange, Joanne the Scammer to Princess Nokia taught me how to finally let go and not give a shit. And who better to exemplify this philosophy than newcomer Kamaiyah and her stellar debut A Good Night in the Ghetto? Whether she’s juggling boyfriends from coast to coast in ‘Niggas’ or waving off haters on her started-from-the-bottom anthem ‘How Does It Feel’, she’s showing off smarter lines than half the dudes making waves right now, and the best part is she’s only getting started.

Faves: ‘Niggas’, ‘How Does it Feel’

Fatma Wardy


DJ Rashad – Afterlife 

Afterlife is a posthumous album of unreleased material from DJ Rashad.  This is the first release from the Teklife label which features many of Rashad’s frequent collaborators like DJ Spinn and DJ Earl. Understandably, the unfinished quality of the album lends it a slightly different feel than what fans would expect. And yet, tracks like ‘Yeah We Do This’ still have the distinct Chicago footwork sound that Rashad was known for. Rashad’s skill is most evident in the nostalgic reworks of the Missy Elliott classic ‘Pass That’ or Jill Scott’s ‘A Long Walk’, so newcomers are advised to start there.

Faves: ‘Roll A Tree’, ‘Lost Worlds’, ‘Let’s Roll Out’

Nana Dwimoh


Gaika – Security 

There’s no denying 2016 has been a huge year for grime, regardless of your feelings about the implications this holds on the scene. But whilst everyone has been looking to the big dogs to lead the sound of the UK into (finally) British-based festival line ups and Mercury Prize wins, Gaika has been refining his own sounds which no doubt will become something of a consummate British vibe. Security is the first of two projects the Brixton artist unveiled this year.

This 10-track package released on Mixpak infuses dancehall with grime, dub with trip-hop using warped vocals like a night-whisperer, and unrivalled production quality, making Gaika as an artist stand out from his peers. Whilst he tackles gentrification and the dearth reality of the club scene since his return to the UK capital, Gaika has drawn inspiration from the 90s anime films like Akira and this, as a result, has taken his sonic creativity to a whole new level with features including Mista Silva, Bipolar Sunshine and Sercocee.

Faves: ‘Buta’, ‘World Star’ ft. Bipolar Sunshine, ‘PMVD’ ft. Mista Silva

Antonia Odunlami


Beyoncé – Lemonade 

2016 has been a fiery inferno of epic proportions, but one of the few people  emerging from the flames unscathed (and swinging a baseball bat at anyone who crosses her) has been Beyoncé. Lemonade offered us two gifts. Firstly, she blessed us with a moving and visually stunning film full of black girl magic that is heavily influenced by black female artists such as Julie Dash. And accompanying that came THE album – in which Queen B goes from country to rock to ballad effortlessly while conveying rage, vengeance and heartbreak – never missing a single high note. After her surprise self-titled release in 2013 it seemed impossible that Beyoncé could get any better, and yet here is an album that shows her being more unstoppable than ever.

Faves: ‘All Night’, ‘Hold Up’, ‘Formation’

Grace Barber-Plentie


Skepta – Konnichiwa 

It’s been a long road for Skepta who emerged as a DJ early in his career, before stepping in front of the mic. A position that has made him the UK’s biggest artists, with no exaggeration. History dictates that your debut LP blows before, you fall off for good, but in the best turn of events for grime fans, Junior Adenuga’s fourth studio album (eighth if you count his mixtapes) is the instinctive offering that earned him mainstream recognition. Add to this the ratings from his fans and an all-star, sold out Ally Pally. It’s easy to forget how many anthems Skeppy created when you consider ‘That’s Not Me’, ‘Man’, and ‘Shutdown’ feature on the 12-track offering. Yet it’s the curveballs that prove Adenuga wasn’t getting love for a formula. The lovable sleaze of ‘Ladies Hit Squad’ and the abstract Pharrell collaboration ‘Numbers’ shows that grime is at the foundation of what he does but he won’t let BPM restrict his capabilities.

Faves: ‘Lyrics’, ‘Man’, ‘Ladies Hit Squad’

Grace Shutti


James Blake – The Colour in Anything

The Colour in Anything acts as testament to the fact that James Blake is and will continue to be the heart and voice of electronic music. Among his many talents, this album demonstrates his production skills loud and clear, as if we didn’t already know – sharing credits with only Rick Rubin and Justin Vernon. But the real success of this record lies in its variety. While ‘Timeless’ and ‘Radio Silence’ deliver the epic sonic crescendos we expect from the Blake of 1-800 Dinosaur, elsewhere we’re reminded of the artist who covered Joni Mitchell way back when. Similarly, the skeletal piano accompaniment of songs like ‘f.o.r.e.v.e.r’ are likely to please fans of his earlier work as his voice resonates fully through his confessional and illustrative poetry. James Blake proves to be another great artist of 2016 who mastered using the empty spaces within music to fully immerse his audience.

Faves: ‘Timeless’, ‘I Need a Forest Fire’, ‘f.o.r.e.v.e.r’

Natty Kasambalah


Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book 

Fresh off his show-stealing verse on Kanye’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ and a stint as the definitive careless black boy of 2016, Coloring Book provides us with a much needed hour of pure musical joy. Chance takes us to church, he makes us dance, whilst bringing a few friends such as Lil Yachty, The Social Experiment and D.R.A.M (as well as a trio of 2016’s problematics, Lil Wayne, Kanye and Justin Bieber) along for the ride. From opening track ‘All We Got’ to standout single ‘No Problem’, Coloring Book is a shot of pure infectious joy that you don’t quite want to end.

Faves: ‘No Problem’, ‘Angels’, ‘Finish Line’

Grace Barber-Plentie


Mitski – Puberty 2 

Indie queen of the outsiders, Mitski, graced us with a fourth album this year and disappoint, she did not. Her exploration of the human condition is so glaringly real and honest that it might leave you completely disillusioned with all of life’s projects, if it weren’t accompanied and lifted by such comforting guitar melodies and beautifully delicate vocals. The poetry of her songwriting is the saving grace of the bittersweet melancholy her work captures so well in songs such as ‘Happy’ and ‘Crack Baby’. It would be rude to speak of this album without making direct reference to what I consider to be one of the best songs of 2016, ‘Your Best American Girl’. The song is a must-hear, must-sing, must-overplay. A freeing and cathartic epic ballad of the struggles and growth that occur when developing feelings for someone across cultures, however misguided or damaging they may be.

Faves: ‘Your Best American Girl’, ‘Happy’

Natty Kasambalah


Kelsey Lu – Church

Church appeals to every natural instinct. Listening is like muscle memory. As cicadas croak and Lu’s cello rumbles like shifting earth on the EP, it becomes obvious that this is no coincidence. “Nature is my biggest inspiration”, she told us earlier this year. “That’s where I draw my energy from.” It’s an energy that’s palpable and unrelenting, no doubt intensified by being recorded totally live in front of her family and friends at a New York City Church. She summons the Holy Ghost in one breath and conjures fires down low in the next, all the while dismantling the limitations of what most singers consider their vocal range. Off the back of the release, she has performed sold out shows and gained a spot in Sampha’s touring band. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, Church will have you holding your breath in reverence and you’ll damn sure feel good about it.

Faves: ‘Dreams’, ‘Morning Coffee’, ‘Liar’

Grace Shutti


ABRA – PRINCESS 

Putting the male-dominated Atlanta based Awful Records on the UK grid, singer-songwriter and producer ABRA is taking R&B into her own hands. And rightly so. The London-born, New York bred artist started out putting covers on YouTube which fell into the hands of Awful Records’ boss, Father.

“Banging on your walls/ I go up and down up and down”

She has since released the BLQ Velvet EP and Rose LP last year. July saw the summer scorcher release of PRINCESS, which undoubtedly has maintained consistency with both previous projects with its glossy 808 synths and drum machines made from her Atlanta bedroom. Bar the weak contribution from Tommy Genesis on ‘Big Boi’, ABRA is showing no signs of letting up in carving out her own voice within Awful.

Faves: ‘CRYBABY’, ‘PULL UP’, ‘THINKING OF U’

Antonia Odunlami


Noname – Telefone

Noname was the gift of summer 2016 that we didn’t realise we needed. Hailing from Chicago, rapper-poet Fatimah Warner, released her debut mixtape, Telefone in July this year – a bright and intimate album filled to the brim with brilliantly textured voices and instruments. This album is the perfect soundtrack to almost any kind of activity, or if you just want to immerse yourself in an intricate, colourful and warm world away from reality. The skill of this album lies not only in her effortlessly cool rapping, but in the variety and diversity of smaller name features that manage to perfectly match the songs they appear on and help to make each song make sense both individually and as part of the whole. This album is so addictive, but the fact that it is so therapeutic and laid back means that it doesn’t even matter if it’s all you play for the next three weeks. You’ll probably be better off for it.

Faves: ‘All I Need’ ft Xavier Omar, ‘Yesterday’

Natty Kasambalah


Frank Ocean – Blonde

Since Frank Ocean’s disappearing act three years ago, writing about him has slowly turned into myth-making. So talking about Frank Ocean the musician, is no easy feat. The general consensus on Blonde seems to be that it’s a typical sophomore slump or it’s too different from the Frank Ocean we knew and loved. But the thing is that, all the hallmarks that made Channel Orange a classic – the ironic humour; the witty commentary; even the show-stealing verse from Andre 3000 – they’re all here. Above all, the tendency to wear vulnerability on his sleeve is in abundance – that special quality that made us fall in love with him in the first place. So, what’s not to love?

Faves: ‘Self-control’, ‘Ivy’, ‘Nights’

Fatma Wardy


Princess Nokia – 1992

Her mixtapes have dabbled with various genres over the past few years, but Princess Nokia’s first LP sees her largely sticking to the sharp, autobiographical and deeply feminist rap that’s seen her quietly propel to icon-level status over the past few years. Covering subjects ranging from her upbringing in New York, having to deal with shitty white people asking about her hair and odes to Bart Simpson, there’s so much going on in 1992 and it’s all the better for it. Nokia gives us some of the cleverest (and most needed) lyrics of the year, as well as accompanying these with stunning music videos which pay tribute to her heritage and love of black and brown women. 1992 could easily have been lost under the praise delivered to Lemonade or A Seat At The Table and yet it absolutely holds it own when Nokia puts her signature stamp on it and refuses to be silenced.

Faves: ‘Tomboy’, ‘Saggy Denim’, ‘Green Line’

Grace Barber-Plentie


Mick Jenkins – The Healing Component 

Coming from Chicago where the likes of Noname, Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensah all hail from, you’d expect Jenkins to do big things. And he does, but differently and in the best way. There are clear themes throughout the album, like questioning what love is, and slyly calling out rappers who aren’t “holding it down” or his constant references to water, which he has explained is a metaphor for the truth. As in his track ‘Drowning’ featuring BadBadNotGood, where drowning in the water is equated with not being able to handle “the truth”.When breaking down the songs of Jenkins album, you realise how much this guy has put into it. To give further praise to Jenkins,  he worked with the likes of Sango and Kaytranada to make this album  a real winner.

Faves: ‘Healing Component’, ‘Fall Through’, ‘Drowning’

Nana Dwimoh


Dave – Six Paths

Launched into the stratosphere by Pied Piper flip ‘Thiago Silva’ with AJ Tracey, 18 year-old Dave leads his elders with the release of Six Paths. Rap has made it’s business being bold about topics other genres use metaphors to hide. In that spirit, Dave lays his life wide open: road life, his single mum, linking girls, loving girls, anxiety, jealousy and dreams of success over minor piano chords and guitar-led productions. The EP both surveys the madness and delivers a message, which doesn’t get much better than ‘Picture Me’, which exudes euphoric positivity when he hits “don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t run / dance / sing”. But from ‘Picture Me’ to ‘Wanna Know’, Dave’s  stand-out moments are when he delivers his run-on flows. They leave you 12 counts and multiple punchlines from his last breath without losing focus of where he’s taking you. With a stellar EP and a Drake co-sign in the bag, Six Paths is the start of something serious.

Faves: ‘Panic Attack’, ‘Picture Me’, ‘Wanna Know’

Grace Shutti


Moses Sumney – Lamentations

LA native Moses Sumney has made a name for himself amongst the galaxies he weaves with his voice on stage.Lamentations is a bag of treats that delivers the gravity of his performances, throwing up a new blend of his intricate folk-blues and stank-face making beats with each song. On the EP, Sumney finds the tension between melancholy and satisfaction in a way that makes songs like “Worth It” an enjoyably upbeat self-doubt. “I don’t know if I am worth it” feels like a strange admission to mid-vocoder and finger snap (essentially half-way to a club track), but his honesty is the thread that allows Sumney to ease through different moods without mis-stepping. The melodic whirlwind of ‘Lonely World’ feels right at home next to the sacred Hebrew melodies of ‘Incantations’ and if you get to catch him live prepare yourself for a transformative experience.

Best tracks: ‘Worth It’, ‘Incantations’

Grace Shutti


Solange – A Seat At The Table

Solange sings, “Don’t touch my soul, when it’s the rhythm I know. Don’t touch my crown, they say the vision I’ve found”. The lyrics to the song are fairly simple and maybe with a less powerful message, you could easily get lost in the cool production and Solange and Sampha’s soft vocals. The songs message of pride, ownership and identity immediately filled the blanks I’ve been struggling to since I decided to stop feeling insecure and self-conscious about my hair. The second she started singing was an instant “Yes!” moment, similar to the relief you feel when you have a song stuck in your head and are humming the tune for days, to then have the lyrics finally come to you.

The feeling of hearing unexpressed thoughts so perfectly verbalised is one of my absolute favourite things about music. Only once before has an artist somehow managed to exactly pinpoint my views on my hair.

Faves: ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’, ‘F.U.B.U’, ‘Junie’

Shanice Dover


D.R.A.M – Big Baby Dram 

After exploding onto the scene with 2015’s summer anthem ‘Cha Cha’, D.R.A.M has us thirsty for more. Destroying his feature with Chance the Rapper on ‘Sings Special’, previously collaborating with SZA, to more recent tracks with Lil Yachty and Young Thug whilst receiving the seal of approval from aunty Erykah, this Virginia native has shown his wide-ranging versatility and an effortless knack for originality. Also – this has got to be the best album cover of all time.

Ultimately, D.R.A.M can have you singing along to a turn up track and a slow jam the same way, and before you Shazam it, I’ll guarantee you’ll know who it is.

Faves: ‘WiFi’, ‘Cute’, ‘Outta Sight/Dark Lavender – Interlude’, ‘100%’

Antonia Odunlami


Ray BLK – Durt

2016 has been a huge year for Croydon’s R&B poster girl, Ray Blizzy. Whilst being MOBO-nominated, playing the UK festival circuit, supporting Kelela on London turf and appearing on Radio 1Xtra’s Hot for 2017 list, Ray BLK also released a mini-album, Durt.

‘Meet me at Morleys/ Best fried chicken is in south’

Representing a more local depiction of Black Girl Magic with the visuals of leading single ‘5050’, collabing with fellow Croydonian, Stormzy on ‘My Hood’ and spitting some real knowledge about inner city London in ‘Baby Girlz’, Ray has a refined sound that would make you feel as though she’s been about for at least ten years.

Durt is just a teaser of things to come and we look forward to the rise of Ray BLK.

Faves: ‘5050’, ‘Hunny’, ‘My Hood’ ft. Stormzy

Antonia Odunlami


Yussef Kamaal – Black Focus 

To those who see “jazz” as an entity – frozen in time rather than the global yet nuanced, ever-evolving creature that it is – Yussef Kamaal’s album, Black Focus, by way of Brownswood Recordings might just be the one to grab you. Black Focus is free roaming, the energy is palpable and what’s even better is that you won’t find aloof and elitist fans of their music. A quick scour of the crowd confirmed there was a mix of city bankers and off-duty creatives but you couldn’t tell who knew their Miles from their Monk. It was mostly just a crowd who came for good music and a good time.

Faves: ‘Remembrance’, ‘Low Rider’, ‘Black Focus’

Grace Shutti


A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from here… Thank you 4 your service

This album culminates as an epic celebration, both as a reconnection of the group and one’s own relation to it – what has been and can be. To appropriate a phrase from Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, the conscious coupling of the old and the new is also what makes this album so exciting.

Hearing the velvety tones of Anderson .Paak, the scattered poetry of André 3000, the ultimate bars of Kendrick and the mumblings of Kanye are mere icing on the cake. This hip-hop group from Queen’s have done it again, almost two decades later, 16 songs, endless beats, flows for days. While there seems to be some speculation over the exact meaning of the title, I think it makes perfect sense. The finality that Phife’s death inevitably brings with it, as the final Tribe album, acts almost as a ceremonial passing of the buck. They’ve shown themselves to not only be greats, but also to be timeless. Phife Dawg, we got it from here, thank you for your service.

Faves: ‘We The People….’, ‘Dis Generation’, ‘Melatonin’

Natty Kasambalah


Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My love!” 

This might be my favourite album of 2016, if only because it has given us this anecdote for the history books: Questlove called D’Angelo at four in the morning to tell him just how good it is. Nothing better describes what Childish Gambino has accomplished, than the thought of these two music legends, geeking out over “Awaken, My Love!”, a lush composition that demands to be savoured. Much has been said about this new style being a radical departure for Gambino, but if it is then the result is more delightful than disruptive.Ultimately, “Awaken” is a tender love letter to 1970s psychedelic soul. And like all good love letters, it succeeds in making you fall in love with its subject too.

Faves: ‘Redbone’, ‘Baby Boy’, ‘Me and Your Mama’

Fatma Wardy


J. Cole  – 4 Your Eyez Only

J. Cole, that boy we all know well, the “woke-and-yet-still-a-misogynist” creative has turned out his fourth studio album exactly two years since his last, 2014’s Forest Hills Drive. Giving himself a twenty two day gap until the end of the year. To be honest, I wasn’t convinced he’d slide his way into this golden list. But here we are.4 Your Eyez Only seems like a natural advancement in the #relatable rapper’s catalogue. Spoken from both his perspective and another person’s, it’s an intimate account of how fragile and complex life is; shedding light on how we deal publicly and privately with bereavement; inhabiting the internal conflict of double-consciousness and why no matter what we do “some things you can’t escape; death, taxes and a racist society that make every nigga feel like a candidate for a Trayvon kinda fate”.

The ten tracks capture the seemingly perennial misery and despondent lows of life whilst revealing flashes of heavenly contentedness. The type of tracks  where you don’t care if people call you soft, cause all you really wanna do is make your girl’s life easier, and sometimes that just means folding clothes and having a bowl of raisin bran, bananas and almond milk together.This album is lowkey beautiful. It doesn’t absolve J. Cole of my previous side eyes and won’t have me screaming #platinumwithnofeatures, but it deserves a place in this list because it’s  the most connected and thankful I’ve felt about his work in a while.

Faves: ‘Foldin Clothes’ and ‘She’s Mine P.t1’

ifama


Stefflon Don – Real Ting 

A late entry but we couldn’t close this list without mentioning the debut project from the Don. After bursting onto the scene with a remix of Section Boyz’ ‘Lock Arff’ and featuring on tracks by Jeremih, Bizzle and Angel, Stefflon Don has been drip-feeding us snippets of the full extent of her capabilities.

Sex, relationships and ‘Family Ties’ are prevalent themes that run throughout the 11-track offering, opening with a sample from the Coming to America soundtrack. Talking openly about a certain ‘Tight Nooki’, Don samples Chaka Demus and Pliers on another stand-out track.

‘Nobody can’t tell me ‘bout my mudda/ 16 shot weh go longer than a ladder’

Stefflon Don shares familial experiences when she openly talks about her mother who was a victim of domestic violence, and goes on to lay down, in Patois, the implications on anyone who talks about her mother in my personal favourite – ‘16 Shots’. She recruits MOBO-winner Abra Cadabra for the afrobeat-infused ‘Envy Us’, whilst other features include Dutch, Donae’o and Jeremih.

Faves: ’16 Shots’, ‘Envy Us’

Antonia Odunlami


Little Simz – Stillness in Wonderland

Just when you think Simz is ready to let the dust settle, another sandstorm seems arise out of north London. Stillness in Wonderland is the sophomore albums from the London MC, which has been accompanied by a comic book and a short film.

Sitting on the framework of Alice in Wonderland, Simz delves into her imagination, taking listeners through her experiences with rising to fame, displacement as a result, and relationships. Simz ups the production levels and her lyrical development is unquestionable. The features credits are star-studded but with good reason. Chronixx and Syd (of The Internet) make appearances in addition to Chip, with Ghetts returning to the vintage grime sound in ‘King of Hearts’ and Age 101 family Tilla, Josh Arce and Chuck20 joining for the journey through ‘Zone 3’.

Faves: ‘LMPD’, ‘Doorways + Trust Issues’, ‘Picture Perfect’, ‘King of Hearts’

Antonia Odunlami