We all have our favourite albums by our favourite artists. But what if there was a new contender for your attention? Artists all over the world are pushing new music on their fans and the public. But sometimes it’s worth a peek behind the curtain. Here we will discuss what side-projects need to be heard.
Nico Segal and The Social Experiment – Surf
The Social Experiment is a collaborative including Peter CottonTale, Nico Segal, and Chance the Rapper. The album ‘Surf’ is a meeting of hip-hop and neo-soul music. These genres come together in a moving, sophisticated album that perhaps brings a different side of Chance the Rapper. It cannot be argued that Chance’s most recent albums such as ‘Coloring Book’ are thought of as sonically innovative and contributed to the craft that is modern hip-hop. However, this side project gave listeners a glimpse of what was to come from Chance. It has a layer of instrumentation and vocalisation that would not have been expected from the rapper.
The use of brass instruments such as saxophones is a strong theme throughout this album. It gives the LP a classic feel almost instantly. The use of such respected and specialised instruments colliding with Chance’s growing inclusion of his singing voice makes this project a perfect piece of vinyl listening. This LP is perfect for lyrical analysis and transportation through genres and spaces by music. This is something that is extremely exciting. Here we have a well-known rapper pushing an agenda of music that was dying out onto a modern crowd. This highlights the importance of real instrumentation in a very digital era of hip-hop, almost connecting current rap to its origins.
Jordan Stephens – Let Me Die Inside Of You
Jordan Stephens is someone that many people in their 20s will know very well. He is one of the two founding members of the 2010s pop-rap duo Rizzle Kicks. The upbeat sound that dominated the charts at the duo’s commercial peak is replaced with a more intentional production process. It also maintains Stephens’ witty and profound lyrical excellence.
This album explores the mind of Jordan Stephens; his mental health struggles, the themes he noticed throughout his childhood, and the love and life of the singer nowadays. Upon first listening, I found this to be a very experimental project. It blends genres and techniques to create something sonically unique and audibly exciting for a new audience. It would seem most people seem unaware of solo projects by artists like Stephens. But, listening to this album is a great way to open your eyes to the exciting prospect of exploring the creativity of people you think you’ve heard it all from.
Silk Sonic – An Evening with Silk Sonic
Perhaps the most well-known project here, ‘An Evening With Silk-Sonic’ is hailed as a masterpiece. Made up of hip-hop’s Anderson .Paak and pop’s Bruno Mars, Silk Sonic saw a gap in the industry and filled it. The effortlessly cool retro journey that this album takes the listener on is infectious and addictive. Here they bring a sound scarcely heard these days. This project allows fans of the duo to experience funk, soul, and even jazz.
‘An Evening with Silk Sonic’ is a reminder to the industry that artists are creating the narrative these days. This LP showed their creativity was not hindered by popularity, fads, or commercialisation. It is also a gift to fans of old-school funk and soul music. The project provides a perfect snapshot of the changes gripping hip-hop and pop music in the current climate. The music here will make you dance, relax, and feel like a music fan. With complex writing and production, as well as incredible execution, there is very little to dislike about this project. Perhaps though, the fact it isn’t longer is an issue, which could be changed by a sequel.
Broken Bells-Broken Bells
Broken Bells are a duo formed by James Mercer of The Shins and Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse. The two came together in 2009 to make atmospheric indie-rock songs and have recorded three albums as a duo since. Songs such as ‘The High Road‘ are a stark contrast from the hip-hop enthusiasm that Danger Mouse tends to project. This sound is more indicative of a weathered indie artist and sonically polarising from other Danger Mouse albums. However, lyrically, there is a familiar introspection and profoundness akin to the music of Gnarls Barkley, etc.
You can check out a piece on 5 important black composers here.