Friday, 10 January 2014

MUSIC: Reviews: 2013 - Girlplay

Ok, so I might be a bit late on this - but 2013 really was a killer year for some of my favorite female artists, home and abroad, new and old. Of course I loved Ye's Yeezus, Disclosure's Settle and a bit of Arctic Monkeys AM, but away from the testosterone, there's 4 albums that stood out for me - ones that I'm sure to be hammering way into 2014. 

'I woke up like dis... I woke up like dis' - ***Flawless feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

1. Beyoncé (Yoncé, Bey, Mrs Carter etc etc) - Beyoncé

Drunk in Love feat. Jay-Z

What can I say about this album? - it's dominated conversations between me and most of my female friends for the past month, and it's caused full-blown arguments at recent meals out. From the moment my best friend woke me with the news that Queen B had dropped a whole 'visual album' overnight, I've developed a proper love affair with the record. Arrestingly different from first listen, this album is also a MASSIVE grower - from Pretty Hurts via Superpower to Drunk in LoveBeyoncé takes us on a journey into her life as a mother, wife, sister, business woman, sexual-being and full blown feminist; the latter in particular has attracted a great deal of attention, and solidified my respect for the artist. The track ***Flawless samples from a Tedx talk given by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, entitled "We should all be feminists" (catch it here). I was lucky enough to hear Chimamanda speak about her life and work back in 2007 and she's been a great influence ever since - it's brilliant to see Beyoncé bringing her to the masses. Dismiss Yoncé as pop-machinery if you will, but no other artist in my lifetime has so successfully sound-tracked my existence from angsty teen to 'Grown Woman'. All hail Beyoncé 

'Feminist - a person who believes in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes' - ***Flawless

'Belly flop into a swimming pool of sound' - Faith feat. Laurence Aldridge

2. VV Brown - Samson & Delilah

The Apple

I don't think I've known a record as well as this one in forever, after playing it on repeat when it first dropped back in September. Hailed by Popjustice as 'one of the albums of the year' and generally sending shockwaves through a music industry that had all but written her off, Brown's self-released Samson & Delilah redefined my ears. The album as a whole had a beautiful synchronicity to it, which meant listening to it in its entirety was a complete pleasure- something we need more of in today's single focused world. Favourite tracks include the beautiful duet Faith, the haunting Substitute for Love and the almost Killers-esque Ghosts. Having been lucky enough to watch VV Brown four times this year - including her brilliant Jools Holland performance in October - I can safely say she's got a new superfan. I'll be keeping a close eye on watch she does next.

'We rule the world, and chase down our enemies' - Igneous

'I drink some Cointreau, keep it in my poncho' - Y.A.L.A.

3. M.I.A - Mathangi

M.I.A - Y.A.L.A.

Like VV Brown, M.I.A has been busy getting her creative genius to work in the fashion industry whilst still making killer beats. Her brilliant Versace collaboration hit stores about a month before her fourth record - and promised me that her new venture would be as visually stunning as it was audibly cool. Mathangi's blend of hindu iconology and internet hashtags clearly demonstrates M.I.A's ability to breezily straddle old and new, high culture and pop culture. But M.I.A is nothing if not divisive, and a recent chat with my male friend saw him call her flow 'annoying'. The thing is, with M.I.A sometimes I think thats kind of the point. Still as achingly trendy as a London hipster, M.I.A has managed to retain that teen-like anarchist spirit way into her thirties. Her songs sound like no one else, and whether you think that's a good thing or a bad thing, you can't deny that Mathangi breaks new barriers. Kicking out Y.A.L.A, Come Walk With Me, Bad Girls and Bring the Noize whilst strutting to work, or pre-drinking with the girls, is still my favourite past-time. 

'If you only live once why we keep doing the same shit? Back home where I come from we keep being born again and again and again, thats why they invented karma' - Y.A.L.A.

'I need someone who knows, someone who gives a fuck' - Enemy

4. Kelela - Cut 4 Me

Floor Show

The importance of the production on this debut mix-tape from Kelela is clear from the decision to name check the producer on every track. Stripped down and yet richly melodic, the 30 year-old LA based singer has created her own distinct genre alongside  briliiant array on contributors. Sonically and lyrically Cut 4 Me has a sad and sexy sound throughout, reminding me slightly of Delilah's 2012 offering: From the Roots Up. Kelela has been lauded as 'one to watch in 2014' and Cut 4 Me was namechecked on more than few 'Album of the year' countdowns, I only hope this wont prove too much hype to sustain. We will have to cross our fingers and wait... 

'Sad we couldn't go any deeper, something tells me you're a keeper' - Bank Head

So there's my round-up of the girls that soundtracked 2013 for me. In 2014 keep an eye out for Twigz' debut album, Azaelia Bank's notoriously delayed 'Broke With Expensive Taste', Grimes' rumoured 'Visions' follow up and a potential L Boogie comeback?


FKA Twigs - Water Me

Azealia Banks - Liquorice

Grimes - Genesis

Lauryn Hill - Mystery of Inequity

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