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Five on it: music is joy, hope and survival

13 Dec 2019

Photography: Stormzy ‘h.i.t.h.’ artwork

I mean, what do I even say here? I can’t imagine anyone wants to read this today. Music is comfort, sure, but when you’ve cried and slept for around three hours, listening to the latest albums doesn’t feel like such a priority. It’s very easy to feel hopeless and despondent.

But as our politics editor Leah has written today, “Hope is complicated and risky, but precisely because of the disappointing election result, we should still seize it with both hands.”  As I write this, the others in the office are trying gently to lift spirits with Michael Bublé Christmas songs and the BeeGees and Velvet Rope-era Janet, which is surreal but equally kind of softly reassuring. I am reminded how grateful I am to have a community who will fight together, and hold each other too.

And so we keep going. Also while I remember, this is the last five on it of the year, because releases tend to dry up over Christmas (and when this statement inevitably means that Rihanna or Beyoncé drop a surprise project during the holidays, you can thank me).

Stormzy – h.i.t.h

A solid, highly-anticipated second album from one of the biggest acts of the decade, this is a record that finds Stormzy grappling with fame, and also himself (notably in the already widely-circulated lyrics discussing his infidelity with Maya Jama). With beautifully considered features, a glorious nod to the queen Tracy Beaker and some great bars, Stormzy further cements his national treasure status. The tracks aren’t all my cup of tea, but it’s a testament to his willingness to push into different spaces – poppy ballads especially. And for ‘Vossi Bop’ I remain especially grateful.

Alicai Harley – ‘Tek It To Dem’

Honestly, this bangs. Embracing joy and sweaty dancefloors feels necessary right now, so I am appreciative of this.

Ms Banks – The Coldest Winter Ever, Pt. 2

The new tape from the South London MC is full of icy bangers. Across tracks that dip into genres across current UK black music, her bars are assured, while the production from Splurgeboyz etc is really slick and enticing. On this follow up to the impressive Coldest Winter Ever, Ms Banks is still shining.

Manga Saint Hilare x Murkage Dave – We Need To Look After Us

The title of this project feels like a timely mood today, but even beyond that it’s a great collaboration between two underrated stars in the UK game. If you’re into rap and richly polished production, you need to check this. 

Kaytranada – Bubba

Man, remember how good Kaytranada’s first album was? On first listen, this new one will do very nicely too – that loungey production he does so well plus typically excellent features (VanJess! Estelle!) makes this another record of lowkey delicious bops.

You can follow the Five on it playlist on Spotify: