MUSIC: Top picks for 2018
Writer, editor, music aficionado and DJ Zodwa Kumalo gives you the lowdown on three forthcoming albums
We advise you to nab these albums when they are released later this year.
Tom Misch — Geography
Late last year, Tom Misch announced on his Facebook page that he was releasing an album in April 2018. The 22-year-old South London producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist performed at Good Luck Bar in Johannesburg in April 2017, to one
of his biggest audiences yet.
The best part was the surprised look on his face when the crowd started singing the words and beats even before he began strumming his guitar. He obviously didn’t expect to have such a formidable and appreciative fan base in SA.
His 2015 offering, Beat Tape 2, which features artists including Carmody, Loyle Carner and Jordan Rakei, is responsible for garnering him a wider audience. It’s a soulful album with heavy jazz and hip-hop beats and influences — even drawing inspiration from Dilla and James Blake. His new album, Geography, will no doubt hit all the right notes.
It’s available for pre-order on iTunes.
Why do we love Tom Misch? He’s happy to release music through non-traditional spaces such as streaming music stores Bandcamp and SoundCloud. He’s collaborated with Bearcubs — and with his sister Polly Misch. And he’s reworked Mos Def and Busta Rhymes tracks.
Does a jazz musician get any cooler than that?
Frank Ocean — To be confirmed
Mr Ocean is a revelation. Not just because he is an inspired musician but also because he has one of the coolest Tumblr accounts out there — using the platform as a way of communicating honestly with his fans (this includes venting) but also as a way of announcing albums. Which he has done. We think.
A few days ago he posted an image of a guy wearing a blue windbreaker over a hoodie, and a yellow cap that reads: "If you loved 2017, you’ll love 2018". Sure, it could be a schmaltzy new year’s message but Ocean has put up other hinting posts. Perhaps fans are reading too much into it but if it’s true, this next album will be his fourth.
If you haven’t listened to any of his music, start at the beginning with Channel Orange (2012) — a melodic, electro R&B album packed with unexpected arrangements and thought-provoking lyrics about society, super-rich kids and crack. 2016’s Endless is a sober, safe goodbye to his label Def Jam Recordings (which was said to be stifling his creativity) while Blond (released 48 hours later) seemed to be Ocean in full flight — a political statement and a genre-defying project complete with guitar stretched out, warped vocals, and muted beats. We’ll have to keep an ear on his Beats 1 radio show, Blonded, which has become the place where he debuts his new music.
Christian Scott — Ruler Rebel
If you haven’t heard of this supremely talented jazz trumpeter, known in full as Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, you can catch him at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in March. While you’re prepping for what promises to be a live religious experience, listen to his 2015 album, Stretch Music.
Then work your way forward to his 2017 release. Start with Ruler Rebel, released in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the first jazz recorded. Then listen to follow-ups Diaspora and The Emancipation Procrastination.
The best way to describe Scott’s sound is to compare it to Robert Glasper and The Robert Glasper Experiment, Ambrose Akinmusire and Esperanza Spalding as well as other jazz musicians who — as Scott does in his music — stretch the boundaries of this oft-serious genre. Make no mistake, his pieces are serious business, but also spiritually uplifting and a true musical delight with their unexpected and unconventional twists and turns.