Common – The Dreamer The Believer – 19 December via Warner Bros
It's been four years since we've heard anything from the Chicago-born rapper from the east side family of America's hip-hop tussle. Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr aka Common is no stranger to controversy with various beef between himself and the West Coast rapper elite. But this hasn't stopped his sharp rise to fame through the release of eight albums including collaborations with Eryka Badu, Lauryn Hill, De La Soul and J-Dilla.
That's not to mention two Grammy Awards in 2003 and 2007. After much delay Common's latest instalment – his ninth album - The Dreamer The Believer, produced by none other than Kanye West, offers a more dirty, rough round the edge feel in vocal and beats. The man is quite clearly getting back to the fundamental basics of hip-hop.
Common thinks this album can take over the critically acclaimed Be and Living Forever as his best works yet. 'I feel like this album really captures what the essence and what hip-hop is about... but what I love about the album is it’s really about the love of the culture and its really about the art of hip-hop. You know that's we just tried to give our all with that, we didn’t try, we gave it. I think this is one of my best or greatest albums and definitely one of my favourites.”
John Legend, Nas and Maya Angelou make guest appearances too. Listen up hip-hop heads.
Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again – 1 January via Polydor Records
Home Again succeeds two positively received EPs: Tell Me A Tale and I'm Getting Ready. The London-born folk/soul artist made an appearance on Lauren Laverne's BBC Radio 6 show performing the single 'Home Again', putting his passionate and soulful voice on the map, and has since supported Best Female Solo Artist at the Brit Awards, Laura Marling, on a handful of European dates.
He also played a charity gig with Coldplay's Chris Martin and other top players in the music industry at St John-at-Hackney Church in East London in November. Kiwanuka's obviously destined for big things. Home Again is a mere top-up to a reputation that is already on a sharp upward curve heading towards to a full album release in March 2012.
Paul Butler of The Bees, the brainchild behind I'm Getting Ready EP, makes his producing attributes fully felt again with a strong display of catchy riffs and soul shuddering harmonies which works perfectly with Kiwanuka's Bill Wither's style vocals. The new 'retro-soul' trend has got a whole lot bigger since Kiwanuka decided to start making himself noticed. Home Again is just another chapter in an already successful career.
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