Five on it image: The Weeknd’s After Hours artwork via Canva
Listen, every year we have to have this conversation. Those “wow, I can’t believe the Grammys snubbed this artist/group/song/album” conversations. In 2020, it’s been: “sorry did they forget women in rap put out albums too?” “Are they aware of the Weeknd releasing some of the best work of his career?” “Do they realise that Kaytranada is, whatever way you look at it, not a new artist?”
It’s not to say there aren’t good bits. I respect that they, for once, acknowledged so many women (queer women!) in the rock performance category this year. I also completely understand that awards can be a way for artists to get publicity. If someone wasn’t on your radar, maybe a prestigious nod would make you want to check them out.
But even still, awards shows, in general, are built by institutions and individuals that do not often serve us – there are exceptions, of course (shout out this year’s MOBOs), but how often do awards match up with the reality? About once a month I think of 2014, when the Grammys gave Macklemore Best Rap album – other nominees were Yeezus and Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. Just two of the greatest rap albums ever made, but okay!
And that’s without getting into how the categories ostracise music that’s not from the global north or English language, or how they fail to acknowledge Black artistry that isn’t rap (Tyler winning best rap album for IGOR was bizarre).
Anyway, all of this is just to say, let’s please ignore them moving forwards and celebrate music in a way that’s not gross and gatekeeper-y. Until we have this discussion again next year, of course.
Now, here’s Five on it:
Cktrl – Robyn
I actually love the clarinet – and the super-talented Cktrl brings out all the plaintive, emotive potency of the beautiful instrument (plus the sax!) on this new EP. Out on Touching Bass, a London label that has been consistently killing it with their releases, this is soft, beautiful music to soundtrack these dark, crisp, autumn evenings.
Flohio – No Panic No Pain
This is the rising Bermondsey legend’s biggest project to date, chockfull of slick bars and fascinating production. Leaping across various soundscapes, she makes a solid case for being one of the coldest, most innovative MCs coming through in UK rap right now.
Kemi Ade – ‘PROMISE’
This sounds like a dream. Produced by Blue Lab Beats, this latest cut from the silky South London singer-songwriter is floaty and mesmerising. A cuffing season jam that could have been.
COSHA – ‘Berlin Air’
Irish singer and producer COSHA has consistently proven herself to be a very exciting rising prospect – check the sliding instrumentals and intricate, glitchy beat on this, and the way her formidable vocal swims on top of it all.
Rina Sawayama – ‘Lucid’
This Bloodpop-produced propulsive slice of Eurodance-y pop is a reminder (as if we needed one!) that Rina really is that bitch and we are blessed to live in her timeline.
You can listen to the Five on it playlist on Spotify: