Each week on the FACT Singles Club, a selection of our writers work their way through the new music of the week gone by.

This week, Oakland rapper Kamaiyah channels more positive vibes on female empowerment anthem ‘Build You Up’, while Kesha delivers some well-earned catharsis in the form of a piano ballad called ‘Praying’.

Elsewhere, Lil Wayne very nearly reminds us how he was once one of the best rappers alive, Four Tet teases a new album and Dizzee unleashes a menacing taste of his next full-length, with something new from Skepta also in the mix. Here’s what our reviewers made of them all.


Kamaiyah – ‘Build You Up’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: The greatest gift from Kamaiyah’s developing career is the harmonious, feel-good aesthetic underpinning her music: even something like ‘Fuck It Up’ bristles with a touch of optimism. When you listen to her, you’re the smiling faces on the front of the A Good Night in the Ghetto cover. The infectious mood extends to ‘Build You Up’, a bouncy singalong that nods to female-unity jams of the ‘90s but never sounds like a retread. Right in time for the summer, this feels like a classic in the making. (9)

Carl Anka: Coming through like the soundtrack to a Fresh Prince of Bel Air episode, this is some breezy beats. The video boasts two different choreographed dance numbers and everyone just looks thoroughly happy to be here. No wonder. (7)

Jibril Yassin: Y’all, Tony! Toni! Tone! didn’t die to be resurrected for something barely resembling DIY bedroom pop but lacking the awkward charm. (4)

Chal Ravens: So I’ll admit I just typed “Yup. (10)” before I started listening and decided to work back from there. My hunch was strong. THIS VIDEO. THIS TUNE. THIS RAPPER. So as it happens: Yup. (10)

7.5


Kesha – ‘Praying’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: After a long, complicated and ugly hiatus, it’s good to see Kesha back – and of course it’s going to be in the form of a cathartic ballad, the type of music she was making before her major label ascendancy. It’s not exactly what I want from Kesha, but if you pardon the cliché, it certainly feels like what we need. (7)

Carl Anka: Kesha is back with some PIPES, but it feels glib to call this a comeback or an ‘evolution’ – it’s just an incredibly talented woman delivering some well earned catharsis. (8)

Jibril Yassin: The highlight of ‘Praying’ is when Kesha just goes for it, sounding like a vocal tour de force we never knew we had. It stops the track from sounding overdone, instead presenting it like a well-needed moment of relief. (9)

Chal Ravens: In which I learn that Kesha’s speaking voice is so amazingly vocal-fried, it almost gives me hope that my own craggy, be-noduled vocals could yet carry me towards becoming the next – well, hopefully not the next Kesha, because she’s had a totally shitty time, of course. So, an obvious cheer for the plot twist that leads to ‘Praying’, but I have no other real opinion on this kind of hard-squeezing victory roar. Production is rousing, vocals are pitchy, backing choir are numerous. The resurrection is signposted. (5)

7.25


Lil Wayne – ‘Fireworks’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Wayne was once one of the greatest voices in rap, but this song finds him shifting his voice, chameleon-like and a little clumsily. I was expecting the worst from him based on recent output, but ‘Fireworks’ goes a long way on a flustered Weezy performance, nudging awake the part of your soul that still knows all the words to ‘The Mobb’. (7)

Carl Anka: Jeezy strong, Wayne strong. Auto-tune on the right side of tolerable. And yet… Wayne goes “you ain’t lit, you pre-heated”, and that’s all I have to say about that. (6)

Jibril Yassin: On his best days, Lil Wayne is still one of the best rappers alive. Backed by a Young Jeezy who sounds like he’s doing his best to claim the track for himself, Weezy goes for the thrilling approach. Between revisiting past bars and cramming the bright Mike Will-produced track with melodies, he sounds quite like a whirlwind. Weezy F Baby and the ‘f’ is for flourishing. (8)

Chal Ravens: The Waynaissance should be further ahead than it is, right? As someone who is no longer keeping regular tabs on the whole Cash Money saga, I must remind myself that things aren’t that easy. Still, nobody wants to download a damn four-track EP from Dat Piff. Where’s my filler!! Regardless, ‘Fireworks’ goes off, with an obscenely chunky production from Mike Will who just can’t seem to fuck it up. (7)

7


Four Tet – ‘Two Thousand and Seventeen’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: This is serene stuff, all koto-style melody tripping over slowly unravelling yoga-class synth. The 2007 me is adding this to a playlist of Telepopmusik tracks on Winamp and having a fantastic nap. (6)

Carl Anka: This is the sort of track that comes across sounding like anyone could make it, but we all know that it takes a certain amount of skill and expertise to get the *right* kind of minimal. Music for eating cereal for dinner to. (7)

Jibril Yassin: It’s great to hear a return to the low-key chilling Four Tet, but could he have possibly melded the downtempo, calm approach to something worth remembering? (5)

Chal Ravens: Taking it back to a dustier, cracklier, but once familiar Four Tet sound, it’s a straightforward construction, but sometimes the prettiest things are. It would be silly to complain about ‘Two Thousand and Seventeen’ feeling overfamiliar or dated because Four Tet’s been out here doing this shit longer than most of his fans have been wiping their own asses, but it’s not his most essential work. Still pretty, though. (6)

6


Skepta – ‘Hypocrisy’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: This sounds particularly paranoid. Having fifteen different iPhones probably goes beyond business means, and the combination of voice and minor-key creepiness in the beat gives this a touch of Scarface’s gruff not-worrying worry (barring the authority). (7)

Carl Anka: It’s been a whirlwind 18 months for Skepta, and it shows by the amount of artistic crutches he uses here. Only so many times a “greaze” will work as punctuation. Ratings for turning down the MBE though. (6)

Jibril Yassin: Skepta is in fine form here – clearly somebody told him that being petty and having an eye for detail brings out the best bars in him. (7)

Chal Ravens: This is very boring but the artwork is… not. The mind boggles. (4)

6


Dizzee Rascal – ‘Wot U Gonna Do’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: As I watched Dizzee run through the hits at Glastonbury from my sofa, I was impressed that the new material he debuted fit in seamlessly alongside ‘Jezebel’ and ‘Sirens. The best of the bunch was ‘Wot U Gonna Do’, a list of post-fame fears that sounds even more intense on record. And it feels lived-in and all the scarier for knowing you could go to jail over a parking fine. Finally! I’m on board with Dizzee’s back-to-basics project. (8)

Carl Anka: So here for new *old* Dizzee. “Wot u gonna do when your fans don’t care, ’cause they’re all grown up and they all moved on?” You can’t tell if he’s dissing his old rivals or his own ‘Bonkers’/collaborations with James Corden. You forget Dizzee could be this nasty. (7)

Jibril Yassin: This works as both a series of jabs at a rival and Dizzee checking himself, almost as an apology for refuting grime and going pop. As with ‘Space,’ the flow is rougher than what he would have opted for in the past, but there’s still enough elegance in his bars to keep the hype train a-rolling for now. (7)

Chal Ravens: Didn’t think Dizzee would be shitting on Skepta this week but here we are! This is a gothic indulgence, menacing but dumb, fang-toothed but brassy – and if anyone’s gonna spearhead the late invention of UK horrorcore then why not Dizzee? We already know he can do amazingly gory videos. I’ve not been more excited about a Dizzee album for a long time. (7)

7.25


Final scores:

Kamaiyah – ‘Build You Up’ (7.5)
Kesha – ‘Praying’ (7.25)
Dizzee Rascal – ‘Wot U Gonna Do’ (7.25)
Lil Wayne – ‘Fireworks’ (7)
Skepta – ‘Hypocrisy’ (6)
Four Tet – ‘Two Thousand And Seventeen’ (6)

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