The recent holiday season was amazing.

If you were shrewd enough in your planning, you might even have been one of those people with an 11-day holiday stretch.  I’m not jealous.

No, really…  I’m not.

Over the same period we’ve been plied with some great new music, so I’ve been a very happy bunny.

Here’s a quick round-up of the music you definitely need in your life.  If you went away you certainly missed the release of an amazing selection of strong music.

There’s still time to get them, though:

Jahaziel – ‘Still Livin’’ Mixtape

This one has only been out for a short while, but the buzz around it has already built up solidly on both sides of the Atlantic.

Jahaziel is one of our very best, and this is his first release since 2007’s tremendously well-received debut album ‘Ready to Live’.

Be sure to download ‘Broken’. It’s not part of the mixtape, and is almost certainly is one of the most honest songs you’ll ever hear.

He calls this ‘tract music’, so make sure you share.

Writeway Music –’One WayLP’

Speaking of heartfelt music, Writeway deliver their first set called ‘One Way LP’, and Rhema, Tunday, Presha J and Leke have quite a bit to say. And what a way to say it, too.

It’s an ambitious project, and the intent to deliver something that is articulate, meaningful and heartfelt is obvious…

Franklyn – ‘The Remixtape’

You might have missed this as it came out just before the rush of releases over the holiday season.

If you did, you need to go back and get it.  It’s genuinely mind-boggling to think Franklyn Addoh will only be 18 this year.

Recorded in a single day, and engineered in Victizzle’s bedroom with an incredible cast (Utter Once, Brewer, Cadet and Alfa Mist, to mention just four), this is definitely one to check out.

Barney – ‘The Freestyle Sessions’

Savvy Hip-hop fans should recognise most of the backing tracks from this selection as coming from the late, legendary Hip-hop/Neo-Soul producer James Yancey, better known to connoisseurs as J Dilla.

The ‘record a project in a day’ bug was obviously catching as the Freestyle Sessions was recorded in a day as well.  However Barney took the concept a step further by chronologically packaging the selection with the songs named after the actual times they were recorded. I’m a sucker for random artistic things like that… 🙂

Thematically it’s not as ‘scriptural’ as some others on this list but it’s obvious that wasn’t the intention anyway.  Its ‘fly on the wall’, fun approach makes it all the more engaging as Barney shares what it’s like to be a young Christian man in the UK right about now.

I can’t remember the last time I played a selection from one artist back to back for about 2 hours straight, but I found myself doing that with this…

Cadet – ‘The Vending Machine’

This was released a (relatively) longer while back, but worth a quick mention.

On ‘The Vending Machine’, Cadet presents an interesting hybrid of UK street music, lightly blended with his African Francophone heritage.

It’s a generous offer too – you have 22 tracks to play with, so there’s potentially plenty for you to like.

Brewer – ‘Alone With My Thoughts Part 2’

Nick Brewer’s ‘Alone with My Thoughts’ was widely regarded on the Street Music scene as a highlight release for 2010 – his intricate rhyming, deeply personal narrative and honest, disarming approach deservedly won him many fans.

He’s returned with more high-grade material for ‘Alone With My Thoughts Part 2’.  The trademark, evocative storytelling and superb production (a result of his highly productive collaboration with 4-man production team The Confectionery) also continues.

Chalk up another landmark release for Nick…

The Confectionery – ‘Number 7 Goody Bag’

Speaking of The Confectionery: if you liked the music on Brewer’s set, you’ll definitely want to pick up the ‘Number 7 Goodie Bag’.

This is a selection of incredibly well-produced music that should serve multiple purposes from trying your hand at vocals or songwriting, through to just having some decent bed music for your podcast or radio show.

Either way, this well worth checking out…

Jay Ess – Good Friday Mixtape

Without putting too much of a fine point on it, Jay Ess is also up there with the rest of our very best.

In the ‘Good Friday Mixtape’ Hip-hop meets theology in an artist who’s obviously done his homework incredibly thoroughly, and the result is a decent, challenging exposition of scripture through music.

You’ll almost certainly find something to like is this selection.

Bobby Bovell – The Emergent EcleKtic

A title like this raises expectations, and – thankfully – Bobby Bovell’s lush debut set delivers.

Together with the excellent production skills of main producer Chris ‘Baby’ Brooks, the pastor, singer/songwriter’s album merges his unmistakable Reggae heritage with old-school Soul and RnB, aided and abetted (if that’s the right phrase to use in this context) by some seriously respectable guest talent: including incredible vocalist Riccardo ‘Roccstar’ Williams, and there’s also a natural synergy with Jahaziel, who himself also has a background in Reggae.

‘The Emergent EcleKtic’ is more than just the sum of its parts, though: this is a genre-spanning selection likely to make diverse connections with discerning fans of intelligent and conscious Black music.

A highlight not just for 2011 but also for UK gospel music in general.  This has the makings of a classic about it…

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