Listening on Headphones (Silhoutette)

Even more good UK gospel music for you to check out as the year draws to a close.

For the final weeks of 2013 Street music continues to represent strongly, more great singer/songwriter tunes come to the fore and House, RnB and Pop music hybrids are also in the mix.

Plus: Afrobeat comes into its own.

Let’s get to it:

Name: Distinct (follow on Twitter: WeAreDistinct)

Track: Cypher (Taken from their mixtape ‘Being Distinct Vol. 1‘)
Availability: free download via the Distinct Facebook page
Genre: Hip-Hop

Comment: I’m loving the J Williams production on this.  It’s only 1 minute and 44 seconds but between the strong video and great wordcraft from Natty and Truthz, two London-based 16-year-olds, this is good stuff.

Name: Nick Brewer

Track: Me & My Pen, taken from the Flat 10 EP
Availability: Download it above or at http://itsnickbrewer.bandcamp.com

Comment: One of the most consistent artists on the scene, Me & My Pen is actually a snippet from Brewer’s current EP ‘Flat 10‘, with the full version apparently available on his next release.

Name: Joel Baker

Track: Further Than Feelings
Availability: (available via Joel Baker’s website)
Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Comment: one of the most encouraging things about the music coming out of the UK gospel scene in the past 18 months or so is how many more artists are exploring themes beyond the usual ‘Gospel’ topics.

And while that isn’t new in and of itself more of those songs are finding acceptance within the Gospel ‘mainstream’, a welcome sign of its maturing and broadening tastes.

Definitely worth checking out.  Superb

Name: Shad Stone

Track: I Surrender ft Lyrical Soldier
Availability: stream via SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/shadstonemusic
Genre: RnB

Comment: Shad Stone is a new name on me.  He’s a member of Gospel Choir Incognito, the choir that famously blew away the crowd and judging panel (and Simon Cowell) on this year’s Britain’s Got Talent.

‘I Surrender’ features Lyrical Soldier and is produced by one of my favourite young producers, G Kid.  It’s taken from his EP ‘He Cares for You’.

If I have one criticism it’s that it feels somewhat unfinished, but it’s most definitely worth checking out.

Name: Icie (follow on Twitter)

Track: Whips and Chains
Genre: Hip-Hop

Comment: I see Icie as some kind of Griot in the UK Gospel Hip-hop scene.  His songs carry incredible personal depth but are universal nonetheless, explore the totality of his faith and life from a hugely personal perspective which give his body of work a strong multi-dimensional feel.

Released to coincide with last month’s Black History Month, ‘Whips and Chains’ celebrates black achievement in the UK from a music and entertainment perspective, name checking some personalities along the way.

It’s also good to see that pretty much all of them are relatively young.

Name: Gabz (follow on Twitter)

Track:  Can You Hear me featuring Andrew Bello (follow on Twitter)
Genre: Afrobeat
Availability: Download the track above or get the free mixtape at http://gabz.bandcamp.com

Comment: The interesting thing about what’s now being termed ‘Afrobeat’ is the amount of influences it quite clearly draws on (I’m old-school in the sense that only Fela‘s music – or stuff in the same style – should be labelled as such, but that’s another thing for another time).

Back to the point: ‘Can You Hear Me’ offers elements of RnB, Rap and even some Soul in this heartfelt piece, and Andrew Bello‘s vocal is an excellent Nigerian-esque foil to Gabz‘s homegrown accent and delivery.

Name: Rychus Ryter

Track: Finally Found You ft J Williams
Availability: Buy on iTunes
Genre: Afrobeat

Comment: With songs from people like Fuse ODG now in regular rotation on mainstream radio, Afrobeat songs are everywhere.

And while I say this quite a lot, it’s worth saying again: thank God the UK Gospel music scene isn’t behind what everyone else seems to be doing.  It feels like not so long ago we were so far behind music trends it was quite frankly rather embarrassing.

With Junior Williams, Rychus has teamed up with one of the UK gospel scene’s best young producers (he also produced Distinct’s ‘Cypher’).  It also features real-life married couple ‘Mr & Mrs Bostock’.

In my view Junior Williams is to the young UK Gospel RnB sound what Victizzle is to Street music.

Name: Leke

Track: Ginger Tea
Availability: Stream on SoundCloud
Genre: Soul/RnB

Comment: I say this pretty much every time I mention this song: ‘Ginger Tea’ by Abimaro and the Free is one of my all-time favourite tunes, and Writeway Music‘s Leke (who plies a great trade on the RnB/Pop end of the spectrum anyway) does a decent job with this cover.

Name: Rachel Kerr (follow Rachel on Twitter)

Track: Committed
Availability: Get it on iTunes
Genre: RnB/Pop

Comment: If anyone has a chance of being another high-profile ambassador for UK Gospel in the mainstream since Raymond & Co all those years ago, it’s Rachel Kerr.

Lyrically, ‘Committed’ will only make ‘gospel sense’ to those in the know but this is music from someone hugely secure in their faith and testimony, with a very obvious intent to place their music outside the confines of the church.

Rachel is also a self-confessed massive fan of African music, elements of which can be heard in ‘Committed’s pre-chorus.

Name: Guvna B

Track:  Say Cheese
Availability: download from iTunes
Genre: House/Pop

Comment: Minor claim to fame here: I was on location when this video was being made at Big Church Day Out 2013.

I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to mention a track from Guvna B‘s excellent Odd 1 Out album which has a great selection of tracks for both the new fan and hard-core supporter alike.

Name: Shabach (follow on Twitter)

Track: IRE
Availability: stream on SoundCloud
Genre: Afrobeat

Comment: when the history of homegrown Gospel Afrobeat is written sometime in the future, Shabach will probably be filed under ‘Unsung Heroes’.

A prolific producer with an incredible output, he’s worked with a whole range of new and established UK gospel artists.  ‘Ire’ is the latest in a long line of solo music he puts out at an astonishing rate…

Name: S.O.

Track:  ‘Memoirs’ (Wish You Were Around)
Availability: Buy on iTunes
Genre: Hip-Hop

Comment: It’s the classic scenario: how do you tackle the issue of friends and/or family that were Christians but do not belong to the faith any anymore?

S.O. ‘Memoirs’ goes down the nostalgic route, throwing up a prayer and hope for return with this track taken from his ‘So It Continues’ album.

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