Posted on december 21, 2023
Trailblazing author of the story of women in hip-hop; ‘Flip The Script’, Arusa Qureshi travels through her 10 favourite releases from 2023! An avid selector, writer and event programmer, Arusa has been pushing the boundaries of sound and art in Edinburgh as the co-curator of the award winning Amplifi series at the Queens Hall, as well as boasting countless features in the likes of NME, Clash, and the Guardian, covering artists like Cookie Crew, Taahliah & more.Arusa Qureshi
New York City-based Bebi Monsuta, who started out as a sister duo, set a new tone with this year’s ‘Julia Fox’, their first official single as a newly minted trio. Paying tribute to pop culture icon and perma-meme Julia Fox, the track is a laidback jam which oozes confidence and empowering levels of sass.
Jasper Marsalis’ new album under his Slauson Malone 1 moniker highlighted the multidisciplinary artist’s phenomenal skill as a composer in the experimental, post-rap sphere. EXCELSIOR’s lead single ‘Voyager’ is where we see his true range, with looped instrumentals and sleepy vocals cementing the track’s turn to the sublime.
Fast-rising Scottish artist LVRA revisited their 2023 Scottish Album Of The Year Award nominated album soft like steel via a five-track EP which reimagines some of its tracks. ‘Soft like steel: reforged’ invites a range of collaborators in, including DJ and producer Jensen Interceptor, whose remix of the album’s title track offers a delightful fusion of euphoria and chaos, all at once.
Gothenburg-based singer, rapper and producer Raghd has been a name to watch in Sweden’s underground scene since her 2021 debut EP ‘Are We There Yet’. ‘Easy Go!’ from new EP ‘A Good Friend’ combines her strengths in rap, pop, R&B and dance music to create a cohesive, understated whole.
Hannah Hastings, aka Philomenah, writes and performs with a tenderness that sets her brand of dark-pop and alternative R&B apart. Produced by Lost Hero and mixed and mastered by Dave Lloyd, the melancholic ‘Vacant Moments’ arrived early this year, with a promise of much more to come from the Shetlandic musician.
Producing one of the finest hip hop albums of 2023, Nappy Nina emphasised her lyrical prowess with latest release Mourning Due. ‘Stone Soup’ is a chilled out and graceful reverie, with a guest feature from the wonderful Moor Mother.
The lead single from Quaranta has all the ingredients of a classic Danny Brown joint: distinctive, dynamic rapping, hints of his familiar goofiness and frantic bars. But add The Alchemist’s looping production and Brown’s turn towards the reflective, and you get a track that beautifully merges vulnerability with defiance.
Club-ready dance track ‘Wicked Gyal’ is fast and furious in its rhythmic layering and radiant energy. North London rapper Lady Lykez makes an appearance with suitably bold lyricism under jungle and dancehall beats.
New Jersey producer/composer JWords and Brooklyn rapper/vocalist maassai, aka hip hop duo H31R dropped their new album HeadSpace in November. But the glitchy and enigmatic ‘Backwards’ provided the perfect taster to their lo-fi, otherworldly sound.
Nia Archives never truly misses and with ‘Bad Gyalz’, she not only gives us a high-octane, rolling banger, but a feminist anthem that, in her own words, is dedicated to the “baddies, absolute junglists” and of course, “tha women that come to ma raves.”