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ListenUp

Music from a French disco pioneer, a Congolese-Belgium rapper, an American neo-soul goddess and more

by CH Editors
on 23 October 2016
Baloji: Spoiler

An adroit convergence of funky jazz, French folk and traditional African music, "Spoiler" represents everything wondrous about Congolese-born, Belgium-based musician Baloji. It's a powerful, playful track with plenty of appeal for its upbeat nature alone. That said, a thorough look at the (subtitled) lyrics reveals the song's greater depth. "Spoiler" hails from Baloji's forthcoming EP 64 Bits & Malachite, released 4 November on Bella Union.

Ms Lauryn Hill: Rebel/Hard to Say

With a new version of her 2002 song "Rebel/Find it Hard to Say," Ms Lauryn Hill has returned and the track is sadly more relevant than ever. The song originally appeared on Hill's MTV Unplugged 2.0 album and was a tribute to Amadou Diallo—an unarmed black man who was shot by four NYC police officers in 1999. The song is truly stunning, but full of sorrow, clearly evidenced as Hill sings, "You think our lives are cheap, and easy to be wasted/As history repeats, so foul you can taste it."

Caroline Smith: Trying Not to Love You

The very talented Caroline Smith (who appeared on the super-catchy "Let 'Em Say" with Lizzo) has just released new song "Trying Not to Love You." The track includes gentle handclaps, smooth vocals and the frequently sampled "Woo! Yeah!" drum break—a commonly used sample that contains James Brown's "Woo!" and Bobby Byrd's "Yeah!" (That sample features in Lyn Collins' "Think (About It)" and ultra-famously Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock's "It Takes Two.") The song's cadences changes often, but it doesn't jar the listener, and Smith's tender, candied vocals are reminiscent of a '90s Janet Jackson.

Nico Muhly + Teitur: Coffee Expert

From their recently released collaborative album Confessions, Nico Muhly + Teitur's "Coffee Expert" stands as one of the many tracks carefully weaving together its creators' mellifluous strengths. There's an engrossing depth to Muhly's orchestration and Teitur counters with emotive vocals and occasionally eccentric, yet resonant lyrics. The album was recorded six years ago and live versions of some tracks have circulated on the internet. Confessions recently found a home in its entirety with Nonesuch Records. Fans of both artists will find music to love here.

Cerrone: Kiss It Better

Super-influential French disco composer, Cerrone is making a comeback (somewhat akin to Giorgio Moroder's) with his new record Red Lips. From it comes "Kiss it Better," a boppy track with a serious groove. Coupled with candied vocals by British singer and DJ Yasmin, the song is certainly retro, but with a decidedly contemporary tinge. If you're not familiar with Cerrone, it's worth taking a look back at some of his pioneering tunes—his "Love in C Minor" was the epitome of '70s disco, and his work has inspired the likes of Todd Terje, LCD Soundsystem and Goldfrapp.

ListenUp is a Cool Hunting series published every Sunday that rounds up the music we tweeted throughout the week, also found in Listen. Hear the year so far via Cool Hunting Spotify.

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