STR x Yogen – Lean
Bass-heavy codeine-laced rap by this fresh-faced Brussels-based rapper/producer. His debut effort, Wonderland Vol.1 released in August 2015, featured a strings of unsuspecting underground hits as well as what is probably the freakiest album cover to hit streets this year – a purple cat, anyone? A local trap lord if ever there was one, STR has since been on the up-and-up, this latest track featuring brother-in-arms Yogen the latest proof of it.
Damso – Comment faire un tube
The only Belgian rapper to ever be featured on a Booba track, Damso has a strong future ahead of him. A no-nonsense rapper with something of a truth-be-told tone to his game, the few tracks he has already released – heavy on the bass and which reveal a maturity in the local prodigy’s industry perspectives that are a refreshing as they are true - have gone on to become online sensations. Damso. Remember the name. It’ll soon be on every industry head’s lips.
It It Anita - Imposter
With its signature mix of angst-ridden post-90s grunge and noise-infused punk rock, the Liège-based four-piece, current flag-wavers for the city’s post-rock/post-punk renaissance, released its second EP this year, recorded, as the title aptly suggests, by John Agnello (of Sonic Youth, Silver Apples, Kurt Vile and many other indie darlings). With a total of four tracks running at a little over 30 minutes, the follow-up to 2014’s self-titled debut sees the band doing more of what it does best: hard-nosed yet nonetheless melodic indie rock music for grownups who left their soul back in the 90s.
Ypsos - Mugsy Bogues
For former NBA fans, an album whose debut single is a banger of a track called Mugsy Bogues, complete with snippets taken out of cult movie White Men Can’t Jump, can’t go wrong. A French MC based in Brussels, Ypsos – who also is part of rap group Ligne 81 – released 10ème étage with a string of boom bap, old-school flavoured tracks that pretty much made it one of our favourite hip hop releases of the year. Standout tracks include “Avant tout”, “10ieme étage” and, of course, “Mugsy Bogues.”
Orphan Swords - Asmoday (Prositutes mix)
Orphan Swords, the project of Pierre De Mulenaere and Yannick Franck, dabbles in tight, compressed and hard-edged industrial techno with hints of drone to it. Released on a remix EP that includes works by Helm, Black Rain, Icon Template, Svengalisghost, this remix by Ohio-based experimental techno producer Prostitutes turns the slow build-up of the original track’s drone tone into a dancefloor killer. The kind of distorted white noise funk that would sit perfectly on one of Powell’s Diagonal release.
Aymeric de Tapol - 4h23
Moody and ethereal, Brussels-based French producer Aymeric de Tapol’s seven-track album Les Horizons, his second release for local imprint Vlek in November 2015, came just as the winter was kicking in. And what a perfect soundtrack it proved to be. Experimental electronica at its best, the album’s opening tune, 4h23, is a clear favourite, not least because of its unmistakable local flavour. It’s proto-techno music infused with drone soundscapes for the initiated few.
Crapulax - Barrabas
Long-time local rap hero Crapulax, part of Brussels’ Bunker crew, has build a solid reputation for punch line after punch line of bars, most often than not laced with boom bap production efforts by the city’s producing cream of the crop. An old-school veteran with his eyes firmly on the streets, Crapulax eschews fames for integrity, adding a bit of surreal humour to call it his own. Here, he partners up with production maestro and founding member of legendary rap act De Puta Madre Smimooz on a banger of track.
TMB the Beatmaker - High Times
A producer that digs deep into the collective consciousness of 90s-era boombap hip hop to create something new, Brussels-based TMB the beatmaker is one of those prolific producers that releases an album of beats every three or four months. With some of his beats having been chosen by local rap sensation of 2015 Woodie Smalls, the kid’s fame and flair have only been on the increase since. This track, of his latest album Fragments (Part 1) released in January 2016, has got it all: a bit of soul, a bit of groove and nothing but love for how hip hop’s really supposed to sound.
Le Motel - Selva
Brussels-based producer and graphic designer Le Motel has been on our radar ever since collaborating on a few tracks with YellowStraps. Signed to the country’s future beat specialist label Tangram Records, his production output builds bridges between the deep Amazonia forest (think flutes, pan pipes, bongos, birds and Marimbas)
and the concrete floors of Chicago footwork battles. With roots clearly in hip hop, the young gun takes things a step further into kinetic footwork territory, with this track, of his latest release on Cosmic Compositions released in December 2015, further proof of his talent.
An Ultimate DJ - Sondages
One might wonder if the magic formula of Francophone electronics isn’t to use the dumbest catch phrase, in French, and make something surreal out of it. M. Oizo was on every dance floor a few years ago with his Positif track ”Arrêtez de vous reproduire / Vous êtes des animaux,” and this track follows on perfectly. Released on their own PRR! PRR! record label, DJ Cloarec, DJ Coquelin and Maoupa Mazzochetti (Mannequin Records) dropped Sondages at the end of 2015 and the minute we heard it we knew it would soon be everywhere.