To commemorate the end of the 2010s, we gathered a collection of essays from various writers encompassing the music of the past ten years and the artists who gave it to us.
The Best Albums of 2019
The albums we heard this year were powerful, moving and undeniably incredible. Including words from ten talented writers, artists and creatives, here are our favorites of 2019.
Lyric of the Week: JAY-Z – Cashmere Thoughts
In observing all of JAY-Z's achievements, all roads point back to his seminal debut album, Reasonable Doubt, a landmark record for East Coast hip-hop that embodied the mafioso ethos which fueled many of New York’s great rap releases in the 1990s.
His sand-timer coffee cup looks nearly empty. I watch him tilt his head way back to drink it as he plays notes one-handed, not even looking at the keys. The sound which emanates seems to fill the air, coming not from any particular place but echoing from all around me.
Classic Artist of the Week: Slick Rick
Often credited with introducing storytelling and narrative to rap music, Slick Rick is the most successful British-American rapper of all time.
Lyric of the Week: Dixie Chicks – Sin Wagon
Originally formed in 1989 as a Western bluegrass outfit, the Dixie Chicks would ultimately become one of country music’s and America’s most famous female groups.
why we no longer dream
Oliver Cable is a writer, poet and organiser of London-based live music and spoken word nights called Nowhere Nights. Now, he's spilling his thoughts onto the pages of this website in a new creative writing column, "CableWrites."
Classic Artist of the Week: Stevie Ray Vaughan
This week’s Riffs & Rhymes Classic Artist is the leading light of the second coming of American blues, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Vaughan is often credited for the revival of blues in the 1980s.
Experience intimate adventure inside London’s jazz bars, music clubs and more through our new column, “CableWrites”
Writer, poet and live music devotee Oliver Cable lives a life submerged in the sounds of London and its vibrant musical culture. He writes because he can't find a way not to. Now, he's spilling his thoughts onto the pages of this website.
Lyric of the Week: Creed Bratton – Spinnin’ N Reelin’
Lyric: I thought I'd never see a reason to feel, but here I stand spinnin' 'n' reelin’ with love Song: Creed Bratton – “Spinnin' N Reelin'” Album: The 80's (2001) Background: Believe it or not, one of the best secondary characters from NBC sitcom “The Office”, Creed Bratton, makes music. Bratton’s career as a songwriter dates back to as … Continue reading Lyric of the Week: Creed Bratton – Spinnin’ N Reelin’
The Lasting Influence of Gram Parsons, Country Music’s Greatest Connoisseur
Gram Parsons and his inner circle of country converts forever altered how roots and rock music intermingled. We retraced the work of Parsons' contemporaries to explore how they borrowed from and expanded upon the framework of his Cosmic American Music.
Top 20 Gram Parsons Songs
For his tragically short career, Gram Parsons churned out a bounty of memorable songs. Our picks for 20 of his very best.
Examining the Music That Made Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Offspring
Explore the wide range of influences that informed Gram Parsons and his jambalaya of American music.
GP: The Essential Gram Parsons Playlist
Get hip to the Grievous Angel's cosmic country with a comprehensive playlist of his best tracks.
A Gram Parsons Primer: Remembering the Grievous Angel 45 Years After His Death
Dive into the legacy of Gram Parsons and the music that changed the landscapes of country and rock forever.
Week of Gram: Celebrating the Musical Legacy of Country-Rock Pioneer Gram Parsons
This week, in honor of what would have been his 73rd birthday, Riffs & Rhymes is celebrating the musical legacy of country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons.
10 Years of Fashawn’s Magnificent Debut Album, ‘Boy Meets World’
Fashawn's 2009 debut is a gem in the canons of both West Coast and underground hip-hop. A decade later, it holds up as one of the compelling works from its era.
Seasonal Playlist: Sounds of Autumn
Seep into the sounds of fall with this seasonal mix featuring various artists. Curated by music lovers for music lovers.
Classic Artist of the Week: Roberta Flack
Hailing from Black Mountain, North Carolina, this week’s Riff’s & Rhymes Classic Artist is revered singer Roberta Flack.
Lyric of the Week: Anderson .Paak – King James
Lyric: What we built here is godly, you can't gentrify the heart of kings Song: Anderson .Paak – “King James” Album: Ventura (2019) Background: The lead single off of Anderson .Paak’s 2019 album Ventura, “King James” is a smooth, funk filled track that pays homage to NBA superstar LeBron James, and touches on problematic social justice issues in the … Continue reading Lyric of the Week: Anderson .Paak – King James
Classic Artist of the Week: Willie Nelson
Shotgun Willie! We’ve been going through a heavy outlaw phase as of late, including lots of records by this Texas Troubadour, legendary outlaw countryman and our latest classic artist this week, Willie Nelson. In the mid to late 1950s, Nelson saw little success with his music as he moved his career from city to city, … Continue reading Classic Artist of the Week: Willie Nelson
Lyric of the Week: Blu & Fa†e – Think
Lyric: I was always told think before you talk, I jogged alongside my train of thought Song: Blu & Fa†e - “Think” Album: Open Your Optics to Optimism (2016) Background: One of the most celebrated underground MCs of the new millennium, Blu has built an extensive discography of densely layered concept albums that pay homage … Continue reading Lyric of the Week: Blu & Fa†e – Think
Classic Artist of the Week: Big L
One of the most inherently gifted MCs of all time, this week’s Riffs & Rhymes classic artist is legendary Harlem rapper Lamont Coleman, aka Big L. Emerging from Harlem, NY in the early 1990s, Coleman became well known in underground circles for his freestyling ability. He once showed off his rhyme skills for renown producer … Continue reading Classic Artist of the Week: Big L
Lyric of the Week: Gang Starr – Moment of Truth
Lyric: Looking at the situation plainly, will you remain G or will you be looked upon strangely? Song: Gang Starr - "Moment of Truth" Album: Moment of Truth (1998) Background: Often credited as the pioneers of jazz rap, Gang Starr originally started releasing demos in 1986 when Boston-born rapper Guru (then known as MC Keithy E), DJ 1, … Continue reading Lyric of the Week: Gang Starr – Moment of Truth
Classic Artist of the Week: Al Green
Often touted as one of the last of the great soul singers, this week’s Riffs & Rhymes classic artist is “The Reverend,” Al Green. During his upbringing, Green set a new standard for an entire genre that went far beyond his ability to top charts. His incomparable voice could be described as the perfect mix … Continue reading Classic Artist of the Week: Al Green
Lyric of the Week: Marianne Faithfull – Guilt
A sought-after chanteuse out of the London scene during the 1960s, Marianne Faithfull is widely known for her romantic involvement with Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones, but her career as a singer-songwriter is robust and worth its own recognition.
The Best Albums of 2019 (so far)
Every introduction to any "best of" type post must make some sort of attempt at quantifying the greatness (or lack thereof) of any given 12 months, but being that this particular year marks the end of the 2010s, it is understandable that these kind of write ups may carry a little more significance this time … Continue reading The Best Albums of 2019 (so far)
Celebrate Independence Day with a specially curated playlist of songs inspired by the land of the free
American icons, legendary protest anthems, hometown odes and songs for the ages. 100+ tunes dedicated to the people of the land of the free.
25 Most Anticipated Acts at Coachella 2019
The month of April brings the zeitgeist of all modern day American music-related gatherings, the one and only Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. While many elements of Coachella hamper the ideal quality of experiencing live music, there's something to be said for the masses of people who swarm this desert every year to partake … Continue reading 25 Most Anticipated Acts at Coachella 2019
Staff picks for the most anticipated records of 2019
As much as some people hate the cliché of a new year and all that it symbolizes, there is something refreshing about starting clean from the top of the calendar - reenergized vision, sudden motivation, a blank canvas. Such is the case for music. Like every other year, the start of 2019 fills us fans … Continue reading Staff picks for the most anticipated records of 2019