1st Listen Reviews (30/1): Benny The Butcher, Raveena, Grimes, Denzel Curry, James Blake, iri & Japanese Breakfast

Another week of an avalanche of music, and another week of reviews where I talk about the music that caught my attention. This time around, I’m only talking about singles because Chinese New Year is next week and family bonding comes first (cause listening to albums is surprisingly time-consuming).

So, without further ado, let’s goooooo.

Benny The Butcher – “Johnny P’s Caddy” (feat. J Cole)

Genre: Rap

You know a Benny The Butcher track is about to be great when the soulful sample behind the gritty boom-bap production starts to slowly creep and nests itself in your brain with its catchy repetition (shoutout The Alchemist). Then, Benny himself comes in and does what he does best – braggadocious bars with the technique to back it up. It’s the classic Griselda formula of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

J Cole’s verse is just the cherry on top of an incredible track, even if he doesn’t quite reach the highs of Benny’s performance. Tana Talk 4 can’t come soon enough.


Raveena – “Secret” (feat. Vince Staples)

Genre: R&B, Indie

I fell in love with Raveena when I first heard Lucid, a serene album that eased you into her world of healing and trauma. Admittedly, I usually find that quiet ballads tend to disappear into the background after a while, but Raveena’s proficiency for engaging melodies meant she’d always remain commanding while still leaving you relaxed.

“Secret” is a complete anthesis to everything Lucid is. Crushing expectations the moment the drums hit, the track is more akin to a dancehall tune than anything she’s done before…and she pulls it off effortlessly. Raveena’s gentleness is still ever-present and never gets overwhelmed by the production, then Vince Staples comes in and ties everything up with a short but buoyant verse.

Grimes – “Shinigami Eyes”

Genre: Pop

Just for context, my only experience with Grimes is her questionable era with Elon Musk and 2020’s Miss Anthropocene – meaning I can’t really appreciate her purported earlier brilliance (since Anthropocene just felt very one-note and stale) and that I find her to be a little cringe.

Still no matter what I think of her or her earlier discography, it doesn’t change the fact that “Shinigami Eyes” sounds like music made for a sci-fi video game trailer. Nothing stands out and ultimately comes across like it’s meant to support something visual rather than standalone as its own song. No wonder listening to it alongside its music video makes the song more bearable.


Denzel Curry – “Walkin”

Genre: Rap

Unrestrained energy and Denzel Curry are pretty much synonymous with each other at this point. However, “Walkin” actually proves that Denzel’s brilliance doesn’t lie in his manic performances but his versatile delivery instead.

His most notable songs such as “CLOUT COBAIN” and “Ultimate” run the risk of typecasting him as the ‘loud-aggressive-rapper’, so hearing him float over the dreamy production of “Walkin” is a breath of fresh air. Melt My Eyez is gearing up to be a ‘smoother, dreamier‘ album too, so this single is the perfect appetiser for what Denzel has cooking for us in the near future.


James Blake – “(Pick Me Up) Euphoria”

Genre: R&B, Indie

This is just 3 minutes of James Blake showing off his falsetto over a minimal piano production. Listen to Friends That Break Your Heart instead, please.


iri – “Matenrou”

Genre: Pop, Hip-Hop

Whenever Japan’s iri hops on a dance beat, you know you’re in for a trip. Her strength has always lied in being able to perform in tandem alongside the vibrant production. It isn’t a platform for her to strut her stuff, rather an accompanying partner that makes up for her occasionally flat vocals. It’s a expectedly great song from one of Japan’s best right now.


Japanese Breakfast – “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do”

Genre: Pop, Indie

A cover of Yoko Ono’s song for the upcoming tribute album Ocean Child: Songs of Yoko Ono, Japanese Breakfast’s rendition of “Nobody See You Like I Do” is a stripped-down version of Yoko’s lavish original.

Where Yoko’s version feels more repressed under the wedding bells and bright instrumentation, Japanese Breakfast’s is much more confrontational and direct over sparse piano playing. Both renditions are great and definitely deserve your time and attention.

2 thoughts on “1st Listen Reviews (30/1): Benny The Butcher, Raveena, Grimes, Denzel Curry, James Blake, iri & Japanese Breakfast

  1. >since Anthropocene just felt very one-note and stale

    Thought the songs varied quite a bit in style (delete forever and 4am are very different.) and was overall pretty vibrant.

    Like

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