this masked and mysterious trap/hip hop/rock group throw tradition out the window and challenging the status quo

Don’t let right wing pundits convince you that the voice of the artist isn’t crucial in times of political turmoil. Art is a renowned tool of resistance and Trap/Rock/Rap group Monsters On The Horizon are joining the age-old tradition of using music to challenge the status quo. This group is creating an alternative lane for ‘Art x Music x Connection’ by subverting traditions in music relating to production and marketing. Taking a page from the likes of Daft Punk and The Gorillaz, the group wear masks to conceal their identities in our current age of social media and over-exposure. The mystery surrounding the group adds to an existing allure built on a reputation of releasing albums on Halloween and Friday the 13th.

“We, as Monsters On The Horizon, are here to challenge the status quo and encourage a new perspective. We believe in music and art as a vehicle to awaken ideas and desires in others and promote introspection and observation of the world around us. Mr. Scary is a culmination of that belief, specifically in creating a dialogue with respect to the many issues plaguing society today”

Their newest single ‘Mr. Scary’ drops tomorrow on Friday the 13th, bringing with it a blend of Trip-Hop, Trap as well as Urban and Rock and Roll vocals, delivering a soundscape that exudes a sense of power and even resistance. Most bands have to build their name touring the NYC bars/club circuit but Monsters on the Horizon keeps to their ‘tradition’ of throwing tradition out the window by having a monthly ritual event that started with 13 friends and now hosts hundreds and features other underground musicians.

Monsters On The Horizon are AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands contenders and have shows on Tuesday July 17th at Coney Island Baby 169 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009 w/ Beauty in The Machine. Saturday August 4th for the Get Carried Away Music Festival which will be on a Yacht departing from Brooklyn Army Terminal 140 58th St, Brooklyn, NY, and and a mini tour for the Salem Horror Movie Festival October 10th – the 14th in Salem Massachusetts.

Bring your masks.

feel the pain of heartache in nu-soul mad scientist rosehardt’s latest visual album

Heartache is a motherfucker”

Pacing around an empty apartment, Rosehardt spends much of the album-length video that accompanies Songs in the Key of Solitude trying and failing to get over a bad breakup. It’s a difficult and unflinching look at the cycle of getting over someone, made captivating by the depth of the production and the stunning cinematography.

“The best kind of pain is the kind you endure in the name of love”

The best moments come when Rosehardt lets himself look into the ugliest sides of a breakup with self-aware sarcasm. The self-love anthem “Wax” is absurd and frank, and its polar opposite “Come Away Death” finds the singer staring bleakly into the abyss and rolling his eyes at himself. It’s the kind of song that the tragically gone Scott Hutchinson spent a decade sharpening into daggers. “Goddamn” turns an awkward exchange with his mother about faith into unexpectedly riveting drama. His mother opens an orange with a million pounds of weight beneath it.

The album ends with the cast off shrug of “Solitude.” There’s no resolution, no big epiphany. Just life goes on, and the heartache keeps hurting. It’s refreshingly honest and simple, on an album that masks its ambition beneath a veneer of starkness.

Songs in the Key of Solitude is available digitally and on vinyl via Styles Upon Styles records.

Songs in the Key of Solitude by Rosehardt

dance-punk sounds fuel indie rock band bakar’s anthem “million miles”

“I can see your star in space / You’re a million miles away.”

It’s not every day you hear a song that makes you stop in your tracks and Just. Listen. But Bakar’s “Million Miles” is not every song. A hazy mix of indie rock, dance punk, and hip-hop, this is the kind of track that demands attention. With the explosive energy that fueled Bloc Party in their early days, Bakar rides a wave of angular tension that simmers into a washed-out chorus before bubbling over into a straight up dance punk beat. That’s the recipe for a straight up anthem.

premiere: the new ep from hip-hop/grime act blackfish collective is here to blow up your ears

Dublin’s Blackfish Collective blew up the stage at the 2017 AFROPUNK London Battle of the Bands and now they’re here for your speakers. The children of immigrants and asylum seekers from Angola, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria, the collective formed out of a need to give voice to their experience, and they hold nothing back. Their latest EP North King Street takes its inspiration from the Bank of Ireland robbery, and throws out a call of righteous fury to tear down the houses of wealth. Collective founder Prettyboy Francis explains:

The EP is called North King Street which is the name of the street that we lived on, the first time we lived without our parents. Inspiration is also taken from the Bank of Ireland robbery on February 27, 2009. We feel it’s an honest representation and honest reflection of that time and how we felt. We were just trying to channel our anger onto the tracks.

The EP is accompanied by a short film to be screened at Junction House in Dalston, London, on February 12th 2018.

mike brown-inspired “cops ain’t shit” gets a razor-sharp follow-up, “cops still ain’t shit”, by declaime and saul williams

In the wake of Mike Brown’s murder, Declaime and label mate Georgia Anne Muldrow pushed out the single “Cops Ain’t Shit,” declaring “cops ain’t shit / pigs ain’t either.” 3 years have passed, with hundreds of mass demonstrations world-wide demanding justice, and the criminal justice system remains as fucked as ever. To keep the volume up, Declaime is back to remind us “Cops Still Ain’t Shit.”

The track off his new record, the Afrofuturist-leaning Young Spirit, gets an assist from Saul Williams at his most abstract, and a firey verse from Ms. Deezy. The beat is updated from Muldrow’s original production to a razor-sharp edge. But the message remains the same. “Cops still ain’t shit / pigs ain’t either.” Stream it now on Spotify.

indie rapper kota the friend makes music to warm your soul on “like water”

There’s music for getting you fired up to take to the streets and smash the system, and then there’s music to talk you down and remind you that the world is still a fundamentally decent place where people fall in love, and chill with their friends, and go to the goddamn beach. That’s where KOTA The Friend comes in.

The young MC and producer has been making waves over the past year, first as an absurdly talented cinematographer for other artists, and now as an artist in his own right. A multi-instrumentalist and all around polymath, this kid makes songs that make you feel glad to be alive. From the unabashed optimism of “Sunny Day” to the surrealist love song “Like Water,” KOTA mixes vibrant imagery with lush production. The video for “Like Water” has a dude with a bird head. Why does it have a dude with a bird head? Because it’s dope. Not everything needs to be analyzed. Check this kid out. His new EP “Paloma Beach” is coming soon.

ap london performer kojey radical opens up about family, staying true to where you come from

London MC Kojey Radical is the real thing. His last record 23 Winters made waves with its bold mix of sounds and his outspoken social and political messaging. Whether as a fashion designer, visual artist, or musician, his work holds nothing back, blending sounds from all over the diaspora. We got a chance to talk to Kojey before his set this weekend at the London AFROPUNK Festival.

So you just played a big show in Manchester this weekend, right? How did that go?

It went really really well. I was kind of excited for it because I haven’t played in Manchester for about 2 years, and the last time I played there I was still really really new. So it was like really small crowd in the same venue. So to kind of get back there and have the show kind of sold out, Maryanne Hobbs was DJing for me, and there was like avid listeners and avid fans down in the front. Which is always a nice atmosphere for the show. It was definitely really exciting. I was really happy for it.

Nice. Nice. So, something I’ve been curious about—because I feel like a lot of people want to brand themselves as radicals and revolutionaries and stuff right now, but you actually walk the walk—how do you describe being a radical or an activist? Is that name something you earn?

I’ve never learned necessarily how to if I’m being honest. I think it’s just a case of earning your namesake, in a way. When I first decided to call myself that, it wasn’t necessarily jutting to be like “yo this is who I am and this is who I’m gonna be.” But I just felt like an affinity to the word. And the rest of it; I learned that I was fulfilling it as I continued to live my life. I feel like if you genuinely believe in things, and you genuinely want to speak out about things, and you genuinely want to bring attention to things, then that should just exist in your lifestyle. That should never necessarily be something that you brand yourself as.

So I’ve always kind of like—I never pushed the radical side of my name to fill or seem like I’m an activist. That’s just how I am in my day to day, you know what I mean? I just genuinely care about things. So it just kind of became a case where I earned my namesake. But I don’t think I thought that.

What is a radical to you? What does that mean?

I think for me radical—without the context of activism—I think anyone can be radical in their specific field. I think it’s just the will and desire to really want to bring forth change to where you see injustices if that makes sense.


And I feel I think sometimes it’s more a state of mind or a state of being than a word that you can define for one specific context.

Yeah, that makes sense. I don’t remember where I saw this, but there was an interview where you talked about how Kojey Radical is more of a team than just one person. So who is that team? Who are the people that make up Kojey Radical?

I don’t know how to describe it. My talent was very raw when I came into this. There are people that have genuinely—I don’t know whether it was belief of just insanity—been chosen. For those reasons I feel like who I am is encompassed by who I’m around, and who I choose to work with, and surround myself with.

There’s a producer called KZ who’s produced all my projects so far; there’s never been an idea that I’ve taken to him that he’s told me no. My video directors Lewis and Alex from a team called The Rest have always believed in my video ideas; when I wanted to paint myself black and do contemporary dance through estates and the streets of London. They never told me no, they said “yeah, how can we make this happen?” My producer Charlie [Di Placido], he’s never told me any of my video ideas couldn’t work. Chelsea Bravo has always been a person that’s told me “yeah, like you wanna make something? let’s make it.” And helped me realize that I could have an influence in fashion. You know what I mean? There’s loads of people. I could keep listing for days down to some of my closes friends. I feel like I’m definitely a product of the village, if that makes sense.

Yeah, absolutely. I feel like there’s this trend of artists painting themselves like they came out of nowhere, like they’re self-invented. And it’s really disappointing, because the reality is there’s always a team. No-one does this on their own.

Yeah, 100%. Like even down to my manager Kaiya. I’m surprised that she still wants to manage me half the time, because I’m hard work. You have to have people that genuinely believe in you, and she’s definitely someone who believes in me. She’s definitely someone that I’d consider as much Kojey Radical as myself.

As you’re listing all the names, you mention these are all people that you can come to with ideas and they back you. You’ve got a very specific voice. You get pinned a lot as a more political and social activist kind of artist. Are there any ideas you’ve had that you think of and then put aside because they might be cool but they’re not “Kojey Radical?”

Nah. You know why? Because depending on how people become aware of me is who or what they feel like I should be, if that makes sense. But I’ve never shied away from any topic even when it comes down to talking about myself negatively in terms of love from a real conversational aspect. I’ve never shied away from anything. And that stretches over to the social and political side, where if something needs to be said then we have to say it. That’s just our right as human beings. And not saying it is becoming part of the problem. It’s not about talking when you’re misinformed. It’s talking when you believe in something, and you’re willing to be informed.

Are there things you feel like you as an artist would never touch?

Yeah. But not because I would never touch them. I just don’t feel like it’s the right time to touch them. There are aspects in anybody’s life, or perspective, that you have to allow yourself to go through a little bit more before you can really start to speak on them. It’s like people love the fantasy of what it is to be a musician, but when you’re an artist that people concentrate on, the things you say have an impact. So things like talking about my family; I do it, but I do it sparingly. Even the decision to put my Dad on the album was a careful decision, just because there are certain conversations that you have and you’re like “whoa where did that come from?” And people can misconstrue. So the only things I’d have reservations are things that are truly that personal. But it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t speak about them. It’s just how explicitly I’d mention them.

How did your dad being on the record come about? What was that conversation like?

The sad thing is I don’t think he ever really had a choice. [laughs] I was working on another project and I remember every time I would go away for a show, when I’d come back I’d speak to my Dad. And there was a summer period where I was basically staying there by myself because he was away. And I don’t know. I just started to grow this connection with my Dad’s house and hearing my Dad’s voice. And this record I was working on, I decided to scrap it maybe like 3 or 4 months off of when it was due to be finished and released. I was like “nah I’m gonna just start another one.” And I started it in November, finished it in February, and put it out like the day I finished it.

Like I used to paint before I did music, and even in painting, there’s a point where you have to stop and say OK cool. Just so you’re allowed to look at it and go “OK cool what do I need to make a better painting?” And everything my dad was saying to me seemed to mirror aspects of what I was going through in my day to day life. And I thought this is important because there’s a generation of diaspora that their only connection to their culture comes from having parental figures. But sometimes that dialogue is missing because the perspectives are different because we’ve gone through different things. So now if there’s a project where people can listen to both sides, the diaspora, they can start to get a wider picture of who they are and what their culture is and start to look into it a little more.

How did he feel about it, being on the record? Has he said anything?

How did he feel about it? He likes it. When it was finished, I took to him. And on my way there it had just been released on iTunes, and it came in on the top 100 hip-hop charts. And by the time I got to my Dad’s house, we were at number 5 in the charts. And I was like “Dad look at this.” And I think it was strange for him to be able to see that it was happening and that it was a real thing. Because that difference or confusion between cultures means that they don’t appreciate the same things that we put value in if that makes sense. Like for me, it’s a very very important thing that I’m doing AFROPUNK, but for my dad, if I went to go tell him, he wouldn’t know what AFROPUNK was. And I can’t blame him for that, he’s an old man. But like, when they see things take effect, it helps to validate what you’re doing, even if they don’t understand.

Right. Like “I may not understand it, but clearly all these other people do, and I can understand that.

Yeah exactly.

So you’ve got a new record coming out soon.

Yeah, I think we’re like a month or two off I think.

What’s the idea with it? Cause your last one was sort of a concept record. Is there a concept for this one?

I never want people to think I’m not thinking about the whole picture. With all my projects, you’re looking into these little snapshots of things I’m going through. It’s just how I’ve chosen to present them. I kept thinking about how I would follow on from 23 Winters, but not necessarily trying to seem like I’m just trying to reproduce the product. Because that project is special for all the reasons that project is special. So you kind of see me carry on from the sentiment of “Kwame Nkrumah” and explore some topics, and then you start to get a deeper aspect into moments in my life, experience, feelings, and problems. I don’t want to give away too much, but that’s all that I can explain without giving away what it is.

When do you think we’ll be able to hear some stuff from it?

It’s coming. We got a visual landing on Monday that kind of sets the stage for where we want to take it to next. I think I’m just having fun with the process of knowing that people have waited for music from me and that I can deliver.

I remember reading somewhere on 23 Winters, you had a look book that you were taking around to people to try to explain what you were going for. Was there a visual for this project that you used?

I made a book for Dear Daisy that was my first EP. With this project? Was there a visual? There was, but it was only—there was like a handful of people that knew what it was. And that was the people who were helping me work on the artistic direction on this journey. I always handle the creative direction over everything that I do, whether it’s film, posters, fashion, anything. I’m heavily involved. But I like to have people around me that are in tune with everything I’m describing. There’s only a handful of people that can respond to the things that I say sometimes and say “OK this is what we’re going to create.” I don’t know how to describe it. [laughs] But it’s coming. It’s coming!

It’s a very special project. I’d say it’s a wonderful snapshot of the types of conversations that people are having. It’s just from a first person perspective. You can look into the ideas of self-doubt. You can look into the ideas of unequivocal love. You can look into the ideas of polygamy or polyamory. You can look into ideas of discovering one’s sexuality or self-identity through body image. There are so many conversations on this project that it seems like it’s not there until you listen to it, and you realize it’s the same as having a conversation for 40 minutes.

Do you feel like there’s gonna be people in your life who are going to hear themselves on the record and clock that they’re hearing their conversation?

Yeah yeah. 100%. I played it to them though. I played it to them. Just to make sure it’s like kosher.

Yeah, you never want to put something out and have someone go “wait, I told you that in confidence.”

Yeah exactly, exactly. But what I do a lot of the time is like perspectives. Like I understand my experience of being a young black man in London doesn’t really necessarily equate to someone else’s experience. But by switching the voices, by switching some of the narratives, it kind of helps to connect the audience. I don’t want to announce who it is, because when I announce it, it’s going to be massive, but I had someone special come through and read a piece of poetry that I had written, that basically narrates the sentiments of the project. But it was a female voice. I’d written it completely from a male perspective, but just by having that female voice deliver it, I remember sitting down and thinking “did I write this? Did I say this?” Because it sounded completely brand new for me.

What else do you have coming up? Is there anything else you want people to know?

Yeah, come watch me at AFROPUNK! Make sure they’re there! They’ve got me on early, so I’m hoping they’ll make it. I’m trusting in London. It should be fun. I’m excited for it definitely.


new music: non-binary south african rapper m(x)blouse speaks for the outsider in new ep ‘believe the bloom’

M(x)BLOUSE (Sandiso Ngubane) is a gender non-conforming hip-hop artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their debut EP Believe the Bloom shows off the wordsmith’s lyrical skill in a defiant work of art tackling themes of gender expression, rejection, global politics and self-actualization. “I want to create music that matters, and music that speaks to being an outsider – something I’ve always felt I am in many ways,” the artist explains. “I’m non-binary and I’m a rapper, for one, and that in itself immediately makes me a kind of outsider as far as hip-hop is concerned.”

Take a listen below!:

Visual Concept/Creative Direction: Bee Diamondhead
Photography: Aart Verrips
Grooming: Orli Meiri

‘Only Words Are Perfect’, ‘Love Was A Lie’, ‘I Got Game’, ‘WTF Squared’
all produced by Joni Blud
‘The Gift’ produced by Thor Rixon, with additional percussions by LEEU Mixing & Mastering by Eye-On-Feather

Follow M(x)BLOUSE:  Instagram | Soundcloud | Twitter