First Impressions: Joey Badass, Nao, Manila Killa And More

Written By the interns on 05/31/2016

FirstImpressionsJoeyFirst Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we review six new songs from the past week, each giving them a score out of five and awarding our pick of the week. This week we pick apart tracks by Manilla Killa, Baro, Shura, Nao, Joey Bada$$ and BACALL & MA.LO. 

Manila Killa

Harrison Kefford: I don’t have a bad word to say about Manila. I first came across him on one of my many SoundCloud journeys and it feels damn good to see his star rise. Touch is easily one of his most solid tracks to date, with a great sound design and great choice of vocalist, Manila Killa has delivered one of the best electronic tracks ive heard all month. 4 Harrison’s Pick

Sam Murphy: I love Moving Castle. I think they’ve pulled together a pretty amazing roster of varying sounds that all compliment each other really nicely. This song is definitely nice. I like how it blends from a pop song into something a little more delicate which is once again trumped by the future bass sounds that come in at the end. My only issue is, I’m never really surprised or intrigued by any of the sounds and I’ve become used to that when it comes to Moving Castle. 3.5

James: Hello, I’m James. I like long walks on the beach, French Bulldogs, long black coffee (reckless), and this song. It's very sweet, I would describe it as being almost distantly sweet, and yet - it crawls over you like an insect, or maybe an infectious disease. Kind of like how youth is a bit infectious. See how I tied that back? Flex game strong, listen to this song. 3.5

Average Score: 3.6

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Harrison: I’ll give this track props for drawing me in with its sound design. But other than that, sorry Baro, its not doing much for me. 2.5

Sam: All the yes’s in the world for this one. I saw Baro a few times live last year and thought his potential was massive both as a mainstream and hip-hop artist. wdubi proves that. It oozes personality from Baro’s charismatic bars to the Donnie Trumpet-esque brass spotted all through it. It’s by far the best Aussie hip-hop song of the year but in my opinion it competes just as well on an international scale. 4.5

James: In the past, I haven't had any positive feelings for the Australian hip-hop scene. I never thought much of the yobbos from Hilltop Hoods, or 360, screaming bloody murder at me. In the last year, however, a new sound has begun to break through the ranks. Baro, as well as pal Charlie Threads, are leading a new frontier in my opinion. Having had a chance to see Baro perform live, I can confidently say the man has a high ceiling ahead of him, and this song proves it. Not a single time did I hear the Aussie accent, or the mention of a VB/Carlton Draught, and my God, not even one hill’s hoist in sight! And it's groovy as fuck, though Sam’s Donnie Trumpet sound comparison is very vague to me, I can certainly see how one might draw comparisons between the vibes of Baro and one Chance the Rapper. Yes, I said that. So what more can you want? Watch this space, Aussie hip-hop is being reclaimed by the young’uns. 4

Average Score: 3.6

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What’s It Gonna Be?

Harrison: One of the many weekly discoveries for me, Shura has dropped a really great pop track. Through the subtle funkiness, and just overall upbeat sound design I am now excited to hear to the rest of her debut album. 3.5

Sam: I’ve waited a damn long time for this Shura record and now it’s finally coming to fruition. Even though it’s not, What’s It Gonna Be? should be treated as the lead single from the record. There’s been a big break in between singles and this one comes essentially with the album release news. I’m hearing touches of HAIM in here but essentially it demonstrates Shura’s exquisite ability to create a pop song that’s heartfelt and delicate but still hits all the melodic sweet spots. 4.5 Sam's Pick

James: I've heard enough after thirty seconds. Sam could not be more spot on with the HAIM comparison. This song is so unabashedly pop, which is fine if you're a fan of the genre - but I'm not. Sounds like lazy pop to me, this isn't the corner of Soundcloud I like to explore, but I can see it being a people pleaser without any issue. It's just not pleasing this particular people… Erm… Person. Yes. 2

Average Score: 3.3


Harrison: WOW, Nao has a unique tone to her voice. Also, how about that simple, yet sexy AF sound design. What a follow up to Fool To Love. Hot damn, an absolute highlight of the month. 3.5

Sam: I like that Nao was talking about creating her own genre “wonky funk” on Radio 1 last week because that’s truly what it feels like. While it’s grown from future R&B, the last three Nao singles including this one have proved that she’s really carved her own lane. Girlfriend feels off-centre and woozy but it’s got a sensuality that sticks and holds you through all its weird twists. The shrieking guitar solo at the end is so triumphant and such an unexpected addition that it makes you want to keep returning to the song even if it’s just to hold out for that bit. 4

James: Now this is more like it! Highlight of the month though, Harrison? Are we forgetting it’s still May and what's been released this May? That's a big call. It is a good track, however, and I consider myself a considerable fan of NAO (which is a good time for me to mention that this track isn't quite as good as NAO’s Bad Blood, so go search for that one). This is a swooping, delectable slice, oozing with positive vibes and led by confident, audibly melt-in-the-mouth vocals. Anthem potential? Might be. Single ladies, thoughts? If you were my girlfriend? No? 4

Average Score: 3.8


Harrison: Once again, not a massive fan of hip-hop/rap so JOEY BADA$$’s latest isn’t really do much for me. Cue the banter from resident hip-hop/rap correspondent James. But look, I talk about sound design a lot and it’s got something I could probably pump when driving. 2.5

Sam: I really loved this the first time I listened to it. Joey Bada$$ has found a way to be accessible but also stay true to himself which is something he missed the mark on with B4.DA.$$. In saying that, the hook is just not unique enough to pull me back for repeat listens. Maybe it’ll take some work to get into it but it feels a bit middle of the road. 3

James: Joey Bada$$ is leading an East Coast revolution right now (one completely separate from the equally important A$AP phenomenon). Pro Era, which can count Joey as its leader, is really carving a niche in the hip-hop sound, and it’s hard as a genuine student of the genre to not offer full admiration and adoration to the Pro Era movement. It's made particularly easy by Joey’s music, which, to me, has been consistent. I have to disagree with Sam on Joey’s inability to balance accessibility with truth on B4.DA.$$, Joey’s debut studio album. I still adore that record, and I feel similarly about this track. It's a different angle for Joey than almost anything he's previously released, but he balances it confidently and with skill. As a devotee of the genre, Joey is a very special talent - and I think this track is a good continuation of the solid offerings Joey has laid down for himself and his crew. 4.5 James' Pick

Average Score: 3.3


Harrison: Ok, What! I am utterly confused by everything this track stands for. I feel like someone has delved into the absolute swamp that is the Spotify Viral Charts. This is an injustice and disgrace to the absolute tune that is the original by Toto. I feel sick listening to it and it makes me sad that someone would even conjure the idea to tarnish Africa like this. If we could give negative scores I would. 0.5

Sam: Well, this is what we all asked for. You all kept requesting Africa at clubs and now these two have deduced that it needs a tropical 2016 update. Just like Fast Car, Show Me Love, Ain’t Nobody etc. etc. we didn’t need it. This one may be the most comical of the lot though. They have so heavily weighted the original beat in verses that they’re almost screaming, “hey, this song is at least 50% more danceable”. It’s kinda like taking Shapes and making them “new and improved” without any need for it and then they turn out to be worse. Oh wait, that did happen. 1

James: No. Make your own songs. Create your own melodies. And fuck off away from Toto’s Africa. This is the musical version of a cold shower, or like how when you're trying to not have a boner so you think of baseball. Forget baseball, think of this song. This is the anti-Wet Dream. This is the opposite of Viagra, and whatever the female equivalent is (there is one, Reddit told me). How are we honestly in the year 2016 and people aren't demanding so much more from music that sheer laziness and (let's be honest) shit like this scrapes through. I'm going to give this song point one, because at least you made the effort to make it Butthole (Bacall) and Mayo (MA.LO), but I really wish you hadn't. JUST DON’T TOUCH TOTO’S AFRICA AND WE’LL BE FINE. 0

Average Score: 0.5

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