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M.I.A

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M.I.A shares ‘Freedun’ collab with Zayn Malik ahead of album release

News, Pop, R&B/Hip-Hop, Singer/Songwriter

3rd September 2016

Hip Hop artist M.I.A has shared a new track ahead of her album launch, expected out on 9th September.

The song called ‘Freedun’ features former One Direction singer-songwriter Zayn Malik, who since leaving the band has forged his own career with the release of his debut album on 25th March 2016, one year to the day after he left One Direction.

His new style of adult themed alt-r&b with a twist of pop aligns well with M.I.A’s, despite her saying in an interview with Annie Mac that working together took them both a little out of their comfort zones.

“It sort of takes me out my comfort zone but kind of takes him out of his a little bit as well. It just worked out.”M.I.A, Interview with Annie Mac, BBC Radio 1

‘AIM’ will be M.I.A’s fifth studio album to date, ‘Freedun’ becoming the third taster of what’s to come on the record after previous releases ‘Bird Song’, produced by the artists previous partner Diplo, and ‘Go Off’, a collaboration between Skrillex and DJ Blaqstarr.

Listen to Freedun:

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Review: Robin Thicke ft. Nicki Minaj // Back Together

Pop, R&B/Hip-Hop, Videos

5th September 2015

I know I’m not the first person to jump on the “I hate Robin Thicke Bandwagon”. Yet, when he continues to make awful music I have no choice but to succumb to what the general public knows: he’s annoyingly untalented.

Mr. Thicke is back (unfortunately) and trying to squeeze any last drops of hope from “Blurred Lines” (which in case you missed it: newsflash- he got sued over for ripping off Marvin Gaye).

Armed with his newest track “Back Together”, he brings along rapper Nicki Minaj, probably in hopes of tricking her loyal army of fans into liking his music.

As to be expected, it didn’t work.

The song is a true funky flop. Disco is dead for a reason, and funk is only still alive because of Pharrell.

It’s like something out of the 70’s that should have stayed there.

And I still can’t seem to decipher which confuses me more: the music video (the beginning where Thicke floats on his back belting “Put me back together” with a martini balanced on his stomach??? ) or Nicki Minaj’s verse.

On the track, Minaj has some stand out lines such as the following:

“It’s popping / I’m Mary Poppins” Only to be outdone by: “I said, “ring, ring, ring, ring, ra-ring, ring /
Put a ring on it or ding, da-ding, ding”

Not only does the verse not do Nicki any justice as a rapper whatsoever, it does not work with the song. There is no cohesion, and there isn’t any lyrical flow. The rapping awkwardly does not mesh with the disco and feels like the two should be separate entities.

Thicke has revealed that the song is more about learning to trust other people again. But I can’t trust him after he plagiarizes another artist’s work and then proceeds to make bad music.

Can we follow Paula Patton’s lead and dump Robin Thicke already?

Article by Natalie Harmsen

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credit Marc Baptiste

From left to right:
Roman GianArthur
Alex Belle (St. Beauty)
Isis Valentino (St. Beauty)
Jidenna
Janelle Monáe
Nate Wonder (Deep Cotton)
Chuck Lightning (Deep Cotton)

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Janelle Monae’s Wondaland Records Release EP, Protest Song

Business, Pop, R&B/Hip-Hop

25th August 2015

In February 2015, singer-songwriter Janelle Monae announced that in partnership with Epic Records, she has founded her own recording label and “movement,” titled Wondaland. Consisting of the imprint’s five acts, the label has released their first compilation EP consisting of U.S. charting hits including rapper Jidenna’s ‘Classic Man’, Monae’s ‘Yoga’ and new singles from the album’s other artists: male duo Deep Cotton, Roman GianArthur and female duo St. Beauty.

Released on August 14, the soulful EP was accompanied by the SoundCloud release of a free song, ‘Hell You Talmbout.’ The protest single is being considered “right on time,” considering week-long rallies across the country marking the one year anniversary of Micheal Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. The black teenager was killed by white police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014, which soon restarted a conversation about the role of race & police brutality towards the African-American community.

Monae posted this message on Instagram about the song:

This song is a vessel. It carries the unbearable anguish of millions. We recorded it to channel the pain, fear, and trauma caused by the ongoing slaughter of our brothers and sisters. We recorded it to challenge the indifference, disregard, and negligence of all who remain quiet about this issue. Silence is our enemy. Sound is our weapon. They say a question lives forever until it gets the answer it deserves… Won’t you say their names?

Monae & Jidenna, loud anti-police brutality activists, have led #BlackLivesMatter marches in both Philadelphia and New York within the past week as well.

Article by Joshua Morales

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flo and drakee

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Someone Mashed Up Drake with Florence and the Machine…And It’s Awesome

R&B/Hip-Hop, Uncategorised, Videos

20th August 2015

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a huge fan of Drake. I’d be going even further by saying I don’t worship Florence + the Machine. However, as much as I love both of them, bringing them together musically should be something that doesn’t work. At all.

Hip-hop and harps are two things that vary so greatly, they should probably never be combined. However when you take Florence’s killer track ‘Delilah’ and pair it with Drake’s nail in Meek Mill’s coffin, ‘Back to Back’ it shouldn’t be anything worth listening to.

Man, sometimes I love being wrong.

flo and drakeThis is the perfect mash-up, a nice flow and dynamic between two polar opposite songs.

Back in 2011, Florence and the Machine covered Drake’s “Take Care,” giving it an ethereal twist that we all needed in our lives. On another occasion, she joined him onstage to perform “Fireworks.”

Maybe this will be the evidence these artists need, to realize they’re destined to collaborate in the future.

Here’s to hoping this isn’t the last track we hear from Flo and Drizzy.

Article by Natalie Harmsen

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Opinion: Loan Le // IsaiahG

Editors Choice, R&B/Hip-Hop

9th August 2015

I rarely listen to Indie Rap anymore. I’ve become bored with the generic trap beats, unimaginative rhyme structures & catchy pop hooks in the blatantly desperate attempts at a radio hit that seems to be the general sound of Indie Rap today.

That being said, I was on RapGenius the other day referencing lyrics from Jay Z’s American Gangster album during a heated debate with a friend over the top Jay Z albums of all time (I’ve got American Gangster sitting at #2 right after Reasonable doubt, if you disagree I bet my next MusicDash paycheck I’ll prove you wrong).

I digress, while on RapGenius I somehow stumbled upon the lyrics for an Indie Rap artist by the name of IsaiahG. Just based upon the lyrics alone I found myself wandering over to his Soundcloud to hear what the actual song sounded like and to my surprise I found myself even more amazed.

Needless to say I became an immediate fan. The sound, the imagery of the lyrics, the delivery of his flows. The last time I heard an Indie Rap Artist with a sound this unique and raw talent such as this, they went on to become one of the highest selling rap artists of my generation shortly after crossing over into mainstream.

IsaiahG hails from Chicago and you can hear that in his music. He embodies the socially conscious lyricism that we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from Kanye West, Common, Lupe Fiasco and many other of the great Rap artists who all got their start in Chicago.

IsaiahG’s latest single, ‘Loan Le’ is a great example of what makes his sound so different.  You hear his unique flows and unorthodox deliveries over chill disco-future instrumentals and he raps lines like:

‘Even though my actions are affirmative/It seem like my name never matched with a superlative’

‘Then we get in the both, while we spitting the truth about all the bull I’m alliterate to/I’m admitting it boo, dope is hidden in you, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t have synonyms to’

the combination of this creates a sound that make’s IsaiahG refreshingly different from other Indie Rap artists in his class.

IsaiahG clearly has a long way to go before he’s mentioned in conversation with the Drake’s the Kendrick Lamar’s, and the J.Cole’s in Rap, but with a little luck and a lot of grind I sense big things in this young artists future.

Check out IsaiahG’s latest single ‘Loan Le’ here.

Article by Jeff Moore 

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The 10 Best Music Documentaries of the 21st Century so far…

R&B/Hip-Hop, Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Videos

7th August 2015

10 Best Music Documentaries of the 21st Century so far…

  1. Charles Bradley: Soul of America (2012)

Everybody loves a feel-good story. And this is one to truly warm your cockles. It tells the story of one Charles Bradley and his journey from working man of the American anti-dream to praised soul revivalist. For years Bradley struggled with poverty as he provided for himself and his mother, gigging as a James Brown impersonator. The film joins him just as he has started recording with New York based soul studio Daptone Records, and ends with its acclaimed release. His story speaks of suffering and hardship, but also the ability to overcome.

  1. Searching for Sugarman (2012)

The story of singer-songwriter Rodriguez has now become the stuff of legend; an unrecognized artist of immense talent, a long forgotten relic of yesteryear whose recordings were surely destined to fall to the bottom of a dusty box in the back of a warehouse. Oh, bar the fact that he was actually a multi-million selling artist in South Africa. This documentary shines light on one of the most bizarre true stories in music; How an artist can remain completely unknown in his home country, whilst simultaneously becoming one of the biggest selling artists in another, and not even know it. The film itself unfolds in such a way as to keep you guessing throughout and is a great example of what documentary can be.

  1. Muscle Shoals (2013)

A good documentary discovers a story that already exists but is largely unknown. In the case of Muscle Shoals, it uncovers the tale of one unsuspecting recording studio in the middle of nowheresville, U.S.A, which, behind the screen door, played it’s own significant part in sculpting modern music. Artists to have recorded there included Aretha Franklin, Etta James, The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, Jimmy Cliff… The list goes on.

  1. Marley (2012)

A film about the great Bob Marley the way it should be told. A well crafted documentary chronicling his life from humble Jamaican beginnings to Reggae/Rastafarian spokesperson for the world. It gives meaning to some of his well known songs and tells of his internal struggles as an artist and a family man. The impact he had and continues to have on global culture is incalculable and this provides good evidence as to why.

  1. Dig!(2004)

Dig! Is one of those ‘right places at the right time’ type of stories. Director/Producer/Writer Ondi Timoner found herself smack-bang in the middle of the perfect storm; two bands on the verge of something big. The Dandy Warhols went on to fame and fortune. The Brian Jonestown Massacre remained in the realm of obscurity. It became a case study into the inner workings of the music industry and what it takes (or doesn’t take) to crack the big time. Timoner stayed with the bands on and off for 7 years, collecting hundreds of hours worth of footage and the result is one of the greatest music documentaries of all time.

  1. Scratch (2001)

A must for any hip-hop fan old or new, Scratch is a crash course in all things hip-hop, covering everything from the Elements, to Turntablism, to Battling. It has interviews with everyone whose anyone in the hip-hop game, both past and present, including; Mix Master Mike, Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Shadow, DJ Q-Bert and DJ Premier. Its a great film not only because of its high-profile guest list, but because of its in-depth look at Hip-Hop which, broadly speaking, is a comparably young genre of music. If you’re looking to get fully immersed in the world of DJs and learn a thing or two, check it out.

  1. A Band Called Death (2012)

2012 seemed to be the year for documentary makers to discover forgotten or underrated acts. Much like Charles Bradley and Rodriguez, the band Death never experienced any real success in their heyday. And much like Bradley and Rodriguez, they should have. Death were a Proto-Punk band out of Chicago formed by three brothers with an unrelenting ethos for making furious Rock n Roll with a mostly political stance. Sound familiar? Only, these boys pre-dated Punk. Had they been more fortunate with studios and label executives, they might have been more of a household name today.

  1. End of the Century (2003)

You don’t get to be the pioneers of a genre and have a career that outlasts most marriages without one hell of a story to match. End Of The Century probes deep the story of punks, the Ramones; why they started making music, how they got their break(s), their rise to fame and their eventual collapse. The film also focuses on the unusually tense relationship between singer Joey and guitarist Johnny. It includes rare footage and interviews with the band and gives real insight as to what made them tick, and what made them explode.

  1. 20 Feet From Stardom (2013)

This is the previously untold story of the unsung singers behind some of music’s greatest performers. It shifts the lime light to the back of the stage to grant credit to some of the voices that helped create the sound of songs from the Rolling Stones, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. It serves as a reminder of the names and faces of talents that go largely unnoticed within the music industry, but that play a major role.

  1. Beautiful Noise (2014)

Beautiful noise was no easy film to make. It began its first stages of production back in 2005 and was completed in 2008. Unfortunately, due to various legal and financial issues, the film sat unreleased for years until a Kickstarter campaign earned the project enough money to be distributed. Then there it was; a documentary that told the story of the often overlooked yet oh-so important Shoegaze movement of the early 90’s. The film focuses on three bands primarily (Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus & Mary Chain) but explores the genre as a whole and discusses its vast influence on the world of music.

Article by Edward Acheson

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Concert Review: Twenty One Pilots Live in Singapore // ‘Blurryface Tour 2015′

Editors Choice, Pop, R&B/Hip-Hop, Rock

21st July 2015

I recently attended a Twenty One Pilots concert here in Singapore and below is my review.

But first, if you do not know who Twenty One Pilots are, here’s some background information. The band was formed in 2009 consisting of 2 members, Tyler Joseph and Joshua Dun. Before getting signed with Fueled By Ramen, they released 2 albums called ‘Twenty One Pilots’ and ‘Regional at Best’ in 2011. They then released their signed debut album ‘Vessel’ and most recently this year, ‘BlurryFace’. You can check out our review of ‘Blurryface’ here : ‘Blurryface’ Album review

A short while ago, Twenty One Pilots had their first show in Singapore and it was mind blowing. It consists of amazing lighting in conjunction with Tyler’s strong vocals and Josh drumming with all his might. Considering the fact that Tyler recently had a throat infection which caused them to cancel their show in Taiwan, they put on an amazing performance in Singapore.

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They started off the show with ‘Heavy Dirty Soul’ during which both Tyler and Josh were wearing masks. Once Tyler started rapping and Josh started drumming, the crowd went wild singing along to every word. They then moved on to ‘Stressed out’ followed by ‘Gun For Hands’ , ‘Migraine’ and ‘House Of Gold’.

Tyler came out in his trademark Kimono, Sunglasses, and his ukulele, and did a cover of ‘Bugatti’ by Ace Hood  and ‘All I Do Is Win’ by DJ Khaled before transitioning to ‘We don’t believe what’s on TV ‘, bringing us to the chorus of the song where Josh took out his trumpet accompanying Tyler with the lines ‘I don’t care what’s in your hair/ I just want to know what’s on your mind/I used to say, I want to die before I’m old / But because of you I might think twice.’  before returning back to his drums.

They moved on to ‘ The Judge’ and ‘Lane Boy’. I felt that ‘Lane Boy’ was one of the highlights of the show as, they had us all bend down before having us jump to the crazy lightings and fast beat of the music. It is a song that you would have to experience live yourself to understand. It was one of the craziest moments in the show where you could feel the ground shake.

Photo source : https://twitter.com/twentyonepilots

Photo source : https://twitter.com/twentyonepilots

Following after was ‘Fairly Local’ and ‘ Holding On To You’, which consists of Tyler climbing into the crowd singing the first part of the song. However, due to dangerous circumstances, Tyler went back onto the stage early as someone got hurt. But, even though all that happened, Tyler and Josh did a great job.

This brings us to the next song which made many fans in the crowd scream louder. ‘Fall Away’ is one of the songs from their very first album, ‘ Twenty One Pilots’. Many did not know the lyrics but they still brought energy and sang along to the parts where Tyler would go ‘ I don’t wanna fall, fall away / I don’t wanna fall, fall away / I’ll keep the lights on in this place / Cause I don’t wanna fall, fall away ‘ .

Tyler and Josh started on the next song which was a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘ No Woman, No Cry’ and transitioned to ‘Ride’ before continuing on with ‘ The Run And Go’, which were by the way, all amazing live. They then brought a fan up on stage to do their signature handshake, with her hands and neck painted in black ink, decked out with a red beanie and black from her neck down, she was dressed exactly how Tyler was in their ‘Tear In My Heart’ video. It was amazing to see such dedicated fans at their first ever show in Singapore.

They ended the set with ‘Tear in My Heart’ and ‘Car Radio’ before coming back on stage for an Encore, ending the concert with a bang, performing ‘Trees’. The song ‘Trees’ was absolutely spectacular live. Even though they were meant to play the drums on the crowd, Yes, on the crowd, they did not due to what happened during the song ‘Holding On To You’ earlier in the set. Instead, they placed both drums onto the piano and both Tyler and Josh got up to the piano to hit the drums.

Photo Source : https://twitter.com/twentyonepilots

Photo Source : https://twitter.com/twentyonepilots

Overall, the show was hands down one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. If you’re ever lucky enough to have Twenty One Pilots heading over to your country for a show, do not miss it. If I had another chance, I would for sure do it all over again.

Check out the tour dates here : BlurryFace Tour 

Article By : Cristal Faith Lim

 

 

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Album Review: Ghostface Killah + Adrian Younge // 12 Reasons To Die II

Editors Choice, R&B/Hip-Hop

17th July 2015

In 2013, MC Ghostface Killah and producer Adrian Younge brought us a brutal, criminally inspired Hip-Hop album that fused elements of gritty East Coast Rap and 70’s groove-driven Soul. Now, in 2015, the duo return with the sequel, ’12 Reasons To Die II’, a project as equally bold and ambitious as the first.

Essentially, the album is intended to act like a movie for your ears; each song, another chapter in the tale of the infamous Tony Starks (Ghostface Killah). Harsh, bombastic vocals and analog instrumentals make for an authentic vintage sound, placing the setting of this soundtrack somewhere in the midst of 1940’s gangster film. The record is even broken up with brief interludes of narration which also push the story forward, introducing the listener to new scenes and characters. Most notable of these cameos are fellow Wu-Tang Clan members Raekwon and RZA. It showcases, once again, the originality of Ghostface not only as a rapper but as a story teller.

The rhyme style and lyrics of Ghostface and his co-star Raekwon are as potent and hard-hitting as ever. They come as ear-pounding bursts of words that pierce through Younge’s seemingly air tight production. The record also features a few other lesser known rap names in supporting roles. Scarub offers a more off kilter edge to the sound with an approach more similar to the obscure stylings of Kool Keith with a rapid-fire staccato, bouncing from one point to the next.

Where as the vocal performances bring the audacity, it’s Younge’s musicality that legitimizes the work. He implements a lot of aspects of his signature sound but has also used the opportunity to grow as an artist. Backing tracks of haunting oo’s and aa’s sound as though they’re sung by a choir of ghosts. And while there are subtle hints of electronic flairs, Younge differs from most contemporary producers in his abandon for the use of sampling, and his devotion to original musical composition. He is a traditionalist with his influences heavily routed in psychedelic soul and spaghetti westerns; a combination that apparently goes with Hip-Hop like chicken and waffles.

The album, like its predecessor, is coupled with its instrumental counterpart. A great idea for any hip hop album, in my opinion, but especially good when the instrumentation is so well composed.

Overall, a great output from both Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge. One that will be enjoyed by fans of both East-Coast Rap and Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Does the album expand on the last and bring any new and adventurous ideas to the equation? Not in a huge way, but it doesn’t have to. The formula as it stands is a good one. A well produced, atmospheric, crime film made for the speakers instead of the screen. Gritty, grimy, smooth and polished. Such is the life of a gangster after all.

Article by Edward Acheson

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Krept and Konan

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Album Review: Krept and Konan // The Long Way Home

R&B/Hip-Hop

16th July 2015

The duo had heads turning after their cover of Jay Z and Kanye West’s Otis racked up 5 million views after five days of being uploaded on youtube, even after this they still struggled to get signed. Now, after being signed to Virgin Records UK and Def Jam Records US they have released their debut label album ‘The Long Way Home’ and has rumbled the world of rap hip-hop and grime.

First of all, you have to appreciate the amount of attention there has been on these two since their ridiculously popular cover of Otis, and then their top 20 positon in the UK album chart of their self-released EP ‘Young Kingz’. People have been anticipating this album for years now and it has had support from artists such as Stormzy, Ed Sheeran and numerous members of BBK, not to mention countless other musicians from the scene before and after its release on the 6th of July. In a genre usually filled with rivalry and hate, it is truly inspiring to see so many people coming together to support the duo, who really deserve all the attention and respect they are getting.

The album has a perfect imbalance of club bangers and zoners (songs to zone out to). The bangers on the album appropriately feature artists such as Rick Ross, who appears on the track ‘Certified’, as well as Jeremih who appears on the leading track of the album ‘Freak of the week’. There is also a killer verse from notorious stoner Wiz Khalifa on the track ‘Do it for the Gang’.  Not to forget the feature from Grime heavyweight Skepta, who appears on the second part of the track ‘F.W.T.S/ active’. Whether you’re in the club raving or your car bopping, when listening to these tracks you’ll find it really hard not to get hyped.

But the distinctive feature of the album is, I believe, the ability to zone out completely when listening to it and the way this is executed; by way of an ambient, echoic, mellow beat. Over these beats there is usually softly sung choruses then slowly rapped verses from both krept and konan. The song content always mirrors the beat; every zoner on the album causes you to feel something- to have some sort of emotional response and you immediately want to go back and listen for a second time, something rare in hip hop albums. There is the song ‘Roses’  featuring Emile Sande, which is about someone close to the Duo who died of cancer- a delicate subject which some people can relate to. Ed Sheeran appears on the track ‘Dream’ singing the chorus, a track where the difficulties of the lives of young people lives and the effects of fame on family are spoken about.

There are also a lot of songs about relations with women, in which the lyrical ability of the two really shines here, there is a lot of symbolism used, for example, ‘you left an earring on the table/ I know you did that on purpose’ taken from the song ‘wait up for me’.Krept and Konan really allow you to hear and understand the intimacy of the situations and relations they have experienced with women; once again, this adds to the relatability of the record.

Although the album is Reminiscent of Drakes ‘Take care’ and there are American features, the album is brilliantly British, something which is vital to the success of the album. Cleverly released during the time there is being a lot of attention paid to UK Rap and Grime from artists such as Kanye West and Drake, Its ludicrously London sound is what is something listeners overseas are currently enjoying, and as the grime and rap scene rapidly grows in popularity in the UK, the two are going to be bigger than they ever imagined all because they’ve worked hard, stayed true to themselves and kept it British, and you can really hear and feel this in their new record.

The Long Way Home has a sick selection of club bangers and songs to chill and relax to, with multiple mellow beats, persistent powerful punchlines and deep, drifting lyrics. I feel like the duo should be renamed Krept and Zonenan…I highly recommend a listen if you’re new to the UK Rap scene and even if you’re already involved- there is no way you can regret it. Be part of Krept and Konans well deserved way to the top, as this record will be the one that renders them as icons.

Article By Kane Edmonds

 

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Alessia Cara Performs on Air With Ryan Seacrest

Emerging Artists, News, Pop, R&B/Hip-Hop, Singer/Songwriter, Videos

15th July 2015

By now if you haven’t heard of Alessia Cara (one of our Ones to Watch) you’ve been missing out on a 19-year old on the brink of pop/R&B superstardom. With her smash hit ‘Here’ being streamed over 9 million times on Spotify, it’s safe to say she’s becoming the poster child for chill music.

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 4.23.08 PMPlus she did a recent cover of Taylor Swift’s smash hit ‘Bad Blood’ on BBC Radio 1, earning the stamp of approval of T. Swift herself. In a single tweet, Swift endorsed Cara and electrified an already buzzing fanbase.

 

Proving with out a doubt she’s destined for success, she performed on air with Ryan Seacrest. Apart from performing ‘Here’ she did a cover of The Weeknd’s retro Michael Jackson-sounding track ‘I Can’t Feel My Face.’

And if that wasn’t enough, she proceeded to perform her next single ‘Wild Things’.

The lovely acoustic songs will have to tide us all over until ‘Wild Things’ is released.

Article by Natalie Harmsen

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