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The ongoing saga of singer 2D, bassist Murdoc Niccals, guitarist Noodle and drummer Russel Hobbs continues with HUMANZ – the latest album from the planet’s Most Successful Virtual Act*, Gorillaz.
Since their first release in 2001, Gorillaz have proven to be one of the most unique and iconic pop acts around. A truly global phenomenon, they have achieved success in ways entirely ground-breaking in popular music. Their eponymous debut album sold some 6 million copies following its release in 2001, with hit singles ‘Clint Eastwood’ and ’19- 2000’. 2005’s Demon Days was more successful still, properly breaking the band on a global level, with singles ‘DARE (feat Shaun Ryder), ‘Dirty Harry’ and the Grammy Award-winning smash ‘Feel Good Inc.’ becoming hits across Europe, America and beyond. It gave Gorillaz their first UK No 1 song with ‘DARE’ and was heralded as one of the year’s greatest records. Plastic Beach saw the band up their game once more, with hit chart success around the world (including the US and UK) and contributions from a stellar rollcall of talent including Kano, Mark E Smith, Lou Reed, Bashy and more. Accordingly, their live performances went from strength to strength, consistently breaking new ground in both scale and ambition. And the band have since toured the globe from Birmingham to Beiruit, picking up hundreds of millions of record streams along the way.
On screen, Gorillaz have proven no less innovative. Their videos, probably the most complete manifestation of the Gorillaz character identity, have been viewed continually on heavy rotation and picked up numerous awards including the coveted Jim Henson Creativity Honor. The band opened the 2006 BRITs with a 100-piece children’s choir and dueted with a holographic Madonna at the Grammy Awards the same year, while bass- wielding nasty-face Murdoc found time to record an ‘Alternative Christmas Speech’ in 2005, broadcast while HRH Queen Elizabeth was addressing the nation. By the end of
2007, Gorillaz were that rare beast – culturally significant, critically admired and commercially successful – appealing to the broadest of demographics.
In 2010, Gorillaz returned with Plastic Beach. A 16-track tour through pop, rap, dub, soul, and electronica, from East to West and a whole lot more, it featured a roster of contributors so diverse it numbers not just Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg, Mark E Smith, De La Soul, Mos Def and Bobby Womack, but The Syrian National Orchestra Of Arabic Music and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, a Chicago-based nine-piece jazz/hip-hop group. Also appearing were Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, playing together for the first time since The Clash. The subsequent ‘Escape To Plastic Beach’ tour also produced The Fall, a 15- track album of songs recorded in hotel rooms across America and gifted to fans on Christmas Day, ahead of release in April 2011.
Now comes HUMANZ, Gorillaz’ first album in 7 years, and their most immediate, rich, and panoramic record to date – cycling through hip hop and R’n’B, pop and reggaeton, soul and rock and roll. On HUMANZ Murdoc, Noodle, Russel and 2D are – as always – joined by an impressive line-up of featured artists including Jehnny Beth (Savages), Danny Brown, Benjamin Clementine, De La Soul, Peven Everett, Anthony Hamilton, Grace Jones, Zebra Katz, Kelela, Mavis Staples, Vince Staples, Popcaan, Pusha T, Jamie Principle and Kali Uchis – and sees Gorillaz pushing boundaries once again.
*Source: Guinness Book Of Records
While crafting his debut album, Vince Staples revisited one of the most pivotal periods in his life. The Long Beach, California rapper did so because it is the time that inspired the things he’s discussed throughout his music. For him, it was a line of demarcation for his evolution.
With Summertime ’06, Vince Staples delves into the crucial season of his life, one where he discovered what his life was about and what it was shaping up to be. It was a wild, a coming-of-age time depicted on Hell Can Wait, his acclaimed 2014 Def Jam Recordings EP. “That’s the prequel to what we’re speaking about on this album,” he says, “the point where we kind of had to grow up and fend for ourselves.”
Born and raised in Long Beach, California, Vince Staples has emerged as one of rap’s preeminent rising artists. He’s released two installments of his Shyne Coldchain mixtape series and paired in 2013 with Mac Miller (under the alias Larry Fisherman) for the revered Stolen Youth mixtape. Successful tours and collaborations with Earl Sweatshirt and ScHoolboy Q also dot his resume, as does 2014’s Hell Can Wait EP, his sterling debut Def Jam project. Now, with Summertime ’06, Vince Staples has crafted a full-length album on rap’s most important label. For Vince Staples, it’s about much more than just being a well-paid, high-profile artist. “I don’t care about money because I’ve always been broke,” he says. “I don’t care about attention because I’ve got a gap between my teeth and a speech problem. I don’t care about fame because it’s corny. I don’t care about being a rapper because those dudes embarrass themselves. What I care about is that when you die, were you full of crap. That’s what matters where I come from.” It’s a lesson Vince Staples learned during the Summertime ’06.