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A soundtrack for the lockdown summer

Mention the words ‘London music scene’ in polite conversation and it’s inevitable that most, if not all, individuals involved in the chat will immediately veer towards grime or drill. These two genres – though the discerning listener will undoubtedly disagree – are similar in message and style; they are often loud and brash, with lyrics that lean towards the aggressive and the arrogant. But there is far more to the current London music scene. Nü Inc. Sound, a London-based artist development and management company, is on a mission to change perceptions and provide a platform for artists with something important to say. The fact that its debut mixtape collection has been created almost entirely in quarantine, and was conceived with the idea of supporting frontline NHS staff, is testament to that. The 22-track release, A Dreamer’s Collection Vol. 1, is a clear indication of how seriously Nü Inc. Sound is taking the music game. Featuring an array of talented – and as yet relatively unknown – acts from across its roster, this is a collection to be savoured and enjoyed while basking in the sunshine of a lockdown summer.

Sit back and relax

As soon as the opening notes of the collection’s inaugural track ‘Enter’ hit, you are granted a good idea of what’s to come. The angelic vocal harmonies, clearly inspired by the upbeat nature of gospel choirs, soar, issuing a clear message to the listener: you are in for a treat. This compilation, clearly crafted not only with care but with a huge degree of consideration, does what so few mixtapes are able to do – it combines various styles, from late ‘90s hip-hop to modern pop, unflustered vocals that beg to be listened to on the beach, to complex lyrical flows that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Busta Rhymes track, and does so elegantly. There are electronics and snare snaps, pianos and Ms Dynamite-esque choruses; these are sounds that shouldn’t work on the same release, but somehow it fits perfectly, like an abstract but gorgeous puzzle. This collection has not been put together to promote any one artist, but to highlight the talents of numerous burgeoning superstars. However, songs Déjà Vu, an R&B track infused with pop influences by singer-songwriter Thandie Bomvu, and Spaced Out, a completely unique jam laden with hooks and catchy lyrics written by The Riversiders frontman Alfie Crews, simultaneously showcase that diversity of sound, style and approach can combine perfectly as part of a collaborative musical endeavour.

Contemplations of a better time

The use of the word ‘Dreamer’ in the collection’s title is entirely deliberate. As the mixtape progresses, with each track blending seamlessly into the next, the listener can easily find themselves transported somewhere else. The idea of being taken on a ‘journey’ is a trope used too frequently in music reviews that it is tantamount to cliché, but there is no better way to describe this particular audio experience; its goal is to inspire and reassure, to offer an outlet during a time when they are few and far between. This is music for summer holidays that, this year, won’t be taken; it is by no means a replacement for the sun, the sea and the sand, but a reminder that, in the years to come, things will indeed return to normal.

Eyes forwards, never back

An old adage states that it is the hope that kills, but in this case that couldn’t be further from the truth; here, it is the hope that binds, offering the promise of better things to come, declaring that though life may be difficult now, it will not always be so. It is absolutely worth noting that the vast majority of this compilation was written, produced and recorded in quarantine, which is a staggering achievement. The quality of the tracks, both in terms of lyrical output and sound, is stellar; this does not come across like a debut release by any means and showcases that not only does Nü Inc. Sound know what it’s doing when it comes to mixing, sampling, producing and editing, but it has an uncanny knack for unearthing musical gems. Any and all proceeds raised from the release of this mixtape will be donated to NHS Charities Together to support the incredible NHS staff and volunteers currently caring for COVID-19 patients.

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