Hands up if you can remember the last time the Neptunes produced a track that made you say "what the hell was that?!" It was 'Drop It Like It's Hot' by Snoop Dogg, obviously, and it was back in 2004. Luckily, before their success rate dipped dramatically, they managed to influence a new generation of young rappers and producers, showing that it's OK to utilise a weird clicking sound you make with your mouth if the mood so takes you. Basically, it's OK to experiment with rap, no-one will mind (Eminem, you listening buddy?).
The brilliantly named Theophilus London is the latest young rapper to emerge having taken this ethos to heart. This year's really rather good This Charming Mixtape utilizes popping beats, juddering synths and on 'TNT' a weird, undulating keyboard line ('TNT' is on the iTunes version only for some reason). He's pretty good at the rapping lark too, coming across as a slightly less earnest Lupe Fiasco.
INTERESTING FACT: He's not from London, he's from Brooklyn! Madness!
'Departure' isn't on the new mixtape, but is pretty special. Featuring the backing from Air's 'Le soleil est pres de moi', it's got a lovely feel to it:
EDIT: This Charming Mixtape can be downloaded FOR FREE from here. The mixtape features some brilliant re-workings of tracks by Kraftwerk, Whitney Houston, Amadou & Mariam and Lauryn Hill.
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