Now Hear This: New music from Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga and Mumford & Sons – plus a Q&A with Saint Clair

The Independent's music correspondent goes through the best – and worst – releases of the week

Saint Clair in her video for 'I'll Stay'
Saint Clair in her video for 'I'll Stay'

I thought we were nearing the end of “soundtrack season”, but apparently not. After a summer of having to endure The Greatest Showman and Mamma Mia! dominating the UK album charts, it’s pretty much guaranteed that A Star is Born will join them in the top 10 upon its release.

That said, the music from everyone’s favourite country drama remake is not to be sniffed at. Particularly Lady Gaga’s performance – she absolutely nails it on a song like “Shallow”, which is the first to be released from the official soundtrack, out on 5 October.

Lil Wayne has dropped his long-awaited, much-delayed album Tha Carter V, but at a very quick first-glance it seems it was worth the wait. The record, which was originally supposed to be released back in 2014, is loaded with features including Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj and Ashanti. There's also a superb sample of Sampha on the emotional last track "Let It All Work Out", which details Wayne's struggles with mental health.

Highlights that I've picked out (again, just after one listen since it dropped at midnight), are Kendrick and Wayne on "Mona Lisa"; "Dope New Gospel" ft. Nivea; "Start This S**t Off Right" ft Ashanti & Mack Maine (some super old-school R&B vibes on that track), and the aforementioned "Let It All Work Out".

Albums that I’ve had on a loop since the beginning of this week include the new Cypress Hill record (their first in eight years!), Elephants on Acid, which is not so much a return to form as a continuation of their best work. At the moment my favourite two tracks off the record are “Loco” and “Reefer Man”. Both very different, both superb. You can read my full review of the album here.

If there was one band I wish had taken eight years to bring out their next album, it’s Mumford & Sons. Never has the word “uplifting” been applied to one band as much as them. They’re clearly intent on sticking with the same old formula, as much as they claim to be exploring new territory with their upcoming album Delta. “There weren’t many boundaries musically," they claimed in an interview with Rolling Stone. Apparently that included the boundary between "good" and "bad". “Guiding Light” is M&S’s bogstandard rousing anthem, complete with twinkly piano notes and that f***ing banjo. I’ve never felt quite so much inexplicable rage at an inanimate object as I have towards Winston Marshall’s instrument.

If you’re looking for some new hip hop blood, you couldn’t do better than the debut album Overgrown from Philly rapper Ivy Sole. *Massive namedrop alert*, but my mate Rag’n’Bone Man put me on to Ivy last year when he headlined The Independent’s stage at Live at Leeds. I’ve been hooked ever since, and I am dying to see her live (come to the UK, Ivy!). Until then, I have this stunning release to enjoy.

On “Achilles”, one of the darker cuts on the record, she raps about being assaulted by a cousin and her struggle to heal through religion. Yet throughout the album she keeps faith in the idea of second chances and never second-guesses herself. Its production is gorgeous, recalling Anderson .Paak’s effortless melding of classic hip hop and fresher influences from soul, rap and rock music. I’m going to stop raving now but basically, check it out.

Grammy nominated UK singer/producer Dan Lancaster is branching out with his own solo career; following debut single “Move a Mountain” with the rock/electronic banger “Wild Life”. You might not recognise his name yet, but he’s helped steer records by the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, Blink 182 and Don Broco, so he definitely knows what he’s doing. My fave indie pop group Stereo Honey are going from strength to strength, now with their new single "Icarus".

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Who is playing the bass on the new Little Simz tracks? I must know. "I'm a boss in a f***ing dress".... she just gets better and better with each track. "Boss" ties in nicely with my featured artist theme as well.

Listen to the updated Now Hear This playlist in full, below:

My spotlight artist this week is Saint Clair (born Emma Topolski), a Londoner about to release the final track from her EP D2, which is out via her own imprint Dearly Beloved. Saint Clair – named in honour of her mother’s Scottish ancestry – started out as a jazz singer but has since embraced her talent for electronica-based soul.

I’m sharing her new video for that track, “I’ll Stay”, which takes the song’s story of addiction and adds it to feminist noir visuals that explore mental health against a city backdrop. It’s a violent and strangely cathartic watch, showing the protagonist fight for control against her darker urges. I love it because I’ve been thinking a lot about female aggression recently (sorry, Winston), and how it’s still a very big taboo in our society.

Check out the video and read my interview with Emma, below:

Tell me a bit about writing “I'll Stay” - did something in particular trigger your writing the song?

I was in the throes of watching someone I deeply care about destroy the things most precious to them and was struggling to understand the motivation behind that behaviour. Writing ‘I’ll Stay’ was a cathartic way of dissecting the problem whilst vowing to stick around. The song has become a sort of mantra now.

How does the video accompany that, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do?

I developed the video with brilliant Irish director, Jamie Delaney. We knew we wanted to focus on a personal struggle; inner-demons and the battle for control. In this case, we follow the story of a woman desperately trying to suppress her irresistible (sometimes irrepressible) urges in the face of mounting pressure and in the process, risks losing everything.

Saint Clair

What was the decision behind having London as the backdrop for the video?

I was born and raised in London so it always feels like a natural environment to work in. It also provides the ruthless corporate backdrop we needed for the video. But mainly, all my mates live in London and I needed to rope them in as extras (sorry, supporting artists).

There seems to be a growing discussion of female anger – why do you think it's still taboo for women to express rage?

I think women have become so synonymous with being either maternal and nurturing on the one hand or sexy and attractive on the other, that no space is left for rage and anger in either model.

Linguistics play a huge part in suppressing this; it’s still described as unbecoming or unladylike (sometimes even unnatural) to express anger and if you do, you risk losing social currency. For all its flaws, the UFC is a rare platform where women fighters can freely express physical prowess, violence and aggression and get all the more respect for it.

What most recently has made you really angry?

My flight to Ibiza yesterday. Made me ashamed to be British…

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