Lucent Loves: July

We’ve updated the playlist with new music from Ivorian Doll, Becky and the Birds, Kiran Kai and more

Lucent Loves is our Spotify playlist curated exclusively from the rising talent we’re listening to. Listen to some of our favourites from July, including London rapper Ivorian Doll‘s latest heater, “Body Bag”, sugary, left-leaning R&B from Sweden’s Becky and the Birds and a spacey offering from south-east London rapper and producer Kiran Kai.

We post our roundups monthly alongside an entirely new playlist of releases. Follow us on Spotify for the latest.

Lucent Loves: June

We’ve updated the playlist with new tracks from BackRoad Gee, UMI, Jean Dawson and more

Lucent Loves is our Spotify playlist curated exclusively from the new releases of rising talent we’re listening to.

June was brimming with new music and we’ve selected 30 of the best releases for you. Listen to some of our favourites, including London rapper BackRoad Gee‘s melodic “S5-E5” Mad About Bars, dreamy R&B from Seattle’s UMI and a new punk-tinged cut from Jean Dawson.

We post our roundups monthly alongside an entirely new playlist of releases. Follow us on Spotify for the latest.

Lucent Loves: May

We’ve refreshed the playlist with new tracks from Midas the Jagaban, Nayana IZ, Tora and more

Lucent Loves is our Spotify playlist curated exclusively from the new releases of rising talent we’re listening to.

May was full of incredible new music and we’ve selected 30 of our favourites for you. Listen to UK Afrobeats artist Midas The Jagaban‘s debut release, Tora‘s soulful new single and Barney Lister-produced “TNT” from Lucent favourite Nayana IZ.

We post our roundups at the end of the month alongside an entirely new playlist of releases. Follow us on Spotify for the latest.

Lucent Loves: April

We launch our brand new playlist with tracks from M1llionz, Jasmine Jethwa, Wesley Joseph and more

Launching for lockdown is Lucent Loves, our brand new Spotify playlist curated exclusively from the releases of rising talent we’re listening to. Over the last year, we’ve brought emerging musicians to the stage for our audience, so, to keep sharing our love for new music, we’ve created Lucent Loves.

April was full of incredible releases. We’ve curated 30 of our favourites for you including the stunning new single from musical polymath Wesley Joseph, our pick from Jasmine Jethwa’s beautiful pop-folk EP and M1llionz’ latest drop, which comes accompanied by a visual tour of Jamaica through the Birmingham rapper’s lens.

We post our roundups at the end of the month alongside an entirely new playlist of releases. Follow us on Spotify for the latest.

April tracklist

Wesley Joseph – Imaginary Friends

Louis Culture – Being Me

Kenny Mason – Firestarter

Nayana IZ – FINAL HOUR (ft. Lorenzorsv)

UMI – Mother

Kaash Paige – Frank Ocean

Shantel May – It’s Better This Way

NEL – And Your Problem Is

LOLA – Feral Soul

Scribz Riley – East Side

RMR – Dealer

BLENDA – Options

Flo Milli – Eat It Up

Fivio Foreign – Ambition (ft. Lil Tjay)

M1llionz – Y PREE

Ivorian Doll – Rumours

Teeway – Private Ryan

Backroad Gee – Party Popper Remix (ft. Pa Salieu & Ambush)

Candy Bleakz – Kelegbe

Darkovibes – Emotional

GuiltyBeatz – My Vibe (ft. J.Derobie)

Lila Iké – I Spy

Oxlade – WEAKNESS

Korantemaa – connected

Sarah Meth – If Only You Knew–

Lola Young – Same Bed

Jasmine Jethwa – Hurricane

Christian Alexander – Sucker Punch

Jordana – Crunch (ft. MELVV)

Lunch Money Life – Superego

Lucent Mix: Jess Ajose

The London DJ and creative makes a mix that flies from London to Lagos

Words by Geralda Cela

In a digital world that’s become a mess of content, written interviews often fall by the wayside. For East London’s Jess Ajose, however, words still hold weight. “Targeted questions trigger thoughts that become more coherent and help me simplify what I do,” the DJ and creative explains when we sit down to talk ahead of her performance at Lucent Edition 03. “In my head, everything is jumbled up. Questions help me streamline my thoughts and words.”

Born in London but travelling back to Lagos often, Ajose draws on disparate styles from both of the cities’ scenes for her output. Based in Hackney, the DJ’s bi-cultural identity of British–Nigerian is the foundation for her sonic sense of self, and it’s this essence which she’s channelled into a fluid mix created exclusively for Lucent. Guiding us from Nigeria’s contemporary alté scene with breezy vocals from Santi, a spearhead of the movement, back home to London and harder-hitting club sounds soaked in industrial noise, Ajose handpicks sounds from all over. As sound bites from Frank Ocean’s “Be Yourself” make their appearance before giving way to hazy, meditative melodies, elsewhere Nigerian and British vocalists collide. It’s a mix that looks forward at the same time as it make space for listeners to ponder over the words that have come before. As well as unravelling its creator’s childhood and current cultural influences, this piece of work showcases Ajose’s code-switching abilities and her dexterity in working with a range of vocals, moods and melodic structures.

It’s an approach the DJ also uses to weave together her monthly radio slot on Peckham’s Foundation FM which serves as an essential platform for showcasing her work. “Before that, people looked at me as a young black woman and just assumed I played R&B. That used to grind my gears,” she sighs. Now, Ajose’s budding career as a DJ is flourishing and she’s being given the space to fully trust her own tastes and embrace the fluid approach to blending genres which comes most naturally to her.

We caught up with the multifaceted creative to talk more about her sonic style, how to balance a full-time job with DJing and dive deeper into this mix ahead of her performance at Lucent on 5 June where she’ll be soundtracking the night.

This mix goes full circle, starting and ending with moments from Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator. Why did you decide to include them in a piece of work which explores your own identity?   

Jess Ajose: Sound bites can help frame the narrative of a mix. I used the Frank one because it’s all about being yourself, which was what I was trying to show in the mix. The Tyler one, from Igor, says, “Exactly what you run from, you end up chasing” and that was true for me. I ran from being proud of being Nigerian, of being black, of being a woman, because it wasn’t an identity that was particularly championed when I was growing up and I didn’t have any role models I could identify with. On top of that, investing time in creative things or having creative aspirations was seen as Western and not ‘Nigerian’ especially by the older Nigerian generation and even by my parents. So, I suppressed my creativity to please my parents but that didn’t last long! Now I’m very proud of how I can be all these things Nigerian, British, a creative, a DJ and more. Also, Tyler’s of Nigerian heritage and so different from the traditional sense of what it allegedly means to be Nigerian. He’s just himself and that’s why I rate him so much.

“I’m still on that journey of trusting in my taste. Whenever I’m preparing a set I always want to make sure that I’m true to my own sound and what I enjoy playing” Jess Ajose

Did it take you a while to trust in your own taste and pursue what you wanted to?

Jess Ajose: To be honest, I’m still on that journey of trusting in my taste. Whenever I’m preparing a set I always want to make sure that I’m true to my own sound and what I enjoy playing. The reason I started DJing was because I wanted to make mixes that no one else was making so that I could listen to them in my room. And, it just so happened that people liked what I was playing. I was kind of surprised! I do sometimes have that anxiety that the mix still belongs in my room, though.

Have you experienced challenges in bringing together the Nigerian and British parts of your identity and bridging that gap musically?

Jess Ajose: Sonically, yes. Sometimes it doesn’t work when you’re trying to mix the two. And I’m conscious of things sounding quite random in a mix because I want them to marry each other and be fluid and make sense. But, culturally, not so much. It wasn’t cool to be African or Nigerian before, but now it is and people can be Nigerian and unapologetically themselves without wanting to be Jamaican, which used to be it.

When we first spoke about this mix you mentioned code switching. What does that look like in your everyday life?

Jess Ajose: Growing up in East London I went to school with so many different cultures that we kind of created our own language using plain English, slang, patois and also, from within the Nigerian language, pidgin English. That’s how my friends and I tend to speak to each other when we’re in our own company, but when it comes to being in a professional space more time you have to speak in a way that everyone can understand. So existing in those two spaces means that I tend to code-switch quite a lot.

Over the last year, you’ve been pursuing DJ much more seriously. Is it frustrating to only see the ‘made-it’ side on social media but rarely the work that goes into getting booked?

Jess Ajose: Oh yeah, I hate my Instagram because it looks so polished that it’s almost become like a second CV. When I bump into people I haven’t seen in a while they’ll be like, ‘Oh, you’re doing so great’. And I’m just like, ‘That’s what it looks like’. Even though I feel like I am doing well, it’s sort of amplified online when, actually, I have to juggle a job and DJ as a side thing.

Do you feel like that needs to be talked about more?

Jess Ajose: 100%. When you’re getting more bookings and doing things with higher profile places that people admire it creates a certain illusion and, in a way, you’re dehumanised; you just become this thing where people say, ‘Oh my god, this person is doing amazing – they’re above this and that.’ A lot of the time you have to start out by doing things for free – I only started getting paid for DJing towards the last quarter of 2018. No one talks about people not knowing who you are and working for free and before the bookers think you’re worth being paid. Even now, I feel that I have something to prove. Money needs to be spoken about more. As a beginner, when people ask you, ‘What’s your rate?’ you have no clue what that means and when you’re inexperienced they’re more likely to pay you less or not even pay you at all. The only way to get over that is by speaking to other DJ friends and, as cliche as it sounds, you have to know your worth, which you’ll learn as you progress.

You mentioned juggling a have a full-time job – how do you manage that alongside DJing?

Jess Ajose: I don’t know how I manage it, but you just make it work. Planning you’re time really well helps a lot. So, planning a set or planning things at work so you can get out a little earlier – it’s all in practice. And mentally preparing yourself for missing out on sleep sometimes.

Jess Ajose performs live at Lucent Edition 03 on 5 June at The Pickle Factory. Tickets on Dice.

Lucent Mix: Cajm

Listen to Cajm’s beautiful mix titled ‘Stuck Groove’ and watch the accompanying video

This cosmic mix titled ‘Stuck Groove’ is a spacey body of work created by London-based producer Cajm. Using jams and his own self-produced tracks, many of which were made by placing stickers on vinyl to loop them and bounce them into a locked groove, ‘Stuck Groove’ glides between sonic structures and worlds of sound. From soft guitar riffs and muffled drums to fleeting appearances from both Martha Skye Murphy and Coby Sey, this is a mix that’s full of perfect moments.


To accompany ‘Stuck Groove’ Cajm has created a short film of the same name. In it you’ll see and hear audio triggering different parts of the mix.


Lucent mix: PARADISE

The phantasmic DJ delivers a filmic, highly textured body of work he defines as the official soundtrack to 2019

Words by Alice Nicolov

Sometimes a mix comes along that stops you in your tracks. For us, this proffering by the faceless PARADISE is one such piece of work. Titled ‘HEART SWELLS’, this cinematic mix opens up drumless and with what its creator describes as “sunset preludes”. From there, it slides through galaxies where whole constellations and elements lurk. It asks you
“How do you feel?” then melts away as you open your mouth to answer.

Before working on how to present this mix, we spent time talking with its creator. The question for us was how could we invite listeners into this mix of moments that together build a whole? How could we keep it accessible and give every listener what they needed. Together with PARADISE we blueprinted a road map for ‘HEART SWELLS’. This route planner, dreamt up by the DJ, draws out, timestamps and titles segments of his mix. These titles, plucked from PARADISE’s own mind, take the listener’s hand to guide them through the myriad of blown-out sounds, loving moments and fragments of revered tracks curated by a DJ who dotes on his work.

Here, ‘HEART SWELLS’’ originator presents an opportunity for you to consume his work as you will. Dip in or swallow it down whole.

PARADISE – HEART SWELLS

‘HEART SWELLS’

The city’s lights are on fire and the sun retreats to wash the sky in a coarse black. There’s no longer a rusting sunset of burnt bronze and hazy gold. Like panicked embers, any glimmer of stars dim into unfamiliarity. Summer’s clammy warmth clings onto our shoulders like a cold, dead arm. It’s no longer welcome here. Absence descends upon the horizon and the fumes of dying roses suffocate the air. An anxious crack begins to part above us and the sound of what’s been ignored shrieks from muffled faintness into pristine sirens. Tonight is an invitation for help, and this is a story of what it could be.

00:00 – 10:55

I wrote this poem without any words
I hope we speak the same language

10:55 – 25:02

ANXIETY (INTERLUDE II)

25:02 – 38:37

(Don’t) Call My Phone

38:37 – 44:12

Washed Dusk

44:12 – 51:10

Heart Swell(ing)

51:10 – 1:05:11

‘I swear I’ll prosper’

1:05:11 – 1:07:13

Smile Now, Cry Later