FEATURE: Ikenna Offor – A Look Back At 2020 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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We chat to some of our passionate and dedicated team to find out what they thought of 2020…with some occasionally sweary results! Here, Ikenna Offor tells us about his past twelve months.

Sum up 2020 in three words
Low-key f**k 2020…

Your favourite band/artist of the year
As far as I’m concerned, going off the unbridled potency of both El-P’s ornery stentorian bombast and Killer Mike’s timely polemical self-reflexivity, Run the Jewels’ long-awaited RTJ4 is an insta-classic. You might disagree, but then again, you’d also be hard-pressed to name me another deliciously scuzzy, poetically anarchic, and frankly, industrially sloppy (in a good way) album that’s as much fun as this no-skip beauty – don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Meanwhile, on the home front, big shout-out to J Hus for effortlessly defying the dreaded sophomore slump with the infectiously triumphant yet strikingly pensive Big Conspiracy. A pox on the Mercury judges for their myopic non-recognition.

Your favourite song of the year
Ever since the 2016 release of her eponymous debut EP, singer-songwriter H.E.R. (aka Gabi Wilson) has hatched an apt reputation for belting honest lyrics detailing complexicated situationships and love lapses (who can’t relate??). Steeped in the timeless allure of 90s R&B, Damage – which deftly samples Herb Alpert’s 1987 hit Making Love in the Rain – sees Wilson playing to her not-inconsiderable strengths whilst assessing the fallout of a past relationship with disarming candour. Be warned though, this silken earworm will burrow its way into your cortex and stay nestled for months on end.

Favourite TV show of the year
I May Destroy You. What else is there to say about this show that hasn’t already been said? Despite its uncompromising subject matter, I found it compulsively watchable, and not guiltily so, for that matter – from the word go, I was wholly enraptured. I’ve stanned Michaela Coel ever since Chewing Gum, but this here is on some Jedi Master shit. Do you realize the sheer skill-level and mental fortitude it takes to flip one of the MOST PAINFUL things that can happen to a person into such a breathtakingly compelling piece of art – how could you NOT marvel at that intellectual mien?!? Were this an album, it’d be her Miseducation of Lauryn Hill; her MBDTF; her TPAB; her Lemonade, even. Plus, the soundtrack BANGS HARD!

Your favourite film
Although David Fincher is not a director particularly associated with sentimentality (I mean, have you seen either Zodiac or The Social Network??), there’s something affectively sincere about Mank. Much like Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it’s a pure nostalgia-hued love letter – to both Fincher’s late father, who penned the script, and the booze-addled screen hacks of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Mank is an unapologetic film-nerd’s-film masquerading as a political parable of-sorts, and so won’t be for everyone, but it’s ultimately a giddily propulsive meditation on both revenge and the singular loneliness it engenders.

Best book you read
There’s nothing quite like losing yourself in a good book, especially these days. Crafted by Eisner darlings, Alex De Campi and Erica Henderson, Dracula, Motherf***er is a gorgeously psychedelic take on everyone’s favourite Transylvanian count, with a modern twist. With its hypnotically oglesome art, what this pulptastic graphic novel lacks in narrative focus, it more than makes up for in style

What was your favourite gig/live stream event
Michael Kiwanuka’s Mercury set. One of the few bright spots in an otherwise dour year of cancelled gigs and postponed albums, Michael Kiwanuka’s well-deserved Mercury win saw the 33-year-old troubadour perform a sublime, heartfelt and affecting set that’s indelibly seared into my mind as a cherished memory. Unfortunately, the Beeb have since removed the clips from ye olde iPlayer, so here’s the next best thing.

Any upcoming artists we should keep an eye out for in 2021
Possessed of a heady flow and bubbly delivery, Flo Milli is a very fun, very playful new TikTok rapper (Soundcloud rap is dead, long live Soundcloud rap!) hailing from Mobile, Alabama. Get familiar!

Predictions for 2021
I hate to say it, but if the recent malcontention visited on the Recording Academy by both Justin Bieber and The Weeknd following this year’s nominations is anything to go by, you just know that, as ever, #GrammysGonnaGrammy…

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