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(Last Updated On: September 12, 2017)

I said it before: I'm not paying for digital music. No platform has all the music I like on it, and I can find it all for free, so there's no reason to. I was recently questioned by an Apple Music subscriber about where I find songs, if I'm into things that aren't even on these platforms.

I still rate a lot of Chart music highly. In the past year, the music that makes it into the Official Charts is completely different to the 5-8 years prior. Even then, I've never been anti-mainstream, because otherwise I'd be missing out on so much. However, the hints I actively seek out happen to be a bit harder to find.

Here are the main four ways that new music crosses my path:

 

YouTube

By in large, most of what I need to find is on there. This is the explanation for the non-paid-streaming thing too. YouTube has so much, and you can keep diving further down to find great things. New music, old music, niche music, bait music; YouTube's got that.

The only time YouTube lets me down is when I want to stick Drake's “Fake Love” on. Other than that, it's got my back. A few channels that keep me entertained include:

Grime and UK Rap: Link Up TV, UGX, Pacman TVJDZ Media, PressPlay Media, Silverdrizzle, P110

American Rap: Psycho Realm 9, Playa G 1, Tico in Japan

R&B: Ultimate Selection, R&B Planet, The Most Hated Playa 17

Dancehall: Akam Entertainment, Crush Road

 

Radio

Since more and more international radio stations have opened their content up to people in the UK, it's only benefited us. In the time while a few American stations held back on broadcasting across the Atlantic, I've been able to build up a list of reliable TuneIn channels to lock into.

Along with those, I've learned just how many regional stations in the UK deserve props. Here are some of the go-tos:

UK Assorted – Radar, Rinse, Reprezent, 1Xtra, Kemet, Silk CityOnTop, Pulse88, Whoa

R&B – R&B-Side, Mi-Soul

American Rap – Hot 107.9, Red Bull Radio, BeatminerzDaOne, K97

Reggae and Dancehall – City Lock, Vibes, Lovers Rock Radio

Funk – Funk Republic

 

Blogs

The first music blog I stumbled upon was FinestBlackBeatz, a German site that was clever enough to tag up their MP3s when they distributed them on LimeWire. Genius. But nowhere to be found now.

Years later, Digital Dripped was the go-to for all releases. As it does now, all songs from all the big names, and the upcoming ones, were featured there. (In 2009, their site was the only one to document the birth, grown and decline of Jerkin' music).

Between 2006 and 2010, I had a morning routine of checking 20-30 blogs for new music. OnSmash, Soul Culture, Nobody Smiling, Soul Bounce were among them. Most of the others have gone. (Thanks in part to Google’s AdSense changes).

The blogs I find music on are a closely guarded secret, along with a few YouTube channels and radio stations. It has to remain this way because baiting these things up means it's only a matter of time before Drake finds the good stuff and steals it.

 

Mixtape Sites

The most reliable of all ways to find music is through mixtape sites. By hosting all of this intentionally free content, they're less susceptible to downtime than blogs and YouTube streams. The sheer quantity of music they store is ridiculous, so you can get lost for days on many of them. For archived music, these are the best places to find discographies of artists that never got a deal.

If I'm ever stuck with *nothing* to listen to, there's usually a new Gucci Mane or Yo Gotti or Juicy J tape around on one of these. If not, I can deep dive with a random set search term (usually based on a city known for hits) and often come out with greatness.

American Rap and R&B – DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, Mixtape Monkey

UK Rap and Grime – Mixtape Madness, Hoodtapes


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- Chiino

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