Saturday, 2 February 2008


Wow! February 2008 came fast! I don't know what your view on Hip Hop in 2007 was; mine was on the whole a good one. If you were looking to the world of mainstream, big record label Hip Hop then you probably entered 2008 slightly jaded. The major releases of 2007 were dissapointing: 50 Cent pretty much proved he hasn't got 'it' any more, Kanye West still thinks he is 'it'; his ego spoilt his release which wasn't as good as his previous efforts anyway and Jay-Z, despite genius marketing moves and use/abuse of his position still didn't provide us with an album anywhere near as classic as The Black Album. If you looked just under the surface then there were plenty of good releases and most of you probably heard and bought at least one album that you will always listen to.

Many people will be looking to 2008 as some sort of saviour for Hip Hop. 2007 seemed to be a lost cause right from the very beginning but it needn't have been if hopes had not been set on the major releases. If the focus of anticipation had been directed to the more minor, underground releases then last year would have been more fulfilling for more people.

This year I suggest you look to music more local to you. The internet is great for hearing everything that's out there but it cannot provide the sense of belonging that music that is more relevant to you can. Yes, the US created Hip Hop, it is Hip Hop's homeland but there is very little I can relate to at the moment. The beats are not to my taste although I guess if I resided in the Bay Area I would 'get' the whole hyphy thing or if I was from Miami then I would like bass music, but I'm not so I don't. The lyrical content of much US rap has worn thin but what I do still relate to are skills and this is why there is still US rap that I listen to.

In contradiction to the last paragraph's opening sentence, if you are not local to the UK then you should be looking to the UK. Just as people can relocate, musical genres can too. Hip Hop lives on in the UK. So what can you expect from us in the coming year?

Life MC of Phi-Life Cypher will be dropping an album on Zebra Traffic in March. I'm surprised at myself for not mentioning this before but Phi-Life Cypher's album, 'Higher Forces', is one of my top 2 UK Hip Hop albums; it's awesome. Look out here for a review of the new Life album and an inteview with the man himself. Also, I really should tell you some more about 'Higher Forces' so keep 'em peeled for that too.

Silent Soundz is probably the only UK label giving Low Life Records a run for it's money. Their roster of artists is incredible: Skitz, Kool G Rap, Yungun & Mr. Thing, Verb T & The Last Skeptic, Blind Alphabetz, First Man Productions and Brotherman. The 3rd of March should see the release of Brotherman’s debut single - a double A-side called Heart of Dem/Bollox. April should then see the release of a double EP project from which will be two EPs sold separately that can be joined together to form one plush package. Together it is called The Dark & The Light (stay tuned here for more on Brotherman). SS are also releasing Skitz’s second producer album, the follow up to 'Countryman' which will drop in Q2. This is entitled 'Sticksman' and features most of the big UK emcees plus Masta Ace, Wordsworth and Kardinal Offishall. The Kardi single will be released in Q1, probably end of March. It is called Struggla and also features Rodney P and Skibadee with D&B remixes by Ruff Cut. Not only are they releasing these big UK joints but they should also be releasing “Long Live G Rap” by Kool G Rap in Q2, an album which features Busta Rhymes, Mobb Deep, Canibus, Saigon and Sean Price among others. Other than that they’ve got a digital only single from Blind Alphabetz, track TBC, which will feature a Jehst remix of Change as a bonus track. Phew...

Lex records are a label to watch too; last year they released one of my favourite albums 'Romance Ain't Dead' by Kid Acne and the much lauded 'Craft of the Lost Art' by Shape of Broad Minds. Previous releases include more of my very favourites - 'Ghetto Pop Life' by Dangermouse and Jemini, 'The Mouse and the Mask' by DangerDoom (now that's US Hip Hop I CAN listen to!). Although they don't have any UK Hip Hop releases slated for this year they are releasing a Khujo Goodie (of The Goodie Mob)/ Jneiro Jarel (of Shape of Broad Minds) collaboration. Guests on the album are the other big Dungeon Family members and it should be out September. A single, 'OPR8R' featuring Khujo Goodie is out this spring, with a UK tour getting sorted around the release time. Now that Ghostface has done his time with DefJam Lex may be able to finally release the Ghostface & Doom album and Indecision at Boombox Distribution tells me Dangermouse has a follow up album to 'Ghetto Pop Life' called 'Kill Your Heroes' which is apparantly a concept album about living a pimps lifestyle on a budget. Again I've contradicted myself but I totally trust Lex as tastemakers, if they release it and it's from the US then it's probably very relevant to the UK market. Also every bit of Lex artwork and packaging totally kicks bottom!

Other things to look forward to that I don't have as much information about are:
  • 'The Signature LP', the new album from Sway, is supposedly to be released in May.
  • Million Dan, the Demon Boyz UK legend, is working on an album release due for mid April (get the Suspect Packages re-issue of 'Recognition' now and check the Spektrum Ride/Mic Chek 12" for something a little more up to date.)
  • 'Food For Da Brain Second Serving' - the last one featured the cream of UK's rap talent so the next one will be big too with a posse cut featuring Skinnyman, Harry Shotta, Shameless, Foreign Beggars & Deadly Hunta being the lead single.
  • New Asaviour projects - check his newly released mixtape, buy 'Broken Ladder' if you don't have it and savour the great West Yorkshire accent.
  • New albums from Dented - not sure who, could be Foreign Beggars, Dr. Syntax, Skrein (possible their collabo - Skreintax), Stig of the Dump...whoever it is, it'll be good.
  • Bashy is releasing a DVD of all things 'Black Boys' related.
  • Wretch 32 is releasing his album: Wretchrospective.

Whoa, well I never intended to write that much but I hope that if you're reading this bit you're looking forward with me to at least one of the above releases . Here's to 2008 and good Hip Hop.


Unknown said...

nice work on the uk rap news there mate, and i'm very excited by the prospect of a new Life album. I have to say, everytime that guy raps my jaw drops. His flow is incredible.

Asaviour is a personal favourite of mine too. There's something about his slurring of words and clearly Yorkshire-grounded accent that makes him endearing.

Carry on the good work sir.

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