Thursday, 15 May 2008

Recent Listening Habits Part 1

Right y'all! Right y'all? Right Y'all.

It's right about that time when I share some of my recent listening habits with you since all reviews are out of the way for the moment. Of late I've taken (as I'm sure regulars might have noticed) to scouring Amazon for really good offers, i.e. I've not been spending more than a matter of pence per CD. As a result of this I've been listening to some not-so-fresh-but-new-to-me music and I'd like to share it, chances are there will be something here that you've never heard.

First up, because it's first on my hastily made pile, is DJ MK's 'Above Board' (4p anyone?). Released in 2006 by Roots Manuva's current tour DJ, this album has all the guests a UK Hip Hop fan could possibly want. Seriously, I'm not going to even mention names, you ask me if someone's on there and I'll tell you. A couple of tracks stuck in my mind from this one, both from the less steller end of the cast. The first track is 'Sudoku' by Loudmouth; this is concept rap at it's best. Some MC's might dream this up but none of them would get to actually executing it, none except Loudmouth ("The concept of this song is to say 9 numbers 9 times"). 'Taking Medication' by Ramson Badbonez and Harry Love has some of that spell-out-yer-name type stuff on the chorus that is a staple of Hip Hop, the beat is brooding but bouncy and the lyrics are a paronoid stoner's conspiracies (as you'd expect from someone associated with Task Force).

Let's see, what's next? Skuff. Skuff of the Delegates of Culture crew, Cambridge's finest Hip Hop makers. The album is 'The End of the World News' and it's from 2005, so I'm way out of date with this one. 'Patch Tunin'' is a self produced slice of soul and Skuff's earnest delivery of his well thought out lyrics complements the sound beautifully. 'Ladies & Gentlemen' features the Delegates of Culture - Bee 109, Inja and S-Class and its a real good posse cut. Again the lyrics are intelligent but hard and Bee's words are nicely northern, it's good to hear North and South together (Is Cambridge South?).

Then we've got Asaviour. Now, I've been on him for a while but only just got round to actually buying 'The Borrowed Ladder CD' and I'm so glad I did. From the dope throwback mural artwork through the top notch production (Evil Ed, Braintax, Mr Thing, Jehst, DJ IQ, Ghost and Apa-Tight as well as Asaviours own) to the brilliant lyrics you get a real real rap album. I was absolutely amazed at how insightful A's writing is and despite his nasal, northern (Huddersfield) delivery he comes totally crystal clear. I actually consider this to be a modern UK rap classic. Best believe. Since I got the 12", a firm favourite of mine has been 'Money in the Bank' (remix) featuring Kyza and Yungun and produced by Jehst but it's not really representative of the album as a whole. On 'Bangers and Mash' Asaviour hooks up with Micall Parknsun for a furious IQ produced banger that also doesn't represent the album as a whole. Man, this album is diverse, no one song is gonna do the trick. You just gots to get it.

Baby J is a great producer, you can rely on him to give you some uplifting, well sampled but simple Hip Hop. You can also rely on his well chosen guests for some quality raps too. Yogi, of Derby, does a fine job on 'Black or White' - you just gotta sing along to the chorus on this one. It's taken from 'FTP2' which also featured the UK Hip Hop track to have the most radio play in the last couple of years, 'Young, Gifted & Black', vocalled by all-rounder Dynamite MC. Pick up both the FTP albums for a couple of enjoyable hours of listening (obviously, if you listen to them more, you'll get more hours enjoyment).

Travis Blaque somehow seemed to escape my UK Hip Hop radar in '06 either because a) HHC don't like him, or b) his name suggests an american R'n'B singer. Anyways, I saw it cheap, listened to a sample, bought it, took delivery and bumped it part way to Birmingham. This is, to use a recently coined phrase, grown man rap with a penchant for story telling. This album (The Many Facets of...) is a collection of tales about Travis Blaque and the people he sees around him. I'm a big fan of old fashioned family values and 'Home' is the second track I've heard recently that uphold my belief that family works. 'Al is Dead' is a funky, classic story about a greedy person who never has enough, it's based on 'Freddie's Dead' by Curits Mayfield. Just concentrate though, you could get confused between the characters. Also check out how much like Sweeny Todd Travis sounds at the beginning!

I'm tired now and I'm not even halfway through my stack so you'll have to wait until tomorrow for that. Peace out... bring the war in (not really).

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