Saturday, 30 August 2008

2 Free Mixtapes to Download

First one comes courtesy of Organised Mess, a collective of Hip Hoppers from Leeds. It features some great, actual top notch UK rap tunes from the likes of Blessed House, Jester J, Fourny P and Corkhill. I truly had an enjoyable time listening to this Yorkshire beauty - especially the tracks from Jester J - ee's a right japester.

In slightly name related news; the second thing is a free mixtape from UK MC Joker Starr. Joker, as the name would suggest, is a funny guy and this mixtape, whilst truly messy and haphazard is really very entertaining - his sense of humour firmly stamped all over it. None of the tracks are named but track 10 is a freestyle by some Chali Boy-like alter-ego over the beat for Sway's 'Flo Fashion', track 21 is the track he did with Genesis Elijah and Sway called 'Revenge of the Sith' and track 22 is a freestyle over Roots Manuva's 'Awfully Deep'. Tis all good, well mostly.

Some UK Heat

Miss Tofelees - 'How Long' ft Smokio - A pretty funny track based around a nice straight-foward rock sample. Miss Tofelees is a lady producer from Leeds and Smokio is a man rapper from the midlands. Every guy can relate to this; it's about girlfriends taking too long to get ready - "Get a move on, it's nearly Christmas".

Foreign Beggars - 'Hold On' (M-Phazes Remix) - The original is probably my favourite Foreign Beggars track and this one is just as nice, a little more chilled than the original but Orifice Vulgatron keeps it gully enough - "Are you reallyreallyreallyreally from the ends?".

Pitman - Witness The Pitness - Yup you guessed a 'version' of Roots Manuva's 'Witness (1 Hope)' by a coal miner. Simple eh? And probably the rudest and funniest man in UK Hip Hop too - "But I'm OK, I've got my toast//I'm going to me mam to get a Sunday roast".

Lewis Parker - Wonderwall - Recorded and released in 1995, it's a 'Wonderwall' cover.

Lewis Parker - Rooftop Drama and Lewis Parker - Night Vision - Both taken from his limited edition 'Sniper Beats' album. These are awesome tracks, the names sum them up perfectly so if you're an MC with no beat and a loss of inspiration, why not let Lewis Parker help? Concept tracks all the way.

Friday, 29 August 2008

'Music Game' ft. Blak Twang & Geejay - Dap C (single review)

He's a humble 'un that Dap-C. Not only did he let Reain and Stylah go first on 'Heaven' he's also let Blak Twang rap up front on 'Music Game'. Kindness or business savvy? Possibly the latter seeing as Blak Twang is one of the most prolific names in the UK Rap scene at this moment in time.

The concept of 'Music Game' is simple and it works well. Each MC chats about everyday employment whilst trying to succeed in the entertainment business. The accompanying video portrays Blak Twang as a painter and decorator, Dap-C as a barman down his local and Geejay as a park gardener giving a real insight into the poorly financed world of UK Rap. I've spoken to big name UK MC's who are still having to work their day jobs whilst at night they write, rap and record - far from the world of your 50 Cents, Akons and Kanye Wests. They also pick up on the theme of music-making as therapy and a deterent from a life of crime.

The sample used as a chipmunk chorus is perfect; " I got a little job, don't make much money" and if anyone can tell me where the sample comes from I'll be happy to hear, it's really bugging me! 'Music Game' has a nice throwback-ish, non-synthetic sound, the beat is steady and not crowdy rowdy and the bassline is just the sort I like.

'Music Game' is a semi-sun soaked track showcasing three MC's with different voices and interesting things to say. It's great light entertainment and deserves to be recognised as a good piece of Hip Hop. Fans should also heed the message - if we don't support the scene financially these MC's may be forced to step down - look what happened to Blade.

Hip Hop Producers - Baby J Interview

Seasoned UK producer Baby J took time out of his busy, pre album launch schedule to answer a few questions for Certified Banger:

Certified Banger: Your new album, ‘Baby Food’ is out towards the end of this year, in a couple of months. What can we all expect from that? What are you most excited about with respect to its release?

Baby J: It’s just nice to have my s**t coming out, I love letting people hear my stuff and seeing what feedback it gets. I always feel lucky just to be able to be releasing music, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do so every time is an honour.

CB: You’ve had loads of attention from the sphere of UK Hip Hop and I’ve heard your tracks on Radio 1 nuff times, especially ‘Young, Gifted and Black’. You’ve made moves with big names in the pop world like Mark Ronson. What are your hopes and expectations for the success of ‘Baby Food’?

Baby J: I think I’d just like to get my stuff heard outside of the UK hip hop arena, I feel like I got my stripes there, I’d like to be known as a producer not just a hip hop producer, I’m always gonna make hip hop cause that’s my heart but id like to be able to try some other stuff to.

CB: There are going to be loads of guests on ‘Baby Food’, as usual. Who have you had a chance to work with this time that you have never worked with before? How important are the guest singers and rappers to your work?

Baby J: Farma G and Million Dan were big ones for me, just cause they’re both legends. The artists on my albums make the albums, I provide the landscape but they make it what it is.

CB: What do you look for in an artist when doing collaboration? Are there any MC’s or singers who you would really like to have on your productions in the future?

Baby J: Just someone that stands out. And someone that’s about their business, I’m getting too old to be chasing rappers! I’d like to do something with Dizzee, and Rodney P and Lilly Allen and Adele

CB: Let’s talk about your production sound now. You seem to have a knack when it comes to picking samples; your beats are always so catchy whether they have a happy or a darker vibe. What’s your sample finding process?

Baby J: 2 things, firstly its got to be sonically nice, there’s gotta be something nice about the texture of the sound, the way it was recorded, the instruments used. Secondly the original music’s gotta be hot. I’m usually into a track before I sample it.

CB: Lots of people read my interviews with producers to get tips. What tips would you give to an aspiring producer? Are the any little secrets you can let us into?

Baby J: When you’re working with samples you’re the last musician in the room, so try and add instruments and playing styles that are sympathetic to the music that’s already down, don’t just add some generic boom bap drums over the top. And… EZ Drummer, vintage rock, insider info.

CB: Does the production on ‘Baby Food’ follow the traditional sampling method or have you started from scratch on any of the tracks?

Baby J: There are no samples on the new album. All the tracks have been made from scratch. A couple of tracks have been inspired by other tracks id heard and id got musicians to come and replay things but everything else was from scratch. It was a conscious decision, I felt id done the sample thing and I wanted to challenge myself with a new way of working, so I bought a piano of ebay for £40 and a bass and a guitar.

CB: Who and what inspires you to make music? What got you into producing in the first place?

Baby J: I first started making music because that way I didn’t have to wait for new records to come out to have new music, in some ways it’s the same thing now, I make music when I want to create a certain vibe or feel.

CB: As a fan of Blade, I’ve got to ask, as you produced his last ever album, how did you feel when he said he was going into retirement? Did you know he was going to do that when you were working on ‘Guerrilla Tactics’?

Baby J: To be honest I don’t think I really believed him, I thought it was talk. When we did the album and it came out it was on the tale end of records actually selling and I think he just got disheartened with the sales from the project. We new it was a good album, and it got the critical acclaim but that just didn’t manifest into sales cause people just weren’t buying music in the same way they were 5 years ago.

CB: A lot of prominent people in all walks of life feel a certain amount of responsibility. What’s your role in UK Hip Hop besides making dope beats? Is hard being the one behind the ones with the voice or is that good for you?

Baby J: I get to choose which artists I work with, so they get to speak for me in a sense. I look at music as propaganda. its a tool to talk to the youth so we all have a responsibility to use it accordingly, if you aint got nothing worth saying put the mic down. Recently I was at an anti BNP rally outside their national festival, you see these guys pushing their pro-white racist bulls**t and it suddenly occurred to me, I bet most of their kids listened to black music, they damn sure aint listening to morris dancing.

CB: Thanks for your time. Are there any last words, anything you’d like to add that we’ve not covered? Any interesting insights that you’ve been thinking about over the last couple of weeks?!

Baby J: Check my blog to hear my rants about life. FTP (oh, and buy my album, please)

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Of some interest...

It's about time again that I just post a few tracks up for you, mainly in the non-UK Hip Hop mould. Yes, occasionally I do listen to US Rap, here is some of it:

Two new tracks from Guru: 'Who Got It On Lock' featuring Doo-Wop and 'Knowledge' featuring Lord Tariq. 'Who Got It On Lock', produced by Solar is so 90's which is perfectly fine by me and 'Knowledge' is...well, quite 90's sounding as well. Also fine. Lyrics and flow are classic Guru.

Esoteric made an album in 2007 entirely using Gary Numan samples. The album is 'Pterodactyl Tubeway' and it's pretty cool. 'Deathless Fascination' samples Tubeway Army's 'Are Friends Electric' (Yes, the one the Sugababes sampled too when they mashed that up with Adina Howard's 90's-tastic R'n'B hit, 'Freak Like Me') and it's about stupid girls.

Last year Statik Selektah released his album 'Spell My Name Right' which featured mad guests. 'No Mistakes Allowed' features Doug E Fresh, Tony Touch, Scram Jones, DP-One, DG GI-Joe, DJ Revolution and Esoteric! It's a simple break with an old school vibe. Perfect.

Madlib has a new album just about to drop entitled 'WLIB AM: King of The Wigflip'. It also has bare guests such as Guilty Simpson, Murs, Prince Po and Defari amongst others. You're officially allowed to hear 'The Ox (805)' which features MED and Poke but since I totally love it here's 'Gamble on Ya Boy' which is a funkfest blessed by the golden tones of Defari - gotta get some albums by this don.

Some real old school 90's stuff now from Kool G Rap and DJ Polo from their 1995 set '4,5,6'. The track 'Money on my Brain' samples Herbie Hancock's awesome jazz-funk experiment 'Chameleon' as well as featuring MF Grimm and B1.

Web is a new artist attempting to break the scene. Currently he is releasing a track a week through blogs and the like from his album 'It'll Be Alright, Book One'. The best one so far is 'Get Over (Prologue)' which samples the Diana Ross track 'Love Hangover', which I posted on here not so long ago. Preview the album here or buy it here.

'Inner City Got Plenty Cases' - Million Dan (single review)

I'm not going to say too much about Million Dan's next single from the excellent 'Spektrum' album. When I reviewed the album I said this: "‘Inner City Got Plenty Cases’ is brilliant social commentary and warning but is surprisingly upbeat and breezy, it’s also got the type of name a Silent Eclipse track would have..." and it's still the same track, not much has changed!

What I will say is that, alongside guys like Blak Twang, Million Dan is standing up, using his prominence and telling yout' dem what they need to hear. He sees through what some blame as problems and highlights some of the real foundations for social decay. This is what the UK needs at a time when teenage pregnancy rates are high, when knife crime is on the rise and when alcohol and drug abuse is becoming more socially acceptable.

'Inner City Got Plenty Cases' is out on Million Dappa Records on September the 8th and is taken from the already huge 'Spektrum' which has just been re-released with extra tracks and a DVD. I haven't seen or heard that Special Edition yet but it's sure to be fire. Check out the video on youtube and also check the vids for 'Spektrum Ride' and 'Mic Chek' whilst you're there. The latter is bare entertaining!

'Intoxicating' - Jack Flash (single review)

Last time I reviewed a track based on the same concept as 'Intoxicating' I slagged it off a fair bit for being uninnovative. For Huddersfield representative, Jack Flash, my words will be kinder.

Nearly every one of these cleverly penned lines redeems this track from falling into the category named 'samey tracks describing drugs as women'. So much thought has gone into these lyrics that it makes you wonder if this could actually be Jack's personal experience! Quoting him will demonstrate best: "And then he picked her up, I knew her rolled with her//But I also heard the rumour that he liked to hit her//Also heard he tried to quit cause the passion wore thin//So I was quick to light the fire and take it in...And when we was alone I took her out of clothes//Laid her in my sheets, she was naked and cold//I put my lips on her and then her face turned red//When we finished it felt amazing just laid on my bed". Those are just a few lines, the rest continues as such.

Further redeeming features are Jack's own production and the two other versions in the package. The first is the 'Extra Curricular Refix', a live version by the backing band Jack Flash tours (Extra Curricular) with and the second is the 'Acoustic Version' that does what it says on the tin. All three versions are nice and all three versions feature Thabo who lends some top quality R'n'B love song crooning.

As well as the verisons and the instrumental you also get the Apa-Tight produced stomper 'Step Back', a bonus track not featured on 'The Union Jack Album'. Jack battle raps his through this track with lines like "Told you it was cold up North, It's below the nought//Watch how I turn a 'hot rapper' into a frozen corpse". Jack displays another side to his character from that portrayed on the lead track. Consider 'Step Back' a warning of what's to come!

'Intoxicating' featuring Thabo is out on October 6th and will be released on Klinik Records. Stay tuned for an album review and an interview.

*'Step Back' and 'Intoxicating (Extra Curricular Refix)' are in the flash player now.*

Opio Video

Cool video and track from Opio, 'Some Superfly Sh!t', taken from his new album 'Vulture Wisdom Vol. 1'. Remember this is the man behind Hieroglyphics and Souls of Mischief!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Singled Out no.3 - Ozomatli - 'Cut Chemist Suite'

Imagine the delight when a 15 year old Jurassic 5 fan heard Chali 2na rapping over delicious latin beats. Imagine the surprise when, 9 years later the same J5 fan looks it up on Amazon and sees people attempting to sell a CD single for silly money.

Well, thankfully that 15 year old bought the CD the moment it came out and now doesn't have to cough up a tenner or more to hold it in his hands. And this is, to ressurect last years series, the third single to feature in Certified Banger's world famous 'Singled Out'.

Ozomatli are band who play a fusion between Hip Hop, Rock and traditional Latin genres, I wont bore you with all the details, you can do that here. What I will chat about is what's important, mainly that 1/3 of Jurassic 5 (in the line-up of the day) featured heavily on this release and that is why it caught my ear. It was all about that track in those days, when you could only afford a few CD's and downloads were yet a twinkle in their mother's eye, and I can't really remember the other tracks. But here they are for you anyway:

Ozomatli - Cut Chemist Suite.mp3
Ozomatli - Cut Chemist Suite Cuts Remix.mp3
Ozomatli - Cumbia De Los Muertos.mp3

'Slow Me Down' - Skilf (single review)

Allow me to introduce Skilf the entertainer. That second part isn't actually his name, it's what he is so I added it. Having already turned his plough to Garage and Drum 'n' Bass MC'ing Skilf is finally reaping a Hip Hop crop albeit with strains of other genres.

'Slow Me Down' is a pounding mover produced by Toni Toolz and Skilf raps non-stop only punctuated in the chorus by Michelle Ericsson's 'Slow Me Down' refrain. As I write and listen both me and my wife are bouncing in our seats; you can only imagine how this one would work in the club. Rhymes come thick and fast, not just your one-word-at-end-of-line rhymes, as Skilf chats about work ethic and folk who attempt to hinder progress.

The single also contains two more tracks, 'Lemme See Ya' and 'Dead Ender'. 'Lemme See Ya' follows in the footsteps of 'Slow Me Down' although BPM's are down a few notches. Boastful wordplay and calls for crowd interaction pepper this track although it plays second fiddle to the lead track. 'Dead Ender' is slower again and details Skilf's path through education and into the working world. Regretting working hard at uni, boring employment and the British tendency to spend, spend, spend are covered lightheartedly with a liberal amount of comedy quotables. A great track.

'Slow Me Down' is out on Riztone Records on the 8th September and his debut album 'Original Visions' is already available. His website is pretty comprehensive if you want bio, pics and music. I would never say these words but Mike Lewis did this month in HHC: "If I had to tip one act for the top, Skilf would be it".

*'Slow Me Down' and 'Dead Ender' are in the awesome Certified Banger flash player to your right*

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

'Baby Food' - Baby J (free sampler download)

Anyone who either reads my blog or generally knows stuff about UK Hip Hop will know in October Baby J's new album, 'Baby Food', is coming out.

I've already reviewed one of the singles from it ('Lies' ft. Asher D and Nathan) and will be reviewing the next one ('Ruffnek Set The Trend' ft. Million Dan and Tawiah) very soon.

Whilst you wait with breath baited for my wonderful review (and also an interview with the man himself) you yourself can get a piece of the action by downloading this short sampler of a few of the tracks. I'm sure you'll agree it sounds to showcase an eclectic mix of tunes making this album one to look forward to.

'Seasons' - Eliphino (free EP download)

This is a little late, but I couldn't get the download myself when I first found out about it, something to do with Zshare being a temperamental beast. Well now I've got it and I'm telling you about it because it's coolness.

Eliphino is a Leeds man who DJ's, makes sick beats and generally just chills out looking fresh. He works with the 9 Livez Clik and has been signed to First Word Records who have re-released Eliphino's album 'Out of Phase' which is available from them for peanuts (aka £4.99 for download). If you're feeling special then itunes sell it for £7.99. Donkeys.

Anyways, enough of the pound signs. You're here for the freeness ent ya? Well go here and click on the link and bag yourself 10 tracks of etheral goodness. Whether you're an MC who wants some original beats (influenced by J Dilla) or one of those heads who loves a soundtrack for a horizontal afternoon then you'll find what you need here for the princely sum of nowt (as Eliphino would no doubt say).

If you want to know my favourite track then I'll tell you it's 'Break Up' (shame it's short) and you can play it right now in the soon-to-be legendary Certified Banger flash player. I also like the niceness of 'I Like it Yo', an inventive name if I ever heard one.

Eliphino - I Like It Yo.mp3
Eliphino - Break Up.mp3

Friday, 22 August 2008

'Saga of a Peaceful Man' - Reps (album review)

For every Triple Darkness album you need a Reps album. ‘The Saga of a Peaceful Man’ sits on the brighter side of Hip Hop, a position that believe me, makes it no less credible. Reps has a created an incredibly listenable album that at 45 minutes long doesn’t bore you to death. The sound is typical of much of the Hip Hop coming out of Brighton – tinged with the friendly aroma of the cultural melting pot that greets even the most casual of day trippers.

Backed by a range of different production sounds – reggae, country, boom-bap and break orientated Hip Hop – Reps displays his lyrical disposition. The majority of the content is musings on life and just straight up rhymes. Comparisons could be drawn between Reps and Braintax, in vocal timbre, delivery style and illness of rhymes. Reps says things that make you think ‘Nice! I’d have never thought of saying it like that!’. Reps raps clearly and in a relaxed manner making for ear pleasing music.

‘The Saga of a Peaceful Man’ is largely original. ‘Lion King’ is an innovative take on the personal, life story track and ‘Park Ranger’ ponders the nature of freedom and the freedom of nature. ‘Out in the Field’ and ‘Hee Haw’ cover more familiar ground – weed and sex respectively – and seem a little out of place here although both subjects have been tackled creatively. All of the tracks have individuality and identity, this isn’t just a collection of similar sounding songs but neither do the tracks sound disparate. Reps applies himself to each track and as a result the songs all come across as essential parts of the whole product.

‘The Saga of a Peaceful Man’, on Flash Fry Records, is available now at Suspect Packages for just £7.99. If I hadn’t already got a copy I would not mind paying that price for this CD!

*'Lion King', 'We Have All the Love' and 'Park Ranger' have been added to the flash player to the right.*

'Even Out' - Lazy Habits (single review)

'Even Out' is like nothing else you'll have heard so far this year, if ever, that is. Look at the picture. Lazy Habits, despite resembling an irish folk band with a basketball player, are more Hip Hop than a Flavor Flav clock.

Lazy Habits are a live band who count amongst their ranks a beatboxer, DJ, 2 MC's and a brass section. Now most heads right now will be thinking 'I know, they must be like The Roots'. Not so. Well, they are a live Hip Hop band but the comparisons begin and end there.

'Even Out' is a breezy, jaunty brass soaked jazz hand inducing trip inside the real story behind the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme. MC Skin Horse weaves a sordid tale of infidelity, drug peddling and general waywardness that culminates in Jack's murder at the hands of Jill - but all in the lightest possible manner you must understand. Imagine, if you will, a more british Slick Rick rhyming over the Daptones and you'll have some idea of what to expect from 'Even Out'.

'Please People', their last single is worth a mention too. The horns are working on Mexican time here and most of the band take a back seat here whilst percussion carves a samba groove and DJ Itchi scratches. Lazy and Skin Horse rap in tune to the horn stabs and let loose with some wordplay type rhymes.

These two tracks are available to you from the usual places like itunes and Tunetribe and can be heard in my new player to the right.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

'The Way' - GTA video on Channel U

From Chima of GTA:

"The Way" has been picked up by Sky digital 370 (ahem *Channel U* ahem) and I know we all gunning for some positive vibes and substance to be introduced for the children. The opportunity is finally here.

They will be showing the vid every day for a couple of weeks starting today. The vid with the most votes gets added to the official playlist. BRITAIN needs your help to bring substance back to society and present a different positive image for the youngsters to latch onto.

Text WAY to 81700 to vote for our video. Texts cost £1 and thats it, think of it as a donation to SAVE THE WORLD. haha

New Player

Let me know what you think of the new player next door to this post. I'll try and add all the tracks I review to it. They wont be downloadable, just listenable - after all, you can't tell if you like a song just from what I write about it!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

'Judgement Day' - The Thunderclaps (single review)

Oh my word! Banger of the year? It could well be, nothing else this heavy springs to mind. The Thunderclaps have chosen their name with such precision that one of the only ways you can describe 'Judgement Day' is thunderous, that's if you can pick your jaw up from the floor and form words.

The Thunderclaps are a British production outfit and their new track 'Judgement Day' features Orifice Vulgatron (of the legendary Foreign Beggars), Shameless and Ghetto. This is the UK version of a collaboration (imaginary of course) between M.O.P., Busta Rhymes and DMX at their most ferocious. Musically The Thunderclaps give Carl Orff a marathon for his money. This is epic, cinematic, screw-your-face-up, full scale drama on wax.

The combination of these three MC's couldn't get any better - it transcends UK genre and produces something more powerful than either side could create on their own. Ghetto is THE best, nay, the ONLY MC worth listening to in the new wave of British MC's with Grime roots. Orifice has fully paid his dues and has always done things differently to others. Shameless has recently brought the rock and live influence into UK Rap. They are all hungry, vicious rappers and together they make this track blisteringly terrifying (in the nicest possible way!).

If this track needed any more endorsement, here it is: DJ Yoda introduced his Fabriclive mix CD with the instrumental to this track. Can't say better than that. 'Judgement Day' is out now on All City and Ejectorseat Records and can be gotten for a fiver on 12". Do it. The track can be heard on their myspace page.

'Breathe/Reach' - Skreintax (single review)

Cool artwork eh? Cool track too is ‘Breathe’. When this is released in October it’ll remind you of the summer that never was.

Skreintax is the collective name of Skrein and Dr. Syntax (see what they did there?) and is a project I’ve really been looking forward to. As two of most lauded MC’s in today’s UK scene it was pretty much a dead-cert that their efforts would be well above average. Their album ‘Scene Stealers’ is due to drop in November on Dented, ‘Breathe’ is its first single.

‘Breathe’ is a sunlounger, second to lowest setting, by a pool, mid 30’s with a cool breeze blowing. Skrein begins with a complementary laid back, softly voiced flow. Graziella, the featured guest, soothes the listener, gently imploring them to ‘slow down’. Syntax takes over with his trademark bassy voice and on a less vertical vibe that, thankfully, doesn’t detract from the overall feeling. Take a day off work, get yourself a copy of this, stick it in a playlist with your other favourite summer tracks and relax.

‘Reach’ is a solo effort from Skrein. It’s from the Adulthood soundtrack, features Graziella and is accompanied by Plan B’s band. I LOVE this track. It’s such a fresh direction for UK Hip Hop; lyrically it’s a ‘conscious narrative of London’s ills’ but musically it’s a combination of cutting edge, double time drum patterns and the rock music that you were brought up on. The guitar riffs and solos are soulful mirror images of Skrein’s lyrics; this is music of high quality.

Whilst you wait for this to drop get yourself acquainted with the work of these two artists. Skrein’s ‘The Eat Up’ is a great collection of tracks and guest verses and ‘Self Taught’ by Dr. Syntax is his debut solo album. Both are available on Dented Records.

'Champagne Lifestyle' - Blak Twang (single review)

‘Champagne Lifestyle’ would probably not be my choice of single if ‘Speaking From Xperience’ was my forthcoming album. But I’m not Blak Twang and Twangalanga is a business man who has been in this UK Rap thing for bare time. Since his last album, ‘The Rotton Club’, Tony has obviously been keeping his ear to the ground.

‘Champagne Lifestyle’ is what the Channel U generation need; as well as being a sonically mature version of the trash on said TV channel it also preaches a new message to its viewers. This track sees the rotton one (sic) take on the persona of someone who finds himself needing to impress a lady by buying expensive bubbly that he can’t afford. The track rallies against all those guys who front with the image of a wealthy man when really they can’t afford it. Twang continues to use his position as an elder statesman as someone in his position should; he teaches the youth and for this he should be applauded.

‘The B-side is ‘For the Summa’, a track that is unsurprisingly, summery. It’s laid back and is the usual fare of short skirt, drop top, picnic type rhymes – it’s nothing new but it’s done well. It still makes me wish it actually was sunny this summer!

Despite not being my choice of single from the 24 tracks on his album (I’ll be reviewing that very soon) it’s still well produced and very catchy – I sing along to the chorus – and Blak Twang’s lyrics are skilfully woven. The result? A great single that should appeal to Hip Hop heads, grime fans and radio listeners alike.

‘Champagne Lifestyle’ is out on Monday (Aug 25th) and is available already for download on itunes.

'Two Cities' - Modulok & Bare Beats (album review)

With a good mix of dusty jazz, 50’s film suspense music and punchy drums Bare Beats creates a concrete foundation for Canadian MC Modulok (no not the two headed red freak from Masters of the Universe!) to build upon. Modulok constructs a solid structure; think if you will, of a factory or mill from the industrial revolution. This is no shiny girders-and-glass, yuppie flat project although the instrumentals would also suit an MC who was that way inclined. Modulok, of Toronto’s Red Ants, has perhaps interpreted these beats in a way that no other MC would; twisting them to his own purposes.

Each of the 10 tracks (11 if you count the ‘hidden’ one) has a clear manifesto. ‘Intro’ actually introduces the artists and the collaboration, ‘Happiness’ is really about unhappiness, ‘City’ symbolically describes urban life and so on. You wont be left wondering what Modulok is on about. That’s not to say these are nursery rhymes, it’s just that Modulok and his guests are communicators. Lyrics like “One day you wont be able to tell where Modulok stops and the city begins to swell” are replete with imagery yet they convey exactly how the MC feels – it’s poetic.

Story telling is also strength. ‘Grimy’ tells a tale of rejection as a result of a woman’s desire for wealth. ‘Stories’ is in a classic mould; 3 accounts of different people’s life changes. ‘Assassin’ is a first person shoot-em-up that I’m sure must be a metaphor for something.

Guests come in the form of old Bare Beats collaborators (Perry Scaramanga, Kal Sereousz and Smokey on ‘Trouble’), fellow Torontoans (Apollo Creed and Baracuda), UK scratchmaster Jabba Tha Kut and beatboxer Wireless.

This album is on Bare Records, is available now from (and can be listened to at) the Modulok and Bare Beats myspace for only £6.99 and that pays for it to get right to your crib too. If you’re a fan of indie Hip Hop, good production and poetic but understandable lyrics then grab yourself a copy of ‘Two Cities’. If you fancy a free taster of what these boys are capable of you can have one from here.

Friday, 15 August 2008

'Trading Standards Mix-CD' - SonnyJim

"Despite the growing pressure from these coporate clowns//My music never got diluted I just wont water it down//I keep it as true as I can, if that means I lose a few fans//Real recognise real, my people root for their champ"

So says SonnyJim on 'Next Generation', the opening track of his latest offering, the 'Trading Standards Mix-CD'. Feel foolish all ye who hate - if you do, you aint real! Whether he's scared me or convinced me into thinking this mix-CD (finally someone called it what it is) is great is a moot point; is it actually any good?

Well, once I'd perfected the art of ignoring all the stupid anti-pre-release-date-piracy robot voiced messages (seriously, like 3 or more per track - Dented, please don't do that again) I began to discover what this Birmingham MC is all about. SonnyJim is about vicious staccato delivery. SonnyJim is about working with already well respected artists. SonnyJim is about spitting over brilliant beats. SonnyJim is NOT about the 'bastardized image of Hip Hop music portrayed and traded by popular culture' and this much is clear.

The guests on this release fall into two categories: Already well known (Kashmere, IRS, Jehst, Cappo, Orifice Vulgatron, Verb T, Stig of the Dump, Dr Syntax and Skrein) and not so well known yet (Logan, Kosyne, Metropolis, English, Taharka and more). These two sets of guests work really well; they keep things interesting for sure and they show that SonnyJim, despite his confidence, is humble and willing to share his stage. They prove that SonnyJim is committed to proving to the people what real Hip Hop is (check that guestlist again). Also they prove that SonnyJim has deserved strong backing in the UK Rap community.

This is a really hammering selection of tracks; SonnyJim is a force to be reckoned with and if this Mix-CD is translated into a really focussed LP it'll be a sure fire classic. SonnyJim is certainly anti-rap establishment, it'll be refreshing for those of you who have heard too much Lil Wayne and Solja Boy recently. Get yourself a copy of this and get to know SonnyJim.

SonnyJim 'Trading Standards' out on Dented Records, September 2008.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

'Strange Fruit/Paintbrush' - M9 (single review)

This October, M9 (aka Melanin 9) will drop his biblically titled solo album '144,000'. In the meantime he's giving us a sample of what we can expect with the single 'Strange Fruit'.

'Strange Fruit' is a sombre Jon Phonics produced slab of street philosophy. If you heard the Triple Darkness album earlier this year then expect more of the same from M9. The lyrics are insightful and full of grey tone imagery focused on the current state of urban thought.

'Paintbrush' features Cyrus Malachi (of Triple Darkness) and Masikah and is produced by Chemo. Sonically it's a theme tune for a Hip Hop Arabian Nights. Lyrically it name checks many ancient religious systems and civilizations, painting a metaphorical picture of M9 and his allies.

Despite its darkness it's a fascinating listen as they open up a whole vault of terminology never before heard in Hip Hop. Triple Darkness have done with early beliefs, cultures and empires what the Wu-Tang Clan did with Kung-Fu references. It remains to be seen as to whether M9 and pals will spawn the same kind of following.

'Smell the Tea' - Kuelz (single review)

Right from the title of this track you get an inkling that this isn't just another London kid rapping about guns and ends. You also guess it's not just another London kid rapping against rapping about guns and ends. The title makes clear that the song is going to be at least mildly interesting and that the MC has some idea about wordplay.

'Smell the Tea' is essentially a break up song. OK, so we've had a few of those in UK Hip Hop and about 7 million in other genres but this one is quite fresh. Firstly, it's evident that Kulez has some battle experience; the way he flings metaphorical insults is amusing. 'Smell the Tea' is a pragmatic view on a relationship that everyone can relate to (unless you've never had a girlfriend that is).

The homebrewed production comes courtesy of Nutty P who is no amateur in this game. Having produced for the likes of Sway, Shola Ama, Big Brovaz and many more he's fully experienced at making great tunes. The live sounding drums and the interweaving piano and strings on 'Smell the Tea' evoke the sad but good feeling of breaking up with someone who's not right for you.

This track is available now on itunes. Go get it for a few meagre pence.

'Again and Again' remixes - Roots Manuva

Here are two remixes of Roots Manuva's next single, out on the 25th of this very month. Now Disorda's already had a mini rave about these remixes and they're pretty pretty pretty good.

One of them comes courtesy one of those Northern lads from the Arctic Monkeys, Matt Helders and it is fuzzy fantastic with lots of handclaps.

The other is a Moody Boys remix, it's a bit longer and is on a dub ting. The double-timed bass beat makes Manuva's already laid back delivery positively lethargic; a true remix.

Check out the myspace page for a live dates list as long as your arm. No Leeds gig though. If you know you can't make it to a show this year then click here and download a live set from itunes. There are quite a few of these live recordings from different artists including Sway so they might be worth your investment.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

'Candlelight' - Sir Smurf Lil'

The only reason why I haven't shared this with y'all yet is that I've been way too selfish to share. Sometimes when you get a good thing you just keep it to yourself, like a kid with a secret sweetie stash. Sir Smurf's 'Candlelight' has been in my unknown bag of bon bons for a few weeks now and its still as sweet. But don't get me wrong, it aint sickly.

'Candlelight' features Huddersfield's finest beatmaker, Apa-Tight of Groundwurq (see also Jack Flash's latest LP) and it's a reflective yet not-down-in-the-doldrums slice of classic Hip Hop. For something with lyrics this realistically gritty, it's very lighthearted - more artists should strive for this combination. The partnership of Apa-Tight's breezy production and Sir Smurf's how-it-is lyrics is a relief to my ears - there's only so much happy Hip Hop with nothing to say and sad depressing rap that one can handle!

The flipside (not that CD's or mp3's have flipsides) features T Bear and Big Cakes and is based around an argument as to who has the silliest rap moniker. No not really. It's actually about the sound of the police/beast and once again, production credits go to Apa-Tight. This pairing seems to be a winner as this track is entirely different yet equally as good.

This is only the beginning of what YNR have got coming to ya this year so watch this space for some more excellent Hip Hop from some of the biggest names in UK Rap. It seems there are quite a few albums in the pipelines from Kashmere (yes, another one!), Jehst, sir Smurf Lil' and others.

Both of these tracks can be heard on Suspect Packages July show.

Monday, 11 August 2008

'I'm a Saint, I'm a Sinner' - Late

Late's latest track 'I'm a Saint, I'm a Sinner' is a half grime, half dirty south Tricksta produced street heater. It features Houston MC's K-Rino and KB Da Kidnappa and has been licensed to appear on a Hip Hop Connection compilation CD to be released later this year. The video can be seen, well you know where...

For those who don't know, Late and Tricksta are the Godfathers of Wolverhampton Hip Hop, the main men behind Wolftown Recordings, repsonsible for the rise of next-to-blow MC 10Shott amongst many other UK underground rap stars.

'I'm a Saint, I'm a Sinner' is taken from Late's forthcoming long player 'Below Street Level' which will actually be his debut solo album. For his previous work check out his albums with Villains and Wolftown Committee and pretty much any Wolftown release ever! Go to Datpiff, type in 'Late' and check out some of the mixtapes he's been involved in, there are quite a few!

'Heaven' - Dap-C

If 'Heaven' is anything to go by, 'Street Karma' by North-East spitter Dap-C is a great CD. Heaven features Mr. Drastick and Stylah and is produced by Dirty Sweet, as is the rest of the album. This is on some straight up, head nod vibes and Dap-C actually raps last, an unusual move but one which works.

He's also been busy with other stuff too. Check out this video with Geejay for his track 'Fresh' and whilst you're there you can click some more links for more Dap-C vids.

Dap-C has also made last years 'The Richest Misfit' mixtape available for absolutely nowt. That means its free so download it, ya can't go wrong!

'Street Karma' features big names like Blak Twang, Fallacy, Skinnyman, Lewis Parker (and the list goes on) so you know with support like that it can't be bad. Stay tuned here if you need more convincing, I may review it if I get a copy!

R.I.P. Isaac Hayes

To celebrate the life and times of soul legend and South Park voice man Hip Hop Is Read have put together a selection of Hip Hop joints influenced and sampling the late Mr. Hayes. Go to their blog to read up on the thought behind it. Seems like they were waiting for man to pass away, that or this was a hasty job!

Young MC's 'Know How' could have been on here as one of the more well known Hayes-sampling tracks but all in all it's pretty good!

Click here to download 'Fathers of Rap Volume 1: Isaac Hayes'.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

'Beefy' - Asaviour & DJ IQ

The Kind folk at Saving Grace, Asaviour's record label, have decided to let you all download a track from Asaviour and DJ IQ's forthcoming collaboartive effort, 'The A Loop Theory'.

Rest assured that 'Beefy' both lives up to its name and garners 'banger' status. It's on the latest CD of big tunes that I put together for my own enjoyment so you know it's big don't ya? You can have a go at downloading it on the zshare link they sent but I cannot get it to work, if you can't either, go here: 'Beefy'.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Kid Rad - 'When Clouds Break'

A late contender for your summer compilation CD is Kid Rad's 'When Clouds Break'. It's an updated, british version of 'Summertime' by JJ&TFP with a less obvious, more thoughtful title. You'll have to burn a new copy with this on the playlist.

Lyrically, it's not lyrical. It's just good times - cars and cash and that. The chorus is sung by female vocalist, Corrina Joseph, and the one jarring note aside, it's not too bad.

We should expect more sensible Hip Hop music from this rapper producer whose album 'Disturbing the Sequence' will feature Just Jack, Shade Shiest and Masta Ace! Oh and he's only 17.

Predator Rap

Mouthmaster Murf and DJ Mayhem of The Anomalies have spent 9 months creating this 6 and a half minute rhyming rap summary of the Arnie action film classic, 'Predator'. The lyrics fit with actual footage and soundbites from the film with amusing results - even the quotes rhyme!

You can even download it here for free.

Watch out for these guys, they could be coming your way real soon. In fact, click the The Anomlaies tag below for another track by the band.