Thursday, 9 June 2011

Divine Rights - The Blue Tape (Review + Free Download) by Tom Clements

Divine Rights are an enthusiastic, fresh-faced hip-hop crew out of South East London. Formed in early 2010, they have asserted that their collective aim as a group is to produce a sound that is firmly rooted in mid-90′s Golden-Era (and typically sample-heavy) hip-hop production techniques, whilst lacing their beats with heavy, expressive lyrics that are culturally and linguistically specific to London. The three man crew will probably be unfamiliar to many of you, including those who affiliate with even the most esoteric of UK underground hip-hop circles; however, the group have been working tirelessly over the past year (and especially the last few months) to get their name out there and established. Most recently, they performed their debut show at the popular Brixton venue Jamm, where they shared the bill with UK hip-hop heavyweight Kyza, and also proved they were more than able to please a crowd with their own unique brand of hip-hop. The Blue Tape is the crew’s first CD release, and is available now for free download at Bandcamp

Upon listening, you’ll find that the CD’s tracks themselves are (quite predictably) a bit of a grab bag, and this is by no means a cohesive, front-to-back effort; it is however, a showcasing of some fabulous new emceeing and beatmaking talent spanning the UK, right the way across mainland Europe. The CD’s certain retromodern charm is reinforced musically by its fine balance of complex, synth-driven beats as well as simpler instrumental loops, which make this a pretty credible and weighty affair as opposed to a shaky and uncertain debut. In terms of production, the songs are characterized by repeated and heavy snare hits, as well as edgy and crescendoing instrumental and vocal samples; indeed, the beatmaking does — at least for the most part — hit the spot, and is sure to please those who like their hip-hop raw and uncompromising. One of the CD’s highlights is a track entitled ‘Fish Hop’ produced by Dirty Stanz and guest-featuring DJ Mileage of We Are Dubists. The track is fused with his characteristically energetic DJing style and is overall, the CD’s most musically cohesive joint, in addition to being an exciting compendium of London’s myriad urban styles. Another dope stand-out is  ‘Show Up’ featuring Iron Dread, which exudes blissed-out, nonchalant vibes combined with a beautiful, woozily sung chorus which effectively help mellow the heavy boom-baps and claps on tracks like the seriously skuzzy, sitar-spun ‘Bodybag’ (released as a free single a few months prior to The Blue Tape).

Indeed, the CD is unique among other UK hip-hop releases in that it prominently features some of Europe’s upcoming underground beatsmith talent including Rico Beat out of Italy, Manu Beats from Spain and internationally-esteemed German beatmaker crew, The Cratez from Germany. All in all, the beats are a tad hit-and-miss and often lack the required drive and energy, settling for an occasionally lacklustre sound. But despite the imperfections and production flaws, the crew’s three members Bamalam, Cystic and Dirty Stanz (all London born-and-bred and all proud hip-hop enthusiasts) have evidently hit upon a compelling and potent formula, and are henceforth, carving out a real niche for themselves. Just like the production, the three MC’s have opted for an old-school bombastic approach when crafting their lyrics, which contain an artful blending of hard (but realistic) bragadocious street poetics as well as dreamy drug-induced introspection (with references aplenty to marijuana). Indeed, as a crew they clearly have their knuckle deep on the pulse of hip-hop fans who want something gritty and hardcore, but still inventive.

What the mixtape lacks in gravitas and overall finesse, it more than makes up for with its enthusiasm and promise. Also, you’re not just getting great music from The Blue Tape, but also an authentic voice of hip-hop youth in the UK streets, and not your vacuous grime caricatures  which have been a scourge to London’s image over the last decade or so. Overall, a solid effort from the young South Londoners.


Divine Rights Website


No comments: