Saturday, 29 March 2008

Charlie Sloth - 'It's Hard Being Good' review

With a title like that I expected two things. One was ‘I’m not going to like it because the kid is big headed’ and the other was ‘I bet it’s not actually good anyway’. It’s so annoying to be proved wrong. To be fair, the reason why I got in contact with Mr. Sloth was because I’d heard his verses on Teef’s latest and because I loved the tracks on his Myspace page.

It’s surprising that The Source should rate this MC as the UK’s finest; in my experience the average US resident who likes rap absolutely hates UK rappers and Charlie Sloth hasn’t exactly the most likeable voice. But his voice is half his charm and I soon tuned into it; it wouldn’t be as good if he had a generic, boring rap voice.

‘It's Hard Being Good’ has a great range of themes meaning it never gets boring – dealers, travelling, crime, honest living, his come up, youth and truth all get touched on – this is rap with substance.

4 tracks will stick in your head: ‘Can’t Forget About UK’ name checks everyone who made the UK rap scene, I’m always admiring when people do this kind of track. ‘Mr Rapman’ is based around a sample of The Cure’s ‘Love Cats’ and is a funny tale about lying rappers. ‘Guided Tour of Camden’ will have you singing along and makes even more sense with the excellent video. ‘Come on Back To Me’ is a brilliant metaphorical love story, I guessed the twist at the beginning but I wont spoil it for you, I strongly recommend you check this track.

Go and download this, you can even order a hard copy for a measly sum, find a way to support this guy; he really deserves it.

Certified Bangers: ‘Mr Rapman’, ‘Guided Tour of Camden’ & ‘Come on Back To Me’
Top Lyric: “And like to brag about the stuff that you sorta got//Cos all your stuff is financed, with massive APR’s//Just give me my chips you bitch, and make ‘em large!” (from 'Mr Rapman)

Friday, 28 March 2008

Musings and Music from the Witching Hour

I haven't just posted a collection of music for a while now so, having found myself awake with a laptop and not much else to do I have decided to listen to some music and post good stuff up as it comes through the 'phones.

First up are a couple of tracks from Atlantic Connection, this cat is apparently well known in the UK Drum 'n' Bass and dance scenes (I wouldn't know) but is from LA. Do US D'n'B producers long to break the UK market in the same way most UK artists ache to conquer the US? I don't know, answers on a postcard please. Anyway, I really do digress. 'Touch This' featuring Kemst, is a soulful and chilled break beat Hip Hop affair and you'll be glad to know that, despite the title, it's not about touching anything rude so you wont have to cringe for 6 minutes and 7 seconds. Instead just let the silky vocals and vibes wash over you. 'Heat of the Groove' does have a title that suggests some new jack swing-esque shenanigans but actually it's another chilled but more straight up Hip Hop track with a simple sung chorus and an MC (Mental Sharp - cool name) with an unoffensive voice chatting his thoughts. Nice stuff, I wanna hear more. Check his myspace page, the track 'Good Hood Review' on there is a bit of banger! Flippin' 'eck, so's 'Can't Destroy Love'! Download the sampler for the 'Tomorrow's Not Enough LP' here.

Then, today I went on 7Digital where you can download 10Shott's tracks and I downloaded some free stuff, and I downloaded some really cool stuff! Take a peek yo!

I got the 'True School Cypher' by long time UK Christian Rap favourties ZionNoiz. Ah, some top quality lyrics on this funky, minimalistic beat...proper Hip Hop from loads of real unique sounding MC's.

Then I got an amazingly jaunty jazz Hip Hop track, seriously it's like Charlie Chaplin did the beat, called 'Howz That' by The Anomalies. I've really got to find out more about these funksters cos the music is sooooo happifying and the rappers are skilled and the girl who half sings, half raps has a truly luscious voicebox. Man, you better go check their myspace for more goodness on a more indie-ish vibe.

I also got from there a new Bashy track on which he vents his dissapointment and anger (in a very controlled manner) about the fact that he's made some big moves and he's not reaping the financial benefits - 'Where's My Money At?'. And that's all I got from there.

I rang my G'ma today and even she'd heard this next track but I'ma go ahead and post it anyway 'cause for some reason I really like it. It reminds me of Outkast and that's a good thing andI don't care what it's about. The Knux - 'Cappucino remix'.

Speaking of Outkast, have you heard their new track? It's called 'Royal Flush' and it's just lovely, classic Outkast and it has a weird sample break that I have on a 12" by Tony D. Welcome back Big Boi and especially Andre 3000 (my, how you can rap!). Oh and it features none other than Wu-Tang's very own chef, Raekwon.

I know this track is bare old but this amazing remix is amazing, oh and did I mention, it's amaz...yeah I did. Really freshens it up, and yeah, the track is 'Next Episode' by Dr. Dre and it has been remixed by T.Smythe beats. Think of this as a demo for how good this guy could make your raps sound cos his other beats are nice too, they reminded me of Hi-Tek and Ty beats.

And since we're on that remix thing, here's a remix of Busta Rhymes' 'Woo-Ha' in a funk reggae style. It's called 'Rappoors Delaaght' and is by Taggy Matcher who has released a whole series of these 7 " beauties on Stix Records.

I think that's enough for now although I've got so much more to give you! Stay tuned, aight?!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Hip Hop Producers - Jon Phonics Interview

Certified Banger: Can you tell us your necessary background details so we can build on basics for the rest of the interview? For example: who you are, where you are from, projects you have worked on, people you have worked with.

Jon Phonics: Name: Jon Phonics Location: West London, planet earth Affiliates: Ill Rhythmikz production squad, Triple Darkness/Nine Planets, Manor Enterprise, G.B.P.C. (Ginger Bearded Producer Crew) Additional info: Debut album half past calm just dropped! Cop dat shit! Look out for beats on releases from Verb T, Sir Smurf Lil', Teef, Mr. Drastick, M9ine, Triple Darkness, T-Bear, Sonnyjim and more!

CB: How would you describe your sound? Is there any one track that would best define your style?

JP: I don’t think there is really one track to define my sound, I’m still constantly working on my sound man, 'still searching for the perfect beat' like it says on my t-shirt right now. But there are a few tracks I'm very proud of. The sound on the ‘Half Past Calm’ record is really a very organic, sample based, boom bap sort of sound. I was kinda adamant that the first thing I dropped would have that sound to show where exactly it is I’m coming from, and to try an highlight the lack of that essence and reality in the hip hop we hear right now. But there are many different chambers to my sound man, I’m roaming the bleak disco of my soul and the DJ's spinning some crazy twisted soulful shit right now!

CB: Who have been your biggest musical influences and which Hip Hop producers have inspired you?

JP: Growing up I shared a room with my older brother so obviously I digested a lot of his music when i was younger, my dad taught me the guitar at an early age. When I was about 14 my friend graham showed me a lot of George Benson and Wes Montgomery shit that put me onto listening to jazz and soul for pleasure. In terms of hip hop producers Premo was the first person I was tryna imitate when I started, Havoc, Pete Rock, Rza, DJ Krush, Charlemagne, Dilla, 88 Keys, Easy Mo Bee all crazy nice on the boards. Guys out now that bug me out are B.R Gunna, Godz Wrath, Chemo, Madlib the list is endless man! That’s just a few...

CB: Do you have a musical background? Do you play any instruments?

JP: I used to play drums in a live drum n bass, funk band (big up Arabada), like I said before my Dad taught me the guitar when i was real young. I forgot a lot but have been reacquainting myself the past year or so, play the keys a little, I also found out recently the udders of a cow are sick for live dubstep percussion.

CB: How did you find out that you were handy when it came to crafting beats?

JP: I guess sometime in 05 when my first beat CD full of swagness found its way into the grubby mitts of Doc Brown and Mr. Drastick and them guys made a video for the track.

CB: Do you feel like many producers are overlooked or overshadowed by the MC's that rap on their beats?

Not really man, I think if a producer wants lime light they'll get it, but most of us are indoors type of guys, lol, who like playing the behind the scenes role. Those who want to know about producers, get to know about the producers, so the recognition is more honest and deserved.

CB: What are your three pieces of equipment do you value most when it comes to production?

JP: I highly value the time I have with my PC when it wants to work, my MPC of course and I don’t think it’s really equipment but me and my records get bi-i-zee

CB: What other programs/equipment do you use?

JP: I use Cubase, sometimes other sequencers to keep it interesting, I have a Micro Korg, the drums, the guitar, a bass guitar also, a heap of percussion, fingers and thumbs...always buying more shit when I got the dough.

CB: What process do you go through when writing a track? Do you start with a tune, a sample, a drum beat or a concept? What happens next?

JP: I always try to keep the process different I tend to change my process every few weeks, sometimes i just chop samples and add drums, sometimes I’ll just layer synths over a kick and a snare, sometimes i start with the drums and jus chop tiny pieces around it. Then I make a cup of tea come back and if i like it goes from the MP to the PC, and if not it gets straight switched off, that happens pretty often.

CB: How do you prefer to work when collaborating with rappers? Do you both get in the studio and write together or is there a separate process?

JP: It varies, some rappers I work closely with, they'll come round to mine an we'll get down making stuff just for them, sometimes I get my beats sent back to me from rappers who have just obtained my instrumentals and spat to them. I always like to get the acapella though and work the beat around it once it’s been spat to before the mixing process no matter how it started.

CB: Have you ever been given some invaluable advice when it comes to producing? What tips would you give to an aspiring Hip Hop producer?

JP: The most invaluable advice I ever heard was in a lyric, "our sound is hot because we stay true to hip hop", I think Big Kwam said that. But to aspiring producers I would say, work on them drums! All day drums, drums are the most important thing...and also, its pretty simple, don’t talk about it, do it.

CB: What can we expect from you in the future? Are you currently working on any exciting projects?

JP: Expect the unexpected! Look out for projects from all the Triple Darkness camp, M9ine, Cyrus and Nasheron. Look out for another Jon Phonics release eventually, a new Verb T album which is sounding real nice, a lot of crazy beats on there. More Nine Planets shit, Maybe an Ill Rhythmikz release, there’s an album produced entirely by myself and JJ Malone (Ill Rhythmikz) with an artist called Kinetik, coming out later this year, a Sir Smurf Lil’ project. More shit man - hopefully some scandalous court cases from all the people breaking they necks to this shit!!

CB: Any last words or plugs?

JP: If you like what you are hearing look out for Teefs new album 'Honour Amongst Teef Vol 3', I got a track on there, 'The Facade', Triple Darkness' new album 'Anathema', Prophets new album '64 Angles', download my album for free here. Everyone stop being brainwashed into putting 808 snare fills in your beats! That’s some foul shit. lol. And big up Aidan for the interview, and thanks to you for reading. Stay locked like estate windows! Peace!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Jon Phonics - 'Half Past Calm' review

Jon Phonics forms beats in the 90’s mould - no bad thing. ‘Half Past Calm’ proves that sampling and flipping classics is still a relevant art form. The beats are evocative, an essential element when working with MC’s – they have to be inspired. The guest list is a nice selection of current names including MC’s from Triple Darkness, Verb T, Sir Smurf Lil’ and Mr. Drastick.

Jon Phonics provides the MC’s with more than decent backdrops for their deep thoughts. Even scanning through the track listing provides evidence that these rappers have something to say; they have been stimulated by the quality of Jon’s music. Each track is a solid head-nodder and at 12 tracks long the formula isn’t tiresome. This CD provides the perfect soundtrack for either an evening in or a car journey and the weight of the beats means that many tracks would sound awesome on a club sound system.

Sets like this should revive hopes of Hip Hop’s health in 2008. If the masses were listening to music like this they wouldn’t be moaning about Hip Hop’s lifelessness. The fact that this brilliant release is totally free does provoke the question: ‘How will Hip Hop survive and stay alive when the music is given away?’. The answer I think is that we’ll have to wait and see, this change is only just beginning to take place and who knows, this new business model may reap many rewards. Certainly, if the free music in question is as fine as that of Jon Phonics, artists should have no problem with garnering a following.

Certified Bangers: ‘Nothing Wrong’ ft. Mr. Drastick & Luc Skyz, ‘The Lion’s Den ft. Cyrus Malachi & ‘Jealousy’s a Bitch’ ft. Mr. Drastick & Verb T.

Top Lyrics: “And there’s no war, but there’s many ills//Over love many innocents are getting killed//over hate, many enemies relate//tryna come to a compromise, they conversate” (Verb T on ‘Alternate Take’)

Download 'Half Past Calm' here!

Monday, 24 March 2008

10Shott and Tony Benn

Whilst 10Shott wows crowds in Egypt tonight you can vote for his video on Channel U. Having just looked at their top 20 videos, 'Memory Blank' should really be up there in it's top 5. All you gotta do is text 'shott' to '81700' and the winner of the votes will get regular rotation on Channel U... so get texting!!
In other 10shott news:

"Following on from the earlier meetings with Tony Benn (pictured above), 10Shott was rushed to London last week to conduct a TV interview with prominent MP and anti-war supporter, George Galloway. George premiered the 'Tin Soldiers' video on Press TV which is going out across America, the Middle East and Australia.

Whilst 10Shott freely admits he is NOT a political activist, the track 'Tin Soldiers,' written about the war in Iraq from one soldiers perspecive, may well stir questions in the listeners mind. The accompanying part-animation video adds huge power to this already thought-provoking track. To coincide with the 5 year anniversary of the war in Iraq, 10Shott's single 'Tin Soldiers' is now available. With this powerful message we really can help save lives. All you have to do is download the single..."

Mr. Drastick - 'The Gladiators Anthem' review

Drastick’s rigorous training for the Colosseum has been in the form of self promoted street level mixtapes and it’s truly made him battle ready. As any Romanophile will know, Gladiators were allowed to use whichever weapons suited their fighting style and armed with an arsenal of original beats and rhymes that go 5 or 6 syllables deep Drastick is prepared to defeat all opponents.

Chemo produced opener, ‘Give it Up’, is a straight banger, Drastick lays down his manifesto in no uncertain terms. Jaw-dropping rhymes that sound like everyday speech get his message across with ease. This skill isn’t confined to one track - every verse on each song has been expertly written and is impeccably delivered. As well as being extremely lyrical, Drastick knows how to tell a story. ‘The Cycle’ is an innovative track about a son repeating his father’s mistakes.

With a total of six songs on here about women, Drastick’s softer side is on display too. Two of those songs are moral tales intended to provide a warning against the life choices some girls make but the others are essentially love songs and 4 love songs (no matter how good) on a rap album is too many.

Drastick’s raps “I have the passion to succeed in this game”, it may just be true. This album is amazingly listenable and nearly every track is pure heat. I hope he wins the rap emperor’s favour.

Certified Bangers: ‘Give it Up’, ‘Baby ft. Yungun’ and ‘Stuck’

Top Lyric: “The truth is we’re never movin’//We’re just going round in circles talkin’ about revolution” (from ‘I don’t Wanna See’)

Thursday, 20 March 2008


Above is the new grading system for album reviews. Certified Banger has evolved since it's early days. Originally I just posted up tracks that I loved, and I do still intend to do this. But it has taken on a new role. As its popularity has increased it's potential has been realised by a few PR companies, record companies and artists and as a result I get alot of free music (thanks y'all) for review. As they kindly send me their product, as well as providing you with a good idea of what an album is like, I feel it my duty to repay them with a few words.

That brings me nicely to this paragraph. A few words, my reviews up to this point have all been pretty long. Whilst I do have the freedom to write as much as I like, most of you don't have the freedom or patience to read blogs for that long. Also with the amount of music I recieve being semi-volumous, I don't actually have the time to write reams. So, from now on I hope to shorten my reviews, to make them more readable, after all I consider it a greater skill to say alot in fewer words. It'll take some practice but sit tight, I'll get there.

So it remains to be said - send me your album or single either in the post (more likely to be listened to as a physical copy) or via email/link and I'll get you featured!

Also, just to throw this out there...anyone interested in making/giving me some exclusive tracks for a compilation?

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Talib Kweli on Ghost Weed

You remember those skits on De La Souls 'AOI: Mosaic Thump'? You know the ones where the MC's at a cypher smoke the 'Ghost Weed' and their voices gradually morph into that of a real famous rapper? No? OK, maybe just me and the select few then. Anyway, Talib must be on that particular brand of the leaf. I can't be the only one who has noticed that his already kinda high and mildly squeaky voice has ascended into Q Tip heights. Just check out this selection of mp3's in chronological order and you'll see what I mean. Incidentally, this collection of tracks is actually a really nice Kweli play list:

Black Star - 'Definition' - Released in 1999, it's almost certain that this is Kweli's best song, Mos Def kills it too...all sing along: "One, two, tree, Mos Def and Talib Kweliiiiii".
Reflection Eternal - 'This Means You' ft. Mos Def - Released in 2000, probably my favourite sequence of consecutive songs ever is on Kweli and Hi-Tek's 'Train of Thought' set. This is preceded by 'Move Somethin', 'Some Kind of Wonderful' and 'The Blast' (so good I named my Uni Hip Hop night after it) and they are all such great tracks. What many don't know is that if you fold the CD inlay in a different way you get much better cover art, we all know the proper cover is whackedy whack.
Hi-Tek - 'Can We Go Back' ft. Ayak & Talib Kweli - Released in 2006 and we hear Kweli's voice on the up along side London's Ayak (who I mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, check her).
Strong Arm Steady - 'One Step' ft. Talib Kweli - Released in 2007 and, yup, his voice is up one more notch on the voice-higness-meter. A great track with a great crew, I gots to check some more music by this collective.
Talib Kweli - 'Follow the Leader' ft. Busta Rhymes - Released this year on Kweli's new mixtape 'The MCEO Mixtape' (Yes, that is a cross between MC and CEO, bet Jay-Z is gutted he didn't think of that one for himself). Talib is positively chipmunk-like here and must have just inhaled a great deal of Ghost Weed smoke. This is an awesome track over Eric B's 'Follow the Leader', flawless production that seems to have got stronger over time too. As usual, Mr. Rhymes's guest spot is hungry and entertaining.

Also, here are the De La tracks with the ghost weed skits at the end:
De La Soul -'Oooh' ft. Redman (Ghost Weed skit features Pharoahe Monch)
De La Soul - 'Set The Mood' ft. Indeed (Ghost Weed skit features Phife)
De La Soul - 'With Me' (Ghost Weed Skit features (a woman doing) Black Thought)

Get all tracks in ther body bag, zipped up here

And finally, much love to Tunji for emailing me all the promo stuff for this mixtape, check him out at

10Shott on MTV and live in B'ham!

10Shott live at the Jamhouse, Birmingham - 'Religion' A Cappella live

Just had a text to say Tenny's new video for 'Memory Blank' is going on rotation on MTV Base as of next week. Congratulations to 10Shott and all at ZY Records for all they have achieved so far...and for those about to achieve - we salute you.

Also I picked up a copy of HHC yesterday and suffice to say 10Shott is applied liberally throughout the issue. Page 41 has a half page advert/write up in the form of a competition to win a guitar used in the making of 'Groundbreaker (...A Di Real)', 'Memory Blank' is at number 6 in the top ten singles for the month whilst 'New Year Startin', Ten's track with Supar Novar weighs in at number 2. Mike Lewis in his column 'Home Style' rates 10Shott's 'Memory Blank' as 3rd best tune at the moment and gives glowing reports about the 'Memory Blank' video.

Here's an mp3 (taken from the above youtube video) of 'Religion A Cappella (Live)'. That and this 'might' just be on the album:

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Word Swallowing

Since writing my review of Teef's 'Honour Amongst Teef Vol. 3' I've been thinking of the the things I wrote in my opening paragraphs. I knew I'd regret it when I wrote it but it felt right at the time! Man! I need to learn to discern what are lasting feelings and what are feelings of the moment! At the time I was in a happy mood (thanks to Teef) and I was overcome with wanting Hip Hop that was fun and bouncy. I actually believe Hip Hop is an outlet for any feeling and I would never want it not to be; I know it's been there for me during hard times and during good times. Dark, moody, melancholy, reminiscent etc beats and tracks are fine by me.

I stick by what I said about the blandness. So many beats are just so immotive that even the MC's on them struggle to find meaning in them. On reassessment I want Hip Hop to give me an emotion, whatever that may be. Also I want to hear originality and skill coupled with interesting lyrics on a wide variety of topics. I also like to hear this done humourously or with a new perspective.

If you make this music, email me!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Teef - Honour Amongst Teef Vol. 3

I'm kinda late onto the Teef tube train but chances are, you're not on it either yet. Let me tell you why you need to embark at the next station on it's journey. 'Honour Among Teef Volume 3' is where brakes will squeal and you'll feel that warm rush of wind as the train pulls in.

Recently I've been reassessing the definitions and limitations of my musical tastes. It's been a long time since liking Hip Hop has sufficed, now it's come to the point where I realise I have to be more discerning when it comes to my primary musical love; UK Hip Hop. The scene in the UK has got so big that it's now easier to separate the good from the bad. The main bit of badness in the UK is that there is alot of bland, un-innovative Hip Hop. More personally, I enjoy music that is upbeat, positive, funny but has something important to say or is skilfull. I don't really enjoy the 'dark' beats that some people are using and I don't like the aggresive posturing some rappers adopt. Basically I like that aesthetic that the first to do it achieved through sampling Disco breaks: wholesome audio fun!

You'll be glad then to hear that Teef falls into my 'good' category (I know that's a boring category name, but it is what it is). The main thing about Teefs latest offering is that it is a joy to listen to. Not only is it a joy, there are more than just a couple of stand out moments. Teef has draughted in a few different producers and to good effect, the beat selection suits Teef down to a T. The production brings Teef's wordplay to life and in a many cases I'm sure the beats greatly influenced Teef's flow, everything fits so well that I'd be surprised to hear otherwise.

There is something about Teef's delivery that I can't quite put my finger on, whatever it is it's there and it makes him stylistically unique. It's something in the rhyme patterns; he seems to rhyme in triplets leaving a bar every 4 bars for his words to really sink in. Teef's topics are diverse - a good start for any long player. Inevitably, there are tracks about himself (this is rap you know) but 'Off the Bench', 'Anonomous', 'Teef The Stampede Part 1' and 'My Belt' all serve, through varied concepts, to get you acquainted with him so he can continue to communicate with you.

Cultural roots are explored on 'Homeground' which is a tribute to Fela Kuti. If you don't know about Fela Kuti then check out his mad life story on wikipedia, it's an entertaining read. 'Homeground', I can only assume, uses samples from a couple of Fela Kuti tracks.

There are tracks that outline Teef's views on others: 'The Facade' is produced by up-and-comer Jon E Phonics and is a cryptically written track about people being who they're not. 'Congestion' and 'No Rush to Flush' (produced by Irn Mnky) echo Teef's opinions on the amount of wannabe artists in the scene. Hip Hop itself also comes under Teef's lyrical magnifying glass on 'Perfect Fit'.

'Where's the Fun' features Charlie Sloth, an MC whose voice is the total opposite of Teefs. Charlie's voice is high-pitched and frantic, similar to that of Prof Green, whereas Teef's is low and smooth. The two voices complement each other more than you would expect on this track that calls for enjoyment on nights out. Charlie Sloth produces 'A-State of Mind', competently created melancholy beat that allows Teef to outline his sadness about British ghetto living. Charlie also features alongside the legendary MC Duke on 'The Underground', a funny track about, yes you guessed, London Underground.

In summary: Excellently cheerful beats + Inventively significant rhymes = Pure enjoyment

Get your hands on a copy of this (it comes with a 20 page 'Brainbook' that illustrates the tracks) when it's released on the 13th of this month and try get yourself along to this:

Thursday, 6 March 2008

DHHY (Do Hip Hop Yourself) and Icebergs

Once you scratch beneath the surface of what the media calls Hip Hop and Rap you begin to realise that the Soulja Boys and the Flo Ridas are only the tip of the iceberg. Scrap that, they aren’t even part of the same lump of frozen water. There’s a rap iceberg that floats into warmer climes, steadily melting and diminishing as it leaves the colder temperatures. These are today’s ‘hot’ rappers who after their five minutes of fame are in the bargain bin. Then there’s the iceberg that stays at its pole, it doesn’t leave its place of origin and as a result, it’s still an iceberg. These are rappers and crews who stay true to the roots. Unless we see a global warming effect in the Hip Hop world, a sudden mass interest in the real Hip Hop, then things will stay this way, and for the better.

Leaving behind our chilly metaphor now, one way rappers stay cool is by keeping busy. The D.I.Y ethic that was there at the beginning (the block parties, the luminary moves of Sylvia Robinson etc) is present more than ever in local Hip Hop scenes. Every true fan in any given place will be somehow involved in the music their area is making, it’s the real heads that make things happen against all odds. 3 projects have recently come to my attention that I would like to use as evidence for my case.

GTA are a two man crew from Oxford. I don’t know much about the scene there but I keep hearing snippets of information regarding it and it’s beginning to make me curious. Chima Anya of GTA contacted me himself to promote their latest track ‘Wanna Be Myself’. This independent release is accompanied by an independently made video that is entertaining despite it’s simplicity. With it’s sing-a-long hook and carefully crafted but jocular lyrics about individuality, this will go in my itunes playlist called ‘Favourite music of 2008’. Check the part of the video where Chima is rapping to the traffic off a motorway bridge; brilliant!

Beit Nun is a rapper from Macclesfield, who, with a D.I.Y attitude, has produced a very fine end product. He, like Chima, contacted me himself (putting in work, utilising the internet as a promotional tool) and offered to send me a copy of his latest CD which chronicles his best work from 2006 and 2007. The first thing that struck me was the excellent cover art; contemporary and professional. The production and recording is expertly done and Beit Nun and his myriad of guests are competent on the mic, both in delivery and content. This CD is a very polished creation and at only £5, you’d be silly to miss out on an opportunity to hear Hip Hop done North West style (check the accents). Go to his myspace and purchase.

My last piece of proof comes in the form of a many man crew from Dewsbury; Don’t Talk To Strangers. You’ll have heard mention of them before if you’re a regular here and that proves that they are not just one hit wonders when it comes to making an impression. At the latest instalment of Brutal Artistry’s ‘Get Cained (check them for more of that ‘want something doing right, do it yourself’ attitude) I got myself a copy of DTTS’s West Yorkshire mix CD AND their blue 10” vinyl release of their track ‘Disabled Blue’. The most impressive thing is that this independent release is on blue 10” vinyl; it instantly gives it that special something, it makes you want to own it. If this crew had been signed to a label this would never be the case, it would have been a 12” in a generic sleeve, or, just an mp3 download. It’s all about the presentation and the pleasure of ownership of something so beautiful and seemingly unique. The music is good too; excellent wordplay and clear delivery over soulful beats is the order of the day here.

I expected the mix CD to be slightly lacklustre; in my opinion it takes an exceptional artist to make a mix CD listenable. Thankfully, DTTS are a collective who know how not to overdo things and the CD is just excellent, I really mean it, it’s truly proof that the local scene with a D.I.Y. attitude can truly stand up to any big label music. Another positive is that it isn’t actually a mix CD, it’s just a compliation; track after track, no whack interludes and shout outs. With music from Eliphino (Leeds finest beat maestro), Spida Lee, J-Simple, Northern Property (Max from Dirty Diggers and another Yorkshireman) as well as various members and associates of the strong crew that is Don’t Talk To Strangers. Some of the tracks are slightly amateurish but the main dissapointment here is Asaviour's 'This Planet remix'; it's very badly mixed and for a rapper with a foot firmly in the door of UKHH it just doesn't have that quality aspect that most of the other tracks on the CD have. Despite that, wherever you represent, wherever your local scene is, check how we do. This is music to the ears of any rap fan.

So, if you are involved in Hip Hop, keep doing it for yourself sisters, if you aren't involved, get involved! Even being a fan is involvement!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Ten out of Tenny Ten Ten

“That 10shott… he’s so hot right now.” Whether you like Zoolander or not, Tenny is on fire and will be for some time to come, judging by his performance at Birmingham’s prestigious Jam House venue last Wednesday. Armed with an arsenal of certified bangers fuelled by dollops of charisma, the Midlands-based artist is as close to breaking as Pete Doherty is to being incarcerated. Hip Hop Connection have gone so far as to label him "the best up-and-coming UK hip hop artist to date".

I was lucky enough to be one of those invited to the official launch party of 10Shott’s first single release, 'Memory Blank', at Jools Holland’s club last week (admittedly, only because Aidan couldn’t go, but still). Having witnessed some of 'Groundbreaker… a di Real' being recorded last summer my ears were eagerly awaiting some more material and the fact that it was going to be live was the icing on the cake. The fact that it was going to be live accompanied with free drinks and canap├ęs was the cherry on the icing on the cake.

First off, the guy has charm. And charisma. Which is just charm with a few more letters in. He possesses the stage and connects with the audience. It’s hard not to like him as his candour and personality are present during the performance, something which isn’t true for many artists. The partnership between Tenny and Big Wayne crackled as they both bounced off each other, sometimes quite literally.

'Memory Blank' was performed first and even the technical glitches were gladly received as it meant we got to hear it one and a half times over. If you haven’t heard this track, give yourself a slap on the wrist, then go to now and get your listen on. Aidan’s reviewed it here before so I won’t go through it all again. Suffice it to say that live it was even better. 10Shott’s flow is sublime, his rhymes elegant: There goes another piece of paper in the bin / There goes another piece of patience wearing thin. Heady piano runs, ominous strings and a head-jerking beat are perfectly married to witty lyrics – he even manages to mention hoovering. Yours truly began to entertain delusions that even I, a white(ish) female who gets excited about documentaries on the History channel, could rap – he made it look that easy.

Next came 'Talkin’ American', a tune with a fierce hook that represents one of Tenny’s greatest assets: his insistence on keeping it UK. Incidentally, for me one of the great things about this artist is that he isn’t metrocentric and reps for the Midlands rather than London, London, and London. Anyone who can get ‘Wolverhampton’ into his raps and still make it sound hot has got to be talented.

Other tracks performed were an acapella called 'Confused about Religion' (pleasingly involving a humorous line about circumcision) and 'Letter to My Twin Bro' (the chorus of which featured the beautiful voice of their mutual mother). The videos for 'Memory Blank' and 'Tin Soldiers', an anti-war track recorded with the support of Tony Benn, were then screened (not Mr Benn’s first foray into the musical scene, by the way. I have a CD featuring his speeches mixed with garage beats if you’re interested). Which all goes to show the depth and diversity of topics covered by Mr Shott. I am pretty much gagging to hear the album.

I also got a quick chance to catch up with Tenny, whose attitude is remarkably down to earth and humble for someone so ridiculously talented (hear that, K-Lash?) He’s off on holiday soon – a well-deserved break I feel.

The only down point of the afternoon was the videos to 'Memory Blank' and 'Tin Soldiers', which I’m pretty gutted to say I don’t feel did justice to the quality of the audio. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t bad: I guess it’s just that when the aural material is that good it’s hard to mirror that on the visual side of things.

Like Aidan said a while ago, if there’s anyone who can bridge the gulf between underground and commercial, it’s 10Shott. If you wanna help put a few more bricks in the bridge, then go and buy the single 'Memory Blank' which is OUT TODAY at This artist deserves to go far. I’ll certainly do everything I can to pave the way, and you should too.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

10Shott - 'Memory Blank' Release - Monday 3rd March!!!

At last! The release of this has been pushed back a couple of times but now it's finally going to be made available and you can use this 'widget' to go buy it for only 79p! It really is worth it. Here's a message from 10Shotts manager:

Just a quick request for you assistance by supporting an artist who deserves to break through.

First thing Monday 3rd March PLEASE go to and download 10Shott's debut single 'Memory Blank'. It will only cost you .79p and if you would also be kind enough to forward this to at least 10 friends requesting they do the same it would be greatly appreciated.

Also check back here for a report and some photos from the press release party for the single!