Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Sincere - 'Once Upon A Time' ft. Natty

Check out the latest single from rising stars Sincere and Natty. It's produced by First Man Productions and is a super happy bit of summery, trumpety UK rap with that radio twist. I don't say this often (never said it yet) but I will put my personal stamp of guarantee on the fact that you WILL hear this on your wireless (if you live in Britain that is). Sin hasn't just jumped on Natty's recent radio/itunes success, they go way back and Sincere already has some sterling, sterling work under his belt including tracks with Skinny Man.

'Once Upon a Time' tells, I suspect, a brief story of Sincere's life. With a sing song rap style and an even more sing song chorus it's just a real pleasure to listen to. Check the video too, it's not just the same old, same old rap video. The first part is set on a theatre stage with a fish and chip shop on it!

The single is out on the 26th June and on the 2nd June hotstep to Sincere's myspace page to get a link to a free mixtape download.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Recent Listening Habits Part 2

Well I said I'd write this on Friday night but I didn't, not that anyone will be bothered anyway, so here it is.

I recently got Warren G's 'Take A Look Over Your Shoulder (Reality)' album because when I was in 6th form me and my mate totally loved 'Annie Mae' the first real track on the album. It features Nate Dogg and is G'd up. Other great tracks are 'Smokin' me Out', 'What's Love Got to do With It' and 'I Shot The Sheriff'.

I also got probably the hardest Christian rap album ever. 'Stop The Music' is by New Breed from the Tunnel Rats camp and it's a barrage of heavy beats and vehemently spat lyrics. This Brother/Sister combo really bring the funk through stripped down, kick driven, latin infused production and manage not to come across preachy despite their Christian content. 'Stand' has always been a favourite, 'Breathless' shows some versatility and the title track bangs. Dope cover art too.

Speaking of cover art, I picked Libretto's 'Ill-oet The Last Element' up because a) it looked good, b) it was cheap, c) an amazon review said it was good and d) I listened to a clip of one song and liked it. If you like Erick Sermon's music then this is one you might like however the production is all original and is handled by his crew. The intro is one of the more enjoyable ones around and the follow up track 'Slumfunk' is a good 'un. When the production is not squelching with funk it's soulful. 'Alma Mater' (sorry about the ID3 spelling) is a Dre'ish G Funk club/ridin' track and whilst it's not the OG it's pretty good anyway.

I'm gonna finish off with one last CD and pick this up again another day, there are too many to post at once. Non Phixion are kinda unique in what they do. It's hardcore, socialogical, political, none-black (I hate to add but it's important I do) Hip Hop. NP's choice of beats is second to none - Necro, Large Professor, Pete Rock, DJ Premier and Juju all have a hand in the production on 'The Future is Now', and that's a good who's who of classic 90's Hip Hop producers. Stand out tracks are 'If You Got Love', 'Suicide Bomb' and 'Rock Stars'.

Hmm, looking back at those four albums, they're quite diverse! But wait for the next installment, it's different still, Hip Hop, but different.

Million Dan 'Spektrum' Review

If I take any CD away on holiday with me this August it’ll be ‘Spektrum’. Although it represents many musical styles and evokes many feelings there’s something about it that’s made to provide a soundtrack for a long summer. Maybe it’s the vigour, maybe it’s the extraordinary refreshment of different genres or maybe it’s the fact that it reminds you that actually, your musical tastes are pleasantly eclectic.

Maybe Million Dan’s own explanation of why the album is entitled ‘Spektrum’ puts a finger on the reason why this release is so appealing: ‘My album is a spektrum of songs, countries, artists and energy’. And he’s not lying. Hip Hop, Reggae (Sizzla and Bounty Killer both feature too), Electro, Soul, Latin Dub, Grime, Bashment…yep, all present and correct in varying mixtures. It’s just so great to listen to an album with so many vibes; each track has its own thing going on but as a whole album they don’t sound disparate.

I have to admit that I can’t always listen to a lot of ragga-tinged rap but Million makes patois more acceptable than anyone else I’ve ever heard. He possesses that tongue twisting skill that embodies Jamaican influenced Hip Hop and he uses to great effect. Million’s clear delivery and simple but oh-so-tight lyrics complete the package marked ‘Million Dan’s incredible voice’. The spektrum extends to the subject matter: himself, women, ghetto living but with a focus on lyricality and metaphors.

There are some very big tunes on here that basically sum up his back catalogue of singles since the Demon Boyz’ ‘Definition’ set. ‘Mic Chek’ has that Batman theme sounding beat, ‘Spektrum Ride’ is a bashment Atari bomb, ‘Dogz ‘n’ Sledgez’ is well, ‘Dogz ‘n’ Sledgez’ innit – it’s capable of damage. ‘Scream Out’ is a shuffling party starter and ‘Glimity Glamity’ is the last track – Demon Boyz’ finest moment. You should buy it for this collection of inspired singles but then you also might want to check out ‘Futuristic’ which could perhaps be described as ‘summer’ – you want this to be playing when you’re on the beach in a couple of months. ‘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 ‘Go In’ features fellow UK stalwart MCD as well as Dynamite MC and K.Nerz, it’s dramatic Electro Reggaeton that features four brilliant MC’s.

I’m meant to be putting more negative into my reviews but the only thing I can say is 'Lambada' is too lewd for my liking. Had Million put less sex rhymes in here I'm pretty sure Dream Works Animations would have been snapping this up for their next kids movie. Million Dan has masses of character and is not content with the fashionable complaining that Hip Hop is thriving on at the moment. He seems to be having fun and leading by example rather than trying to preach truths. The worst thing I can say is that I wasn't expecting it to be this good!

Just buy this, you will not be disappointed and it’s available already at places like Suspect Packages, Amazon, Rap and Soul or if you like downloads, itunes.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

DPF - 'It'll Never Catch On' Album Review

Anyone who compares DPF to Eminem is lazy, has ears of cloth and no concept of world geography. Now that’s off my chest I’ll continue. ‘It’ll Never Catch On’ has the sort of self deprecating title that is actually just realism although this should receive a superb reaction in the Hip Hop world. You’d better just open up your mind and not write it off immediately because it’s from East Anglia, UK.

DPF is a master of quotables, after a couple of listens lines such as “Rumour has it if you don’t masturbate once a day//Over pages of naked ladies you’ll become gay” will leave you itching for the relevant social occasion to drop them into conversation. If there was such a thing, DPF would probably have an MA in hook writing too. Nearly every track has a chorus that penetrates – “I wish I had one of those faces//Y’know the type of faces that goes places” or “Rap this up, move on, move out//get a better view, get ahead of you, what you gotta do…”. Song structure is a strong point; the refrains are obvious yet not out of place; it never sounds like a yawn-inducing rap-a-thon.

Mr. Law and Tommy Tempa do a good range of flavoursome beats; it’s nice to hear producers dip into French accordion music, Ragtime Blues, rainforest Samba (with zoo noises) and Flamenco when they get creative. A lot of the beats have a comical, light hearted feel that match DPF’s innately amusing way of saying things. Law and Tempa prove that there’s more to producing that sampling old soul and funk records.

DPF uses ‘Rumours’ and ‘What If’ to play with words and sentences in order to say the abnormal, which makes for fresh listening. He experiments with flows on ‘So Sophisticated’, ‘Hoo Rockers’ and ‘Bigg ‘Un’ whereas tracks like ‘What Can I Say’ and ‘Keith’ are examples of originality within classic rap templates. All tracks have DPF’s own brand of humour as a stamp of uniqueness, whether it’s delivered through a story or a put down, it’s there and to be honest Hip Hop needs jokes, it’s meant to be fun. Without voicing it, DPF says ‘lighten up’ to all those too serious rappers out there.

Certified Bangers: ‘What Can I Say’, ‘Move On, Move Out’, ‘Rumours’ & ‘So Sophisticated’ (hard to choose a few though!)
Top Lyrics: ‘I’d still be rapping if I knew that I was whack at it” (DPF, without actually saying “I’m dope” says “I’m dope” – it’s the “if” that does it!)
'It'll Never Catch On' will be released on 16th June and you'll be able to get it here, here or here or here on itunes!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

K9 - 2 free mixtapes!

I've become quite the herald of legitimate free music haven't I? That's because I'm too poor to be buying loads of music at the moment so it's a good thing that that coincides with all these guys giving out their music for free!
Well, K9, Blak Twang's mate is giving away two of his mixtapes as downloads at his myspace page. 'The Riot Storm' was in Disorda's (over at Suspect Packages) top ten mixtapes for a fair while so it's defo worth checking it out, it'll save you £5.99 plus p+p too!

If you've never heard K9 then download this and enjoy the straight up-ness of this Hip Hop. Also check the 'Jim Westwood Album' - any mimickry of the Big Dog is good, it's all love though! Blak Twang also puts in a few appearances and he's one of the architects of the classic UK sound, he really changed things way back when he dropped 'Dettwork South East' and '19 Long Time'. Don't sleep on this.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Raashan Ahmad

Here's one to watch for. I heard the single off this album 'Weight'/'The Crush' on itunes and was very surprised to hear that it samples The Zutons' track 'Pressure Point'. Have returned to the time when sampling current tracks is the done thing again? Anyway, after a quick myspace visit I decided I liked this new US Hip Hop and I'm going to check for it when it's released on the 19th/20th of this month.

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).

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Lord Finesse vs. Percee P Battle 1989

Legendary battle, Percee wins in my opinion, perhaps just for sheer longevity. Have had the pleasure of hearing him kick a free (pre-written? As here) live. Good skills! Saying that Finesse has some great punchlines.

Stupid Ice Cream Truck!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Skandal, L Star & Tweeti, Screaming Soul Soundsystem & True Self Reviews

Yo pepes. What a gwarn? Don't know what that's all about, just feeling friendly. Do you ever get those times when you're just about to do something and then someone asks you when you're going to do it and you say 'I was just about to do it' but really it sounds like you're lying? Well that just happened to me. I just sat down to these long overdue reviews and Charlee at Vision who hooked me up with a couple of them phoned me to ask how things were going! Anyway, let's get on with it. Got 4 mini reviews of tracks for y'all today.

First up has to be Skandal's EP which is entirely produced by man of the mo, Chemo. You get 3 tracks: 'Dark Times', 'Venom' and 'The Warning' and you get the instrumentals too. Looking at those titles you can probably guess along what lines Skandal is running. What you wouldn't be able to guess though is that this has a really electronic, dubby, grimey feel to it and that's because Chemo has departed from the style of production he is famous for. 'Dark Times' samples Sizzla's chorus from his version of the 'Drop Leaf Riddim' (also used by Klashnekoff on 'Son of Niya') and is a veritable verbal assault as Skandal coherently let's you know just how he feels about life through some shadowy imagery. 'Venom' and 'The Warning' see Skandal lacing more grimey-yet-Hip Hop. 'Venom' is the I'm better than you track of the kind that has been the back bone of Hip Hop through the years. 'The Warning' does what it says on the tin; it warns of street life and crime and how one should avoid it. The E.P. should drop on the 19th of May, I'll keep you posted on where you can get that, these three tracks are heavy, Chemo smashes it and showcases his diversity and Skandal shows that he's a force to be reckoned with who has game to match his swagger.

L Star and Tweeti have dropped their 'Street Dreams' track ahead of impending release, the 'She Looks Good E.P'. The track samples, most obviously The Eurythmics 80's banger 'Sweet Dreams' and it goes without saying it's a floor filler (unless you really hate the original, but, let's face it, you gotta love it!). The remix is the one to check - it features CB favourite Skinnyman (sounding very unlike Skinnyman) and Flirta D. What the track gains in club status it lacks in structure, it's really just the 'Sweet Dreams' loop with four verses over, but to be honest, that's OK. If you're looking for a fresh T Shirt then head on over to Doin It' Clothing and cough up a few quid to make a positive statement to match this track.

Screaming Soul Soundsystem is a project from Ghetto Priest (of Asian Dub Foundation) and Sandman (of Underground Alliance (UNDALI)) and fuses sounds from different 'black' or 'urban' (both of those descriptions make me wince, but hey) genres of music. In the main track you get a big dose of Reggae on the more dubby side of things crossed with some Rap and Break Beat. The remixes courtesy of Mutant Hi Fi and Ruckspin & Planas cover the Dubstep base with much aplomb (they're actually good and musically produced). It's nice to hear a track about the current state of the 'system' that doesn't just blame the white man and that acknowledges the struggle of all. Although this track is quite eerie you'll find yourself singing along and thoroughly enjoying it. If I'd have done this soon enough you'd have benefitted from the entire single as a free download on their myspace page - that's over now but you can still listen to the tracks and I'd recommend you do.

Lastly, but not leastly(?!), from an even more independent source is True Self's 'Certified Suicide'. True Self raps over an awesomely chilled, self produced head nod beat, with voice that comes like a northern, British version of B Real. Thankfully this aint a track about weed OR pigs. True Self speaks on life and death and despite the title, this isn't music to slit your wrists to; it's surprisingly upbeat given its topic. If this Grimsby lad keeps up the grind, he could do well for himself but unfortunately in this country and at these times, it's all about the grind. Download the single here for 89p.

Aggi Dukes - The Best Kept Secret Free Mixtape

On Friday I came across a new artist (well new to me), Aggi Dukes. He was playing at the preview for a new independent film called 'Deadly Whispers'. I was invited as 10Shott got a last minute slot to perform there of the back of another TV performance (but more about that later). As it happens, Aggi is treading the ever more popular path of releasing a free download mixtape and his is called 'The Best Kept Secret'. Aggi has great verve and a powerful quality to his voice and basically anything free is worth checking at least once.

Bow E3 resident, Aggi's greatest claim to fame so far is that he has a track featured on the oh so entertaining FIFA Street 2. On Friday he also performed the track 'Casper's Birthday' which samples The Specials' anti-Thatcher track, 'Ghost Town'.

Mix Masta Mullet Mixes a Master Mix

Click here for a mix that wanders through party classics from J5 (that's Jurassic and Jackson), A Skillz & Krafty Kuts, Jimi Hendrix, Caveman, Run DMC, Amy Winehouse, Biz Markie and the Beastie Boys to name but a few. The full track listing is also available for you, which is always nice.

This mix by bedroom but-really-should-play-out-more DJ Mix Masta Mullet is perfect for getting ready to go out, driving in the car or doing your homework to. It also may sound good on various other occasions such as going for a run, actually being at a party or sitting alone on a rainy night.

DJ Mix Masta Mullet has also kindly provided some of his own mashups that feature in the mix for you to download, get on these now because their fun and funky and we all like a good mashup don't we? Peep him on his myspace and show some much deserved love and check back here for an exclusive UK Hip Hop mix from the man with the feathery tails at the nape of his neck.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

May I?

First post in May, a month that has proven itself to be beautiful (weather-wise) so far, so I'm in that sunny mood despite the fact my car is intent on terminating its own existence and that someone I had a lot of love for passed away (Rest With God Baby Ali).

A couple of tunes that I happen to have been sent at just the right time really fit my feelings at this time. Analogic & Rashid Hadee have a long player named 'Serenade For The Moment' coming and if this pair of tracks are anything to go then it's going to be a real solid record. I'm quite a fan of tracks reminiscing of good times, they remind me of summer and make me feel good (even though the memories are usually nothing like mine!) and 'Memory Lane' is a tip top Hip Hop example. 'Explode' has a slightly sadder feel to it, a close your eyes and lie back type vibe, it's a thing of some beauty.

Hero have another nice track too featuring Sage, it's called 'What We Gonna Do'. It's got a funky but lazy summertime kick to it and is basically a track about a special lady. Defo one for the discerning BBQ head.

Last month's HHC cover CD was a BBE Records sampler mixed and scratched by Mr Thing (ex of Scratch Perverts) and where Yungun is involved, I'm down. He features on 2 tracks, one by Aaron Jerome ('The Bump') and one by Katalyst ('All You've Got'). Both are awesome and I really should buy both albums. The other main artist on there is J-Live and I also really need to get into him some more too!

On Friday night I had the pleasure of witnessing Roots Manuva perform live at The Faversham in Leeds. He was as brilliant as you'd expect him to be; kicking off with 'Join The Dots' and pretending to end on 'Witness' (WOW!) but returning to stage to perform the always lovely 'Dreamy Days'. On Monday I happened across the Limited Edition CD of 'Awfully Deep' (I only had it on vinyl). It has an extra CD of live tracks, demos and versions played by a band and it was only £3 at HMV. The £3 for the whole album plus the extra tracks is great value but the tracks are priceless, they really are something special - I might just have to upload the whole thing.

Another CD I picked up recently and again for a bargain price was 'Mark B Presents Delta The Lostralian'. It's flippin' brill. I can't recommend it enough. Before I listened to this I was never sure whether or not I liked Australian rappers but now I know I do. Delta is a real pro at making intelligent rhymes accesible and entertaining. 'One Less Gun' features Skinnyman and is his anti-gun track (no surprises there) and cleverly utilises a perfect sample in the chorus. 'Mayday (This is It)' kicks off with some of my favourite lyrics for a long time - 'Let's start Mark B, this beat is raw//Seems more like a B-Boy theme for Jaws//Freestyle, 3 miles from the beach or shore//Can't swim, one fin was all you saw'. Awesome. Murs features elsewhere on the album.