Friday, 31 October 2008

'Out Of The Ghetto' - Sef (single review)

Yawn. ‘Out Of The Ghetto’: better than counting sheep. More chuffin’ auto-tune, more oozey R’n’B; hard title, soft track in reality.

Yeah, OK, Sef has a good voice - I can’t sing like that but so many millions of other Usher wannabes can. Seriously, haven’t people heard enough of this? At least people like Usher have the talent/producers/marketing budget to really do something different.

Sef’s vocals may come in useful, say, on a hook, but a whole track of noodling, meandering vocals just doesn’t ring my bell. Well, it rings bells, as I mentioned above. Some girls will probably like it but it falls far from the mark when falling on my ears; I’m just nowhere near his target audience.

The remix features Meleka and Swiss and contains a dialogue of sorts between male and female. Swiss’s rap are weak man, weak.

It’s out on 1st December (or the date on the jpg above?) on Music Kidz Records/RGS and I’ve done my bit for good music.

'Through The Storm' - Silver (single review)

Now this track has been getting good reviews, so they won’t mind if I lay into it.

The dramatic opening flops into a mismatched stuttery beat after 12 seconds and soon after follow the club synths and auto-tune vocals. And no, this isn’t a track from Lil’ Wayne or Kanye West’s latest LP, it’s the single from Silver produced by Sermstyle. The beat was apparently shopped to major labels in the states – nothing to boast about really; that your track is a reject before ever hitting the shelves.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad track, but in a take it/leave it situation, the latter would be my decision. Amongst all the other stuff released this year, this does not hold up. Give me Sway’s album any day.

And that is what Silver appears to be - a good MC, not a great MC. He does describe adequately, using a rather American vernacular (not accent), his ‘grind’ and has a cheeky pop at poppy lyrics. Imitation may be the best form of flattery but in Silver’s case mimicry makes it all the more evident he wishes it was him who’d had a hit with ‘Umbrella’.

I can’t recommend this track but if I hear better from him I’ll let you know. I won’t give up on Silver yet.

'She Looks Good' ft. Kevin Mark Trail - L.Star & Tweetie (single review)

What do you do once you’ve plundered one of the biggest pop songs in history in order to get a hit? You draft in a slightly jaded R’n’B singer and go for the jugular of Ironik’s target audience. You also add said Eurythmics-sampling track into the package. I’m talking about L.Star & Tweetie’s latest track ‘She Looks Good’ featuring Kevin Mark Trail.

Apparently they “deliver a combination of bouncy basslines, manipulating melodies, poignant punchlines and cheeky comedy, that only they can get away with.” Read it as such: “They deliver a mish-mash of no basslines, boring piano loops, awful chat-up lines and disgustingly clichéd lyrics that you will not let them get away with.”

Maybe the bouncy basslines come on the second track; some kind of remix (imaginatively entitled ‘bassline remix’) which might be half decent if it wasn’t for the whack lyrics and orgasm sounds littered all over it. The third track is ‘Street Dreamz’, probably the one featuring Skinnyman and Flirta D but I couldn’t be bothered to listen to it.

‘Doin It’ (the name of their T shirt brand, which take about 2 months to come if you order one) jacks some UK garage two-step beats last heard probably on Craig David’s debut with Artful Dodger. In short, their half sung/half rapped, unintentional impressions of everyone from Sean Paul to Eminem leave me with the conclusion that they are most certainly not ‘Doin it’. Unless ‘it’ is missing a two-letter prefix.

If you do want a copy, then you’ll have to wait until 8th December when it’s being distributed by Real Records. Poor misguided, mis-named people.

‘Food 4 Da Brain Second Serving’ - VA (album & DVD review)

If the aim of ‘Food 4 Da Brain Second Serving’ wasn’t to serve up a platter of perfectly complementing flavours then I’ll eat my hat. If that is what they set out to do then they’ve royally achieved it. The menu offers up tracks from the finest chefs on either side of the UK Hip Hop/Grime divide; in fact it tastily demonstrates the breaking down of the boundary.

With artists like Ghetto and Virus Syndicate represent Grime, rappers and producers such as Kashmere, Verb T, M9 and Jon Phonics provide the Hip Hop and MCs like Skinnyman, Klashnekoff, Mr Ti2bs and Shameless defy pigeon holing altogether.

MCD sets things off with a self-produced, firmly on the grime side, dubplate proving he has progressed and embraced newer, but rooted in older, music styles. Beat Butcha follows up with his remix of Terra Firma’s ‘Git Down’ and it’s just what you’d expect from that collaboration. Chemo then pops up as producer of Manage’s thriller ‘No One Needs To Know’ featuring LeEo. Mr Ti2bs, Virus Syndicate and Ghetto continue to provide quality platters of goodness, all challenging the listener to label it as either Grime or Hip Hop.

Skinnyman and Deadly Hunta serve one of the albums most delicious tracks – ‘Ballistic Affair’ which also comes in the form of a cool animated video on the accompanying DVD. Invisible Inc then provides a rest between courses with their ‘Invisible’ (or is it ‘Invisible Inc Theme’? It’s the same track that’s on 'Rapsploitation Sessions').

Supar Novar and Big Ben heat things up again and Jon Phonics follows with a remix of M9’s ‘Strange Fruit’ (possibly better than the album version?). Deadly Hunta brings a few more raga vibes on ‘Valley of Death’ and Foreign Beggars come with some electro-funk and Pharrell-esque vocals. Shameless, Bruza and Ghetto finish the sitting with some hard-as-nails riddims.

I can see what the guys behind this have done: they’re on a mission, a mission to blur the boundaries, to lure Hip Hop heads over to the Grime side and vice-versa. This is all about the music, and despite my review, it’s not about genre. This is, actually, what Hip Hop was – the combination of other music forms, a new way of expression that utilises the sounds around it. So whatever you’re preference, buy this and think about the message it not so subtly puts across, ask yourself: ‘Am I open minded?’ Let’s hope so.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

'Why Oh Why?' ft. Yosh - Vee Kay (free download)

Vee Kay sent a copy of his new producer album my way today. I've listened to the whole thing and it's awesome. I'll be giving it a proper review soon but as a taster he's letting you all have a track for free.

The track features up and comer Yosh and is called 'Why Oh Why?'. Check it out.

Vee Kay has recently been at work on Wordsmith's forthcoming LP, which he assures me will be out soon. 'The Audio Workout' features Wordsmith, Dubbledge, Micall Parknsun, Stig of the Dump, Dr. Syntax and the Dead Residents amongst others. It's going to be available in a month's time on download only.

According to the press release "Vee Kay has been diligently working away in the background for a hot minute now. Having self-financed his first sold-out EP 'Mindless', he went on to put out the much sought-after 'Myster-Vee Tour' in 2004. He followed that up by producing the debut album for UK Hip Hop veterans, Beefeaterz, eating up the boards for their 'Badge of Honour' album and working with international acts, Arsonists, Dead Residents and Josh Martinez. This time, it’s all about Vee, and 'The Audio Workout' is his first full-length LP and he is hungry to finally push his sound to the forefront of the UK hip-hop scene."

'Somebody's Watching Me' - Marvin (free download)

Marvin (formerly Marvin the Martian) has just dropped this mixtape via his blogspot.

Marvin streams consciousness over previously ignorance covered instrumentals (I think, I'm only guessing, I don't really listen to ignorant rap but it sounds like some these beats once belonged to some gangsta wannabe's - no offence if they didn't). There are instrumentals from the likes of Masta Ace and Joell Ortiz on here too so it's not all like I just said!

Anyway, tracks like 'Line for the Toilet' commentate on situations and ideas that Marvin has an opinion about and he does it in an entertaining way.

'100% Exclusive' - VA - Tricksta (compilation/mix CD review)

Back once again for the very third time; UK Runnings and The Urban Shop drop a bigger and better CD. This time every track is new and never heard before, hence the name: '100% Exclusive'. Now who else could do that? No-one, only Tricksta. To add to the largeness there’s a DVD that almost deserves a review of it own.

Not only has Tricksta orchestrated the whole thing, he’s also produced exactly half of the tracks on here, recorded most of it and then released it on his own label: the famous, 50+ release deep, Wolftown Recordings. Anyone who’s ever listened to any of the UK Runnings releases knows what to expect from ‘100% Exclusive’ and they wont be disappointed.

Featuring UK wide artists as well as the home grown Wolftown talents this CD is chock full of bangers. I’m not going to list the artists involved but you can click this link to see the full track listing. If you’re into discovering new music then listening to this wouldn’t be a bad thing, many of the acts here are of a high quality but as yet are not too well known – once more, Tricksta is one step ahead.

The DVD features videos from Million Dan, Supar Novar, 10Shott, Conman and more. It features interviews with Late, 10Shott, Kid Rad, Jai Boo and more. You also get a tour of the radio headquarters and Tricksta’s crib. It’s an entertaining documentary about the UK’s hardest working; it had me hooked. It also features some art and some snowboarding. Here’s to more DVD’s like this.

All in all: buy this and you’ll get your money’s worth. 30 great tracks that you won’t find anywhere else and an hour’s worth of visual entertainment. Can’t say fairer than that.

Check out some of the tracks from this CD in the player to the right.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The IRS & Precise Da Analyzer Freestyles (video)

Here's King Kaiow, Ed Strong, Random DV of The IRS 'longside Precise Da Analyzer spittin' pre-writtens ahead of a show:

'The Get Together' - Evil Ed & Conspicuous (album review)

At 15 tracks deep, coming in at just over 50 minutes, ‘The Get Together’ is no hard slog. I’ve already listened to it a few times today and am beginning again; it doesn’t get boring despite the outwardly conventional Hip Hop template.

Evil Ed is known for having produced for Jehst, Yungun and a whole host of other UK names. His production LP ‘The Enthusiast’ featured vocals from Kyza, the Colony, Doc Brown, Tommy Evans and Asaviour amongst others. Conspicuous (aka Conspicuous the Coroner aka Cons) a member of The Colony along with Willo Wispa, Grimlok and Sir Smurf Lil’, has previously dropped two albums, ‘Backgammon’ in ’05 and ‘The Family Photo Album’ last year.

Cons is on point with some carefully constructed verses that proudly display his rhyming ability (probably the reason why ‘81’s Favourite Son’ was sequenced first). The guests contribute only pure fire too, there are no duff appearances and no-one steals anyone else’s shine. It’s not just ‘BBQ’ that has a brotherly BBQ-ish feel; the whole album is like one relaxed cipher. Ed’s production is of a high quality, there are no hastily looped breaks here, no drums slapped on top of some old soul; this is sampling at its most professional and top that, it’ll keep your head nodding all the while.

Stand out tracks come in the form of UK/US posse cut ‘Ill-Out’ and ‘Big Headed’. The former for its jazziness, cuts, contrasting accents and sick lyrics. The latter for the pianos, Willo Wispa’s inimitable slackness and Mudmowth’s mentalness.

‘The Get Together’ serves as a great follow-up album for both artists. With a multitude of big guests, including some from over the pond, the duo has crafted a comprehensive body of work that should garner many spins by any Hip Hop head fortunate to pick up a copy of this.

Evil Ed & Conspicuous Videos

I also got Evil Ed and Conspicuous's 'The Get Together' album, look out for a review of that very soon. Meanwhile here's two video snippets:

'Time After Time' featuring Cobane, Shameless & Sir Smurf Lil':

'The Night' featuring Willo Wispa, Iceman & Yung Blud:

'Press Ups' - Cobane (video)

I just got Cobane's 'F.Y.I' in the post today, the free lead-up release to his 'Multitasking' CD. 'Press Ups' will be on that second release but meanwhile here's the video:

Check back for a review of 'F.Y.I'

'Be Cool' - Wretch 32 (video)

The Thunderclaps - Free Stuff

Go here to download free stuff from the mans who brought you the epic 'Judgement Day'. All you MCs can get the 'Judgement Day' instrumental, you can download the video, a mix they did for Pyroradio, a track called 'Put Em In Their Place (Grime Remix)' and some other things.

'The Three Piece Exkursion' - Manny Moscow (EP review)

‘The Three Piece Exkursion’ is Manny Moscow’s return to the music industry and although I never knew he left or even existed, this is a welcome return.

‘Straight 48’ kicks things off with a no-nonsense policy; no glossy beat, no hook, just lyrics, and great lyrics at that. Manny plays word association over the haunting orchestral choral loop. ‘You Can’t Tempt Me’ featuring Shepherd follows a similar production mould but with a piano thrown in. Also added is a hook and guest verse.

‘Cross Over’ has the most memorable refrain (“Look left, Look right/Your crossin’ over the roads in sight”) but sees breathy, venomous raps matched to menacing strings.

Manny Moscow takes Hip Hop and life seriously and his prose gives something to listen to. His flow and lyrics are reminiscent of the East Coast greats; Moscow raps his influences in a London brogue. The three tracks don’t differ too much, possibly a problem on a full length, but here cohesion is necessary. For fans of M9, Triple Darkness and lyrical conscious rap in general, this is a must.

'Scene Stealers' - Skreintax (album review)

Skreintax may not have been the most obvious collaboration. Dr Syntax and Skrein each have quite a unique take on Hip Hop but in no way is ‘Scene Stealers’ a mash-up of the two. Synners and Skrizzle have cooperated to create a joint stage for their skills.

Dr. Syntax and Skrein retain their identifiable timbres; you know when one MC stops and the other start – more than can be said for some collaborative efforts. The other MC’s complement this; Stig of the Dump, Farma G, Verb T, Sir Smurf Lil’ and Dubbledge all show up to rap. ‘Mine for the Taking’ showcases yet another Farma G style – that man is really experimenting right now. ‘Express Train’ and ‘T.E.T.M.D’ (The Evil That Men Do) both feature Stig, who seems to have all but lost the Geordie twang but still raps ferociously.

Lyrically there are many messages to be had here. On an overall positive vibe, words of advice and encouragement flow thoughtfully, especially on tracks like ‘Mothers’ and ‘Reach’. Other tracks follow concepts; ‘Express Train’ discusses getting away for a day, ‘Back Down’, a night on the pull with disappointing consequences. ‘Venus’ examines a woman who, despite her name, revolves around material things. Other tracks, like ‘6 Bitters’ (Sick Spitters….get it?), are all about the ill lyrics. As usual Dr. Syntax shines as he displays his awesome propensity to write amazing rhymes.

The production is perfect, not a bad beat in sight. Boom bap, a splash of jazz, a hint of reggae, all stirred in the sunshine is the order of the day here. The beats are courtesy of Nutty P, Kelakovski, Chemo, DJ Snips, Dag Nabbit and Tom Caruana among others. Graziella also provides her golden tones on some deliciously sung hooks.

If you’re already a fan of Dr. Syntax or Skrein then I can guarantee you will want this LP in your collection. It’s out on Dented Records on December 1st; one for your stocking then.

'Ma Money EP' - Dap-C & Lil' Wayne (EP review)

Now this is a strange one; Newcastle’s Dap-C and New Orleans’ Lil’ Wayne on a track together. Lil’ Wayne isn’t usually to my taste and the jury’s out on Dap-C but this release may change my mind.

‘Ma Money’, produced by The Elementz, is a good track. I even prefer Lil’ Wayne’s verse over Dap-C’s, in fact Wayne’s is just straight fire whereas Dap’s is a bit shouty and high pitched. The production is on a big dirty south tip and it stands up to some of the biggest tracks outta the south.

‘Ma Money part 2’, produced by Quincey Tones, is even better, it features Royce da 5’9 and a song-long guitar solo; the instrumental is entirely different and it suits Dap-C, Lil’ Wayne and Royce a whole lot better. ‘Ma Money part 3’consists of a brassy production and a handful of UK MC’s and it’s not as good as the other two parts. The ‘Nasty Boi Remix’ has a nice rock edge to it – worth checking.

‘Bang Bang Bang’ isn’t bad but it’s nothing special and it’s made worse by the presence of Geejay. ‘I’m Still Here’, the US MC heavy track, is OK too but it doesn’t really compare to an actual American track – it comes off a bit weak.

‘Ma Money’ parts 1 and 2 are really worth a listen, get your hands on this to hear those tracks and who knows, some of the others may take your fancy too. Dap-C gets respect for linking with one of the hottest artists in the Hip Hop world. UK/US link-ups are still thin on the ground and they’re certainly a way to make some fresh and diverse Hip Hop so right now, I can’t hate.

Monday, 27 October 2008

'Rapsploitation Sessions' - VA - Jimmy Green & Truth (compilation review)

Do not sleep on this release. One of a few compilation/mix CDs around this moment, this one won’t disappoint. Featuring tracks from artists who have performed at Ipswich’s only Hip Hop night Rapsploitation Sessions it’s clear that Truth and Jimmy Green have good taste in music.

The artist album tracks here are the cream of the crop: Mr. Drastick’s Chemo produced ‘Give it Up’, Def Tex’s ‘Bomber’, SonnyJim’s ‘Next Generation’, Reain’s ‘Rap Game’…the list goes on. It’s great to hear a load of good familiar tracks in sequence as chosen by someone else - saves me ripping and burning my own CD. From an album I’ve not yet heard; Precise Da Analyzer and Dubbledge get hilariously mean on ‘Neverland’ (“You’ll never be friends like Joey’s new sitcom”).

The non-album tracks stand up to the already released tunes and there are a couple of proper stand outs. Kosyne’s ‘A Tale of a Tenner’ proves that he’s one to watch as he spins a sordid yarn of crime concerning one ten pound note. Ghost, Verb T and Kashmere debut as Invisible Inc on the lovely end-of-night chill-out vibes of ‘Invisible Inc Theme’. Even host Truth steps up with ‘Body of Work’, produced by Jimmy Green, the CD’s DJ. The new Vinyl Dialect cut ‘Spray’ proves they’ve truly refined their sound whilst preserving the curveball rhymes.

I could go on describing the merits of each of the track on here, I’ve not even mentioned the tunes by Sir Smurf Lil’, Verb T, Stylah, Conspicuous and all the other heads on this release. ‘Rapsploitation Sessions’ is a varied but perfectly sequenced collection of some of the newer stars of UK rap. This one I really will bump repeatedly.

It’s out now on P.Found Music and can be gotten over at their myspace for a barge-in £5 plus p&p. I’d buy it so you should too man.

'Strange Fruit' - M9 (video)

Tune into M9's new video for single 'Strange Fruit'. It's beautifully shot in sepia and the images and footage of Britain illustrate the message perfectly. The added text is a nice touch and overall this is a really well done, top class video:

'The Dark/The Light' - Brotherman (album review)

If there is any album that you buy this year, instead of downloading (legally of course), it’s Brotherman’s ‘The Dark/The Light’. The packaging is the most original I’ve seen in UK Hip Hop. The project is a double EP, 6 tracks on each so effectively it’s a 12 track album on two CDs. Each CD has its own sleeve, they slot together to combine the light and dark inspired artwork and to form one jewel case sized package… argh, you’ll just have to buy it to understand what I mean!

Thankfully, the marketing ploys are thoroughly backed up by the quality of the music. Brotherman has that likeable voice (also possessed by Dr. Syntax and Verb T) and is poetical with his lyrics. He gives a voice to society’s silent and scripts situations confined usually to the psyche.

‘The Dark’ is a 6 track lament with Brotherman’s everyday observations providing fodder for his lyrics. A focus on education and children appears to be the inspiration for these songs as crime of all kinds are discouraged and family values are promoted. Brotherman brings a message of hope to those in difficult situations and opens a window to those who don’t really understand the plight of the ghettos of the UK. The production lifts the poignant subject matter, furthering the feeling of hope.

Some elements of ‘The Light’ set it apart from ‘The Dark’ although it’s really a natural progression of its other half. The production is more upbeat and the introduction, for example, is just straight rap boasting. ‘One I’ is an ode to a life with Hip Hop but ‘Heart of Dem’ returns to analysing today’s youth. ‘Wrong’ pushes the message that relationships need to be worked at, something society needs to heed. ‘Who Knows What’ is the stand out for me, the opening lyrics (ones I’ve already quoted here) are so beautiful and emotive and the growing up theme is done to a T.

‘The Dark/The Light’ is one of the best releases this year and Silent Soundz should be proud to add this to their already quality back catalogue. Everyone from the streets to the Natty-fan-in-Tesco should love this album; let’s hope they get to hear it.

'The Beast From The East' - TB (mix CD review)

For all who may have been suspicious or confused - T. Bear is TB and Tuberculosis. His new mix CD ‘Beast from the East’, mixed by DJ MK, is out now on Ottomanelf Music and this is what I think of it:

There is one thing you must do on inserting this CD into your player – turn it up. This CD does not work quietly. Despite the cuddly name, T. Bear may be one of the UK’s gulliest MCs – overall the 29 tracks are face contorting although he does take time out on some more chilled tracks. The instrumentals add their contribution to the audio assault with production from Farma G, P*Nut and Chemo as well as others.

Lyrically TB is pretty dope: ‘I imagine I’ma die like John Lennon, but believe, I’ma leave a prettier widow than Yoko Ono’, you get the impression that he’ll say anything. Flow-wise he doesn’t miss a beat, he’s tight with the snares. Tuberculosis credibly walks the Hip Hop/Grime line, ‘Bang this Out’ demonstrating his double time flow well. This CD contains concept tracks like ‘Off 2 Work’, a topic touched on by a few rappers recently but Mr. Ti2bs and TB contribute a catchy hook and some good lyrics to the collection. On the funky ‘Freestlye’ you get a glimpse of TB’s sense of humour as he sings ‘La-di-da-di-da’ – sing along.

TB must be hard working; more than an hour’s worth of music spread over 29 tracks is impressive although it’s probably best listened to in two halves. Skills and charisma are evident but I’m more a fan of proper albums, I’d like to see him focus on say, 10 tracks, that contain everything he is capable of. As it stands though, the mix CD format serves it purpose.

'Grime' - VA - Mixed and Compiled by Lunatrix & DJ Vokal (compilation review)

There are certain Grime artists who have matured the genre into something listenable. Some of those artists (Wiley, Asher D, Wretch 32, Bashy, Virus Syndicate and Skepta) are assembled on HHB Radio’s ‘Grime’ mix CD. Other artist on this CD generally fit into the mature mould although there are a couple of Channel U moments, ya get me?

Primarily, I’m a Hip Hop fan but there are many Grime artists who have crossed into my consciousness as the boundaries between the two genres have blurred. This does mean that I’m not up to speed with everything on this CD, but to my ears it sounds pretty fresh.

Stand out track is the massive ‘Punctuation Remix’ and the mix into ‘Streets on Lock’ by Nasty Jack is nice. ‘Badder Dan Dem’ by Lady Lykes, ‘The Formula’ by W.A.R. Material and Fr3e’s ‘I Got This’ could have been left on the cutting room floor but overall the track selection is educated.

If you’re a Grime fan then buy this, if you’re curious, buy it because it could change your mind. It’s ideal for your car’s subwoofer or for getting hyped up to before you hit the town in your cris new creps. It's out now on OYM records.

New stuff at Suspect Packages

Run on over to Suspect Packages 'cause they've got a few of those releases you've read about here and have been waiting for:

Mudmowth - 'Circus in the Cemetery EP'
M9 - '144,000'
Illustrate - 'The Stuff'
Wretch 32 - 'Wretchrospective'
Evil Ed & Conspicuous - 'The Get Together'
Mystro - 'F.D.T. EP'

Friday, 24 October 2008

How's life in...East Anglia? Chronic Redeye Interview

Certified Banger: Yo! Tell us a bit about yourselves. Who are you? What’s your history as a group? What’s your individual history? What releases have you had?

Chronic Redeye: Yo! Chronic Redeye is the crew name which originally comes from the combination of DJ Chronic and emcee Redeye, but it‘s grown over time to include singer Littleface, DJ Scotty and human beatbox Crez One, plus we always roll with emcees Franko Fraize and Lyrical T.

DJ Chronic was originally part of DestaNation reggae sound system and we met through going to Exodus dances in Luton. Over time we started rolling in the same crew involved in warehouse parties and free festivals. A lot of the crew we were moving with at the time were squatting big disused buildings and turning it into a living space for loads of the fam where there would be after party sessions and a real basic recording set up. That’s where the first hip hop sessions as Chronic Redeye took place, in 2003. It was hectic up in there, I remember trying to get a tune done when the crew where putting on a rave that night and there was so many people passing through they’d all be jammed in the hallway we couldn’t contain the noise we’d just have to record with it all going on in the background!

Our first release was the ‘Seein Red’ CD album in 2005, then we put out a 4 track vinyl EP called ‘FreeUpThaSound.’ Next was ‘The All Or Nothing Days’ CD album in 2006 and we have just dropped our new CD ‘Knowledge Is King.’

CB: Where are you from? Can you tell us a bit more about the Hip Hop scene there?

CR: DJ Chronic is from Oxford and the rest of us are from around the Norwich area, East Anglia. EA bang bang! Franko Fraize and Lyrical T rep Thetford which is 20 minutes down the road from Norwich.

Hip hop is alive and well in our area! We’ve got nights like Roots N Culture putting on stage shows with the biggest artists alongside local talent, plus we’ve got underground sound systems like Concrete Roots that aren’t afraid to pump out the hardcore hip hop. Our area is also full of artists, from battle rappers to hip hop bands so we’re doing our thing.

There are people that moan about a lack of a scene, but they’re usually the fassies that stay at home arguing on the internet while everyone else is up in the party.

CB: Redeye, you’ve got a quite a different voice to most rappers. How important is that in making your music sound unique?

CR: It’s been an advantage that my voice comes across as different, but it’s not something I’ve worked at. I just rhyme how I talk, but it has helped make the tracks stand out as unique and everyone knows when I’m kicking a verse so it’s all good!

CB: What are your current or upcoming projects? ie albums, singles, tours, guest spots…

CR: Upcoming projects from our crew include a Franko Fraize album ‘Heart On My Sleeve,’ a Lyrical T album called ‘How We Livin,’ a compilation called Ruffneck Intellect Vol 1 featuring freestyles and exclusives from all of our crew and loads of other rugged hip hop artists, and there is a collaboration album between Redeye and producer Al Royal called D&A – The Codes. Al Royal is one of the original Norwich jungle dons but we are going back to his hip hop roots with a new twist so watch out for that.

CB: The production on ‘Knowledge is King’ is quite sparse sounding. What’s the reasoning behind that?

CR: We’re on that rugged tip and love it when an MC is just catching wreck on some ill stripped down loop. There’s ‘nuff people out there making that over- produced, syrupy shit and there’s a place for that, but we’re taking it back to the gully with our beats.

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

CR: ‘Tales From da Weedspot’ is a track that defines our style, Chronic has chopped up a random old sample and made it sound sinister over some big drums and I’m kicking a story about something that happens all too often round ‘ere – mans getting their weed crop nicked.

CB: Who have been your biggest musical influences and which Hip Hop artists have inspired you? Which are your favourite albums? What music were you brought up on?

CR: Wu Tang have to be mentioned as a big musical influence, the ruggedness of 36 Chambers blew everything else away when it dropped and that sound is still something we aspire to years later. Other favourite albums include Smif N Wessun – Dah Shinin, Mobb Deep – The Infamous, Shyheim – The Lost Generation, Gunshot – Twilight’s Last Gleaming and Skinnyman – Council Estate Of Mind.

We were brought up on allsorts from the Rolling Stones to Tracey Chapman to The Wailers, and in the early nineties we were definitely caught up in the rave explosion and birth of jungle. Chrome and the Def Tex crew also deserve a mention as inspiration, they paved the way in our area for that real hip hop and if it wasn’t for them a lot of the best jams we’ve had over the years wouldn’t have happened.

CB: The other week in Leeds we had the BPP (British People’s Party) demonstrating against the sale of Ice Cube’s ‘Death Certificate’ album because they say it is racist against white people. What are your views on freedom of speech and Hip Hop?

CR: Haha didn’t anyone tell them that album has been out for years anyway lol they could have at least protested about his new one, helped his sales a bit! Fuck censorship, we defend freedom of speech 100%. You’ve just got to remember that with freedom comes responsibility.

CB: If you don’t mind talking about it, what are your views on race and Hip Hop? Redeye, how well are you received as a white MC in the sound system culture? Are there still race barriers in Hip Hop?

CR: I gotta say I’ve never experienced race barriers, I don’t know whether that’s testament to the sound systems we roll with or the times in general. As a white dread you’d have thought that I might receive friction but when most Rastaman come to check out what we’re about the vibes are good and we build a spliff n have a little reasoning session! No one should be trying to get away from the fact that this is black music but as long as mans are moving humble and keeping it true then let the music speak for itself.

CB: The album features Franko Fraize and Lyrical T quite heavily, how do they fit into your ethos, sound and general set up?

CR: That’s extended family right there. It’s been a natural progression how they got down, doing more shows and spending time building in the lab and just kicking it blowing trees. They both study their craft and know their shit so they were on that path anyway but our paths crossed and it’s just clicked into place without trying. We’ve all got quite different styles but put ‘em all on a track together and its burial time.

CB: Something I’ve been thinking about recently is the self-sufficiency of the UK scene. Now I know people don’t make a whole lot of money, they do it for the love and I see documentaries on people like Yungun who is a lawyer during working hours. What’s your view on how UK Hip Hop is funded and why the MC’s and producers do it? Do you work day jobs? How does that fit into the ‘Hip Hop’ lifestyle?

CR: It’s definitely a labour of love but I think there’s some change to be made if you do it right, spreading your wings and being more than just a rapper or a producer you could be doing graphic designs or promoting events. But having said that, it’s still mad difficult to earn any decent money legally in this country, let alone in this UK hip hop business. But people still work at it cos hip hop is like the fire inside that keeps you going, and giving up on that is like admitting you’ve given up on everything and you’re just gonna stay at home and watch telly and let your mind rot! We have to work day jobs in some capacity but it’s a case of working to live and not living to work. I spend most of my working days with my head in a rhyme book blowing bongs out of the window. Good job I’m not a bus driver.

CB: What’s next for Chronic Redeye? Will you be experimenting with new sounds? Pushing things further? Exploring new concepts? Or just perfecting what you already do?

CR: We’re just gonna carry on putting our lives down on the track, we don’t really have to set out to explore concepts they just evolve from writing about what we see on the daily. It’s all about keeping the skills sharp though, every time our crew gets into a cipher someone is pushing the bar higher so things are constantly progressing lyrically. We’re always gonna make that gully boom bap hip hop but Chronic has started experimenting with some some nasty dubstep sounds and we’ve started having a section of our live show spitting over dubstep, so things are always evolving naturally. Word to the mums!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

'Graveyard Poets' - The Mantis Chapter (EP review)

The Mantis Chapter take it back 15 years sonically and 300 years topically. ‘Graveyard Poets’ is an EP wrapped in gothic imagery - it’s like a Hip Hop vampire film soundtrack, created in the UK, in 1992.

Vocal and production styles both ignore at least the last decade of progression in UK rap. As a result fast paced break-beats and lyrics ensue as in the Britcore days of yore. This isn’t a bad thing either; there’s no-one else currently peddling this sound so it does stand out.

The subject matter is influenced by all things archaic. Folklore, magic and mortality feature heavily but this is just their way of saying ‘I’m the illest’. The crew and their guests are all pretty eloquent and the album exposes yet another facet of UK Hip Hop.

‘Graveyard Poets’ is poles apart from much of the UK’s current output, it’s nothing like Sway, it’s nothing like Blak Twang, it’s nothing like Dizzee – it’s its own thing and if you’re into building a diverse but grounded-in-the-UK music collection, this has to be in it.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Colin Powell is Hip Hop

UK MOBO Winners

Congratulations to our guys who won MOBOs last night. Let's hope next year people take them a bit more seriously and turn up.

UK Female - Estelle (also she actually turned up)

UK Male - Dizzee Rascal (for the second year in a row)

UK Newcomer - Chipmunk

Gospel - Jahaziel (pictured - check my interview here)

Song - 'American Boy' by Estelle

Radio DJ - Trevor Nelson

Club DJ - Tim Westwood

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

'Syncopated City' - London Elektricity (album review)

I've also been checking out UK D'n'B outfit (T shirts, Trousers and everything) London Elektricity. Their new album 'Syncopated City' is a bit heavy. Now in my 'Hold Your Colour' by Pendulum induced Drum 'n' Bass frenzy London Elektricity were one act that I latched onto because of the apparent knowledge of melody and song structure (one song 'Strangest Secret In The World' in particular).

Hence me, post D'n'B madness (the new Pendulum album was poo), checking out this album. There are some real standout tracks on it; ones that made my ears stand to attention. Opener 'Bare Religion' and 'All Hell Is Breaking Loose' are massive melodic slabs of D'n'B that employ some excellent samples. Non-album track 'Maybe I Was Wrong' has a chilled but oh-so-fat bassline that you need for lying back, closing your eyes and feeling like all might just be well with the world. It might also help you say sorry to someone, so it must be good.

If you're looking for something a bit different to your 100% Hip Hop diet then this album could be what you need. There are still beats, basslines and samples it's just the tempo is upped and there's no tiresome recoverage of the same subject matter.

Get it here and check out the awesome video for 'All Hell Is Breaking Loose'.

'Fun DMC' - People Under The Stairs (album review)

In a rare moment of sitting down and listening to a full album that I chose to listen to (as opposed to all the ones I'm obliged to review - many of which I do want to listen to) I managed to check out 'Fun DMC', the new album by People Under The Stairs.

Now I've not been on much of their past material although I'm pretty sure I like it but seeing the title of this made me want to listen to it. And I wasn't dissapointed. It does pretty much what it says on the tin. The cover really sums up the feel of the album - it is chilled out, summertime music as advertised on a South Central telegraph pole.

PUTS have saluted a whole ton of old school 90's and 80's Hip Hop sounds - disco, funk and soul recieving the bulk of the nods. In fact the songs sound so 'Golden Era' that it's actually a shock to the system when they mention new fangled things like ipods and myspace. In my books, that's a good thing. It's modern old school... and it came out a couple of months too late. Ah well, I'll get it out again next summer and meanwhile I'll bump it to bring the sun to my wintery life.

Here's an mp3 for you nto check out, it's the title track and if you go to the website you can type-diddy-type-tee-type-type-t-type your email in a box and they'll send you the discotastic 'Anotha' (BBQ)' - it's a beast.

Get yourself a copy, it's a brilliant and fun album and it makes me smile.

'The Stuff' - Illustrate (album review)

Having already reviewed Illustrate’s ‘Work’ EP means I’ve already assessed 4 out of 14 tracks on ‘The Stuff’, make sure you check out my review of that as well as reading this. Right, on with the review then.

The more amusing than most intro kicks things off and consists of a jaunty self produced beat and a load of samples referring to ‘The Stuff’. ‘My Hat’ comes next and ‘Sick of It’ follows. ‘Sick of It’ is a Just Jack-ish (but with proper rapping) guitar led tune that’s just a little melancholic –after all it’s about all the stuff Illustrate’s sick off. Thankfully ‘Do What You Like’ rushes in, scoops up the mood and throws it sky high thanks to the light hearted subject matter and Sloth’s airy jazz.

And the album continues this way. Illustrate seems to have sequenced the album to constantly change the way you feel and as I’ve said before, his music and writing is emotive and that’s a powerful skill to possess. Lead track ‘The Stuff’ perfectly demonstrates the slightly eccentric place where Ollie Bates finds his ideas when he refers to Braintax liking his album then drops a sample of the Low Life head honcho – ‘A big sound system playing the stuff’.

The only real dud moment is ‘Killing Celebrities’ where Illustrate does his angry white violent-but-only-joking rapper impression by listing celebrities and how he’d kill them. Rather uninspiring.

‘The Stuff’ has high entertainment value and despite the variety of emotions portrayed, has a very happy-go-lucky vibe to it- which is a nice balance for an album to have. It’s a good album to debut with and is a highlight in this year’s more subterranean rap releases. It’s out on November 17th on Headcount Records and will be available for sure from Suspect Packages.

'Once Upon A Time' ft. Joell Ortiz & Natty - Sincere (video)

Here's the video to the remix of one of my summer anthems. New York's Joell Ortiz has hopped on board and provides a cheeky verse on an all new video. The hook-up is a result of DJ Semtex being a don and working on a mix CD called 'Pounds & Dollars' with Joell Ortiz. Brap.

10Shott at the MOBO Awards

In other MOBO news, whilst not nominated (hopefully next year), 10Shott will be performing at the VIP drinks reception for all industry and VIP guests. His performance wont be televised unfortunately but should never the less get press and the interest of a load of industry insiders.

UK Artists in MOBO Awards Tonight

It's the MOBO awards tonight.

Sway, Wiley and Dizzee Rascal will battle it out for Best UK Male as well as a couple of others who I don't care for.

Estelle is going for Best UK Female against again, a few others who don't deserve to win. She's also up for a whole host of other awards; Best Song, Best Video and Best Album.

Ironik is up for Best UK Newcomer, he'd better not win that, Chipmunk or Skepta deserve it more.

We're (the UK) also reppin' in the Best Gospel category with Jahaziel and GreenJade both in the running and both thouroughly recommended by myself to any Hip Hop fans out there.

Best Song section features Wiley's 'Wearin' My Rolex', Dizzee's 'Dance Wiv Me' and Estelle's 'American Boy'. 'American Boy' is up for Best Video award as is Bashy's 'Kidulthood to Adulthood' and Tinchy Stryder's 'Stryderman'.

Dizzee and Wiley have both been nominated for Best Hip Hop alongside Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco and Lil' Wayne.

Big ups also go to our own radio and club DJ's Semtex, Westwood, 279 and more.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Royce Da 5'9 makes banger from Euro-pop trash

In possibly the strangest sampling move since Ironik flipped Westlife, Royce Da 5'9 raps over one of the most cheesiest euro-pop singles ever to hit foreign shores, apparently flipped by someone for T.I - but I wouldn't know that.

'Live Your Life' sees Royce rhyming over a sample of O-Zone's 'Dragostea Din Tei' but it hurts to say that it's actually a bit of a banger.

M-Phazes Remixes Jehst and Yungun

Ozzie producer type M-Phazes has cooked up some right bangers on his barby. His album 'Grindin'' is a selection of already big but newly remixed tunes.

Featured are tracks from worldwide artists like Scribe, Blak Twang, Ayak, Mystro, Phat Kat and O.C. The album is currently available on Beatsource but as yet, I don't think it's available anywhere else.

I've already posted his remix of Foreign Beggar's 'Hold On' but here are two more tracks for you so you can check out his steez:

Jehst - Psychedelic Phlegm (M-Phazes Remix)
Yungun & Mr. Thing - G.M.B (M-Phazes Remix)

If you sign up to Beatsource you'll get a free selection of tracks, one of which is M-Phazes' remix of Skyzoo's 'I Shine'.

'Pieces' ft. Plan B - Chase and Status

Chase and Status have messed around with UK Hip Hop before, with good results. Akala and Dizzee Rascal have both had the D'n'B treatment from these dudes, the latter being an absolute banger - better than the original ('Sirens') if you ask me.

With their latest D'n'B/UKHH outing being a bonafide collaboration, not a remix, it had to feature on the hallowed pages of Certified Banger. They've hooked up with Plan B on 'Pieces' and for all those newly converted Pendulum fans, this is for you. It's definitely along those rocky/D'n'B lines but fans of UK rap may be interested to hear it too.

'Pimp Lord' & 'Jokers' - 10Shott (free downloads)

Here's two of my favourite tracks from 10Shott's 'The Bigg Hitter'. You can download these for free and if you like what you hear then enter the competition just above this post.

Here's a few bits of tasty info from Guy at ZY:

"We will also send you the video when finished which will be really is 'Earth Calling' featuring TwissMan and a third verse and new ending.....storyboard by Lisa who has excelled herself in the intricate simplicity........Just when you thought it was finished....also there are more tracks going on 'Groundbreaker' including tracks from Quincey Tones and more collabs"

Monday, 13 October 2008

M9 Interview

Certified Banger: I’d like to get right into talking about your release ‘144,000’ but it’d be good if you could give a quick resume of your history.

M9: My musical history starts from the age of 13, writing rhymes with a friend called Propaganda, we then formed a team known as Anarchy. I used to attend a local youth club that was dedicated on getting teenagers into music, from there I learnt, more into the mechanisms of the production side, my first real recognition outside my area was a track I made with a close friend called Skriblah Dan Gogh from Terra Firma, we recorded a track known as ‘Cold’ from there I linked with Chemo and I decided to make my own project, known as Hi Fidelity in March 07. Now I’ve approached my new project a year later with a different offering.

CB: Before we get onto what influences your lyrics, can you tell us who influences you musically?

M9: The message I portray stems from common things I learnt in life, then comes what the average person is oblivious to is what caught my eye, such as black history, and cooperate decisions in high places, which affects every single individual on a daily basis. But as an artist I was highly influenced by Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang, Nas, Dead Prez, Kool G Rap, AZ, Ras Kass, Def Squad, Onyx, Pete Rock. To me each artist mentioned all have different elements to bring to the table with unique qualities.

CB: The thing I’ve been bursting to find out is where your ideas come from. Do you read a lot of books?

M9: I wouldn’t call myself a heavy reader, coz the greatest lessons stems from experience. My thoughts combust from many different universes of emotions and experiences, the forces that surround me all strive to achieve similar goals; that’s knowledge, wisdom, success and health. So we constantly bounce off each other, influencing and inspiring towards many different plains.

CB: More specifically – what’s the reasoning behind calling the album ‘144,000’? That’s a biblical number, found in the book of Revelation referring to 12,000 people from each of the Tribes of Israel…how does that fit in?

M9: Yes the concept of the chosen few is spoken of in Revelation 14:1, I acknowledged that and wanted to find out exactly what it meant. The means of going into what it really meant led me to a great teacher known as Malachi Z York, who wrote many books on this subject and beyond. What I found led me into the conclusion on the state of planet and the evil entity that governs it, which had me applying this to my music hence the title.

CB: What interested you in historical societies and religions in the first place? Do you draw comparisons between then and now?

M9: Of Course. I aint here to deny change, but the problem is to tell the difference between artificial and natural change. I think we’ve shifted far into artificial change and this leads to many abnormal occurrences. That abnormal vibration sparks something inside me and my team to reach out and notify others that may not have the ability to detect the abnormality.

CB: What are your views on religion today? Do any of you take a particular religious stance?

M9: Me and my team take no stance in any form of religion. We deal with reality, I think religion deals with a lot of division, we aint into that.

CB: Do you consider yourself intellectual, as a scholar?

M9: I put no labels on my mental abilities. What makes a scholar is only what he/she has been told by another person, that’s not complete. The element missing is self experience of which no outside entity can have an opinion or view on.

CB: On the Triple Darkness album especially, you and the others married street commentary with your knowledge of and thoughts about these things to produce a very original album lyrically. Was that a decision you made?

M9: It being labelled original would be the conclusion people may have on it, but our aim was to just put out what we saw was wrong with the world alongside our unique taste in musical production. We never gathered in a meeting to intentionally make an original album. That’s just how it came out.

CB: The absence of guns, gratuitous violence, disrespect of women (and all those things that ill informed people think Hip Hop is) is very welcome. Is this your way of leading by example?

M9: Our aim was just to make real hip hop, which means being real to yourself. Our lives don’t involve guns girls and cars, so you won’t hear any mentioning of us being in first person view, when it comes to those subjects.

CB: Your producers really came up with the goods, their production really suit the lyrical content. Who was involved? Did you give them a brief about what the sound of the album should be?

M9: I worked the closest with Jon Phonics and he was very patient & understanding on getting exactly what I needed. As he would know I’m a very ardent person when it comes to lacing a beat. Many times I would have him going back to the drawing board, but I really appreciated his determination. With Chemo I laced paintbrush over a different beat I wasn’t particularly proud of. I asked him if he could re-make a version and he pulled it off.

CB: How would you describe the sound of your new album?

M9: I would like to think of it as great offering for real hip hop heads to listen to, but it only being just a project means its not all I have to offer.

CB: Are you trying to get a message across? Are you trying to make people think? Is your work more personal as a means of therapy or self expression?

M9: Way I see it is, people should be thinking for themselves anyway. I would be very afraid for the future, if it took my project to make a person think about life. My music gives me a therapeutic feeling, knowing I can offer the planet a positive force to combat the negative.

CB: To close, is there anything you’d like to add, anything you’d like to say to the people who are buying and supporting your music? Anything you’d like to say to the people who aren’t?!

M9: To people buying, please continue to support to keep this form of hip hop alive, sitting back and doing nothing only leads to a tsunami of music which lacks an original substance of real message, governed by people with a lot of artificial power.
The path hip hop has gone down has forced a lot of real artists to go independent, which means the only thing keeping the movement alive would be the supporter.
So please continue. To those who don’t just remember, you not supporting the movement by bootlegging only adds to the downfall of any future activities musically.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

'The Bigg Hitter' - 10Shott (mixtape review)

The long awaited ‘The Bigg Hitter’ is here. If you copped ‘The Ghetto Brick Road’ then you know what to expect…but with fewer jacked beats. 10Shott has created a relative masterpiece (when compared to most other mixtapes of this kind) and if this doesn’t whet your appetite for a full album nothing will.

Previously heard (and still sounding great) tracks like ‘Imagination’ and ‘In My Blood’ (still one of my favourite 10Shott tracks) are mixed in with new full tracks, concept verses, collaborations, re-workings and even a preview of the forthcoming album ‘Groundbreaker…A Di Real’ (‘Snizzle’ ft. Malik from MD7).

There are a whole bag full of standout tracks here: ‘Pimp Lord’ is Tenny at his story telling AND rhyming best, ‘Jokers’ incorporates an electro-house beat with integral choral laughs – seriously - and ‘Asking for Too Much’ featuring Nadia Pearson is a tongue-in-cheek trip inside a jealous and controlling mind. ‘The Boodah Man’ shows off 10Shott’s production skills and innate ability to write a simple but cachy hook.

From dramatic opener ‘The Bigg Hitter’ (if you think that’s a theatrical entrance, wait for track 1 on ‘Groundbreaker’) to the closing ode to Wolverhampton (‘Wolverhampton’!) this CD is nothing but, to quote 10Shott, “large”. This is better than most albums I’ve heard in a while and it’s certainly had the most plays on my stereo.

'144,000' - M9 (album review)

‘144,000’ is dark, so if you don’t like dark Hip Hop shove off. Or you could stay, read and give it a chance. ‘Anthema’, the album by M9’s group Triple Darkness, came at a time when I wasn’t feeling rap’s more gloomy side. It changed my perspective and this album cements my new perspective in place. Over the last month, with the varying strains of UK Hip Hop pouring through my letter box, I’ve begun to marvel at the variety in our scene and I’ve begun to enjoy the diversity. It’s good to be able to go to one album for one vibe and to the next for another. My mind is open, is yours?

Sonically ‘144,000’ is in much the same mould as ‘Anathema’; it’s almost a second Triple Darkness album as Cyrus Malachi and Nasheron feature heavily throughout. On the whole the output isn’t as focussed as their group effort, perhaps due to the swollen track list and lack of departure from their status quo.

The album still has its engaging moments though and if you’re into lyric dissection you’ll have a field day here. M9, apparently a follower of nuwaupian teachings, is heavily influenced by what you and I would consider to be strange ideas, and often leaves the listener in the dark rendering some lines devoid of meaning. Where M9 applies his understanding to society things do become clearer.

The production, provided again by Chemo, Beat Butcha and this time Jon Phonics, is focussed and appropriately synergetic. Expect the dustiest loops of murky soul, jazz and film soundtracks.

If you haven’t already, pick up ‘Anathema’, school yourself, if you like that buy this when it drops on November 10th on Dark Matter Records/Kilamanjaro. It’s being distributed by Dented and will be available at your usual UK Hip Hop go to shop.

'Knowledge is King' - Chronic Redeye (album review)

Don’t let image issues fool you (emcee Redeye is one of those white Rasta types), ‘Knowledge is King’ is actually a pretty good representation of that Hip Hop meets Jungle meets Reggae type sound.

Don’t let the Norwich accent or the slightly slurpy delivery put you off either. Redeye’s recognisable voice sets him apart from other MC’s simply because no-one else sounds like him. Aside from that, the lyrics are well written and appealing. Almost crew members Franko Fraize and Lyrical T show up pretty often and surprise American guests are Main Flow and Bronze Nazereth.

The production is typically either a stripped away 90’s-ish boom bap or a blunted dub flavoured with a couple of nice outside influences (‘Nothing Lasts’, ‘STR8 Rugged’). Most of the production is handled by DJ Chronic although Mr. Laws, Dillijence, Fudalwokit and Wolftown’s Tricksta provide a few of the rhythms.

As a whole the album is quite primitive sounding although it’s evidently designed for their beloved sound systems and when you let the volume rip, the bass fills any vacuum you thought was previously present; this is sub-woofer music. Chronic Redeye have some distance to go where polished product is concerned but this is a fair few steps in the right direction.

'I Came To Represent' - Geejay (album review)

Hip Hop’s Sunderland spokesperson Geejay steps up and informs us ‘I Came To Represent’. He’s a young hope but his debut album boasts collaborations with Raekwon and Canibus. Past the Skrilla artwork and the big name guests what’s the CD actually like?

Actually, and maybe unsurprisingly it’s not that good. The synthy production aspires to bark with the big dogs yet yaps weakly in comparison to similar attempts on the scene right now. Some tracks display potential but don't achieve their aims.

The lyrics are basic; Geejay employs rhyme schemes circa 1980 (which were fine back then, but things have moved on), relies too heavily on drawing out words to fulfil his syllables per line quota and leaves sentences hanging at the end of each line for rhymes sake (‘Plaguing me much//More than I thought it…). The crude and immature concepts exhibit a lack of life experience and teen years spent idolising US rappers. ‘Heart Attacks’ attempts to readdress the balance but comes across a little too clichéd.

‘I Came To Represent’ is Geejay’s version of every formulaic rap LP ever made and unfortunately, it falls short even of the middle mark. Some strict self editing and serious writing graft might see him return stronger but for now it’s pretty feeble. Let's hope that Sony development deal does just that.

'Street Karma' - Dap-C & Dirty Sweet (album review)

Armed with a plethora of guests Dap-C alongside producer Dirty Sweet brings you ‘Street Karma’ on NGU records. This could be an album but apparently it’s not - it’s a mixtape.

After the intro (which features real scratching - yay) proceedings proceed with Blak Twang featuring ‘Music Game’ which is good. Then his NGU compadres drop in on the well produced but just a little bit silly our crew is the best boasting track. The reason why it’s silly is that following this you get tracks featuring Lewis Parker, Fallacy, Sir Smurf Lil, Stylah, Mr. Drastick, Late, Tricksta and Conman and I don’t need to tell you that their crews are actually better.

Dap-C, in my opinion, is pretty nice with his on most outings and the more established guests here complement his concepts well. There are a nice range of sounds here; Dirty Sweet is more than just competent behind the boards as he harmonizes with the emcees and their content.

The version of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ on offer here (featuring Skinnyman, Supar Novar, Emceekilla, Karisma and S.Kalibre) is nowhere near as good as the one on the video included on the DVD, it’s disappointing that the album cut makes it boring. ‘Passing Me By’ sees Dap-C take on a track alone with slightly less effective results than when backed up by guests of ilk.

On the whole ‘Street Karma’ is worth picking up and you can get it now at most of the usual places.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

'3 Years and Rising' - DJ Spin Doctor (free mix)

'The Doctor's Orders' is one of London's best Hip Hop party nights. Many Hip Hop people have passed through and blessed them with shows and earlier this year was their third birthday. Resident DJ Spin Doctor mixed up this little treat by asking loads of past guests what track they wanted him to include. The mix really does the talking about what sort of party it is that goes on there!

Check out the tracklist to see how funky things get and consider going, especially for the DJ Vadim Cancer Research Fund Raiser (9pm-3am Friday 7th November 2008 @ Herbal 10-14 Kingsland Rd, London E1) with Spin Doctor, Killa Kela (TBC), Foreign Beggars (TBC), Yungun & Mr Thing, Ross Allen, Verb T, Jack Flash, Livin’ Proof Crew, Chris Read, Kyri R2, Acyde, Kattie Skillz, Khy, & more TBC for only £5 in advance or £7 on the door (Advance tickets available from / 0844-477-100)

1. Intro
2. Black Moon - 'I Got Cha Open' (Evil Dee Remix)
3. Black Street - 'No Diggedy' (J-Star Remix)
4. Mr. Scruff - 'Ug'
5. Roots Manuva - 'Witness'
6. Blak Twang - 'Dettwork Southeast'
7. Mos Def featuring Diverse
8. J-Dilla - 'Baby'
9. Visioneers - 'It's Simple'
10. Mobb Deep - 'Shook Ones pt.II'
11. The Pharcyde - 'Runnin''
12. Time Machine - 'A Million and One Things To Do'
13. Jazzy Jeff - 'Brand New Funk'
14. Afrika Bambaataa - 'Zulu War Chant'
15. Yungun & Mr. Thing - 'Dancing Shoes'
16. A Tribe Called Quest - 'Check The Rhyme'
17. Dilated Peoples - 'Worse Come To Worse'
18. J-Rawls - 'Miss You'
19. De La Soul - 'In The Woods'
20. Le Pamplemousse - 'Give Me What You Got'
21. Bobby Caldwell - 'Open Your Eyes'
22. Common - 'The Light'
23. Melissa Morgan - 'Fools Paradise'
24. Grace Jones - 'Pull Up To The Bumper (Extended Instrumental)
25. Brick - 'Dazz'
26. Unlimited Touch - 'I Hear Music In The Street'
27. Gaz - 'Sing Sing'
28. Outro

Download the mix

'State of Lunacy' - Rhyme Asylum (album review)

Rhyme Asylum are the UK’s version of Non Phixion and that’s a good thing. Remember their 2002 album ‘The Future is Now’? It featured Pete Rock, Large Pro, DJ Premier and Beatnuts production – on ‘State of Lunacy’ Leatherface rivals the greats in freshness and headnodability. And despite the dark overtones it’s not the least bit boring or depressing.

MC’s Possessed, Skirmish & Psiklone spit cryptically ill lyrics full of dope vocabulary. The phrases are twisted, the metaphors are etched into verses and the punch lines are intelligent. Quotables come thick and fast (‘I swing Excalibur with stone still attached to the blade’ or ‘We go out on a limb like a pair of gloves’ or ‘And I ice pick my brain for rhymes//My frame of mind turns food for thought into migraines of rice’). Where just lyricism doesn’t suffice tracks like ‘Test of Faith’ is a really honest account of a doubting believer and ‘Holding On’ discusses depression in real terms.

The US MC guest verses here are worth a mention too. Diabolic begins proceedings on ‘Unreasonable’, he has mad menacing presence on the mic. Copywrite features on ‘Attitude Problem’, a track proclaiming that they are ‘pissed off with Hip Hop…you say we hate but you give us nothing to like’. UK rapper Reain also pops up on both parts of ‘Straight Jacket’ and sounds at home in the asylum with the crew.

Despite comparisons previously drawn a listen to this album confirms that Rhyme Asylum have created something quite excellent here. For any MC this is inspirational stuff – a lot of rappers should strive to this level of lyrical skill. The boys only sent me this on mp3 so I think I’ma have to buy this on CD. You can get yours direct from their myspace or on itunes.

Red - Seen (video)

Certified Banger - 40th Best Blog in the World!

Thanks to all who voted for me in the BT Digital Music Awards 08. I came a modest 40th in the top 100 which aint so bad I suppose. Congratulations to Leeds Hip Hop Scene who got 28th and Kano whose blog '140 Grime St' came in at number 35.

I don't know how some of the stuff on there even counts as a blog but anyway, I'll be happy with my 40th!

Here's the list

Mr Scruff and Roots Manuva

The Scruffster has done it again. He's back with a new album. It seems to be out on his own label, a subsidiary of Ninja Tune, called Ninja Tuna! Ah, Mr Scruff, you old japester.

It's got some nice tracks on it and one features Mr. Manuva. Nice.

Mr Scruff - Nice up the Function ft. Roots Manuva

Kidkanevil Giveaways

Kidkanevil, Leeds based Hip Hop producer and DJ is having a right generous streak right now. I hit up the Leeds Hip Hop Scene site and found what I'm about to share with you.

This excellent giveaway is in aid of promoting his next album 'Back off Man, I'm a Scientist'. 'Problems & Solutions' (download via that link), his last album features Certified Banger favourites Jehst and Sir Smurf Lil' as well as other MC's and singers.

The other giveaway is 'Back off Man, I'm a Mixtape' (again, click the link to download). Check it out!

Grab these tracks to taste:

Kidkanevil - Def Cert ft. Jehst & Sir Smurf Lil`.mp3
Kidkanevil - 5th Gear ft. Lateef The Truthspeaker & Little Miss B.mp3

Saturday, 4 October 2008

'They Don't Seem To Care' - Wordsmith (12" review)

Wordsmith (the one from the UK) has an album ('In Pursuit of Harmony') out soon on the Def Ethics label. Meanwhile he has given us an excellent EP in the ‘They Don’t Seem To Care’ 12”.

The lead track ‘They Don’t Seem To Care’, produced by Beat Butcha, probes serious issues and laments a desensitized world where childhood is a thing of the past. Wordsmith takes a responsible line on children who grow up too quickly as a result of the examples they are set. Deep and important stuff.

A little more on the light hearted side, but continuing on a conscientious tip Wordsmith discusses the pros and cons of smoking weed over a funky Chemo production. ‘Slip And Slide’ produced by Caruana manages to ease the listener out of a serious state of mind as Wordsmith and Big Ben spit rhymes about having a positive frame of mind despite life’s ills. In short it’s a ‘Friday night, forget work and have a good time’ track.

‘Never Would Have Thought’, a typical Apa-tight production (he’s really carving himself a sound) featuring Supar Novar and Big Ben brings things back to reality. The three MC’s discuss gun crime and focus on the responsibility of the government and the manufacturers and suppliers of the offending weapons.

Overall, and something I haven’t mentioned yet, Wordsmith is a very accomplished lyricist. He resorts to no nursery type rhymes, each lyric is carefully crafted, on point and hater-proof and coupled with the top notch production no-one could possibly say a bad word. This is a thoughtfully put together piece of work, one which you should buy with your pounds!

It’s out now and can be gotten at all the usual outlets.

'No Point In Wasting Tears' - Ironik (album review)

Want to listen to a load of sloppily-sick love songs from a UK MC backed by production consisting muchly of higher-than-chipmunk vocals and basic synths? Yeah? Bag yourself a copy of Ironik’s ‘No Point In Wasting Tears’. If not then steer way clear.

Seriously, that’s all there is here – a poor attempt at R’n’B rap from a grimey/garagey angle. Yeah so Sway’s just about to blow big time with something similar but where Sway has style and individuality Ironik just has nothing but a London accent to make him stand out. And that’s not enough.

The production here blurs the edges between grime, R’n’B, garage and dance – the first track, the awful on the ears ‘Stay With Me (Everybody’s Free)’ even samples the Rozella track ‘Everybody’s Free (To Feel good)’, a track made famous again to the dance scene by Angel One. And guess what the other track that’s sampled is? WESTLIFE!!! WESTLIFE??? ‘Written in the Stars’. That is sampling taken two steps too far.

Obviously Ironik has an obsessively one track mind – he may as well have just made one track – I’m serious, all he talks about is his version of ‘love’. It’s so ridiculously all-I’ve-ever-listened-to-is-the-radio that I am absolutely astounded. This is like 18 attempts at writing a first song – from experience, a first song is always about love and is always full of clichés stolen from other love songs. Ironik the least rounded artist I have ever listened to – did he seriously think this is what people want to hear?

‘If they’re all about love, then at least one must be alright?’ I hear you ask. Well to be honest, the ‘Stay With Me’ remix (without the horrible intro of the original that greets your ears as soon as you play the disc) which features better MC’s Wiley and Chipmunk isn’t too bad (it still has a Westlife sample) but really I can’t listen through again to find one that might stand out.

In short, don’t buy this - 'No Point In Wasting Money' is more like it. Don’t download this. If it something suspiciously like it comes on the radio, turn it off. Protect your ears, they are precious.

'The Signature LP' - Sway (album review)

‘The Signature LP’ – the UK’s biggest rap release this year. Sway – the UK’s brightest hope for world wide success. It’s that simple. You’re probably part of the hype surrounding this – I know I am - and you know how much anticipation comes with the release of this album. The news of Sway’s signing to Akon’s Kon Live magnifies the excitement surrounding this as new markets are reached. The multiple release date push-backs point to the necessity for this album to drop at precisely the right time. The two lead tracks ‘F UR X’ and ‘Saturday Night Hustle’ have already caused mass commotion being featured in the film ‘Adulthood’ and on the Jools Holland show respectively. All signs of the big things sure to come.

Self produced ‘Fit 4 A King’ opens the album on a continuation of this theme; the stadium-sized production is a confident forecast of the success of this LP. Where first impressions do count Sway hasn’t put a foot wrong with the orchestra, chants, choirs, lead guitar, Queen-esque drums and the curiously Brit-Pop sounding sung vocals. Then there are the lyrics; Sway still has the tongue twisting, phrase bending abilities that he burst onto the scene with on his ‘This Is My Promo’ mixtapes.

Sway mixes wit, skill and a thorough understanding of self-marketing over the remaining 15 tracks. He also introduces us to his more contemplative side, addressing issues he’s previously left untouched, particularly death (‘Pray 4 Kaya’ and ‘Letters to Heaven’). The whole album seems incredibly premeditated when considered as a part of his entire career. Everything new on here wouldn’t have worked in his earlier, more underground days but now is the absolute perfect time to reveal Sway’s spectrum of ability.

The attempt at capturing a wider audience does mean that most people will find that a couple of tracks don’t appeal to them. As quite a staunch Hip Hop fan, tracks like the already huge ‘F UR EX’ and the soon to be absolutely-flippin’-massive ‘Silver & Gold’ featuring Akon (the last-minute inclusion of this making for the final release date change) don’t quite hit. Having said this, I’m not stupid and I know the more poppy tracks on here are sure to garner massive radio play, probably in the UK and the US. And to be honest I’d rather hear Sway on the radio than any of the other ‘Urban’ acts that get spins at the moment.

‘Walk Away’ sees Sway accept the responsibility of stardom – addressing street violence and preaching a positive message to the thousands of attentive ears sure to be listening to this. ‘Say it Twice’, ‘Jason Waste’ (Sway’s pretty hilarious new character), ‘Upload’, bonus track ‘Taxi’ and ‘Stereo’ (Produced by Chops) are all pretty much classic Sway. If you’re open minded you’ll find tracks like ‘Saturday Night Hustle’ (highlight: Sway rapping his vital statistics), ‘End of the Road’ (featuring Sting’s daughter Coco, who has an intriguing voice) and ‘Look After My Girl’ to be excellent extensions of Sway’s impressive lyricism.

‘Special Place’ has to be the worst track – I can’t see anyone being into it really, it’s quite annoying but this is the only duff moment on the entire album, every other song is awesome in its own way. In my opinion this makes ‘The Signature LP’ an awesome album and one that should be on every British music fan’s CD shelf. It hasn’t disappointed even though I thought I would prefer something similar to his previous album, mixtapes and guest verses. Sway has proved that he knows best and as long as he keeps doing his thing, the plan that he has should work out just lovely.

‘The Signature LP’ is out on Monday on Dcypha Productions and will be available everywhere – probably even down at Tesco’s.

Reviews Coming Up @ Certified Banger

Yo! My postie has been a busy man over the last week or so (and so has my virtual postie) and I've got millions of CD's and tracks and things to review. Let me give you a list so you know what to look forward to:

Sway - 'The Signature LP'
Skreintax - 'Scene Stealers'
Illustrate - 'The Stuff'
Rhyme Asylum - 'State of Lunacy'
TB - 'The Beast From The East'
M9 - '144,000'
Chronic Redeye - 'Knowledge is King'
Geejay - 'I Came To Represent'
Dap-C - 'Street Karma' Presents 'Top Selectors'
Occupy Your Mind Records Presents 'Grime'
Evil Ed & Conspicuous - 'The Get Together'
Jazz T - 'All City Kings'
Wordsmith - 'They Don't Seem To Care' EP
The Mantis Chapter - 'Graveyard Poets' EP

So check back regularly, add me to your reader feeder or whatever to find out what's going to be worth listening to out of this little lot!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

'A New Bloodline' - Sir Smurf Lil' (album review)

‘A New Bloodline’; Sir Smurf Lil’ teams up with the current cream of UK producers – Jehst, Apa-Tight, Beat Butcha, LG, Conspicuous and Asaviour – all men well known for their dusty Hip Hop beats. Don’t take that the wrong way though; on paper ‘A New Bloodline’ may seem like a quick tracing of the UK rap outline but in reality the uniquely stylised rendering of Smurf makes this more than just a carbon copy.

Sonically and topically this is a nicely diverse album presenting Sir Smurf’s creative streak. On ‘Blossom’ man/woman relationships are explored over a beautiful backing whereas on ‘Words are Weapons’, a menacingly lilting beat accompanies determined fighting talk. The title track opens up raucously whereas closer ‘The Lord’s Chorus’ laments the loss of a loved life. Single ‘Candlelight’ still sounds fresh as does it’s B-side ‘That Sound’ featuring T-Bear and Big Cakes.

Other microphone guests are partners-in-rhyme The Colony (Grimlok, Conspicuous and Willo Wispa), Dubbledge, Kashmere and Jehst all of whom make worthy contributions to the overall piece.

‘A New Bloodline’ is a mature second album from an MC who deserves to gain recognition and momentum in this thing we call rap.

‘A New Bloodline’ is out on November 3rd on YNR Productions.

'WLIB AM King of the Wigflip' - Madlib (album review)

If I’m honest, Madlib confuses me what with all the aliases and collaborations and the HUGE back catalogue. To become a fan - where to begin?!

On the intriguingly entitled ‘WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip’ Madlib sticks to his Beat Konducta moniker. What is immediately clear from listening to this LP is that Madlib, despite what his die-hard fans may think, shines far brighter when providing beatscapes for quality MC’s.

The tracks solely accredited to The Beat Konducta are nothing more than filler to my ears, albeit filler that, if a rapper had stepped to it, would probably be hot. The tracks with singers don’t do anything for me either – props for branching out but when the album is blessed by heavy weight MC’s the sung tracks flop with the only exception being ‘Yo Yo Affair pt. 1 & 2.

The album is more than worth a purchase for the rocking stand out moments such Guilty Simpson’s ‘Blow the Horns on ‘Em’, Defari’s awesome ‘Gamble On Ya Boy’, Prince Po’s eccentric ‘The Thang-Thang’, Talib’s Reflection Eternal-ish ‘What it Do’ and the stripped down Murs track, ‘Ratrace’.

Madlib closes BBE’s Beat Generation in style leaving this reviewer ready to hear more Madlib/MC collaborations old and new.

'Below Street Level' - LATE (album review)

Due out on October 20th, LATE’s new album ‘Below Street Level’ is entirely produced by fellow Wolftownian Tricksta. On his latest LP, LATE bridges the UK/US divide with dexterity; the Atlantic Ocean needs to fall back, nothing stops this man from building bridges!

With his methodically clear flow and straightforward lyrics LATE isn’t the most lyrical rapper but his strength is in his ability to communicate – a skill that has got him many, many places. His other chief talent is making a positive message sound so hardcore – much needed by the fans of the MC’s he makes moves with.

West Coast, Dirty South, Ohio and Wolverhampton are well represented across the 14 tracks of gully, US sounding production. Stand out track ‘It’s Nothin’’ features the awesome drawl of Willie D of The Geto Boys over a slow burning West Coast beat. Geezy and JT The Bigga Figga take time out of their Thizz/Hyphy duties to sound threatening over Tricksta’s moody track.

‘Below Street Level’ is a brooding outing from one of Wolftown’s hardest working although ‘Supply & Demand’ is a wispily mellow tale of a life spent hustling rap music – chill to that one! ‘I Need To Get Away’ follows and has a holiday vibe -‘Couple of hours on the motorway and I reach//It’s not sunny Spain but at least it’s a beach’ – LATE praises the simple pleasures of a British holiday resort.

‘Below Street Level’ is an innovative take on rap music, one that is beginning to be replicated by other MC’s reaching out over seas for collaborations. Remember who did it first!

'The EP' - Lingua Franca (EP review)

Now for something a little different: What no rap? No, but Ghost, the producer behind Lingua Franca has paid his dues in UK Hip Hop so ‘The EP’ deserves a review.

With a hat tipped to DJ Shadow ‘Falling Back To Her’ kicks off this three track sample of what’s to come (album ‘Things Don’t Stay The Same’). Pint size vocalist Devorah, sounding not unlike Massive Attacks Shara Nelson circa ‘Blue Lines’ adds another edge to the terse but soulful production.

‘Feels So Good’ is my pick of the pops – I can’t resist funky drums, funky guitars or indeed, funky basses. Oh, or funky brass. This song is the reason why Ghost formed a full band in order to take their music on the road. A live performance is sure to be an uplifting experience.

‘Treat Tonight’ finishes off this taster jazzily – their bow has multiple strings. Despite the laid back instrumentation Ghost displays hip hop tendencies and laces a thumping drum track complete with snappy snares.

‘Things Don’t Stay The Same’ will be sure to keep you toasty sometime this winter when it’s released but to warm yourself up as of 27th October get to the Breakin Bread shop and purchase ‘The EP’.