Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Celtic Underground Sessions

Northen Irish rapper Jee4CE ( pronounced G-Force) has been hard at work this year. He featured on 'Mic:Ctrl', the mix CD by Blufoot and Wytfang, has supported Immortal Technique and has recorded a session for Rory Mcconnell's Introducing Show on Radio 1.

He's also been busy collecting up tracks from Hip Hop acts from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. He's called his mixes 'Celtic Underground Session' and so far there are three installments. Below is the tracklisting for the second of the trilogy along with a download link for it:

1. The Elements - The Ruff Guide (Ireland)
2. Jee4ce - Modern Times (N.Ireland)
3. Joe Blow - Blunts In The Ashtray (Wales)
4. The Matchstick Men - Wack Weed skit (Scotland)
5. Scatabrainz ft. Loki - Across The Room (Scotland)
6. Maverick Sabre - One Youth (Ireland)
7. The Matchstick Men - Stalker (Scotland)
8. Messiah J and The Expert - Jean Is Planning An Escape (Ireland)
9. Marrik Layden Deft - Insomniac Olympics (Scotland)
10. Nu-centz & DJ Flip & Freeze Master Slick - Not A Problem (Ireland)
11. Correkt Minds - Pushing Up Daisys (Ireland)
12. Metabeats Ft. Skamma - Know Now (Wales)
13. Madhat - I Might Pass On (Scotland)
14. CatchKlick MCs ft. Jee4ce - The Introduction (Scotland)
15. DR-OP - Boogaloo (Wales)
16. Terawrizt - Raw Rhymes (Ireland)

Stream or download as one track or download as seperate tracks.

Here's a link for the 3rd installment but as yet there is no tracklist. Keep checking the Jee4ce myspace for more info.

'Rewind DJ' ft. De La Soul - Eslam Jawaad (single review)

Defying the usual country-based pigeon holing Eslaam Jawaad represents the UK, US and Lebanon. With past work with Wu affiliate Cilvaringz, UK Apache, Asian Dub Foundation and Damon Albarn’s latest band The Good, The Bad, and the Queen Mr. Jawaad has been busy. And the less we mention about mafia connections the better.

His new single ‘Rewind DJ’, whilst sounding a little clich├ęd is classic stuff. Firstly, it features De La Soul who deliver the goods with some thoughtful and sometimes scatterbrained vocals. The chorus is robbed (almost) straight from Aliyah’s ‘Try Again’ and outlines Eslam’s intentions of reviving Hip Hop or at least not letting it die again. The production is bouncy and full of replayability and has some welcome scratching incorporated.

The B-side ‘Hip-Hop Sucks’ laments (as many have done) that Hip Hop has “no message, no essence, no soul”. It’s a good track so many MCs have touched this subject that it’s kinda tedious although the brassy lively production gives it a real lift.

‘Rewind DJ’ is out on 26th January 2009 on Eslamaphobic. Eslam Jawaad’s album ‘The Mammoth Tusk’ which features The Rza, Damon Albarn and Dre-associate Focus will be out in the spring. 'Rewind DJ' can be heard on his myspace page.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

'Dance Move Shake!' - The Killer Meters (single review)

The Killer Meters started life with their album ‘Tribute to The Meters’. Those who know The Meters sound will know that the album centres around swampy funk and they may be expecting the same from it’s follow up release.

‘Dance Move Shake’ doesn’t quite fall into the category of New Orleans funk, in fact, whilst the influences are still evident it’s a rocky departure from their covers work. In fact, very rocky and bound to appeal to the fans of the new wave of bands mixing up electro, disco and rock. Karime, the female front woman, sure gives it some welly – she and her band deserve the success of lesser talented groups, such as, let's say, The Ting Tings.

‘Black Mountain’ is a much more traditional funk track and is my favourite of the two tracks. It’s a mid tempo groove which fulfils my entire bass, Hammond organ, horn and wah guitar needs in one go.

It comes as a double 7” pack which contains vocal versions and instrumentals (well worth a listen) and is packaged with full colour artwork from Brighton based artist Sri. It was released on 15th December on the excellent Breakin Bread label and can be gotten here.

Chops and Mountain Brothers

This holiday I checked out 'Triple Crown' by Mountain Brothers. It's a pretty good album from a group considered to be "cultural pioneers, being one of the first Asian American hip-hop groups, and also for the lack of sampling of other music in construction of their own."

Since 2003 the producer of the group, Chops, has gone on to make a name for himself in the Hip Hop scene. He produced three tracks on ODB's posthumous release 'Osirus' and has produced for Hiero, Grand Agent, Princess Superstar (!), Panda One, Bun B (which featured Lil' Wayne), Young Jeezy, Chamillionaire and Keak Da Sneak. Forthcoming production work will feature E-40 and Paul Wall.

Those who have been keeping up with the British Hip Hop scene (ie those who buy CDs and read the liner notes) will have noticed that Chops also produced 'Stereo', a track on Sway's 'The Signature LP'. His current sound is that typical dirty south sound whereas the Mountain Brothers stuff is more straight up Hip Hop.

Check these Chops productions out:

And if you want more (as opposed to war), check back soon, I'll up some more Chops productions.

Monday, 29 December 2008

'Flying The Flag' Coming Soon!

Here's something I'm looking forward to: Tricksta of UK Runnings and Lunatrix of HHB Radio have teamed up to put together a double disc compilation/mix CD.

Now the UK Runnings series have always hit the spot with me - up-to-date tracks from UK Hip Hop's overground and underground - so my expectations are justifiably high. ‘Flying The Flag’ features underground anthems, exclusive tracks, unreleased tracks and remixes.


Saturday, 27 December 2008

Hip Hop Magician Dynamo in Miami

Check out Bradford boy and hailed king of Hip Hop Magicianary Dynamo as he wows our friends over the pond with his b-boy card trick antics... just like that.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

'Free Ish' - Mr. Drastick & Luc Skyz (err... free download!)

9 free tracks from two of Britain's most promising mic mashers. Mr. Drastick and Luc Skyz are both perfect specimens of the hungry underground rapper and this little slice of gratuity is proof.

It includes 'Nothing Wrong', previously heard on Jon Phonics' album, which is one of my favourite tracks this year - check the video below. It also features the soulful (but slightly disrespectful) 'Your Mother's a Bi**h' from Drastick's 'The Gladiators Anthem' as well as various tracks from both MCs.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Incisive Interivew

"...there isn’t that much options for alternative more conscious music that isn’t too extreme and backpacky – I think I try and strike a balance in between."

After sending me a couple of his forthcoming singles on the all-the-more common self-promoted grind, I hooked up an interview with Incisive, a rapper you're sure to be hearing from in '09. Get ahead of the game and find out all about him now:

Certified Banger: Yo Incisive, in order for people to get to know can you tell us all the basics: Where you’re from, how long you’ve been making music, what projects you’ve worked on in the past:

Incisive: I’m a rapper from West London. I’ve been making music since around 1992 when I was in a duo called I.n.A - Incisive & Adrenaline but it wasn’t until 1998 that we recorded our first first album and showcased our developing skills in the final of Choice FM’s Rapology ‘98.

Since then, I’ve nurtured and refined my skills by recording another two fully independent albums and securing regular airplay on pirate and mainstream stations such as Choice, kiss and 1Xtra from tracks from the albums. A lot of my material is self produced not because I wanted to get into production particularly but more because I didn’t have producers around that were willing to give away as many beats as I needed. So I learnt how to produce and record my own tunes through engineering for myself and others in a local youth centre and using the internet to teach myself how to play piano and guitar. Only through an informed choice, being aware that I wasn’t fully prepared and wanting to finish university was it that I didn’t push the radio buzz further.

Now that I’ve finished University, upped my game and skills, I feel I’m ready to show the world my music.

To continue reading, click here

Friday, 19 December 2008

Dialektiks Interview

"The people are just generally real friendly out here. Always willing to help…even the traffic wardens!"

Dialektiks, in self-promotion mode (THE way forward in this world of blogs and stuff) sent me a link for their 'Intelligent Design' mixtape the other day, I hooked up an interview instantly and it's all done and dusted now. Why not have a read:

Certified Banger: Yo Dialektiks, on behalf of everyone – thanks for dropping the free album! What were the best and worst things about making it?

Dialektiks: Because it was our first project, the best thing about making it was the progression made as artists every time we made a new track. We could hear our sound getting better and better as our techniques improved and when we put the tape together we got good reactions from people which really encouraged us to come at this bigger and better for the next project.

The worst thing about making the tape was all the technical stuff. Neither of us are sound engineers and all the levelling and EQ’ing took forever. For the next project we’re getting our friend, Fig Leaves, to do it all!

Rare Task Force Tracks @ Music From The Corner

Farma G of infamous UK Hip Hop group Task Force is the latest rapper to join the wonderful world of blogging. He's kicked things of in a big way by dropping exclusive tracks that have been sleeping in the vaults up until now.

Here's one example, a track named 'Bang Bang', produced by Mic Skilla and Farma with vocals by Chester P, Mic Skilla, Farma G and Eno Redrum:

Click here to hear the rest!

Dusty Crates Radio Show December

Click for this month's show

Black Milk ft. Royce Da 5'9 - Let's Talk About (Traffic)
Rusty Juxx - Wipe off ya smile (white)
Lowkey ft. Wretch 32 - In My Lifetime (SO Empire)
Jay Z ft. Santogold - Brooklyn We Go Hard (Rocafella)Ludacris - MVP (DTP)DJ Babu ft. MF Doom and Sean Price - The Unexpected (Nature Sounds)
S Type and Grimlok - Stand Strong (white)
Jyager ft. Dubbledge, Jehst, Micall Parknsun, Kyza, Sir Smurf Lil, Joker Starr and Cobane - Eyes Open Re Spit (YNR)
Wordsmith ft. Skyzoo - Who Really Cares (white)
Ludacris ft. Jay Z and Nas - I Do It For Hip Hop (DTP)
Common - Gladiator (GOOD)
Slaughterhouse (Joe Budden, Royce, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz etc.) - Onslaught (white)
Mudmowth - Skullcrackology (AM)
Skyzoo - Only One Can Win (white)
Statik Selektah ft. MOP and Jadakiss - Livin In The City (Brick)
Lowkey - Tell Me Why (SO Empire)

Thursday, 18 December 2008

'Intelligent Design' - Dialektiks (free download)

It's ok to be a skint rap fan nowadays 'cause everyone is putting out free stuff - and so much of it is of good quality.

Coming from somewhere at the top of our country (Edinburgh to be precise) are Dialektiks with their free offering 'Intelligent Design'. They (in their own words) "try to capture the old school sound of the Hip Hop we love, but try to put a modern twist on it." Which they succeed in doing - the result is some very soulful rap music with what I can only describe as a sustained, smooth, relaxing feel to it.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

New Sway Featurings and Video

Watch Sway's video for surely-a-crossover success 'Silver and Gold' ft. Akon. Also go to his site/blog to hear some new 'featuring Sway' tracks such as Akon's 'Right Now' remix and Busy Signal's 'Tic Toc' remix.

Also download the remix of Wretch 32's 'Be Cool' which features Wizzy Wow, Tinie Tempah, Scorcher, Bashy, Chipmunk and Sway!

'Little Bit Of Soul' - Spee 69 & DJ Format (video)

'Release' ft. Shax - Incisive (video)

West London rapper Incisive is dropping the full video for 'Release' featuring Shax in January so for now, the teaser will have to do. The full track will be out in February although the track is already available on itunes.

The track is also featured on this week's Homegrown Podcast from Ras Kwame at 1Xtra. The full track is excellent - an upbeat soul lick with wah'd guitar licks and lyrics all about working and running the rat race. The little stuttered vocals are a nice unique touch too.

His other single 'Nothing Compares' is produced by TE1 and will feature on Incisive's forthcoming mixtape. It's a laid back lazy beach track but it's all about his music versus your music. Look out for it's B side too - 'In-Ci-Sive' can be heard on his myspace page.

'Floor by Floor' - Figment (free download)

An MC named Figment (from the Strictly Independent blog) has got himself a little self-released album together - 'Floor by Floor' (click to download) (or here if that doesn't work)

He's produced it all by himself and the beats are pretty nice - loads of soul sampling shenanigans which gives him a 'sound'. Figment has also pilfered from some other rather unusual sources for the comedic, bouncy title track and 'Love and Marriage'.

Figment has a likeable tone when Mcing and his subject matter is far from run of the mill. Where it passes through familiar territory it's done with great rhymes and lyrics.

Guests come in the form of Blokey, Chinners, Skrabl, R.T.S. and Tik-A-Tek.

Figment also put together a Jay-Z remix album called 'The Motown Album' which you can download here.

Producers - MC Looking For Beats! (+ 2 free downloads)

An MC going by the real name of Gary Osborne got in touch with me this week with these two tracks:

'The Divorce'

He's recorded these and others to give shine to his rapping abilities. 'Chains' is a politicised stream of thought spiced up with entertaining and clever lyrics and 'The Divorce' is written through the eyes of a divorced man, and as a result is quite sad.

Gary's lyrics match perfectly to the chosen beats which is why you producers out there should get in touch with him in order to give him some beats. He's currently looking for peeps to work with and is open to listening to any beats, so if you are a producer and want his vocals on your tracks then get at me and I'll put you onto Gary Osborne. If I were you, I'd do it!

Beat Assailant and Braille

Just thought I'd shine a light on some random titbits of US made music for you on this good evening:

Beat Assailant had a great 12" out a few years ago entitled 'Hard Twelve - The Ante' (video). He's just released his second album which is called 'Imperial Pressure' and if something sounding like Lupe Fiasco meets The Roots meets Herb Alpert sounds like your particular thing then get yourself a copy. The songs go on a little too long with a quite an emphasis on the (well produced) real-live instrumentals. Beat Assailant has a funky rhyme style although sometimes you might wish he'd just throw off his hang-ups and rap about something else. Some tracks are a little Black Eyed Peasish for me ('Crash the Party') some are quite, nay very, NERDesque ('Payback'), so maybe you'll hear him on your radio soon. Check out 'The Good News' and 'Haterz'. My mind is not yet made up...

In 2004 Braille brought out his album 'Shades of Grey' - which isn't as boring as it sounds. Braille, a rapper well respected for his technicality is a born-again Christian although this isn't 'Christian Hip Hop' - it's normal Hip Hop by someone who is a Christian. There are loads of positive vibes on here although the album is not all sonically upbeat. A number of equally as hungry MCs join Braille including Pigeon John, Ohmega Watts, Othello, ManChild and Sharlok Poems. This is really for fans of real Hip Hop - shed your inhibitions and stereotypes and download 'Hip Hop Music' (featuring scratches from Rob Swift), 'Keep On' and '10 Years' (produced by 9th Wonder).

*Links dead - Download all tracks here*

Monday, 15 December 2008

Do You Know: Squid Ninjaz?

Squid Ninjaz is a small record label from outta Barry Town, Wales. They've put out a few good releases lately and things are certainly looking to progress for them if they continue their upward movement.

Their last release was Joe Blow's cleverly-titled and art-worked 'Smoking Skills' which was released on 12" as well as on mp3 download. 'Blunts in the Ashtray', the final track on the EP is one I've been bumping with regularity and 'Poetry in Motion' produced by Associated Minds man Metabeats is an awesome track with a great video. The EP also features Cervantis, Junior Disprol, Qred, Hekla Kosh, Stagga (Optimas Prime) amongst others. You can cop this lovely piece of work straight from their website for a few quid.

Cervantis also released the not-too-dark but still-quite-dark 'Cloakroom EP' on the label (it features Cesto, Metabeats, Diverse Concepts and Joe Dirt) and Squid Ninjaz (as a group of artists) released 'Pug Ugly' which in their words is "a dark twisted soundscape of complex lyrics and beats featuring Metabeats, Joe Dirt, Ral Duke, Joe Blow, Cesto, Cervantis and Skamma".

There are also a couple of other releases from these boys to try and all can be ordered from their website. You can also go and be their friend on myspace, I'm going to do it right now.

Squid Ninjaz - 'Yellow Venom Styles'
Cervantis - 'Luna God'
Joe Blow - 'Blunts in the Ashtray'

'Wretchibition' - Wretch 32 (free download)

Spliced with interview with the SK Vibemakers this mixtape turns up the Grime-tinged tracks Wretch made before or during the time of 'Punctuation' the track that got him into people's heads (listen to track 7 to get the full history and discography of Wretch).

This is actually a real mixtape as opposed to a collection of a few full songs. Wretch's back catalogue goes deep - there are 51 tracks here and it lasts for 1 hour 19 minutes - just enough to fit on a CD.

'Dance Hall Diaries Vol. 1' - Serocee (free download)

Some new Reggae/Ragga Hip Hop fresh from the Midlands - Serocee's 'Dance Hall Diaries Vol. 1'.

For those of you who are fans of man like Rodney P, Roots Manuva or the Demon Boyz for example then you may just like this. It's got a nice live/unmastered sound to it but don't let that put you off. Check it rudeboy!

Next week he'll be dropping a 7" version of the John Holt sampling 'You'll Never Find', his ode to the UK soundsystem. It'll be out on Crate Escape Records/Windrush Pickney. Watch the video:

'The Earlier Escapades Of...' - Willo Wispa (EP review + 2 free downloads)

Mentalness. Pure, unadulterated mentalness - well, it's mentalness mixed with mad lyricism. 'The Earlier Escapades Of Willo Wispa' is a 9 track release containing a selection of rare and unreleased material from The Colony member who, in 2009, will drop 'Wot's Willo On?!'.

What's Willo On? A question you may well ask yourself. What ever it is, it makes this guy unconventional and absolutely fressssshhhh! Expect the unexpected - and that's real, not just hyperbole.

'Mars to the Manor' will help you to understand Willo as well as you ever will. It's full of hilarious rhymes that will leave you guffawing for sure.

'2 Pounds' will school you all in the art of having a night out on the cheap. Again - jokes.

Sample these tracks for free, courtesy of Associated Minds then download your set of nine Willo tracks from itunes and get anticipating the album 'Wot's Willo On?!

Reactions to my top 20 UK Albums

In order to actually get some feedback on this (since nobody comments on blogs) I thought I'd post it on a few forums. Here are other people's thoughts:

Hip Hop Sphere Forum


UKHH Forum

A few people questioning the omission of '144,000' by M9 and 'Raiders of the Lost Archive' by Kasmere and a few disagreements about some of the albums on there - each to their own - this is why the music industry does work - because we all like different stuff. As a whole UK Hip Hop fans aren't just following certain tastemakers, they have real opinions that they have formed themselves about what they like and don't like - let the discussion continue.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Mudmowth Interview

"As for calling everyone label mates... that’s too official, we’re all boys. If I do ever marry Lily Allen they’re all in the front row except for Ralph – he’s down front giving up the ring!"

Certified Banger: Yo Mudmowth, how’s it going, what’ve you been up to?

Mudmowth: What’s happening? Everything’s wicked at the moment man, the record’s been selling real well, just got back from a small tour of Denmark and Austria now, the crowds were amazing over there, they love their Hip Hop man. Besides touring and pushing the music just been real busy recording new stuff with Metabeats we got an EP coming soon called ‘Sledgehammer Kisses’, I’ve been doing stuff with P.L.O who produced ‘Skullcrackology’ which is pushing the boundaries, its gonna be a project for everyone into music full stop - we got violinists, guitars everything on there, the stuff we got recorded so far s**ts on anything I’ve ever done so I’m really excited about getting that out! As for my album ‘Breakin Blocks in Legoland’, that’s recorded waiting to be mixed down and features production from Ghost, Evil Ed, Conspicuous, Sam Rockwell (who produced ‘Circus in the Cemetery’ and ‘Broken home’) and others. I can go on all day about how good it is but I’ll just sound like an egomaniac, all I will say is if it had been released this year it would have s**t on everything in UK Hip Hop that came out.

Click here to find out what Mudmowth will be doing at Christmas, what he thinks of Goldie Lookin' Chain and more (including something to do with a midget and some rhubarb).

Friday, 12 December 2008

Jahaziel on TV Documentary

Jahaziel, a Gospel rapper from London (click here to read my interview with him) who won this year's Gosepl MOBO, will be appearing in a Current TV documentary this weekend.

The cameras follow Jahaziel both before and after the MOBO awards and 'For God's Sake' really gives an insight into the mindset of a Christian rapper. For Christians, this is motivational stuff - Jahaziel really proves that Hip Hop, success and Christianity really is feasible.

'For God's Sake' will air on Sky Channel 183/Virgin Channel 155 on Saturday 13th December and Sunday 14th December from 9pm.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

'Down and Out' - Danny Spice

Like Lewis Parker's beats? If so then you'll enjoy Danny Spice's new single/EP. It's entitled 'Down and Out' and features two original productions from Lewis Parker.

There are a multitude of places for you to buy this, from Amazon to itunes, and I believe a signed 12" copy can be obtained directly from the Spice himself.

The title track concerns the binge culture and society's role models and flip 'LP on the SP' is all about Lewis Parker and his beat making habits.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

On The Radar Artist Profile: Antmysta

Name: Antmysta

Age: 21

From: Leeds, West Yorkshire

Track on ‘On The Radar’: 'Taste The Ink'

Tell us the story behind the track: I had been un-employed for a while without any sort of money. So when I finally got it, it was like a drug which I had to have. But after a while it became a stale taste and thats where the song came from. Plus I just had enough with people telling me I wasn’t going to do anything.

Record label: Unsigned

Who you roll with: I’m a solo artist

Favourite album: 'Stillmatic'

Describe your style in three words: Yorkshire, Thoughtful, Provoking

Past/Present/Future projects: I got a future project in the making. It will be an EP with 5 songs and its called ‘Sticks And Stones EP’

'55 Freestyles Part 1' - Loudmouth (free download)

Click on the picture to see the tracklisting and click here to see the cover art.

This isn't exactly brand spanking but if you haven't heard it before, it might as well be.

The modus operandi is simple: Loudmouth raps over beats, beats that are catalogued helpfully on the tracklisting. Expect backings made famous by Clipse, Fat Joe, Calvin Harris, Alchemist, 50 Cent, Rakim and more.

'Talk of the Town' - Skillit (free download)

Skillit, as heard with this album's title track on 'Certified Banger Presents On The Radar', is giving away this professional looking and sounding package all for free.

There are 12 tracks here featuring production from K-Nite 13, Cable, Loudmouth and Capital B. Loudmouth, Mentalist and Py-Ro feature on guest vocals.

It's been knocking around a couple of months but if you've not heard it I'd strongly recommend you do.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

On The Radar Artist Profile: LATE

Name: LATE

Age: Old Skool

From: Wolftown

Tell us the story behind the track: freestyle over Lil Wayne beat - taken from LATE’s mixtape ‘two thousand and late’

Record label: Wolftown Recordings

Who you roll with: Tricksta

Favourite album: Too many to list

Describe your style in three words: UK Reality Rap

Past/Present/Future projects:

Villains – Welcome to Wolftown 2000
Wolftown Committee – Legendary Status 2002
LATE – International Rhyme Spittin 2003
LATE – The Villainous One 2005
LATE & GEOLANI ‘Ceo’s Edition’ - 2006
LATE – An English Man in New York - 2007
LATE – 2 Thousand & LATE - 2008
LATE – Below Street Level – 2008

Plus 100's of mixtapes & mixtape appearances

On The Radar Artist Profile: JVF Clique

Name: JVF Clique

Age: Early thirties

From: Hinckley town, Leicestershire.

Track on ‘On The Radar’: 'Those Dudes'

Tell us the story behind the track: The arrival of the mothership in graphic detail.

Record label: Clique Recordings

Who you roll with: Nipper/Chief on vocals. Pappa Doc/Mugshot on beats.

Favourite album: Too many quality albums out there.

Describe your style in three words: Fresh, Gritty, Honest.

Past/Present/Future projects:
Past: The 'Embryo' EP (2004) 'First Born' (2005) 'Submerged Language' mixtape (2006)
Present: 'Alternative Income' (due march 2009)
Future: 'Founders of the Feast' EP.(2009) unnamed Italian/russian film soundtrack project (2009/10)

Coosh Headphones Review

The last few reviews I’ve written have been done via my Coosh headphones. In fact I’ve used these little beauts everyday for the last few weeks.

The aim of these headphones is that they stay on and feel good – both important criteria for an earpiece but not the critical criteria. Before I tell you if they stay on and feel good let me talk about what I look for in headphones – sound quality.

The shift in technology has been from big HiFi systems with great all round acoustics to tiny portable devices with, lets face it, pretty bad sonics – strange after all the years of work. In order to get the most out of a small, lets say mp3 player, you do need good headphones. I’ve found that Coosh actually do the job, surprising for such a reasonably priced product. I actually forget that I’m wearing earphones, I feel like I’m sitting in a room surrounded by a good sound system (I have used them mainly with my laptop).

The other reason I forget I’m wearing them is that they are comfy – they do feel good! I’ve been using mine without the silicone earring, basically because it looks a bit silly and is unnecessary when stationary. I haven’t tested them as rigourously as breakdancing crew the Massive Monkeys so can’t really comment on the ‘stays on’ aspect of the mission statement – we’ll just have to trust them.

The headphones are available for mp3 players, iphones and blackberrys, the phone versions have an inline push to answer button (which rattles annoyingly – but when you’ve got music on, you can’t hear that!). They retail between $19.99 and $24.99 and come in three contemporary colours – white, pink and black.

Monday, 8 December 2008

'Reflections in the Dark - Grit Grammar (free download)

A whole free album of never ending rhymes and beats from the grimey (but not Grime) side of London:

Grit Grammar - 'Reflections in the Dark'

It's as good as anything that you might buy with actual money so d/l it, burn it and bump it - it's bound to raise a screwface or two as it's pretty gully and, well....gritty. I'll be spinning this one for sure and as your excellent taste maker I order you to too.

Grit Grammar - Cold World
Grit Grammar - The Silver Book
Grit Grammar - Final Frontier

'Something's What We've Done' - B'Tol and Jagos (review)

More of an EP than an album, ‘Something’s What We’ve Done’ (I don't get the punctuation either)has only 6 full tracks and if some of the other releases this year had followed suite they might have been better. What you get is a succinct depiction of what MC B’Tol and beatmaker Jagos are really about.

Sounding like Jagos’ Bristol-made beats were shipped around the world, via every sunny place, only to arrive back on British shores, tracks like ‘People’ banish grizzly drizzly weather to the storehouses of heaven. Next year these tracks will be surely be on my summer compilation CD.

‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘Finish This’ (as heard on ‘On The Radar’) retain the sunshine but include a few extra ingredients. The former is an after hours, back at yours dissection of a weekend evening and the latter is a complaint against fake folk in Hip Hop. The Caribbean vibes of ‘New World (Taking Liberties)’ also harbours objections to modern world attitudes.

B’Tol as a lyricist is accomplished – there are no filler lyrics or concepts here. Whatever he turns his hand to topically, he succeeds at. Subject, rhymes, vocab and flow are meshed together to create material akin to Teflon – impenetrable.

'Something's What We've Done' is available for download at Chemical Records or via their myspace and is soon to be joined by 'Something's What They've Done', a bonus selection of tracks featuring remixes by Sose of Se Fire, Prickly Pear, DJ Rogue, DJ Frenic, Dubstep up and comer TIME, Jagos and Nikill making this release a double disc.

'Diffs Got Hip Hop

You should check out this blog:

It's quite new but it's just pure quality. It's got all the stuff that my blog doesn't - it's everything that if I had more time, I'd like to have on my blog!

Seems that Vern Pitt has a sense of humour, has views on current Hip Hop related issues in the British media and actually has a good grasp of spelling, grammar and syntax.

He's got reports on events, fun articles and comments on things like UK Hip Hop distribution companies going into administration. All of this is written informatively and humorously - a good read!

On The Radar Artist Profile: TLG

Name: The Lost Generation

Age: 25 - 29

From: Birmingham

Track on ‘On The Radar’: Let Me Be

Tell us the story behind the track:

Recorded late 2007. Produced by Mikee Layzee (T.L.G), features Joe Gutta and Biggaman of the Unfriendly Neighbours, Rukus (Antourage, Trinity, Underworld) and Ras Supa of Sidewalk Knowledge

Record label: RustyJukeBox Records

Who you roll with: All artists on a level

Favourite album: Too many, but UK

Describe your style in three words: Raw, uncompromised, thorough

Past/Present/Future projects:

New T.L.G album (‘Lost Property’) coming out on RustyJukeBox / Eat Good Records.

ReggiiMental – 'Something For The Strive'

'Grown Ups' Single Jan 14th Channel U vid 3711

Bane of Don't Talk To Strangers Interview

"There’s no one person who calls the shots, each artist is fully in control of their own creative process..."

Having been well impressed earlier this year with 'Disabled Blue' and it's accompanying blue 10" vinyl I knew that if things from Don't Talk To Strangers were to continue in a similar way, they would be big. Bane, from the group and newly-formed record label answered my questions and confirms my suspicions - things from this unstoppable force are going to be colossal in 2009! From releases with Cage, Pigeon John and Prince Po to more coloured vinyl Bane reveals all their secret-up-until-now plans!

Certified Banger: Yo man, how’s it going?

Bane: Good thanks, you?

CB: Yeah thanks! We’ve got loads to talk about because there’s so much going on with you right now. Begin by telling those who don’t know about DTTS, who are you, where are you from, what your mantra is:

Bane: Put simply, Don’t Talk To Strangers is an artist run independent record label and wider collective of creative individuals based in West Yorkshire and slowly working our way into Europe and the rest of the world! We’re basically three crews merged into one, the original DTTS heads, 9-Livez and Brutal Artistry, each keeping its own individual identity but releasing music through one label; strength in numbers as it were. Over the last couple of years the focus was on getting the DTTS name into people’s minds but now its time for the individual acts and artists to get recognition in their own right and shine!

Click here to find out just who is going to be featuring on their releases!

Joker Starr Interview

" have a lot more people who can’t produce or rap becoming the sound that is being recognised as the main music makers when they are not musicians."

Having heard good things both muscially and via word-of-mouth it was high time that I interviewed Joker Starr, a hungry and ambitious MC from Slough. He deserves to be bigger than David Brent so check this interview and get to know!

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

Joker Starr: My name is Joker Starr Supercilious, the baddest emcee you might not know too well. I have a colourful CV of people I have worked with so let’s start at the beginning: I will give the main names because I have worked with a lot of people - Soliheen and James Yarde are my producers and mentors, DJ Dynamite of Dynamite Deluxe in Germany, Seanie T on the Dark Horizon mixtapes, DJ Blufoot's ‘Ablution’ album, Keith Lawrence's ‘Coming True’ EP, production credit on Ty's ‘Upwards’ album, collaborations with Fallacy, Genesis Elijah, Terri Walker, Estelle, Sway, Micall Parknsun, Jehst bla bla bla the list can go on and on and on - Google it!

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

Friday, 5 December 2008

Artist Profile: LED (+ free mp3s)

Name: Leddie

Age: 19

From: M'Bro, UK

Current project: Currently writing a Solo LP and a CD with Smoggy (Set to drop next year)

Current single: ‘Darling’ (click to download)

Tell us the story behind the track: A track written that many people can relate to. It’s about issues with a friend, where situations change for the worst, and certain things happen which prevent the friendship being fixed.

Record label: Unsigned

Who you roll with: Smoggy and the Fam, and The Peoples Army(

Favourite album: I’ve got a few but this constantly changes, at the moment its 'Dear Listener' by Lowkey.

Describe your style in three words: Conscious, Positive and Righteous.

Stevie P - 'I'm Waiting' ft LED
LED - 'Easier'

Artist Profile: Jelluzz

Name: Jelluzz

Age: 23

From: Tottenham

Current project: 'Capital Letterz' (the mixtape) and 'Die Never, Live Forever' (the album)

Current single: 'Hold On'

Tell us the story behind the track: I was getting tired of the politics in the music industry and personally I was going through some setbacks at the time, and it just made me want to give up music, until I bought a scratchcard for a laugh and won £2000! That gave me the motivation to write Hold On, where even though we all go through our drama, you just gotta stick at it and get through it. It's something I definitely see alot of people identifying with.

Record label: In a partnership with Big Deal Management.

Who you roll with: Solo but associated with Sincere and Young Entrepreneur Records.

Favourite album: Kanye West - 'The Graduation'

Describe your style in three words: Futuristic, Artistic, Mainstream

On The Radar Artist Profile: Skillet

1. Name: Skillit

2. Age: 22

3. From: Walthamstow, East London

4. Track on ‘On The Radar’: 'Talk of the Town'

5. Tell us the story behind the track: Just a tune to showcase my battle lyrics with punchlines and delivery.

6. Record label: Hand2Mouth

7. Who you roll with: Hand2mouth, loudmouth, mentalist (LOOSETHREADS!!) K-nite 13 Cable, Capital B.

8. Favorite album: Has to be either Busta Rhymes - 'The Coming', Common - 'Resurrection' or Outkast - 'Aquemini'.

9. Describe your style in three words: Witty, Charismatic & Unique

10. Past/Present/Future projects: PRESENT - Loudmouth 55 freestyles pt 2, 'Talk of the town'. For the furture I'll be featured in the Tuberculosis project, Mentalist's new Mixtape and working on my second project.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

On The Radar Artist Profile: Safron

Name: Safron

Age: 19

From: Somerset, Southwest England

Track on ‘On The Radar’: Nightbreed Remix

Tell us the story behind the track: Well I was sat in my room chilling to some Bob Marley, when I suddenly heard this sick, one bar sample, I had to have it. Loaded it up into the pads and the rest is history really. I wasn't originally planning for it to be a remix, But while searching for some cuts, playing acapellas over it, Nightbreed was one of them and I thought it sounded heavy, so I just left it on there.

Record label: Unsigned

Who you roll with: Big shout out to the fam, and anyone I've worked with over the past few years. Big up J-Styles, Tommy T, Ralph, Shum, Bean, Marco, Jonny, Ayo. Shout out to Megamouth, Livewire, the whole DTTS crew and everyone keeping it real up north, Shouts to Student Of Battle in the states. Big up to Hi-Rolla, Raab Orwin, Abstract, and anyone else putting in the work and still making real music

Favourite album: Tough, tough question. Although It may sound like a bit of a cliche answer, honestly, I have to say Nas, 'Illmatic'. The beats on that album are what made me want to start producing in the first place, its an album I, my friends, and I'm sure many of you have grown up with. I don't really feel it needs much of a reason, It's 'Illmatic'.

Describe your style in three words: I like to produce lots of styles of hip hop, but for the majority of my beats I'd have to say - Experimental, Clean and Deep? I dunno, I try to make music that represents how I feel at the time

Past/Present/Future projects: I'm currently in a gap year between college and uni, So at the moment I'm just trying to develop my techniques as much as possible, So I have basically just been banging out beats on a daily basis. I've yet to release any 'official' work, so that's also something I'm planning on doing in the next year, putting together my first instrumental album. Watch this space.

Snow Day Music!

It snowed here on the westside of Yorkshire and as a result I got a day off work! I nearly didn't mind you, but at the last minute the call came through.

So I fired up the computer and itunes played me some tunes - a nice selection I must say. Here are 4:

First, a classic: 'Boyz in the Hood' by Eazy E - not much to be said really, it was just good to hear it!

Secondly, some UK Hip Hop: 'Crossbows and Catapults' by Eardrums - a Bristol group, this is off their 2004 album 'Man Made Visions'.

Thirdly, something new: 'Burning Bush' ft. Redman by 88-Keys - from his new album 'Death of Adam', this is pretty funky but I do hope Red has learnt from his foolish mistake. (What's the betting this gets taken down?)

Fourthly, something mashed up: 'No Hats (In The Curry House)' by Baby J - a mashup of the Shameless track 'No Hats (No Trainers)' and the Kaiser Chiefs track 'Ruby'.

'Dear Listener' - Lowkey (album review)

One of the best albums this year (see my newly amended list – I underestimated this one). Lowkey’s years of hard work, although lamented somewhat on document ‘Rise and Fall’, have really paid off – ‘Dear Listener’ is a complete and comprehensive release.

Observations and musings on subjects such as the motivation behind infidelity, the contrasting realities of life in Britain and Iraq, an interesting take on Hip Hop’s mortality and man’s morality are the order of the day here. But just in case you can’t see past the contents to the bare rhyme skills ‘Alphabet Assassin’ is thrown in to remind you that Lowkey is linguistically ahead of many of today’s MCs. In fact it’s the lyricism that makes the topics he explores impact so heavily.

‘Relatives’ produced by Sivey and featuring Logic is a cleverly interwoven tale of two men - one Iraqi, one British. It would have helped if the rappers had very different voices but it’s not too hard to follow who’s saying what. ‘Revolution’ is a beatbox production by Faith SFX and features a taste of things to come with Jon McClure on chorus duties. ‘I’m Back’ is a full on Quincey Tones produced banger – a tongue twisting exercise over a harpsichord-laced beat.

There are plenty more tracks that I could mention but instead, I’m just going to recommend a purchase – let the music speak for itself. It’s out now on So Empire/Hip Hop Village although its official release date is 26th January 2009.

'Heros For Hire' - Cyclonius and Morfius (free download)

Cyclonius and Morfius - Heroes For Hire

A nice free download for you here. I don't know much about either Cyclonius (MC) or Morfius (producer I think) but this isn't just some homemade rubbish - their on their way to standing up to the current quality of UK Hip Hop releases.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Certified Banger's Top 20 UK Albums of 2008

My first full year of blogging has been a good one by all accounts. I wouldn't be where I am now with this hobby project if it wasn't for the artists and PR peeps who realised that Certified Banger was actually worth something. I've also got to thank the people who have posted my words at other websites - all these people know who they are. Last year, I was in no way organised enough to wrap up the year in this style, this year however I do feel I am in a position to partake in the summing up and counting down on all things UK Hip Hop this year. And yes, this blog has taken the form of a UK Hip Hop blog over the last year so I thought I'd keep at least this rundown pure!

So with no further ado, except for an explanation, I present my top 20 UK Hip Hop albums of the year. This list comprises of albums I have listened to and enjoyed, if an album isn't on here, chances are I have listened to it but liked at least 20 other albums a little bit more! This is in no way attempting to be in any way related to sales of these releases - it's just about how much I liked them and listened to them!

This album had to come top for me. My memory is of listening to this, especially 'Futuristic', as I prepared to get married in July. I could just imagine myself relaxing by the pool in Greece on honeymoon, wife beside me and that track on blast. It contains so much energy - 'Spektrum Ride', 'Dogz 'n' Sledgez', 'Mic Chek' and 'Scream Out' - a number one album.

2. ‘Slime and Reason’ - Roots Manuva
I didn't actually do a review of this one, for one simple reason: I was way too busy just listening to it (and I also knew it didn't need my exposure!). For me, this is the most easily accessible album Rodney Smith has made so the combination of his wonkiness and the easy listening experience had me hooked. Best track? 'Let The Spirit'.

3. 'Scene Stealers' - Skreintax
The next few albums in this chart were difficult to order but this one does deserve to be here. An anticipated LP for me - a lover of everything Dr. Syntax does. At the risk of sounding a bit gay, I love his voice! That and his uncanny knack for making stuff rhyme! Top tracks and guests and production that never falters mean you need this (and the rest on the list).

4.'Dear Listener’ - Lowkey
Lowkey has been enjoying success in the mixtape game for a while now and stupidly I ignored him. Until now. The album is a beauty - no jump up tracks, it's not even got an upbeat sound to it but man, it feels positive to hear someone who cares so genuinely about the things going on around us. That and the fact that Lowkey can't half rhyme!

5. 'The Saga of a Peaceful Man' - Reps
This one came out of the blue for me; I had no idea who Reps was before I heard of this. When I did hear it I was well impressed - it was bright, breezy but heavy and thoughtful too. Oh, and it wasn't too long either! It came out on Flash Fry Records - a label to watch out for this year, they have some promising releases lined up!

6. 'The Dark/The Light' - Brotherman
Having heard a few of the other releases on Silent Soundz I was pretty sure I'd like Brotherman's album before I ever heard it. It's soulful, upbeat yet it tackles and commentates on current issues in society. Brotherman has a poetical ability that seems rare in many MCs which give his tracks breadth and depth. The packaging was the bomb for this!

7. 'The Audio Workout' - Vee Kay
For a download only album to feature so highly it had to be good. See I'm a sucker for physical product - it makes music more accessible to me. Thankfully Vee Kay sent me a copy on CD and I totally loved it. The production is reminiscent of good time Hip Hop and the MCs contributions are pure finery. Watch out for the Wordsmith album this year!

8. ‘My Last and Best Album’ - Braintax
This one was released to much criticism because basically it wasn't the same as 'Birofunk'. If he'd made it the same, there would have derisive snorts all the same - he just couldn't win! For me it was a great album, better than 'Panorama' overall, and one of the better and most underrated albums this year.

9. ‘The Signature LP' - Sway
This may not be my top album but it must have been the commercial success of the year, it certainly brought me a record number of page hits as people clamoured to read my review - ha! Sway really upped the ante where commercial yet credible UK Hip Hop is concerned. It has an overall feeling of quality - one for the collection!

10. 'The Stuff' - Illustrate
I first heard Illustrate this year despite having released a couple of previous projects. I heard the 'Work' EP and loved that and 'The Stuff' is a perfectly expanded version of the EP. The topics are varied - some down to earth, some underground and some in the clouds. A good first album for Illustrate to build his music making career with.

11. 'The Union Jack Album' - Jack Flash
Being straight outta Huddersfield makes this one a little different to the mostly south-centric albums in this list. This debut from Jack Flash is full of engaging rhymes and heavy but semi-ethereal beats. It's a real chill out album from an artist well known for his battling abilities (EOW Winner this year).

12. 'State of Lunacy' - Rhyme Asylum
This album was not what I was expecting. I expected mediocre 'hardcore' Hip Hop. What it actually is is classic sounding boombap laced with quotably ill lyrics. Noteworthy are the UK/US collabs here too - Diabolic and Copywrite getting in where they fit in. For any MC this is surely inspiration to pick up a pen and step up their game.

13. 'The Get Together' - Evil Ed & Conspicuous
On this slice of dopeness from the latter part of this year Ed and Cons almost sneak into the ear canal - they're not stealthy, but this is just so easy to listen to! It's an engaging 50 minutes of sampled beats and well made rhymes and it features a whole cheeseboard full of great UK MCs. 'BBQ' and 'Big Headed' stand out.

14. 'Everything is Borrowed' - The Streets
Purists might question it's place here, I have no answer for their queries. All I know is that I enjoyed this album alot and that it was better than the last one. 'The Sherry End' had that funk and the whole album has a sing-along vibe that sometimes you just need ya know? Don't hate on the man - grab a copy and warm up the old vocal chords.

15.‘Audio Revolution’ - K Delight
Another late-comer and a unique one at that. This is best described as a b-boy record - it has a heavy emphasis on the art of the DJ and is drenched in party type sweat. MC's from the US and the UK turn up - most notably the cool Lewis Parker and Koaste. This brought some much needed instrumental pastiche to my 2008 ears.

16. 'Anathema' – Triple Darkness
Definitely the darkest album on here, 'Anathema' had a strange pull on me. I gave it 4 stars, mainly due to it's original take on UK Hip Hop, but at times during the year, I actually had urges to listen to it. It's a strange album but one that works mysteriously well.

17. 'A New Bloodline' - Sir Smurf Lil'
Maybe this one shouldn't be so far down, but it's on here so... It's a very solid album from the man who's been showing up on everyone else's album this year (at least 2 of them in this list). The album is, to quote me 'sonically and topically... nicely diverse' and is a good quality second album from a steadily rising MC.

18. 'Back Off Man, I'm a Scientist' - Kidkanevil
This is the joker in the pack, not that it's funny or anything - it's just not strictly Hip Hop - it almost defies genre. What it has is beats and it also has a couple of MCs, so for that I can feature it. It's an exciting listen with very diverse tracks tied together with percussion and general experimentation. Buy it!

19. 'In Heavy Weather' - Mystic Man & Eshamanjaro
I didn't realise how much I liked this album until I considered this list. Since rinsing it at Easter-time on my Lakeland holiday I haven't returned to it that often. But it is engraved in my head - strange beats, lovely loops and confident rhymes have wedged themselves in my psyche - it must be good.

20. ‘Outside Looking In’ – Life
Life MC, an influential force on myself and I'm sure many others, brought us this packed album early on in the year. It's very serious messages are broadcast frenetically (as only Life could) over Nappa's straight-up Hip Hop beats. It also came with a back catalogue CD full of Life's beats - great for a freestyle sesh!