Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Beats, Rhymes & Christ - Knew Jeru'slum Interview

"It’s very important to us to be ourselves in this, to speak about what’s important to us and let people get an insight to our lives, none of that’s any good if its confined to the bottom shelf in a Christian bookshop – who’s gonna hear it then? We make hip hop for all heads, where ever you come from."

With an agenda like few others, West Yorkshire based UK Hip Hoppers Knew Jeru'slum bring it hardcore on their new single 'Non-Apologetix'. The boys answered a few of my burning questions about their music and their faith:

Certified Banger: Introduce yourself please:

Jonny Alpha: We are Knew Jeru’slum: Myself and Watson G on the spits, my beautiful missus Belinda Hards on the vocals, and on the most part, production from Yorkshires illest - Brutal Artistry. We’re from various ends of West Yorks - Hudds, Falihax and Bradford. Knew Jeru’slum is a project we started a couple of years ago really, me and Watson were getting some ideas together, then he and his lass introduced me to Belinda – her sister, and when I was chatting her up I found out Belinda’s an amazing singer too, it all linked there, then we met Miki B and loved what he does plus we all got a love for the gospel, so that’s us.

Happy Birthday 45 rpm Single

Where would we be without these? We'd have no breaks and no Hip Hop. From the BBC:

"The 45 rpm single has reached its 60th anniversary and despite repeated predictions of its demise, sales are rising once again. The first seven-inch was released by RCA in the US on 31 March 1949. But EMI's Abbey Road studios in London, where many iconic UK singles were recorded and mastered, can trace its history back even further, to 1931. Many of EMI's classic hits, by the Beatles and others, line the walls of the studio corridors."

Check that BBC link to find out how they are made.

Monday, 30 March 2009

'The A Loop Theory' - Asaviour & DJ IQ (album review)

‘The A Loop Theory’ is the Yin to ‘The Borrowed Ladder’s Yang. Asaviour’s earlier album almost saw him ‘do’ the UK Hip Hop thing and that’s out of his system he’s freed himself from the constraints of expectation and tradition. And let’s not forget DJ IQ, they’ve both spurred each other on to create something that doesn’t sound exactly like Hip Hop but that is outrageously Hip Hop – y’ know, how Roots Manuva does.

Synth basses and soaring violins sit side by side as the drums swing merrily with perilously little amount of quantization. With production styles like this IQ and Savvy have pretty much created something new in Hip Hop. Tracks like ‘Scientists of Sound’, ‘Uber Groovement’, ‘De Ja Vu’ and ‘Golden’ are more along the jazz line of things – akin to some of IQ’s older work. ‘Hustle and Hope’ which features Pride, Kyza and TB will please the grime fans whereas ‘Complicity’ featuring Kashmere is probably as close as this LP comes to traditional Hip Hop, despite its screaming guitar licks. This is next level stuff.

Lyrically Asaviour comes ridiculously correct and in his laid back manner he lays out visions of grandeur and authority. It’s all in his confidence: “S.A.V.V.Y? ‘Cause I have t’/ Fools can’t beat me now or thereafter/ Numerous master plans this bredder thinks faster” is how he opens ‘No Days Off’. Elsewhere certified spitters Sir Smurf Lil, Dubbledge and Verb T feature as well as the ones previously mentioned. Graziella and Thabo also lend their dulcet tones.

Whether you’re content with Hip Hop how it is or tired with where it’s got you need to get a copy of this album. Wherever you are in the world you need to be in tune to Asaviour and DJ IQ – no one does it like this. The album is our now on Saving Grace Music and can be bought at a good variety of music outlets.

'Non-Apologetix' ft. Manchild - Knew Jeru'slum (single review)

A change of review style here today. Instead of writing a new review I thought I’d let you know exactly what feedback I gave to Knew Jeru’slum about their new single ‘Non-Apologetix’:

Big bad beat (courtesy of Brutal Artistry), Public Enemy/Bomb Squad-ish but with that Eastern twist - it's a good look, reminds me of some the tracks off the latest Styly Cee/Cappo 12". Cuts in there too (from Andy H) - good to hear!

Title and subject matter is clever, playing on the two meanings of the word 'apologetics' - comes across well. I think you have actually managed not to compromise your message whilst still making it sound totally acceptable to every Hip Hop head - I just hope they listen exactly to what you're saying on the track and subsequent tracks.

Lyrics and rhymes wise - it's all good too, no whackness and the Manchild hookup is big! Mars ILL know how to keep things underground and hardcore for sure!

I’m totally feeling this track right now and it deserves some big support, go cop it on itunes – it’s out on Tuesday 31st March. Have a download of a 45 second snippet!

'Leafs' - Chief Wigz (On The Radar promo video)

Certified Changes

I'm faced with two options: close down Certified Banger or cut down on content.

I've chosen the latter. This thing takes time and way too much of my thinking time and I actually have a life and a wife to attend to as well so the blog is gonna have to take the hit. And as the CB team consists of me and me only there's no one to share the load.

But fear not. I hope to be able to cover as much stuff as ever before but again, I intend to slash my word count. It's the humongous pile of CDs for review that really takes the time and I want to give all the artists the exposure. So what I intend to do is at least post something about each album, sometimes I may write a mini review and sometimes I'll do a full review.

I'm also considering reemploying the Certified Banger rating system in order to give you all a snapshot idea of how good an album is (in my humble opinion).

I hope these changes don't mean you don't want to read or send me stuff for posting. I think it should make things more digestible for the readers and it should give more artists a chance to get featured - I hope you all agree.

On The Radar Artist Profile: King David

Name: "King" David Jones

Age: 25

From: Bedford

Track on ‘On The Radar’: 'Crop Circles' ft. Circle Makerz

Tell us the story behind the track: I found a sick producer on myspace called Safron (see OTR Vol.1) who gave me this beat, I recorded my verse within a week, linked up with Circle Makerz from North London who did Verse 2 and mixed it down! The song is basically using Crop Circles as a metaphor for Hip Hop and everything to do with this art. My verse in particular is a story told as if I have been sent here to portray my art in mysterious ways.

Record Label: None as yet.

Who you roll with: The Bedford Hiphop scene is a bit dry right now, Ive got alot of Links around England, mainly in London with Warlord Baka, Major Crow, Circle Makerz etc, and Ive got Killer Falcon from Scotland, Nova kane from the USA who's down with C-Ray Walz and Holocaust, White lotus of LCOB, Nix from Denmark. And my Main producer, Hungary's finest NomaGrof!

Favourite album(s): Way too many to name! Pharoahe Monch - 'Internal Affairs', MOP - 'Warriorz' was big. Most of Jedi Minds Releases! Anything by Canibus or Rass Kas! As for the Uk I'm feelin Jehst, Syntax, Klashnekoff, Foreign beggars, Braintax! F**k man I could go on for hours.

Describe your style in three words: Lyrical, Psychedelic, HipHop

Past/Present/Future projects: I am currently working on a solo album produced entirely by NomaGrof From Hungary entitled 'Molotov: A True Baptism of Fire', coming with everything I've got and some sick features too!

Volume 3's out next week so grab Vol.2 in the meantime!

Hip Hop Producers - Ghost Interview

"I've seen first hand that some countries are quite a bit behind on what's 'hot' in the UK and the US, and frankly they have a much better taste in music and how they respect the music and the artists."

Being a well respected man in the game and having just dropped a new release can only mean one thing for a UK Hip Hop artist - I interview them. OK, so I don't interview everyone and that's not the only thing that having respect and an EP mean but in this case it did mean that I had to interview Breakin Bread producer Ghost and I jumped straight in with the questions:

Certified Banger: How would you describe your instrumental output? Is it Hip Hop?

Ghost: I think so. I grew up on Hip Hop so I consider anything I make an extension of Hip Hop. I grew up listening to classic Hip Hop from the early 90s so even if my music isn't a classic Hip Hop sound the ethos behind the music is taken from that time, a time when the music was more than just a ringtone, a fad - it was music with passion and soul.

CB: Which do you prefer: creating instrumentals tracks or beats for MCs? How does your mindset differ when you’re doing either?

Ghost: I like to do both, I think over time I've learnt about making music which is probably why more of the recent stuff is instrumental. It's a challenge to make the music interesting without a vocal when you have no formal musical training whatsoever. The important thing is to keep the listener entertained enough without a vocal ‘cause all the attention shifts to the music, you have to add more depth to an instrumental.

Click here to read on

Thursday, 26 March 2009


Gathered from the close knit web of blogs:

From Explosive Muzik: 'My Little Girl' - Supar Novar (a rough version of a track for his next album released for now because today's his daughter's third birthday. Aw.

From Music From The Corner: 'You're Such A Dope' - Farma G (a reply to Yaeo's diss)

From Ramson Badbonez: 'In Da Pub' - Ramson Badbonez & Teef (NOT a version of 50 Cent's 'In Da Club')

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

'When Planets Collide' - Bane & Jonny Alpha (OTR3 promo video)

Asaviour & DJ IQ Tonight!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Producers - Tea Sea Records Remix Opportunity!

It's that time again when I big up the virtual treasure trove that resides in Tom Caruana's (tea) sea chest. If you pop over to his Tea Sea Records website and click on the button that says 'remixs' (their spelling not mine) then you will be able to download about a million acapellas from some of your favourite UK rapperinos including Wordsmith, Koaste, Dr Syntax, DPF and Genesis Elijah.

All you have to do is join the site, which will get you a whole load more than a bunch of acapellas (so even if you're not a beatsmith, do it). If you make a remix and send it to Tom, he'll feature it on the page and he'll consider it for inclusion in an album of remixes he's planning for later in the year. Can't say fairer than that can you?

Also keep your ears peeled for his new album with Elemental called 'Rebel Without Applause' which will be out soon.

'Grown Man Music' ft. Yosh, Zoo Mark & Slippa - Mr. Loop (OTR promo video)

Certified Banger Presents 'On The Radar Volume 3' Coming Soon!

'On The Radar Volume 3' is on it's way, it's due to digitally drop on Monday 6th April. If you are a blogger or similar who wants to have it early to review just drop me an email and I'll let you know the secret link. If you just really want it and you won't be reviewing it but you will be passing it on to your friends, send me an email too! Check out the video promo to hear some of the tracks.

Guerilla links are going up right now at undisclosed locations on the web so if you really want it early, you can find it! (Clue: Check the tracklisting and find those artists on facebook and myspace)

1. On The Radar - Reain
2. Incredible ft. Ramson Badbonez - Krate Krusaders
3. The Siesta ft. Yosh - Vee Kay
4. Say Yeah - Joe Blow (prod. by Metabeats & cuts by Stagga)
5. I’m Gunna - Dialect
6. Grip - Delegates of Culture (prod. by Toe)
7. Fear The Future - Stylah (prod. by Jon Phonics)
8. Black Rhyme - Kasha (prod. by Vivid Imagery)
9. The Positive Pessimist - Jee4ce (prod. by Whys)
10. I See ft. Profisee - Capitol 1212
11. The British Are Coming - Mr. ShaoDow
12. Leafs - Cheif Wigz (prod. by Brutal Artistry)
13. Rise To The Top - Cyclonius
14. Cannibal Rights - Baron Samedi
15. Judgement Day ft. SonnyJim, Kosyne, R.C. & LKC – JC
16. Tomorrow’s World - Ozmosis (prod. by Miss Tofelees)
17. Manchester ft. Stoney - Pockets (prod. by Pro P)
18. Grown Man Music ft. Zoo Mark, Yosh & Slippa - Mr. Loop
19. When Planets Collide - Bane & Jonny Alpha (prod. by Brutal Artistry)
20. Phenomenal - E Hustle
21. Drugs Need Kids - JVF Clique

Check out the title track from Reain:

Monday, 23 March 2009

Producers - Big Ben Remix Opportunity!

From over at Explosive Muzik:

"Here are the acapellas to Big Ben’s ‘Good Food Rap’ mixtape, the best remixes will be used on Ben’s next project, e.mail them to gorden_benit@hotmail.com or info@youlovebigben.com and e.mail them to me as well (explosivemuzik@gmail.com) if they're good I’ll post them up here. I’m probably gonna remix something myself and post it in the next week or so."

'The A Loop Theory' Out Now!

'The A Loop Theory' from Asaviour and DJ IQ is here! I haven't reviewed it yet - I've been too busy jammin' to it - I even cooked Chilli Beef to it the other night.

You can get yours now over at the Saving Grace Music website, at Play.com or at HMV - be ahead of the pack!

Sarah Love has been championing it, go listen to her latest show because Asaviour is in the UK Spotlight and there's loads of other decent stuff besides.

You can catch the boys live if you're out and about on these days in these places:

March 25th - The A Loop Theory "Northern" Launch Party @ Verve Huddersfield
April 3rd - Doctors orders "Battle of the Sexes" @ Herbal London
April 16th - "Louis Den Beat Cipher" Birmingham
June 6th - Huddstock Festival Huddersfield
June 6th - "The A Loop Theory Sound System" @ The Globe Cardiff

If you're going to the Northern launch party -see ya there!

'Instant Replay' - Don Diablo & Example (free download)

I've been trying to avoid Don Diablo mostly because every blogger and their ageing mother's mother has been posting his tunes which frequently arrive in my inbox. The move he's just pulled has forced me into blogging his music.

He's teamed up with the UK's Example, the rapper who made his name on Mike Skinner's label with his album 'What We Made' which enjoyed considerable chart success. Don Diablo and Example have come up with an electro-stomper entitled 'Instant Replay' which ties in nicely with news of Example's next album which will be produced by Don Diablo, MJ Cole, Calvin Harris and Chase & Status.

Example's forthcoming single 'Girl Can't Dance' has also been remixed by Don Diablo.

Friday, 20 March 2009

'N.O.V.A.' - Supar Novar (free download)

The F.L.I.P. fam have got a new blog called Explosive Muzik. Home to artists Wordsmith, Supar Novar, Big Ben and Ragz its full of inside exlcusive such as these three tracks from Supar Novar:

'N.O.V.A.' is taken from Supar's forthcoming mixtape ‘N To Tha IZZO’ which will be 100% over Jay-Z instrumentals and will be available as a free download.

The other track is Supar Novar's version of Lil' Wayne's 'My Life' which is taken from Tricksta's latest and newest venture 'The Digital Revolution', which is a free to download mixtape hosted this time by LATE.

'Sweet 16' is taken from his mixtape with Tricksta 'Wordz From The Frontline' but there is a reggae version on Youtube and there will be an album version on his forthcoming album.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

'Nice Up The Function' ft. Roots Manuva - Mr. Scruff (single review)

“This is something called the Jus… the Jus Jus”: memorable lyrics from a time of delighting in finding Hip Hop in unexpected places. Well, Mr. Scruff and UK Hip Hop’s biggest and most maverick figure Roots Manuva have got together again for the stonking single ‘Nice Up The Function’. Taken from last year’s ‘Ninja Tuna’ album, a more leftfield record than Scruff ever made before, this glitchy dancehall was a stand out track.

Coming like sonic ADHD, Scruff and Manuva make music fit for an asylum. Or at least a padded room. Roots spits his usual sporadic insights that make you wonder just where he gets his ideas from. The remix is a little more fluid due to its bumbling bassline and conga rhythms – it’s possibly the better version.

The package also features Scruff’s fellow Mancunians (OK, Stockport is pretty much Manchester) Broke ‘n’ English on ‘Listen Up!’. Lyrics like “I used hate going to school on Mondays//’cause the teacher made us do PE in our undies” are just a warning of the Northern fun to be had here.

‘Nice Up The Function’ is out on 12" on 06/04/09 on Ninja Tune.

Hip Hop Connection To Go Digital

Sad news from Disorda at Suspect Packages today:

"Gotta tip our caps to Hip Hop Connection magazine today, it looks like the news has finally leaked out that they will no longer be in print. Sadly another slice of Hip-Hop has been taken from us, they fully repped the culture for 20 years and for me personally who remembers buying the very first issue it's a sad loss. Big ups to the Andy Cowan and the whole team past and present for keeping it on the shelves for so long when others failed. The good news is that they will still live on in other forms: from April 7th it will become the world's first dedicated digital Hip-Hop magazine, available for download from www.hhcdigital.net."

Whilst the whole online thing will be cool, it doesn't beat a load of pieces of coloured paper stapled together that can go with you anywhere. It's a great loss as it is THE BEST Hip Hop magazine on the market.

'Freedom of Thought EP #1' - Ghost (EP review)

On his latest release, ‘Freedom of Thought EP #1’, Ghost, sounding not unlike DJ Shadow’s at his best, pleasingly mixes guitar samples with big and crunchy un-Hip Hop drums and cymbals to create some nicely emotive pieces. With the added strings and vocal ‘ooohs’ it’s a wonder ‘Way U Feel’ doesn’t come with the sheet music.

‘Return Journey’ sees the above formula added to as synthy keys and bells provide layers of melody. Then just before the half way point Ghost gets all Eric Clapton on us with a seldom heard in Hip Hop electric guitar solo – awesome, heart-warming stuff. ‘Feel Pain’ fits the template yet Ghost has again added extra spice to make it taste that bit different as the track builds up and down.

‘S’all Good’ features Detroit’s Finale and whilst it’s more Hip Hop than the instrumental tracks it’s still a little different from traditional rap beat fare. It’s “smooth and uplifting” and more synthy which fits Finale’s upbeat lyrics just fine. ‘Elevate’ is a remix of the DJ IQ track featuring Jehst and it’s “possibly one of [Ghost’s] favourite tracks off the album.” It’s the type of soundscape that accompanies documentaries on deep sea life – something I’ve not heard in Hip Hop before!

‘Freedom of Thought EP #1’ is out on 12"/download on 06/04/09 on the Breakin Bread label.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

'Damaged Good$' - Xrabit & DMG$ (track review)

Owing more to video games, the electro period of Hip Hop and Crunk rap rather than the usual 90s Boom Bap influences I go for, ‘Damaged Good$’ by Xrabit (don’t ask me how to pronounce it) and DMG$ (D.M.Gs) is flippin’ catchy.

Southern MCs DMG$ spit a bit old school and not much like your typical Dirty Southians, accents aside. I guess they will probably get labelled as ‘hipster’ (whatever that means) but really they owe more to Outkast than bright tracksuits and retro trainers. Their lyrics are pretty bugged out but entertainingly comprehensible, this isn’t Lil’ Wayne. What I’m getting at is, this should be popular, but not because it sounds like something else already on the market.

‘Damaged Good$’ is taken from the Ninja Tune album ‘Hello World’ which was released on the 15th of March 2009.

'The Diary Volume 1.5 (Twenty Years of the Remix)' - VA - Chris Read (free download)

'The Diary (World's Greatest Rap Megamix)' dropped in 2007 and it was a 800+ track mix that really really did what it said on the proverbial cylindrical metal container. If you missed that one, then you can download it for nothing at Music of Substance's downloads page.

As a stop gap between that and the second volume, which is currently being worked on, Chris has put together 'The Diary Volume 1.5 (Twenty Years of the Remix)'. This time the tracks are split and named (an easier task than splitting and naming hundreds of tracks!) and it features Chris Read's own remixes of tracks from Eric B & Rakim, Nice and Smooth, Heavy D, Beatnuts, Jurassic 5, Jay Dee, Lupe Fiasco, Common, Busta Rhymes, Mobb Deep and loads more top quality names.

The idea of this latest work is: "one iconic hip hop track from each of the last 20 years, remixed paying tribute to the prouction style and sampling trends popular at the time of the original release. From the James Brown influenced style of the late 80s, to the jazz sampling trends of the mid '90s, to the iconic and distinct sounds of DJ Premier and Jay Dee, all the cornerstones of the genre's development are touched upon." A mixtape with a great concept!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Winter Themed Tracks of the Day!

Common Market, the guys who gave me probably my favourite US album of last year, will be releasing their follow up EP 'The Winter's End' at the end of April. If you did check their album 'Tobacco Road' then you'll know that it followed the theme of a year in agriculture. 'The Winter's End' picks up where they finshed off and sonically and lyrically, nothing's changed - it's still all good.

'Don't Leave (When Winter Comes)' which is real nice, I'm feeling it and it's perfect when played next to 'Escaping Arkham'.

'Underground Journeys' - Haka (album review)

Creating beats that defy logic can’t be simple but Haka makes it sound easy. The logic defied is that very musical beats can’t bang as hard as their grittier stripped back brothers. On ‘Underground Journeys’ Haka provides a range of subterranean UK MCs with instrumentals that marry the melodic (the strings and keys) and the mucky (the drums).

The more R’n’B tinged tracks really stand out here: both ‘Makes Me Say’ and ‘N.A.M.E.’ are songs about ladies and both feature rapper N/A – a name to watch, especially since Haka is producing on his forthcoming album. N/A also raps on ‘If Road’s Your Life’, a warning story of what happens when you live foul. ‘All Luv’ is all intertwined guitar and organ licks and Big Cakes, Logic and Kalldean provide fitting and positive vocals and ‘Make It’ has that 'No Woman No Cry' feel to it.

Elsewhere the competent cast of MCs, who sound better on a closer, second listen, rap about the standard fare. Most of the tracks here work well as stand alone tracks and as a collection of tunes that’s OK. A little more focus on compilation and a few more original lyrical concepts will see this producer go far – his beats are very high quality, some of the best on the scene.

'Four Minute Warning' - Jack Flash (single review)

Jack Flash has a new single taken from his acclaimed album ‘The Union Jack Album’. If you already have the album, don’t write off the single release yet. The original version of ‘Four Minute Warning’ is joined by its instrumental and two remixes. You see, Jack probably remembers the day when a CD single came with a good number of remixes and versions as well as exclusive B sides. I certainly do and I welcome the return.

The album version, produced by Apa-Tight, was the chopped up mammoth of the album and Jack Flash’s own remix productions are perfect partners. ‘Three Minute Forty Warning’ opens with a balladic instrumental plus cuts but explodes into a medieval dragon. His ‘Don’t Stop Remix’ cuts up some classic soul making this track more Motown than Hudds Town.

Lyrically Jack is a beast. He won 2008’s End of the Weak, currently holds the title of World Champion and really does “write songs with the power of pylons”. If you doubt his diversity, just check non-album track ‘1am’ featuring crooner Thabo – he’s not all about the vicious raps.

‘Four Minute Warning’ is out on the 30th March on Klinik Records. Watch the video below:

DJ Step One - New Blog

DJ Step One (no I'd not heard of him before either) has just joined the geeky world of Hip Hop blogging at his nicely titled 'Only Built For Zshare Links' site.

He's basically posting up a load of material that no other blogs have ever posted and in doing so is providing a valuable back catalogue of 90s Hip Hop radio shows and the like.

The thing most relevant to this blog is his own 'UK Bubblers' mix which is "a selection of some of [his] favourite UK tunes. Mostly they're from 2001 -2005." It features tracks from all the big boys: Lewis Parker, Rodney P, Roots Manuva, SkinnyMan, Klashnekoff, TY, Fallacy and loads more.

Another thing he's just posted is again, some of his own work. It's a mashup/refix of the Ultramagnetic MCs' 'Poppa Large' and Ronny Jordan’s ‘So What’. It's a jazzy banger!

Monday, 16 March 2009

'Let Yourself Go' - Ramson Badbonez (free download)

Man of the moment Ramson Badbonez, an MC who's been putting in alot of work (which is why volume 1 of his mixtape was so good), has just dropped a little mp3 exclusive for all the internet users.

It's his own version of Diamond D's 'MC Iz My Ambition' and the mp3 seems to be called 'Let Yourself Go'. If you've checked the mixtape or the Dilla mix then you know what to expect, and it's that good still.

On The Radar Artist Profile: MasterSystem

Name: MasterSystem

Age: Collectively? Too old

From: Edinburgh, Scotland and Lancaster, England. Edinbaster if you will.

Track on ‘On The Radar’: 'See I Realise' feat. Anneke

Tell us the story behind the track: Well we got the beat from the Whys production machine, immediately heard the blatant ‘hesitation’ and ‘reservation’ samples and decided to make a tune about arrogant pigeons. This didn’t seem to be working so we decided to pen a more serious track that focused on the times when life seems to get the better of you, but you don’t let it, you kick its whining ass, get yourself back on track and hold your head high.

Record Label: We don’t have one at the moment, but we’re gonna need one for when the album drops in a couple of months, its gonna be heavy mate.

Who you roll with: Whys, Jee4ce, Ronin, Tori, Akira Kiteshi, our mums, the nines.

Favourite album(s): Favourite hip-hop albums would be 'Symptomatic of a Greater Ill' by Dark Mind and 'Nia' by Blackalicious

Describe your style in three words: United F**king Kingdom

Past/Present/Future projects: Tons of stuff. The MasterSystem album is being mastered and will drop soon, Fresh MC and Whys released ‘Monologues’ by their ICARUS side project last year (www.theicarus.co.uk) and played live on Radio One, Whys is now dabbling in wonk mayhem and signed his Akira Kiteshi project to Black Acre last year. More to come on all fronts. Be ready.

Can't believe it?! You haven't downloaded the whole thing yet! 19 more tracks of UK Hip Hop? Do it!


Those good folks from Don't Talk To Strangers are putting on a fine Hip Hop event in Boogie Down Bradford. All the info is above on the flyer. It features MCs, DJs and beat boxers so if you're in the West Yorks ends on April 17th at 9pm, get yourself there.

Audio Eloquence

ELOQ or Eloquent is an 18 year old Danish producer who makes future Hip Hop classics. Having J Dilla as an influence, being a fan of $1 crates and electronic music from the 50s - 70s has proven to breed a unique sound. With as much swing as Hip Hop can handle Eloquent makes funky, dubby bangers that I've been bumping over and over since he sent them to me.

The best thing is that he wants you to have them too. Have a listen to 'Dimensjon', 'Padman', 'Phat' and 'Liquid.08' below and then download them by clicking on the individual tracknames just above.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

'Encrypted Scriptures' - Jyager (album review)

Every now and then something really fresh comes along, something that little bit different that makes it stand out from the crowd. Newcomer Jyager’s raps and Cee Why’s beats have that thing; ‘Encrypted Scriptures’ is a striking album. It’s still Hip Hop as we know it but, as you’d expect from YNR, it’s finely tuned and well polished and that’s what sets it apart.

Jyager, a trilingual MC who does everything from laid back delivery to rapid fire lyrics, keeps things interesting and unpredictable. After kicking off with mission statement banger ‘Eyes Open’ Mr. Maktwist speaks on the streets, joins Foreign Beggars and Kashmere for some hard talk and then… he spits some fairy tale character featuring story rhymes on ‘Yellow Brick Road’. Things get even more abstract on ‘Tipsey Silent Monkey Man’ and then on ‘Actors in the Frame’ the Portuguese kicks in – see what I mean about interesting and unpredictable? The Cypress Hilly ‘Never Bring Me Down’ is the real display of linguistic skill – French, Portuguese and English lyrics ensue.

If you need any more reason to get this then look at the slimline guestlist: YNR bossman Jehst features on ‘The Session’ and Verb T and Kyza guest on ‘Seconds, Hours & Minutes’. The fact that these trusted MCs endorse this but don’t crowd the 12 tracks here is a seal of quality.

Cee Why, who’s been largely silent over the past couple of years, dips into a diverse palette creating a nice range of individual beats - what I really mean is, you can tell one track from another! Stripped back and hard (‘Eyes Open’, ‘Frozen in the Night’ and ‘The Session’) nestles with melodic headnod (‘Somewhere in Paradise’ and ‘Seconds, Hours & Minutes’) whilst everything in between makes it all cohesive.

‘Encrypted Scriptures’ is out on 23rd March on YNR Productions and will be available at all the best places for buying UK Hip Hop.

'All Day (That Feelin')' - Hard Livin' (video)

Check out this laid back truth laiden banger from Mike S and S.Kalibre, collectively Hard Livin'. Look out for some new material coming soon from these boys. Check them out on myspace for more.

Free Rhyme Asylum

Rhyme Asylum, the British group who dropped one of last years illest albums 'State of Lunacy' (which I just realised had artwork by Skam2? of 'Beats, Rhymes & Life' fame among others), have been dropping some free mp3s over on their myspace page.

As a group they offer you non-album tracks 'Deranged Division' and 'The Uprising' and MC Possessed provides 'Victory Speech' and whilst I'm not always down with the things they say, I'm down with the fact that they think and have viewpoints in their rhymes.

'Quel Est La Date' - QELD (free download)

Blunted beats + Blunted rhymes = QELD.

As usual, I've been tirelessly seaching the internets to fish out the decent and free Hip Hops from the UK for yous. I found some today. This is it.

You can download it for free or you can give them a shout on the myspace and they say they'll send you an actual CD with the music on - not bad eh?

QELD are from Bristol, so you know it can't be bad. Have a little listen here on this streaming player thingy:

Friday, 13 March 2009

Get Rooted Up

Thanks to someone on Facebook for this one!

Certified Banger Presents 'On The Radar Volume 3' (video)

'Oh No You Didn't' - Kid Acne (video)

It's probably about that time to break open 'Romance is Dead' again, Kid Acne's 2007 album. This track just reminded me what a fun lovin' album it is!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

'Pivot Widdit' - Eslam Jawaad (single review)

One of the few club banger type dance inducing Hip Hop tracks I can actually get with is the new single from Eslam Jawaad – somehow he just does it a bit more credibly than most. Maybe it would have been more suitable about 4 years ago with its eastern strings but hopefully, it’ll steer folk away from all this modern R’n’B nonsense. The video also adds a tongue in cheek element to the whole track.

On the flip is the smooth Focus produced ‘Criminuhl’, an exploration of how someone of Arabian descent is made to feel in the anti-Middle Eastern West. Eslam flows bilingually on this pertinent track.

Pivot Widdit is out on Eslamaphobic and is available on March 23rd.

Headcount Records Podcast (free download)

Headcount Records, the folk who put out Illustrate's 'The Stuff' last year, have just put together their first podcast as a label. The label, also home to Sloth, Pneumatic, MCM, Mr. Brown and C-Lone have got Headnod to mix together 17 of their best tracks in order to give you peeps a present (and also maybe to convince you to buy their proper releases?). The tracklist is here:

1. MR BROWN - 'D.HAMMER' (produced by Mr Brown)
2. C-LONE - 'BE CAREFUL' (produced by MCM, cuts by Mr Brown)
3. PNEUMATIC ft. MR GRIEVES - 'OPERA' (produced by Rinse Dog)
4. ILLUSTRATE - 'THE STUFF' (produced/cuts by Illustrate)
5. ILLUSTRATE - 'WATCH THIS MAN' (produced/cuts by Illustrate)
6. NBA ft. PNEUMATIC & AZLAK - 'ROLLIN'' (produced by Rinse Dog)
7. PNEUMATIC & SLOTH - 'WHAT'S GOIN' ON' (produced by Sloth)
8. CHRONIKILL & PNEUMATIC & SLOTH - 'IT GETS A LITTLE LOUDER' (produced by Sloth/cuts by Mr Brown)
9. PNEUMATIC & SLOTH - 'THE THIRST' (produced by Sloth)
10. MR BROWN - 'SECONDARY IMPUT' (built from scratch by Mr Brown)
11. MR GRIEVES - 'THE GENERAL' (produced by Rinse Dog)
12. RINSE DOG - 'LORD IF YOU' (produced by Rinse Dog)
13. MCM & C-LONE - 'R.E.A.L (rhymes equal actual life)' (produced by Rinse Dog/cuts by Mr Brown)
14. ILLUSTRATE - 'YOU HAVEN’T GOT A CHANCE' (produced by Illustrate)
15. ILLUSTRATE - 'DO WHAT YOU LIKE' (produced by Sloth)
16. ILLUSTRATE - 'WORK' (produced by Illustrate)
17. SAM WEBSTER AKA SLOTH - 'SCREAM OUT RMX' (a Sloth remix of the Million Dan track Scream Out)

‘You Know What Love Is’ – J Dilla & VA – Mixed by DJ Spin Doctor (album review)

Tupac. Biggie. Now J Dilla. Posthumous releases in the form of tributes are the order of the day 3 years after Jay Dee’s untimely death. London’s Doctors Orders mainstay Spin Doctor is the latest to pay homage to the Detroit based producer.

Now I’ve got to admit, during his life, I was ignorant of his work. Since his death I’ve realised a few of my favourite tracks were produced by him, for example, ‘Dynamite!’ by The Roots (one of my all time favourite songs). I don’t know how many other people share my experience of unawareness but for me, J Dilla’s legacy is similar to that of art world greats.

The good thing about Spin Doctor’s mix (apart from all the Dilla bangers) is that ALL of the proceeds will go to the Yancey family and Lupus UK. Over both discs Spin Doctor steers clear of the better known productions and instead offers up remixes, original breaks and lesser known tracks, making his mix a little different to the others.

With healthy doses of golden age favourites such as Busta, Q-Tip, Tribe and De La and equally hearty portions of Motor Town artists like Slum Village and Phat Kat the instrumentals and original sample sources all meld together perfectly. If you didn’t know what Dilla sounded like before, this mix will ensure your ears are attuned to some of the most headnod provoking Hip Hop instrumentals ever made.

All J Dilla fans, there must be many out there, need this mix. 2 hours of the late, great Jay Dee and your hard earned dollar/pound/euro/yen going to a worthy cause. Realness. Get it at Phonica.

Reviews Pending

As usual I've got a great big pile of CDs waiting to be reviewed, and as usual, I'll endeavour to write about them all. Just so you know, here's what's coming up whenever I get some time, in no particular order:

Joe Budden - 'Padded Room' (album)
Kyza - 'Love and Music' (single)
Haka Beats - 'Underground Journeys' (album)
Choong Family - 'Baptism of Fire' (pre-album)
Ghost - 'Freedom of Thought EP #1' (er....EP?)
Jyager - 'Encrypted Scriptures' (album)
Jack Flash - '4 Minute Warning' (single)
Asaviour & DJ IQ - 'The A Loop Theory' (album)
Tricksta & Lunatrix - VA - 'Flying the Flag' (double mixtape)
Big Narstie - 'The Big Man Returns' (album)
Two Fingers - 'Two Fingers' (album)
Modulok - 'Cities and Years' (album)
Knew Jeru'slum - 'Non Apologetix' ft. Manchild (single)
Mr Scruff - 'Nice Up The Function' ft. Roots Manuva (single)
Reachout - 'Fly Baby' (album)

I'll also be doing interviews with a number of UK Hip Hop artists including Ghost, Endemic, Knew Jeru'slum and Karl Hinds.

'Spread The Word Vol. 1' - VA (free download)

The boys over at the Can't Stop Fanatics blog have put together their first compilation download.

Unlike my On The Radar series they have made the world their oyster and featured artists from all over this beautiful planet.

On the UK side of things it features an exclusive from Dan Bull, Bradford's own Dr. Crobe, Legs MC, Pat D and Lady Paradox, Wordsmith, Teej and Tom Caruana. It also features artists from USA, France, Poland, Brazil, Japan, Germany and Sweden.

Oh, and if you're on here and you didn't consent, don't shoot the messenger!

01 - Intro (beat by kuroioto) (assembled by nofrillz)
02 - Paradox - Life Of An Artist (feat. Jeremiah Bonds)
03 - Subway - Not Your Average
04 - Marcelo D2 - Ela Disse
05 - Funkoars - Let You Go
06 - Dan Bull - Doorways (Exclusive)
07 - Dr Crobe-No Money Broke Life
08 - Move.Meant - Myself In You (feat Mike James) (Michitaro from Cradle Orchestra Remix)
09 - Michita x Haiiro - Way Back When
10 - Legs MC - Obsessed With The Theatre feat. Crespo of Monkey Sons
11 - Cradle Orchestra - Food For Thoughts (feat. O.C.)
12 - Funky DL - Jazz
13 - Nefew - Because I Can (Exclusive)
14 - Dialect Music - Parano Star (Atom Remix)
15 - K. Sparks & Pajozo - Posers
16 - O.S.T.R. - Dlaczego Mamy Dac
17 - Robot Koch vs. Cerebral Vortex - Vortex Cookies (Flako Omegaman Remix)
18 - Scott Burns - Shift Gear (feat. Rass & Sereck)
19 - Pat D - Moments (feat. Lady Paradox & Lauren Jade)
20 - Bliss N Eso - Lonely Streets (feat. Debaser)
21 - Dela - Veuillez Veiller Sur Vos Reves (feat. Les Nubians & John Banzai)
22 - Wordsmith - Beautiful Life
23 - Eloquence & Truths - The Exit
24 - Syntax - Make It (feat. Tactic One)(prod. Mules)
25 - Small Professor, C.L. Smooth & Skyzoo - Perfect Timing (Small Pro Remix)
26 - Teej & Tom Caruana - The Divinity Of Femininity
27 - Daz-ini - Avec Le Love On Donne Ca (feat. Dernier Pro)
28 - Moon Blazers - Feels Like
29 - Outro (beat by ghost) (assembled by nofrillz)
30 - Bonus Track - Taybot - We Homie's Now (Exclusive)

'Recordkingz Mega Mix' - DJ Mighty Atom (free download)

To get you salivating for the Recordkingz album, DJ Mighty Atom has mixed up 10 tracks, new and old from Recordkingz / Juliano Creator And The Creators catalogue featuring artists such as Mobb Deep, The Beatnuts, Mos Def, Nas, Talib Kweli, A Tribe Called Quest and Dilated Peoples:

Recordkingz ft. The Beatnuts - 'Rock Ya Shoulders'
Recordkingz ft. Little Brother - 'Playin To Lose'
Recordkingz ft. Guilty Simpson - 'Hip Hop Throwback'
Recordkingz ft. Mobb Deep - 'Heat'
Recordkingz ft. Glasses Malone - Da Money
Masta Ace - 'So U Wanna Be A MC' (Juliano Creator Remix)
Nas - 'I Can' (Juliano Creator Remix)
The Creators ft. Mos Def and Talib Kweli - 'Hard Margin'
Dilated Peoples - 'Expanding Man' (Juliano Creator Production)
A Tribe Called Quest - 'One Two S**t' (The Creators' Remix ft. Mark Pritchard & Pino Paladino)

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

'Mental Disorder' - Jester J (album review)

If you like jokes, good rhymes and funky forward thinking beats then sample Jester J’s debut album ‘Mental Disorder’ out now on Organised Mess. You can download it for free or you can buy the CD for a fiver. I’d advise the latter ‘cause we all need a CD with a picture of a poo on it don’t we?

Subject wise there’s a lot of studenty, drugsy talk as well as thoughts on the amount of Hip Hop artists compared to Hip Hop fans. There’s a track about driving (‘Driving Around’) that doesn’t follow the usual rims and woodgrain dash talk of our US friends – it’s more much more realistic – one of my favourites. Raps about the everyday grind of a 9 to 5 and piss taking lyrics about guns etcetera are present amongst the general tongue in cheek lyricism.

The production, shared between Organised Mess and Raven beats are nicely diverse with foreign sounding grooves (‘Comedown King’) rubbing up against choral, enya-like soundscapes (‘Lost Mines’) and digital bleeps (‘Targets’ and ‘Note To Self’) sharing the hour with theatrical bangers (‘Run’ ft. Scott Sprite). Traditional Hip Hop is also catered for but the variety is the spice of this CD.

Although there may be a couple too many tracks with similar themes, ‘Mental Disorder’ is a strong release from a guy who doesn’t take Hip Hop too seriously all of the time. I would recommend it to likeminded folk.

See Ghostface Live In Scotland!

If you can be in Scotland, Glasgow to be precise, on Thursday 7th May then you'd do well to get booking tickets for this do.

Until Monday 16th March you can pay £12 to get an early bird ticket for this awesome looking lineup. It's taking place at the O2 Academy at 7pm and joining the Wu-master are DJ Vadim and Yarah Bravo, Cheeba (Solid Steel - Kung Fu Hip Hop a/v set) and soon-to-be On The Radar artists Capitol 1212 & Profisee.

If you miss that deadline then it's still only £16 to see some Hip Hop greats of varying levels of stardom.

Get your tickets from the O2 Academy box office (08444 77 2000), Ticket Web or Tickets Scotland.

'Tears To Laughter' - Lowkey

Not content with releasing an album with his band Mongrel on Saturday, Lowkey also dropped the single 'Tears To Laughter' on Monday. The track, which he first performed as a poem at the London protests against the Gaza massacre earlier this year, will donate all its profits to charity. It's available on itunes now. You can download and listen to a sample of the track here.

3Snapshots.com – win a Graniph t-shirt

Whilst in Tokyo the 3 Snapshots team will be heading to cult t-shirt store, Graniph who opened their flagship store in Harajuku earlier this year. Graniph collaborate with international artists, photographers, illustrators and designers to create their cult tees. We’ve got one to give away from the Graniph Japanese Designers Project, 24 designers put "Japanese Culture" in t-shirt print. Enter our competition and then log onto www.3snapshots.com/ for more Tokyo snapshots.

To enter, just send me an email at certifiedbanger@gmail.com with your gender, size and the answer to this question: How do you spell Graniph?

The winner will be picked at random next Wednesday, so get emailing! Pictured is my favourite design by Kentaro Nagai but there are loads of other cool designs also.

Monday, 9 March 2009

'Terminal Illness' - Endemic (album review)

UK producer links up with US rappers - a format seldom practiced but one that has a deep history of producing some quality Hip Hop (insert own example here). Endemic has followed the recipe closely and as a result his ‘Terminal Illness’ set is a collection of tracks bound to appeal to Hip Hop fans worldwide.

12” single track ‘Robin Hood Theory’ features Timbo King and Planet Asia is the album opener proper and ‘Comin To Kill’ featuring Sean Price, Rusty Juxx (who both appear later) & Sav Killz, the 12” flipside, comes in at track number 4. Wu affiliates Hell Razah and Killah Priest pop up on ‘Three Kings’ and ‘One Day’ respectively. Homegrown talent comes in the form of M9, Cyrus Malachi and Nasheron of Triple Darkness and C Mone, most famous for her appearance on The Streets album ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’.

But this being a producer album, I have to focus on the beats - the bread to the MCs' butter. The instrumentals are straight up classic boom-bap type productions that sample soulful breaks with weighty effect. With a sound that has come to represent the east coast streets Endemic has created a very consistent set which will only occupy 47 minutes of your time, ensuring an all the way through listen is possible.

On his next outing Endemic will benefit from MCs who take his work and run with it to create something beyond the ordinary (in the way that female MC Sima Lee does with the upbeat ‘Look My Way’) – some of the tracks here can sound a little samey. But if it’s good, solid rap music you want, Endemic got it and you wouldn’t be going far wrong by snapping up a copy of this LP.

Endemic's 'Terminal Illness' is out officially on March 23rd on No Cure Records in the UK and on EMI records in the US.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

'Better Than Heavy' - Mongrel (album review)

Mongrel’s ‘Better than Heavy’ made history today as it was the first debut album to be given away free by a national newspaper. I picked up a copy and whilst I browsed news of Mandelson’s green custard attack and the like my ears were entertained by the sounds of Mongrel.

At 11 tracks and 40 minutes long it’s not a daunting listen although opener ‘Barcode’ really throws the listener in at the deep end with it’s female raps (courtesy of Pariz1 and Tor Cesay), hectic instrumentation and conspiracy theory message. ‘Lies’ continues with the album’s overtly political message as mainstay rapper Lowkey articulately outlines his political beliefs. Reverend and the Makers frontman Jon McClure provides his Northern vocals on the chorus, sounding not unlike Ian Brown, a sound continued on the Stone Roses-esque ‘Julian’.

The politics continue, after party time/love song ‘Hit From The Morning Sun’, on the catchy ‘The Menace’, a song that’s already a firm favourite of this reviewer. ‘Act Like That’ is a vitriol against everyone who’s peddling a rosy image of criminal lifestyles, the government, American rappers and films all come under the wrath of guests Purple, Kyza, No.Lay, Logic and Mic Righteous. ‘Alphabet Assassins’ sees the band drafting in a few more MCs, 16 to be precise, to rework Lowkey’s own version of this concept track – Wretch 32, Doc Brown, Deadly Hunta, Stylah, Kyza and SkinnyMan all feature. SkinnyMan also appears on ‘Better Them Than Us’.

Fans of the bands whose members are involved may be disappointed, there’s no Artic Monkeys, no Reverend and the Makers and no Babyshambles influences evident here. As Hip Hop goes, the instrumentals provided by the musicians are perfect, so for me it works.

‘Better Than Heavy’ will be released properly on the 23rd of March as a double CD (the other CD is called ‘Better Than Dub’) and is available to preorder on Wall Of Sound from HMV.com for the bargain price of £6.99.

'The Official Mixtape Volume 1' - Ramson Badbonez & DJ Harry Love (mixtape review)

Coming up under the wing of Task Force can never be a bad thing. First appearing in 2002 on the ‘Mud Fam EP’ and then again in 2003 on ‘Music From The Corner Volume 2’, Ramson Badbonez has had a good start in UK rap life. Along with DJ Harry Love he now brings us an epic collection of verses and concepts over a load of beats from the greats (Premier, RZA, 9th Wonder, Alchemist, Madlib and more).

If Badbonez isn’t one of the most promising MCs on the scene right now then I don’t know who is. He’s interesting, clever and witty, he’s laidback, competent and lyrical - skills which could be generalised as ‘panache’.

Ramson displays a versatility that’s missing in most MCs only on their first mixtape. Concepts, hooks, lexis, on-point delivery, real talk, braggadocio and story telling are all present and correct in the most refreshing way.

Standout tracks for me are ‘Put The Mic Down’ (for the awesome reworking of the RZA’s ‘Liquid Swords’) and the British weather reality track ‘Out In The Rain’ but if you’ve got an hour and a bit you’ll find it’s all of high quality. Rounding off with his version of Slick Rick’s ‘Children’s Story’ is a perfect way to end a release which only leaves me hoping that, with a bunch of instrumentals specifically made for him, Ramson Badbonez will produce a storming debut album proper.

‘The Official Mixtape Volume 1’ also features tracks from various projects already released (aforementioned ‘MFTC 2’, DJ MK’s ‘Above Board’ and Ramson’s own 12 inchers). Buy it now, as usual, at Suspect Packages (and don’t download it).

'Survive Or Die Trying' - Chester P (mixtape review)

‘Survive Or Die Trying’ or ‘New Mic Order – The Mixtape Part 1’ is the latest release from Task Force’s Chester P. One of the great things about this CD is the fact that it is ‘part 1’ – it promises more, and more of this can only be a good thing.

The UK king of abstract but gritty concept rhymes is back after his ‘From The Ashes’ solo debut album. Over a range of suitable beats Chester P weaves his angst-charged and sometimes intangible lyrics with the dexterity only a veteran could possess. Don’t worry if you don’t understand though, immerse yourself in the ill imagery and marvel at the vocabulary amalgamations and the sheer depth of general knowledge.

When he’s in comprehensible mode he’s a master story teller on ‘Urban Jackanory’ whereas elsewhere conceptual tracks such as ‘Zodiac Killer’ and ‘Spoonerised Minds’ remind you of Chessmonster’s more playful side. If he’s not doing that then he’s telling true to life narratives and musings which are often personal, as on ‘Greatest Story Never Told’ and ‘Holocaust’.

If the Task Force back catalogue is anything to go by, you should buy this now because soon it’ll be pretty hard to get hold of. Every fan of UK Hip Hop needs this in their collection. Why? Because Chester P is UK Hip Hop. Buy it at Suspect Packages.

Friday, 6 March 2009

'De Ja Vu' ft. Graziella - Asaviour & DJ IQ (preview track)

Here's another preview of Asaviour and DJ IQ's soon-to-be-released album 'The A Loop Theory'. It's a track featuring Graziella entitled 'De Ja Vu'.

'The Future' ft. The Game (Tricksta Remix) - Joe Budden (free download)

What do you do when you see one of the most talked about returns to rap effectively flops due to poor single choice? You remix it!

We're talking of course about Joe Budden's latest track 'The Future' featuring The Game. I'm not entirely sure Tricksta shares my dislike for the Fyu-Chur's pop panderings but he has done the honourable thing anway. He's done away with all those sweltering synths but has worked with the existing vocals to make this an altogether more enjoyable listening experience.