Thursday, 28 May 2009

'Fake Death' - Zwolf (free download)

Fresh from the Chrome Kids is this EP from Zwolf - something a little different from the usual Certified Banger fare. 'Fake Death' is not too far different though, 'Dead Sea Scrolls' features rapper Junior Disprol and 'Room For Doom' is just what you'd want from instrumental Hip Hop. The two remaining tracks proper are slightly more alternative and probably best heard when in a trance - very smoothed out.

Visit Zwolf's myspace for more of an insight into his warped world - apparently he cites "zwolf is staring at your earlobes" as an influence. Crazy dude.

You'll be able to downoad this as of June 5th from

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

'Superstar' - Slickmouth (album review)

From the UK’s Illset Records comes Slickmouth, probably the only born-in-London, moved to Nigeria, then to LA and now back in London MC that there is.

‘Superstar’ is full of big, well polished and radio-ready productions that thankfully don’t conform too much to current trends but are more in line with Kanye or Lupe’s best work. Some instrumentals are a little samey but out of 21 tracks everyone will find their favourites.

Lyrically Slickmouth has the ability to put things simply but skilfully. He raps cathartically about love and life and also doesn’t hesitate to rap egocentrically. Slickmouth raps positively, with little reference to the usual stereotypical Hip Hop themes. It seems to me there isn’t a shortage of the more romantically themed songs, obviously aiming for the female market there. As a male Hip Hop head, here are the tracks I feel both for production and the rapping: ‘Universal Soul Music’, ‘I’m Back’, ‘Don’t Be Mad’, ‘I Made It’, ‘Music’, ‘Never Give Up’ and the old skool, all hands on deck ‘1988 Allcast’.

I'm not sure where and when you can get it at the moment but will update this when I do.

Original Version of Klashnekoff's 'Murda'

For those who aren't following Harry Love on Twitter, check this little gem he just dropped on there as a world exclusive: A clip of the original version of Klashnekoff's 'Murda'. To be honest, the final track is better for the beat change (new beat still by Harry Love) but it's interesting to hear how it once was. More of these please producers and rappers!

'Dirty's Mobile Beat Shack' - Dirty Drummer (album review)

I've been checking out this album from North Carolina's Dirty Drummer - 'Dirty's Mobile Beat Shack. Dirty Drummer is a producer who uses samples (or 'found sounds') along with live drums to bring to us his own line of beats.

My personal favourite is the super-jaunty 'Sadie & Lucy' and I also love the fact that he's got soundbytes of Leon Black aka JB Smoove from 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' on the swinging 'The Thang'.

Elsewhere a nice a variety of instrumentals provide some nice and relaxing music to chill with alongside some beats to get on down to - you decide which are which. 'Dirty's Mobile Beat Shack' is out now on Ropeadope Records.

'They Don't Know' - J Simple (single review)

Vulcanologists have today revealed that West Yorkshire is a hot spot for volcanic Hip Hop activity. The current focus point is said to be Huddersfield’s underground rap scene. Unusual activity has been observed of late with both Jack Flash and Asaviour erupting with devastating effects. Historically it was this Northern town that saw things heating up for UK Hip Hop hero Jehst.

Latest reports show that the most recent movements are coming from J-Simple who can often be seen raining down fire with Jack Flash. J-Simple’s debut single ‘They Don’t Know’ should see him explode onto the scene with its molten Apa-Tight beat, his own pyroclastic flows and Thabo’s ashy tones on the chorus. With Jack Flash’s jazzy remix luring you into a false sense of security, be sure you heed the warning signs.

The B-side ‘Breath Control’ features Leeds MC Chief Wiggum and Jack Flash – sonically it’s like the darkness that follows the destruction, lyrically the three MCs make this concept track air tight over the Brutal Artistry production.

‘Even though you may not know now, you soon will. ‘They Don’t Know’ is available on itunes now on the Klinik label, it’s packaged up with the instrumental, radio version, the Jack Flash remix and ‘Breath Control. Check the video at youtube. Listen to 'They Don't Know' now on the Certified Banger Podcast.

'LunarBallz' - Lunar C & Ball-Zee (video)

Check out Bradford's latest mic masher, Lunar C (of Missing People), on the track with one of West Yorkshire's two best beatboxers, Ball-Zee (Megamouth is the other!). Here's Lunar's homemade 'video', illustrating perfectly his hyperactive lyrics.

Beastie Boys Performing Live On Jimmy Fallon With The Roots (video)

So the Beastie Boys have announced the title of their new album: 'Hot Sauce Committee', they've just remastered 'Check Your Head' and 'Paul's Boutique' and released all sorts of goodie packs surrounding those two remasters and they went on Jimmy Fallon's show the other night to begin their promo. Glad to see they're still going strong!

'Baptism of Fire' - Choong Family (pre-album review)

Choong Family's pre-album 'Baptism of Fire' was released on 25th May as a warm up for their 'Phoenix Rising' album which should be out in Autumn this year.

'Baptism of Fire' packs a fair few punches and the album kicks off with a volley of right hooks and jabs before calming into the Mike GLC featuring 'Solitude' and the smoochy 'Good Bye Girl' before exploding back into 'Skank Music' for some mean muggin' in the club type stuff.

The remix for the bombastic 'Adrenaline' (think The Thunderclaps' 'Judgement Day') features Wreth 32, Scorcher, Ghetto alongside 7 other MCs.

Choong Family bring some well crafted UK Street Hip Hop over sped-up soul sample production as well as on some more grimy beats on this pre-album. If you've ignored them thus far then you may just want to get to know, especially if you're a fan of artists like Klashnekoff and Kyza. You can buy it exclusively here.

JVF Clique Live On Suspect Packages Radio (video)

'Nowadays' - Krate Krusaders & Ahmos (video)

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

'Spaceship'- Raul Supreme (free download)

Birmingham producer Raul Supreme has just dropped his free beat tape, it's the second volume and it's aptly called 'Spaceship'.

The whole thing swings throughout leaving you in no doubt as to who his MPC idol might be. If you think you can rhyme like Detroit's finest or if you just wanna kick back with some beats then you couldn't do much better right now than to just cop the download and stick it on.

Golden Mic Challenge Finals This Week!

Free Entry? A rap battle? In Leeds? Me as a judge? You know you wanna come along! It's on Thursday night (28th May) and it's the Golden Mic Challenge! Four MCs who have battled their way through the heats compete to take the top spot to win the golden Shure SM58, a beat from Mr. Thing, some threads, some cash and more. Judging by what I've heard and seen of the MCs in the running, it should be a good ol' fight!

Oh yeah, and did you see that BLADE is the special guest judge?! Big!!!

'Alpha' ft. MC Kombo - The Earlyman (single review)

Nah! A non-conformist, pretty leftfield UK Hip Hop production is actually heavy? Yeah! The Early Man has what you need regardless of whether that description appeals to you or not.

Edmund Cavill is the guy behind The Earlyman and late 90's soul/indie/Hip Hop outfit Spacek and he's readying the release of 'Lola Una', his debut LP under his new guise. The album features Mr Ti2bs as well as Infinite Livez and Foreign Beggars (who feature on this release's B-side 'Slinky') and MC Kombo who raps on the A-side 'Alpha'.

'Alpha' is all about the rapper's brother's alcohol and narcotic abuse and deteriorating mental health - not normal subject matter for a banger but it works at the same time as highlighting an important problem in our society.

'Alpha' is out now on Stopstart Recordings and can be bought here. Click here to hear more music from The Earlyman.

'Freedom Of Thought' - Ghost (album review)

Being a producer and making instrumental beats is all very well but if you’ve no vocalists then you’ve got to put more effort in. Thankfully Ghost must have realised this long ago – he’s well versed in creating an instrumental track that actually goes somewhere. Whether he’s making beats with what sounds suspiciously like typewriters (‘Daze’) instead of drums or whacking an awesome guitar solo in a track’s climax (‘Return Journey’) Ghost always brings that extra je ne sais quoi to get the listener hooked.

On occasion the hook is the guest MC – Jehst, Verb T and Dubbledge represent the UK Hip Hop scene and Finale Detroit’s. Verb T’s contributions on ‘Invisible World’ and ‘Frozen In Time’ sure build up anticipation for the Invisible Inc. project he and Ghost are involved with alongside Kashmere. Both tracks are pretty atmospheric yet the drums maintain the head nod – a formula Ghost has perfected.

What’s nice is that the tracks here are not samey, and not just for background music (although it is great for that). ‘It’s All Love’ explodes with cheeky jazz swing right before Ghost’s spaced-out version of DJ IQ and Jehst’s ‘Elevate’ kicks in. I can only describe ‘See You Crying’ as a Massive Attack-esque power ballad whereas ‘Remember’ manages to remind me of Jimi Hendrix, early-days Oasis and psychedelic-times Beatles all in one track – definitely a stand out. Then ‘Road To Somewhere’ shuffles into existence with as much jive as a Hip Hop head could wish for.

The much-anticipated ‘Freedom of Thought’ is being released on 15th June on Breakin Bread and there’s no doubt – you should buy it!

All Day Hip Hop Event in Canterbury This Saturday

Beatroute - Saturday 30th May 2009, in Canterbury, featuring Mr. Loop, Yosh, Rapskallions and loads of other DJs, Breakers, Graffers and the likes.

Rapskallions & Yosh Release News

Fresh from the Sweatbox with some characteristacally dope artwork are two albums soon to drop: Yosh's 'An Audience With The Baron' and Rapskallion's 'Slicker Than A Bucket Of Snot'.

The Rapskallions joint features production from Vee-Kay and Mr. Loop as well as guest vocals from Yosh, Dr. Cerberus and Vee-Kay and should be out digitally at the beginning of July with a short run of limited edition CDs coming around September - I've already heard the album and best believe I'll be having a hard copy for my collection.

The Yosh EP is being mastered right around now so hopefully there will be a release date for that sometime this year.

If you haven't already picked up a copy of Mr. Loop's excellent production album 'The Bury All' then do so now - this album kicked 2009 off with a bang and it features 777, B'tol, Beit Nun, Dr. Cerberus, Eva Lazarus, Humble Pious, J-Soles, Mudmowth, Slippa, Super Dertie, Vee-Kay, Wordsmith, Yosh and Zoo Mark all up on the microphone. You should also go download Vee-Kay's album 'The Audio Workout'; it features Cariz, Dialekt, Dr. Syntax, Dubbledge, Lowercase, Micall Parknsun, Stig of the Dump, Wordsmith and Yosh.

Jon Phonics New Album Artwork Preview

Take a look at the cover for the forthcoming release from UK Hip Hop producer Jon Phonics; 'Chronicles of the Calcium Kid'. There's not much more I can tell you right now but if 'Half Past Calm' and his other recent production work is anything to go by it should be a good un.

If, somehow you did miss the free download of 'Half Past Calm' then click here. It features M9, TB, Sir Smurf Lil', Cyrus Malachi, Verb T and Mr. Drastick amongst others. Click here to check out the interview I did with him and click here to see all the features he's had here before!

'U Can't Lurn Imaginashun' - DJ Vadim (album review)

Every artists needs inspiration and if DJ Vadim’s source is globetrotting then we will allow him his carbon footprint. ‘U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun’ is the title of Vadim’s latest album, and it’s pretty fitting really. Without fitting into the pretty awful category of ‘World Music’ DJ Vadim has crafted an album representative of many genres and cultures.

You’ll be glad to know that overall there is a Hip Hop focus; it’s just that all the other elements make this fresh and different. The rappers list consists of the gorgeous Yarah Bravo, La Methode, Pugs Atomz, Juice Lee, Big Red and Chicagoan singer/rapper Wes Restless all of whom add their unique voices to great effect – these aren’t just your average rappers. The roll of singers drafted in for the soulful, R’n’B numbers is jam-packed and multi-cultural too.

Whatever style he tackles, be it Ska, Reggae, Electro, Soul, Folk or Rap, DJ Vadim comes up with rose-smelling Hip Hop every time. ‘U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun’ seems to be available now on BBE Records at all the usual places; itunes, Amazon… etc.

'Discolexcia' ft. JND & EXP - Dr. Dot (single review)

Bright breaksy funk with rapping, and all from Yorkshire? Ticks all the right boxes for me. Freyed Knot's JND and EXP take control of the mic whilst Dr. Dot back(s) up the party with his/their pounding beat (Dr. Dot is the producer and the name of the 9 piece band).

If you like folk like Krafty Kuts, Mr. Scruff or Ratatat then 'Discolexcia' is for you. It's being released on 12" and as a download by Concrete Breaks Records on 1st June and features remixes from Cut La Roc, Kool Hertz, endoflevelbaddie and Supercheap Disco Club.

'Fugs Need Hugs' - Nine High (video)

Check out the heavy and almost militant new single from the UK's Nine High (although two of them now live in Oz) which is produced by Aussie producer of the moment M-Phazes (who's worked with Pharoahe Monch, Royce Da 5' 9" and Micall Parknsun). The guys kinda sum up UK (and probably Australian) Hip Hop on this track, but not in an obvious way. Their self titled album will be released on 6th June on Taos Records.

Monday, 25 May 2009

'Flow Man' - Chrome (EP review)

Now, a lot of modern rap songs claim to be reminiscent of the 90s when actually they aren't. Trust it to be a release that doesn't claim a likeness to the much-lauded golden era of Hip Hop that does really and truly sound like the 90s.

Chrome's 'Flow Man' EP has the the bounce that you could well imagine Das EFX rickedy-rocking their unique brand of lyricism over. So, it was bound to sound like the 90s when one track is Chrome's own remake of Organized Konfusion's 'Bring It On' (not on some X-Factor cover/Karaoke bar tip) but the title track and previously heard on a Sir Beanz OBE (he produced it) project 'Miles From Home' just make this the perfect throwback package.

Normally Chrome can be found rocking out with the Def Tex crew but if there's more solo stuff to come, I'll welcome it with open arms. 'Flow Man' is out now on Son Records and can be bought for 3 squid on CD or half the price on mp3.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Wu-Tang Clan 'Black Trumps'

Whadya think? Wu-Tang Clan Top Trumps cards (also known as Trading Cards in the US) - called, of course, 'Black Trumps'. I knocked up a mock up of how Method Man's might look like - categories subject to change. Your suggestions are welcome!

The pack would include all 9 Wu members and, to make up numbers and to make a good game, as many of the Wu-affiliates as possible such as Bronze Nazareth, Killah Priest and Sunz of Man.

Now, how can I go about copywriting my idea?! (Aside from the fact I've just posted it on here?) Actually, someone's probably had this idea already!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

'The Delorean' - Nee-Hi (free download)

Really, really feeling this! Nee-Hi is from Ipswich and he's on a real good time rap tip. I won't hold the fact that he wears skinny jeans against him - he's a big kicks head too and his music is as fresh as his style sounds. Well, I say fresh, it's like a salute to all his old school influences - probably what makes this so nice!

I've not heard anyone from the UK doing anything quite like this so it's pretty sweet on the ears and with shout out quotes like "...she fell over!" you'll be taken back to your school days on 'Back In Time' which also features Robbo. Check out old school Hip Hop nods on 'The Fresh Prince...Of Buckingham Palace', 'Daytime T.V.', 'Don't Sweat the Technique' and 'Strong Rhyme'.

Nee-Hi has made this available for free download so if you fancy a fun 24 minutes then get a-clicking on the link below.

Rapper's Favourite Rapper #1: Homecut on J-Live

To celebrate both the release of J-Live's 'The Early Works of J-Live' and Homecut's 'No Freedom Without Sacrifice' I asked Homecut himself to pick out his top 5 J-Live tracks:

"You can't pick a top five of J-Live really, because he's one of the few emcees who is deep. Not just as a person, but also in terms of back catalogue. He got hype tracks, concept tracks, stories, battle rhymes, love songs (never queezy), anthems and social commentary all locked down. Plus he's not just an amazing emcee, he cuts and produces too. Um... I think I better go back to the lab again. Well, here's 5 of my faves (notably 'Like This Anna' from 'All Of The Above', which is sublime, is missing - your fault Certified Banger for not allowing me 6 tracks!). N.B. If you haven't gathered, he's one of my heroes."

1. 'Braggin' Writes' - J-Live. "One of the original joints that brought J into the consciousness of all underground heads worldwide. The beat that you can't date. Crazy flow. Wherever I listen to it I feel like all of a sudden I'm in a cypher at the back of a grimy New York club. Plus at live shows he does the cuts himself whilst rhyming."

2. 'Them That's Not' - J-Live. "Yep. That's the one with that dope beat that speeds up and J rides it all the way. Ill concept."

3. 'A Charmed Life' - J-Live. "An honest autobiography by the man himself. Beautifully drawn portrait, a wonderful flow and a "How-to" lesson in story telling."

4. 'True School Anthem' - J-Live. "I remember seeing J perform this live with L-Fudge and Mr Complex at Fresh Jive Leeds, back in the day. Big up all the b-boys and b-girls Fresh Jive Leeds! He had us singing "No skool rule like true skool!""

5. 'The Truth' - Handsome Boy Modelling School ft. Roisin Murphy & J-Live. "My last track. Alright, not strictly a J-Live track. But it is, in fact, one of my favourite verses managing to take a song that you don't think can get much better and cold killin' it!"

'The Early Works' of J-Live' is available as a 40 track download now from both itunes and Amazon, it's on J-Live's own Triple Threat Productions. 'No Freedom Without Sacrifice' is out on Monday 25th May on First Word Records.

Blast From The Past #2: 'Higher Forces' - Phi-Life Cypher

After buying the 12" of 'Rap It Up' almost by chance (but on the strength of the name and the fact that Task Force featured on it) I saw 'Higher Forces' in my local HMV (probably) and snapped it up - and instantly loved it. This was another album, again from 2003, that really drew me into the world of UK Hip Hop.

Most people don't consider this Phi-Life Cypher's best work, and some purists don't like American Skit Slam's contributions. But I love it, and I might not be blogging today without it.

Definite favourites for me are 'Rap It Up' (which featured on one of the first mixtapes I recorded) and the Moody Blues sampling 'Free' (bound to get you singing soulfully). 'Higher Forces' is still available to buy and I'd recommend you add this to your collection, as I will with all releases in the Blast From The Past series.

Monday, 18 May 2009

'Northborough Estate Project' - Joker Starr (mixtape review)

YNR entrusted him with the opening track on their label showpiece ‘Feeding Time At The Zoo’ and listening to ‘Northborough Estate Project’ it’s easy to tell why. Joker has upped his game – nothing you have heard can have prepared you for what surely is one of the best releases so far this year.

Officially it’s a mixtape but it does feature full tracks with original production as well as verses over pilfered beats - the former truly stand out. Some heads may not be ready for Starr’s flow which switches without warning from hyperactive to lethargic but this is what makes this charismatic MC truly stand out from the pack.

The unique delivery walks hand in hand with the enigmatic subject matter, whether he’s painting a picture of life in his Slough estate, likening himself to a toreador, talking about the booze or paying the bills Joker Starr makes rap music you want to listen to, like, so you’re actually hearing and hanging on to every word he’s saying.

With production from Beat Butcha, Dan Solo, G-Man, Keith Lawrence, Ahmos and Soliheen, guest raps from Genesis Elijah, Jehst and Micall Parknsun amongst others and an intro from the Gangstarr man himself, Guru, this is a CD worth your £7.99 (from Suspect Packages) – and I’m really endorsing this one, it’s just so flippin’ refreshing to hear Rap that manages to be fun and serious all at once.

Blast From The Past #1: 'Upwards' - Ty

This is one of the UK Hip Hop albums that really got me into the genre, it was released in 2003 so you can see I've not been a fan for a long time. This ended my courtship with Hip Hop in general and began my immersion into UK Rap. 'Upwards' isn't really representative of UK Hip Hop as a whole - probably the reason why I still look for the bright side of things when it comes to British Rap.

The LP kicks off with "Woy... Oh. My. Goodness." on the awesome 'Ha Ha' and just before it closes (on the version with the bonus tracks anyway) the revoxed version of 'So U Want Morre' featuring Roots Manuva (a lovely combination) provides quotable after quotable. Another stand out track is the Joker Starr produced 'Hot Spice' - seriously this album has too many good moments to mention!

If you've not heard this album then get to it - you can pick it up nice and cheaply now.

Introducing: Homecut

Again, here's the unedited version of my piece on Homecut, written for and published in HHC Digital 002:

When a friendly cuppa becomes one third of a collaboration and a case of stalking makes up the remainder, one should expect remarkable results. So it was that Homecut, the alias of MC, beatboxer and singer Testament, built his single ‘I Don’t Even Know’. The track features the vocal talents of chart topping songstress Corinne Bailey Rae who heard the track when she popped into the studio for a drink and subsequently demanded to sing on it. Then, after tracking him down and hijacking a radio interview Homecut also managed to get a sax solo and 16 bars from Birmingham jazz/rap cat Soweto Kinch.

Homecut’s debut album ‘No Freedom Without Sacrifice’ boasts contributions from over fifty musicians plus a couple of rap cameos. Ty firmly stamps his approval and American MC J-Live trades bars on ‘Time Difference’, a track that covers three concepts: time zones, the day in the life of a rapper and coming to terms with growing up. Working with a hero via phone and email after supporting them at a show may be unconventional and difficult but as Testament explains, “J’s really on it… he always comes correct” – in fact the hook-up deserves full marks.

Thematically, Testament raps about reality: “Life can be tough – I think everyone can identify with that. This is my attempt at expressing this…” Don’t get it twisted though, he continues: “…but also the sense of hope and perseverance that got me through it”. Moaning and negativity have no place in the Homecut repertoire - positivity is key to the overall sound.

When Homecut isn’t roaming the country recording in all manner of places (boats, dressing rooms,churches…) he’s busy being a part of Shlomo’s Vocal Orchestra, performing with a 6 piece band and running music workshops in prisons. It’s this unique combination of factors that makes for the refreshing musical output of this London-born, Leeds-dwelling, full time musician. Carving his own groove in a 30 year old genre, Homecut is stuck in no rut and fits in no mould.

HHC, in their new tradition of giving an mp3 of a track by each featured artist put up Homecut's collaboration with J-Live, 'Time Difference', for you to listen to. The album 'No Freedom Without Sacrifice' is out on Monday 25th May.

'Feeding Time At The Zoo' - YNR Productions (album review)

Here's my (un-edited) review of YNR's 'Feeding Time At The Zoo', originally written for and published in HHC Digital 002, it was their album of the month:

What with UK Rap and its Marmite status, this release will probably provoke one of two reactions: “Yawn, backpack rap - boring” or “Finally some decent Hip Hop in this Grime-addled scene”. I’m going to imagine you’re of that second opinion: after all, you’re not reading this in Angling Times.

The new and improved roster of friends and family proves YNR have adapted and are managing to maintain their alpha male status - their music is testament to this. Jehst and co. have a renewed vigour and confidence (no, not swagger) that their wares are exactly the shot in the arm that UK Hip Hop needs. And it is, pretty much.

Beats come from the likes of Beat Butcha, Chemo and DJ IQ who all provide bumpy, progressive productions that still hark back to those beloved golden days and Kashmere, Sir Smurf Lil’, Joker Starr, Mystro, Kyza, Micall Parknsun, Jack Flash and Cappo all feature over its 15 tracks.

The non-Londoners put in sterling work with SonnyJim and Kelakovski’s ‘Flying To The Moon’ proving to be a stand out and Double D Dagger’s track being sure to appeal to Hip Hop and Grime fans alike. Dubbledge’s ‘Alphabets’ is comically maverick whereas Verb T’s ‘Overworked’ is on a serious tip. Each beast represents his own breed and it's ‘Feeding Time At The Zoo’ - these animals are hungry!

HHC also put up a free download of Micall Parknsun's 'Today' so if you've not bagged that yet, then do! 'Feeding Time At The Zoo' will be released on 25th May on the YNR Productions label.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

'Soldier' ft. Wretch 32, Kyza & Orifice Vulgatron (The Last Skeptik's Re-Re-Remix) (free download)

Basically a brand new track - It's Skeptik's new beat for the re-vocalled version of Vadim's 'Soldier' which was originally on a reggae vibe with a french guy and a russian guy rapping and singing respectively - check my review of the 12" it featured on for more.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

'The Key' & 'Go Then, Bye' - Speech Debelle (video)

Check out the videos for Speech Debelle's two singles 'The Key' and 'Go Then, Bye':

If you like what you hear then click here to stream the whole album - good stuff on a jazz/80s/90s female MC vibe. You can pre-order the album on CD, limited edition gatefold CD, double LP and MP3 now by clicking here. Watch out for a review.

'A Place Like Home' ft. Lewis Parker - John Robinson (single review)

Flu-voiced New Yorker John Robinson has hooked up with ex-UK dweller Lewis Parker for his 7” single ‘A Place Called Home’ on which both MCs rap on point about NY and current economics and the beat is dreamy – similar to Aim’s production.

The B-Side is ‘The Big Picture’, it features similar blunted production although this one features a distorted double bassline to infiltrate your brain. Neither tracks were on his album ‘Who Is This Man?’ which was released in January, so if you bought that, this isn’t a waste of cash.

Check this beauty out now on itunes and peep his albums on Amazon.

'Casa Bey' - Mos Def (video)

Friday, 15 May 2009

'The Harlequins Monologue' - Catch 22 (album review)

Digging into a seemingly untapped reserve of vinyl for samples, I.C has produced a truly original backdrop for UK rapper Catch 22 to perform in front of on his album ‘The Harlequins Monologue’. Whilst a seam of originality runs through this album, it remains undeniably Hip Hop.

There’s a fair bit of love talk on this album (‘Pros, Hos and Cons’, ‘Love Sick/Sick Love’ and the brilliant ‘Angel’) but none of it is cloying but nor is it depressing. Catch 22 speaks honestly and with authority on relationships and the fairer sex. Other tracks are just straight up bangers – ‘Immaculate’ and ‘Cut the Crap’ both need a Spinal Tap-esque volume knob, and they’re not the only ones.

Where Catch 22 speaks about everyday life he manages to remain engaging where most rappers sound self indulgent – mainly due to his turn of phrase, on point flow and nice rhymes. Whilst many of the subjects explored on this album are pretty… erm, well, miserable it’s still entertaining – the Harlequin simile is extremely justified.

Over the 16 tracks I.C also features on raps as does Standard, making this the effort of a real tight family. ‘The Harlequins Monologue’ is available now from Sugar Free Records for an unbelievable £6.

'An Introduction to Sparksism' - C-Sparks (EP review)

When listening to ‘An Introduction To Sparksism’, accents aside, it’s obvious that this is UK Hip Hop. C-Sparks does the British Rapper thing to a 'T' – but it’s not really enough. Yes, he’s got skills – his lyrics are pretty clever in places and the production is competent – but that’s just not enough.

As a fan of UK Hip Hop, or indeed any sort of Hip Hop, there’s only so much of the same thing one can take. On ‘Lost World’ C-Sparks bemoans society but does little to add to the solution - as result it comes off a little dreary and samey. The grey mood doesn’t lift - I guess that’s just who he is and what he’s experienced, take ‘Sunshine’ as case in point. ‘Conspiracy Theory’ is an interesting examination of modern war tactics and is the best track here - this C-Sparks has something to say.

‘Rooftop’ is a little lighter but then, it’s the same old, same old weed talk. Artists with abilities (such as C-Sparks) need to extend their creativity beyond just rhymes and making dope beats – there need to be concepts, originality and thoughts from outside the box.

Overall, this is an average release (think half marks) from a talented individual and I’m well aware that there are many out there who totally vibe of music like this and would not share any of my opinions. Why not listen for yourself and let me know how wrong I am?! It’s available now and a search reveals its availability at eMusic.

'On The Radar' Series - 60+ Free UK Hip Hop Tunes

Haven't bigged up these for a while, neither have I done a post with all three:

Click the images to download over 60 tracks of free and exclusive UK Hip Hop featuring music from: JVF Clique, Jay Madden, Chris L, Assa, Jut, Dan Bull, Mrs. Pez, Jimmy Crack, Skrimshank, Remus, Krate Krusaders, Antidote, Pro P, TLG, Chima Anya, The Three Amigos, Naive, Grit Grammar, Dan Bull, Joker Starr, MasterSystem, Asaviour, Apa-Tight, Dabbla, Miss Tofelees, Gouki P, Antiheroes, Reklews, Lowercase, Chattabox, Sober, Simple Samples, Circle Makerz, King David, Cipher Jewels, Reggiimental, Reain, Ramson Badbonez, Yosh, Vee Kay, Joe Blow, Metabeats, Dialect, Delegates of Culture, Stylah, Jon Phonics, Kasha, Jee4ce, Profisee, Capitol 1212, Mr. ShaoDow, Cheif Wigz, Brutal Artistry, Cyclonius, Baron Samedi 15. Judgement Day ft. SonnyJim, Kosyne, R.C. & LKC _ JC, Ozmosis, Miss Tofelees, Stoney, Pockets, Pro P, Zoo Mark, Slippa, Mr. Loop, Bane, Jonny Alpha, E Hustle, Jehst, Kyza, Queens English, Klashnekoff, Skandal, Loudmouth, Jay Large, Grimlok, Reps, Late, Size8, Spee 69, Beit Nun, Truth, B'Tol and more:

Cee Banger in HHC Digital 002 - Out Now!

Check out my two bits of scrawling for Hip Hop Connection this month. This mags' been there for me right from the beginning of my Hip Hop fandom and none of the others could match up - it's been a bit of a aspiration realised having my words in there. As you can see I reviewed album of the month 'Feeding Time At The Zoo' from YNR Productions and wrote an introduction to the excellent Homecut - click on the pics to see them with print (just about) large enough to read. Or, go to the HHC Digital website and download the whole thing!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

'Soundspecies' - Soundspecies (album review)

Those Foreign Beggars are popping up everywhere at the moment! Their latest jaunt is with instrumental experimental Hip Hoppers Soundspecies on the track ‘CDR People’ taken from the self titled album (‘Soundspecies’, der!). The track is a groovy tribute to the club night of the same name (‘CDR People’, der!) and it also features 2Tall. The track is a gem and is something really different for the discerning UK Hip Hop head.

On the album it’s followed by the melancholy ‘Beautiful not Suitable’ which boasts the vocals of Black Spade and is a tale of love and disappointment. Elsewhere things are a little less Hip Hop and more ethereal although tracks like ‘Relax’ featuring Deborah Jordan manage to combine the two. ‘Mask’ and ‘Moog Jam’ manage to combine the above formula with some dirty electronica. Other tracks reveal world music and jazz influences.

‘Waiting For The Sun To Come Up’ evokes the exact feelings you’d expect to experience whilst doing what the title suggests. Imagine a long night of good partying, hitting the beach in the early hours and just being content to lie and wait for the morning to come.

The album ‘Soundspecies’ by Soundspecies is out now on Burnt Progress. The EP (which features Foreign Beggars) is also available now on 12” at Phonica Records.

HHC Digital 002 - Out Today!

Head over to the Hip Hop Connection place at 5pm today for the publication of their second digital issue. It's going to feature Raekwon (as you can see),Ghostface, Speech Debelle, P.O.S., General Steele, Superstar Quamallah, Paul White, DJ Vadim, Asher Roth, YNR and Dr Butcher. Oh, and an piece on Homecut written by a blogger you know well.

It's also coming with either 35 or 40 free mp3s from all the artists featured in the mag as well as a mix by The Last Skeptik (but not DJ Skeptik mind!).

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Ain't Nuthin But A "Free" Thang - Rukus, Rob Kelly, Spitz, Devi/Krate Krusaders & Stylah

A vertitable flotilla of UK Hip Hop music gratuit today. first off is Stylah's 'The Warning' which is truly hosted by ex-gangster type Dave Courtney who drops Cockney quotables throughout. There are plenty of full quality tracks to be had here with production from Styalz Fuego, Sivey and DJ Mentat and guest verses from Bashy, Mike GLC, Smiler, Sincere, Mims and Deadly Hunta. Check out 'James Bond', 'Craziest Remix' and 'Hard Way' for some absolute quality on varying topics. Download 'The Warning' now.

Spitz spits some political, sometimes religious and always forceful raps on his free to download 'Deep Water (Bags of Sand)' - check 'Not In My Name' and 'Free Palestine' for his manifesto. If you want something a little more normal listen to the relaxing 'Head Up'. Download 'Deep Water (Bag of Sand)' now. Spitz is an interesting character as he's a convert to Islam from a western background - born in Wales, lives in London. Click here for more info on the guy. Look out for the second part of the 'Deep Water' series coming soon.

Krate Krusaders who provided some excellent tracks for Volumes 2 and 3 of my 'On The Radar' series have been working with Devi for a couple of years now. The culmination of which is this selection of tracks under the name 'The Devinekrusade' EP. What you get is quality, sometimes quirky boom-bap beats and solid lyrics exploring a nice variety of ideas. Check out 'Hip Hop Frankenstein' and 'Fruit' for the freshness. Click here for 'The Devinekrusade' then find them on myspace or facebook 'casue them boys want feedback like a guitar next to an amp.

East Midlands MC Rukus intends to put out a mixtape every other month this year. Part one of the '2000 N Mine' series is available now, and has been for a little while (well, since April), I'm sure there'll be another soon (keep checking here for more). Alex Blood and Ty feature on 'Overstand' and many tracks (such as 'Jus Flow' and 'Hear Me') toe the Hip Hop/Grime line daringly - a little different to his work with producer Baby J. The quality of this isn't that great but the skills come through nevertheless.

I've slept on this release and this artist for way too long. Rob Kelly is undoubtedly one of Ireland's best and with his unashamed accented lyrics surely everyone wants to hear him go in over House of Pain's 'Jump Around'. Rob Kelly has the hardest lyrics, it's no wonder that Frankie Krutches, Slaine and Memphis Bleek feature. On 'St. Patrick's Day Massacre' RK freestyles and raps his way through 21 tracks of hard beats - what you waiting for? It's been long enough - download it!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

'Take A Walk In My Shoes' - Wordsmith & I.N.C The Poet (single review)

Wordsmith (the one from the US, Baltimore to be precise) is about to drop his UK only album with Dutch rapper I.N.C The Poet – an interesting combination of moves for sure. To prepare for the album, they dropped ‘Take A Walk In My Shoes’ as a single.

The track sums up the concept of the whole album. The two MCs basically compare lifestyles in their different locations – a theme which is explored in depth on the album ‘A Baltimore Martini’. Strada’s production has a westcoast-ish, top-down-on-the-way-to-a BBQ vibrancy which matches up nicely to the vocals of our tourguides.

‘Take A Walk In My Shoes’ is out now on Nu Revolution Ent. and ‘A Baltimore Martini’ will drop on 25th May.

'Unconditional Hustle' - Yung (mixtape review)

Yung (you may know him as Yungblud), dropped his mixtape ‘Unconditional Hustle’ on 4th May. Yung spits ruggedly over beats from S.Chu, Wizard, 7th Dan of MKD, Mikey J and some self-produced instrumentals. Tight and focussed freestyles flow thickly as Yung asserts himself alongside full tracks like heavy heaters like ‘The Dedication’ and ‘It’s Alot’. A definite American influence is evident here, fans of the gullier end of the US market will appreciate.

Conspicuous, Cobane and Shameless all feature on the hypnotic ‘Flesh and Blood’ and the mixtape’s theme continues. It finishes off with ‘Nothing Remix’, a big and bouncy anthemic tune which features Major and T-Lo – defo a favourite. As is usual with mixtapes, things are a little unfocused and samey but this is decent music nevertheless.

‘Unconditional Hustle’ is out now on MKD Recordings/The Hip Hop Village/RGS Entertainment.

'Hat Low' ft. Fallacy & Skinnyman - Inja (video)

A case of tapping into popular markets? I think so! Inja goes all grime with the music, the look and the Granny-scaring subject matter. Man he's even got backing dancers (I like dancers though)! Not sure what I think of this yet...

'I Don't Even Know' ft. Corinne Bailey Rae & Soweto Kinch - Homecut (video)

Buy it!
First Word Website

Speech Debelle with Live Band at Size?

Free U-God, Ghostface, Redman, Method Man, Kid Hum, Braille, Mos Def, The Game

Here are few tracks borrowed from other blogs that I'm feeling. They're all from the US so enjoy this brief excursion from my usual fare:

I'm ready for new Wu-Tang type stuff so this U-God track with Ghostface comes at a good time: 'Train Tussle'. 'Blackout' was and is one of my favourite albums so I'm looking forward to 'Blackout 2'. Red and Meth seem to have let a few tracks go including 'How 'Bout That' which I'm feeling lots.

Kid Hum has just put out a free album called 'Offshore Drilling' and this track with Braille is a good un - I really like Braille for his honesty and his general on track persona and the production suits him to a tee. The track is 'Thinking Shoes'.

I love a bit of Mos Def too so hearing his latest 'Casa Bey' was a treat for me. It's a fast paced and funky return to the game for this chap - reminds me a bit of 'Universal Magnetic' - a good thing.

For some reason I can't resist The Game. And here is his latest track 'Bang Along' which is a real laid back joint on which he chats general reminiscences about the westside.

Free Jon Phonics, Ramson Badbonez, Foreign Beggars, Infinite Livez

UK Hip Hop producer Jon Phonics has been busy on his Uni project and has created this instrumental gem: 'Passing Spheres'. It's somewhere between Breaks, Jazz and Hip Hop and it's reet nice. I'm not sure whether the title refers to some strange case of excreting 3D shapes or not.

Ramson Badbonez dropped his latest free download, it's called 'Yeah (Da Reminda)' and his brutal lyricism is choice, he kicks off with "Here's a reminder: Saw off your hand with an angle grinder" - ouch. Last week's track was 'Play It Back' with M.A.B. - laid back and very 90s-ish.

The second track off The Early Man's forthcoming EP 'Alpha' (which features MC Kombo) is 'Slinky' - a track on which mad-cap Infinite Livez shares mic time with UK Hip Hop heroes Foreign Beggars and it sounds EXACTLY like you'd expect it to! The Early Man's production is futuristically funky and 'Slinky' is available to you for free - now buy the single on May 25th!

Monday, 11 May 2009

My Free Downloads Weigh A Ton

Here are today's free UK Hip Hop bits and bobs:

Part of the Millenium Jazz Movement, Louisunseen's 'Never Unheard EP' (see artwork left) features his beats and vocals from Mp3dom, Verbal Remedy, Mr. Prophecy, Doobs and Hannah C over 4 tracks. Go to his msypace page for more info.

'The Pro P Files Vol. 1' is a collection of 'On The Radar' artist Professor P's productions for a wide selection of (mostly Northern) MCs and crews including Analyst, Antidote, Kulez, Stoney, Connect Logic, Chris L, TPS Fam and Dweller. Download it here.

Lee Scott and Monster Under The Bed got together one day and recorded a ten track album under the name McAbre Brothers. With production from Reklews, Lee Scott and Dilner The Lost Kid and track names like 'Grande Gonzo' , 'Moron Tick' and 'The Men Who Stare At Goats' you probably already know if you want this one or not. Download it from Blah Records now if you do.

Bashy got together with The Truth Movement at Maida Vale for the BBC to record a little free download for y'all. It's simply called 'The Jam Sessions' and it's 4 tracks, all on that live flex. Get it now.

Werd, the scottish rapper has released his latest mixtape as a free download (surprise, surprise). It's called 'The Scottish Rapper Mixtape' and it features Deeko, Wardie Burns and Riddlah and a lot of self production. Get it here, for free. If you like it then go buy 'S.O.S: Sons of Scotland' by Werd and Deeko.

Lastly, for now, Leeds based multi-genre label Crackhouse Recordings have made their back catalogue available for free download here. Expect gully whackiness from Lyrical Dan, Ill Phil, Tha PCP, SmackDaddy MCz, No Change and more!