HIP-HOP REVUE
Words: Matt Oliver


Monolith Cocktail - Sadat X


Rapture & Verse swings back onto your browser with the timing (if not the phat content) of an Olympic gymnast, getting amongst the gold medal standard of beats and rhymes and avoiding a nasty case of mass alcohol poisoning at a recent Snoop Dogg concert. Straight into the live diary, and bulletproof wallets need opening for Raekwon & Ghostface’s September appearance at Kentish Town’s 02 Forum. A Bristol barnstormer hosted by High Focus smashes open the Bank Holiday weekend with all of its big guns ready to go, and Death Grips plug into the Village Underground mid-October. There’s the pre-Christmas gift of a Digable Planets reunion show happening Under the Bridge in November, the same month in which Chance the Rapper brings his good book to London and Manchester. The art of deckmanship is almost upon us again, with September’s DMC World DJ Championships parading fabled turntablists the Invisibl Skratch Piklz as the needle sharpening unfolds.





Singles/EPs

Not many come blunter than S Kalibre, eight track volume ‘Love Songs’ firing missives and grievances from point blank range as heart grips sleeve and rules head. Slap Up Mill is entirely sympathetic on the boards. A hard working outing from Joker Starr colours the skies a heavy shade of ‘Purple’, with a clutch of remixes in agreement that real bad boys do not mauve in silence. With Micall Parknsun providing a sterling backbone of beats, Big Cakes looks to hang around your headphones for time to come on the big hearted rhymes of ‘No Expiry’. Swet Shop Boys bounce and shake like they’re going west, ‘T5’ and ‘Tiger Hologram’ putting on the pertinent pair of Riz MC and Heems. Remixing Divine Styler’s data-blast flow encoding ‘Pandorum’, DJ Food helms a brainstorm involving the Art of Noise and Slick Rick’s ‘Mona Lisa’.



Over a skinny, ‘First Come First Served’ shooter, Kool Keith teams with DOOM for fantasy hip-hop grandslam ‘Super Hero’, whose special power is pretty much just turning up. Some niceness to cop before your rush in from the thunderstorm that’s ruined your BBQ; Yinka Diz’ drawls about who’s on top over soul chop-up ‘You & Me II’, Mac Miller effectively gatecrashes the irresistibly smooth sunshine groove of Anderson Paak’s ‘Dang!, and Mick Jenkins’ ‘Spread Love’ is the cue to head to the humidor.





The life of drama, potently musty when relayed by Westside Gunn and Conway on ‘Griselda Ghost’, is one taking its time, like a sniper getting his eye in from a far off high-rise. Sharp talker SageInfinite embraces descending gloom on ‘7Series’, with the same grey skies quality clouding Apollo Brown & Skyzoo’s album teaser ‘One in the Same.’



Albums

The perennially bandy flow of Sadat X stretches every sinew and syllable on ‘Agua’. The Brand Nubian master, with Pete Rock, RA The Rugged Man, Diamond D and Rhymefest on board, is still uniquely teaching upstarts through neat narratives and outright exasperation made by that voice. Well served by posse cuts and beats consistently landing blows, X’s game management knows how to keep up appearances without the box-ticking. Obey your thirst and fill up.





A dark, dank debt collection from Giggs on ‘Landlord’ hones that street husk of his, wall-to-wall trap perfectly framing the breathe-n-stop of his loaded whispers. Either one dimensional or dead-eyed in its focus, it’s one for night owls up to no good.

Godawful artwork and title aside, ‘Lady Parts’ by Fudge is the smoothest of bumpy rides – and vice versa – put together by Michael Christmas and Prefuse73. An intuitive mismatch of effortless rhymes (i.e., underground-savvy, a bit know-it-all and prone to shrugging), and kinked beats, made so because it’s boring when there’s no errant spanner to be found. Over and done with after 40 minutes, it’s not a whirlwind, more a concerted vortex to snare you.

Very unsteady but housing an interesting, unlikely backstory, Danny Lover’s coming together with Wes Murray is like a head-on smash in slo-mo; you can see the impact and potential for hurt a mile off on ‘Career Suicide’, but are powerless to do anything about it other than lock on hard. Definitely not a light listen, it should be treated reverentially through candlelit vigil.

Breaking the cycle of simply riding the psychedelic spirals of ‘A Man Who Thinks With His Own Mind’, Illogic imposes himself on the album’s $6million title. Making excellent inroads into your brain on ‘Selfie’ and ‘Man or Wolf’, streams of quotable IQ create a fever dream. Snooze, you lose. Fans of the Yamin Semali project ‘Monday/Friday’ will welcome the remix companion ‘Saturda¥/$unday’ – hip-hop for weekend morning papers, your best duvet and a pot of coffee, with the kick of a Bloody Mary (or track 7 if you prefer).





You may have noticed that Rapture & Verse frequently bangs on about Mello Music Group. Stupidly consistent, they supply two more prime beats and rhymes pieces this month. Lando Chill stars as an all-rounder who peels the layers and goes through the gamut of Tucson emotions on the personal ‘For Mark, Your Son’. ‘Whole Food’ is served by Denmark Vessey, an emcee who brings home the bacon with a chewy twang like he’d wrestle a steak out your mouth. Producer Gensu Dean skilfully measures out doses of funk; the artwork’s pretty provocative too. Also pinching ears and neck muscles, The Other Guys’ ‘Life in Analog’ sees life with DC 20-20, with Skyzoo and Tanya Morgan riding strong soul surf.


Mixtapes/Beat tapes

Londoner TYC, growing into the method of mixing the flows of Ty and Essa, comes up smelling of roses with ‘Muddy’. Vibes that come alive around midnight, feeding off smoky hip-hop blues. A chaotic dressing up box of styles shared between Jeremiah Jae and PBDY goes Mr Benn on the ass of ‘JP Moregun’. 20 minutes of density stuffed with samples and otherworldly discord, whether that be the wild west, sci-fi, period drama or Jae shouting out the BBC. Mixed by PF Cuttin, Stone and Robert’s ‘Us vs Them’, a tag-team offense/defense alter-ego of Skanks the Rap Martyr and P General, spray hard over classic Mobb Deep, Gang Starr, EPMD and Main Source, with ‘Perspiration’ taking it to the ring and claiming the mix’s title belt. Golden age reclamation is still a format that absolutely works.


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The same goes for deM atlaS’ ‘mF deM’; as you’ve probably guessed, it’s the Minnesota emcee claiming a baker’s dozen of DOOM beats and having fun with what’s normally reserved for a scything shrug. A free to download open goal. An extensive instrumental goody bag putting the sampler through its paces, Scyesblu’s ‘Darkest Blue’ hosts boom-bap sketches and bite-sized jewels by the dozen. An exceptional, powerfully topical playlist put together by Genius on ‘#CauseMiBlack?’ lets Kendrick Lamar, Kool G Rap, Ice Cube, Jay-Z & Kanye, 2pac and Public Enemy tell the stories that TV won’t show.



Tea break treats this month: a bloody awful day for A-F-R-O and co, Skizz’ arcade fire, style according to Cab Cabernet, and health advice from Creatures of Habit and Luca Brazi.

















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