Rubble Kings OST

Happy New Year from Rapture & Verse, back after an extended period in Christmas rehab, playing catch-up while the rest of the hip-hop world gropes for the snooze button and assembling a ragtag grab bag for the first of the year. Thought ‘Hotline Bling’ was the smash of 2015? So good, Young Money kinda forgot to nominate it for the Grammys. Wu-Tang’s million-dollar one off LP found a buyer, though it went to someone whose ebay rating wasn’t exactly spotless. KRS-One had a pop at LL Cool J, seemingly because words failed him in a freestyle (he’s since apologised). Elzhi found himself under fire for helming a Kickstarter album fundraising and appearing to have kept all the money for himself (genius!).

NWA are now Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, and Ghostface and DOOM are once again putting feelers out for a collaborative album. In a month of fallen musical icons, hip-hop mourned the loss of king beatsmith Mark B; his teaming with Blade created a watershed, millennium classic in ‘The Unknown’, and the infectious rush of ‘Move Now’ with Tommy Evans was the last good thing to happen to Soccer AM.

Get your sat-navs set up nice and early for Dirty Dike & Sammy B-Side, doing three UK dates in Jan/Feb as part of their prawn-sucking European tour, while all the High Focus lot turn over Brighton’s Concorde2 on Feb 5th. De La Soul’s Maseo shows off his 7-inches at London’s Book Club in February, and March has Roots Manuva at Manchester Gorilla, and Pharoahe Monch doing Highbury’s The Garage.



As the world dictates, we’ll begin with Kanye West. A new album, ‘Swish’, is coming soon: the appetisers ‘Real Friends’ (doing sullen, but in a good way), and ‘No More Parties in LA’ (in snippet form, funky heat with Kendrick Lamar), make for ominous listening for hip-hop’s mere mortals. Talking of Kendrick, Dr Dre protégé Anderson Paak delivers the very butterfly-pimping ‘Come Down’, a crowd-converging song-and-dance set in motion on the boards by Hi-Tek.

The Kuartz remix of Matt Love’s ‘What You Want’ is a no-nonsense 7”; pushed hard by Manchester’s Prodigal Sons, it calculates whiplash with its drums with wisps of sensitive organ running down the middle. The ante-upping of Granville Sessions is full of rock guitars, rallying trumpets and what must be a bit of reverse psychology by calling their live rollick ‘Leave It’. Hounding hip-hop’s basics as Mongrels, Kid Acne and Benjamin’s British bulldog spirit sinks teeth into ‘You Dig Raps?’, backed by a ribbiting b-boy remix of ‘Combat Divers’ from New York’s Scotty Hard. Fighting the starburst that is Sumgii’s squeaky synth seesaw, Illaman thumbs his nose and pokes his tongue out at rivals (well, not that politely) that he reckons are ‘Pants’.

Yamin Semali quietly perfects his craft on the sweet, soul-rich winner ‘Go to the Point’, and features on the similarly honey-drizzled ‘The Good Life’, belonging to Bambu de Asiatic.  Beneficence and Inspectah Deck ride horns like Butch and Sundance on ‘Digital Warfare’, which should segue just lovely into Prhyme & Joey Bada$$’ ‘Golden Era’; a pair of quick on the draw janglers shot right out the ‘realness’ manual. Just to ram home the point, Royce da 5’9”, prowling like a hangman, asserts ‘They Don’t Make Them Like This Anymore’, “walking around like a one-man arm press.”

The majestically named Ron Jon Bovi are wanted dead or alive on the grimy ‘Time Tunnel’ – shredding the poodle perms are Casual and Phat Kat, in control of handling a white hot potato. Giving it both barrels when it comes to preserving an invincibility of ignorance, Al Shid’s A+ ‘Clubba Lang’ steams into a J-Zone funk clatter. For fast lane energy drink mainliners, Felix Snow has Dominique Young Unique flying out the traps on ‘Touch That’.


With the Doppelgangaz’ charmingly titled latest ‘Beats for Brothels 3.5’, it’s hard to know if the instrumentals suit the settings; the Monolith Cocktail budget won’t let us find out for definite either. It is however a clear and calm collection unhurriedly glistening with optimism (but not so evangelical for the cloud rap set). Bar the odd moment of trepidation, it’s not sleazy at all, tailor made for all imminent cold snaps.

Six-strong six shooters and fairytale flunks Badly Promoted Geniuses are ‘Sorry Not Sorry’. Flying the flag for naturally grubby, lard-bathed UK hip-hop that couldn’t give a monkeys (artistically described as “17 tracks of unbridled, unapologetic fuckery”), they gang up with hoods down and brims low on a funky backwash of beats eating into your new year’s hangover.

New York gang documentary Rubble Kings comes with an OST featuring Run the Jewels, Ghostface Killah, Mr Muthaf*kin eXquire and Bun B. Perfectly cast to occupy crumbling concrete jungles and the wrong side of the rails, and facing off against plots of snaking, hurricane funk, it’s a win-win: fans of the film will need the soundtrack, and those who haven’t seen the doc precipitating the hip-hop revolution will be happy to take the music as a standalone.

As an outlet to release tension, ‘The Last Ronin’, the stomping ground of Fong-Sai-U, is one of those F-the-world albums that opens windows and gives the neighbours what for. Not headless, not radical, and not perfect, but for its dumbbell-crushing stimulation whipping up the odd soul storm and yelling come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough, it’ll light a spark under couch potatoes.

‘King Push: Darkest Before Dawn – The Prelude’ is a mouthful not reflective of Pusha T’s buffing of his throne. Devastatingly laconic as ever over skinny, tense beats that then burst from its tight coil, PT calls a blackout on opposition. Best listened to through tinted headphones, it plays the hitman with a busy schedule as he’s in and out within half an hour.

Marvelous Mag’s year closing project ‘Selfless Acts’ smoothes everything out so the sunroof comes into play and the coast-to-coast flavours flood out. Murs & 9th Wonder are back in cahoots for a sixth time: their forecast of ‘Brighter Daze’ is the accepted understanding of 9th as the steady soul controller and Murs being as roguishly listenable as ever. We’ll let Busta Rhymes review his ‘The Return of the Dragon’- “y’all know how we do it, everything colossal.” As a roundabout sequel to ‘The Abstract and The Dragon’ it’s nowhere near as good (and that’s not just down to the absence of Q-Tip), though a re-up of ‘I Got 5 On It’, a vast guestlist and zero price-tag give it enough ear time.

Stop, look and listen: the anxiety of Sleaze & Sam Zircon; Tekh Togo’s fashion/hollow tips, and a head-to-head with Cappo.

Words:   Matt Oliver

%d bloggers like this: