Words: Matt Oliver

Monolith Cocktail - Rapture & Verse - Dabbla

The goss: some bemusing respect-your-elders squabbling between Pete Rock and Lil Yachty via Young Dolph, Run the Jewels expanding their brand even further with a Gears of War tie-in, rumours of a new A Tribe Called Quest surfacing, Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def visiting London for a two-date October stopover, Talib Kweli coming to the capital in December, and Vanilla Ice, on ice, pre-Christmas; just let that soak in for a moment.

Anyway, down to the nitty gritty, and the second in Rapture & Verse’s irregular mix series is a blinder of bold and blunted vibes from HCKYTMPR aka Brighton’s Al Penfold. Wrapping a stream of psych/rock weirdness around the best of J Dilla, Massive Attack, RJD2, RTJ, Jurassic 5, Aesop Rock, Beastie Boys and old skool mic swapping, you’re guaranteed 64 minutes of gloriously blurry lane-changing that will still smack you like a puck to the mush.


Royal rap-rock renegades Prophets of Rage – Chuck D, B-Real and three quarters of Rage Against the Machine – take up moshpit residence for ‘The Party’s Over’ EP. Two originals and three live trade-offs bulldoze their way into the hands of festival bookers as obvious darlings of uprising. If they’re looking for a convenient running mate, Zack de la Rocha, produced by El-P in typically bomb-lobbing fashion, brings the pane when ‘Digging for Windows’. Front rows may get gobbed on.

The usual standard measures from 100-proofers Pete Cannon and Dr Syntax gets heads lapping up ‘The Tonic’, a half dozen hamper of monkeying around, rap remedies and mercurial mastery. Make it one of your five a day, with ‘Cats & Dogs’ making a bid for club banger of the year. Shattering the porcelain ‘Red Light’ is East London’s Confz, where a gentle rocking turns into whiplash you’ll know about.

With similar contrast, Ric Wilson paints how it really is to a flourishing, Sunshine Anderson-styled soul burst telling everyone ‘We Love Us,’ and Remulak’s willowy woodwinds of ‘Highlife’ are starkly handled by M9 and Skriblah; Evil Ed provides a subtle glisten of a remix. A couple of trife lifers from Hus Kingpin – ‘Wave Palooza’ and ‘Wizard of Dons’ – block out the sun with grim spectres, and Czarface swoop back into view with superhero/rockstar timing on ‘All In Together Now’. We must include DJ Premier’s remix of Desiigner’s ‘Tiimmy Turner’ for attempting to get away with samples of South Park and the old BBC cricket theme.


Dabbla’s geezer skills on ‘Year of the Monkey’ jump assorted flavours rattled by Chemo, Tom Caruana, Sumgii and GhostTown, and slap them silly. “Good job I got that confidence within myself, because if I’m honest I ain’t really feeling no-one else”: a perfect summary for Paddy Smashdown’s likeably loutish but razor sharp mic grip. Add in appearances from Ocean Wisdom, Dubbledge and Jam Baxter and you’ve got an album scurrying its way to the top of the tree for 2016.

Cappo’s ‘Dramatic Change of Fortune’ isn’t an album of lucky streaks or hoping gambles come off. Painting a dour, mostly ashen scenery to that ever-calculating flow eliminating those low on IQ, its maker becomes even more enigmatic. With electricity in the air and the quiet storms ‘OOB’ and ‘Ether’ moving and exploding like stealth bombers, when autumn becomes winter, here’s your listening.

Only describable as an ‘odyssey’, Clipping’s typically individual ‘Splendor & Misery’ thoroughly disproves that no one in space can you hear you scream. Stark lines over minimally provocative electronics and spectacle-adding sermons from the LA leftfielders will clamp you to the edge of your seat before you can react.

On ‘Westside Highway Story’, a rich Latino backdrop spun by Salaam Remi conjures images of the ebullient Joell Ortiz, Bodega Bamz and Nitty Scott MC spitting on the streets in the middle of a heatwave while rubbing tequila salt in haters’ wounds; so a party album that definitely ain’t playing. And yes, the group are really called No Panty.

Soul swirls and hard knock boom bap, keeping its head up while the sun pokes through gloomy skies; there’s your forecast from Apollo Brown & Skyzoo. Perhaps never better summed up by The Carpenters sample on ‘Spoils to the Victor’, album ‘The Easy Truth’ is a great listen, sounding like it’s in a rut but pushing forward with spirit and conviction.

With a supply of old skool references and licks, and a flow always ready for a dust-up, Ryu of Styles of Beyond brings tons’o’guns to ‘Tanks for the Memories’. He’s a fair fighter – uncompromising but accessible – with the same going for Divine Styler on production. ‘The Devil Got a Plan’ elevates his yarn-spinning abilities, ‘Who’s Next’ is a bar-buying jump-up anthem, and the man has the knack of getting results deserving a rewind.

Reactivated after a four-year festering period, Holy Smoke’s self-titled album mines the lowest of the lo-fi underground, Jeremiah Jae and Zeroh responsible for blindly testing the foundations. Foreign film dubs meet a B-boy chop shop on Oso Blanco’s ‘Blancowood’, an instrumental soundclash with floods of Madlib/Wu-Tang-learned mystique and rickety assed-beats fuggin’ up the place, set to subtitles looking elsewhere. Repeatedly hitting the target to keep your head in credit, Ben Boogz opens up a stocky stockpile of jazzy and phat flavourings on ‘I Moreno’. Not one for sleight of hand, the direct stance heads into the red like a boombox-carrying bull. The best of Jack Diggs rubbing balm over boom-bap forms 28-track instrumental collection ‘Out the Dust’. A cool customer and expert on the axis of rugged and smooth, he runs through the Revorg catalogue and drops freshness alongside. Let it play in the background until it takes over the room.

R&V would wager a big chunk of change that Brookzill!’s ‘Throwback to the Future’ receives a flood of adjectives involving the words ‘melting pot’. A global road trip caught in exotic traffic, it’s a native tongued culture clash called to order by a surprise cast – the legendary Prince Paul, Digable Planets’ Ladybug Mecca, and maestros Rodrigo Brandao and Don Newkirk. The Latino spice, edge and colour shimmying around hip-hop might miss the point of a dreary October, but it shows there’s nothing wrong with just a little samba.

Reks will never stop fighting, which is handy seeing as ‘The Greatest X’ is two discs and 35 tracks long. Long occupying the negative, the Mass emcee either fights a lone battle or moves you into marching alongside. Don’t take his observations as woe-is-m:, plus a touch of relationship insight helps break down what was always going to be an ambitious statement (in fairness, a rare trait nowadays). Reks puts his endurance to the test with a live Jazz Cafe date later this month, alongside veteran heat bringers Edo G and Artifacts.

Amongst his library of soul cinema and folk threads, Wax Tailor keeps pockets of hip-hop to hand on ‘By Any Beats Necessary’, the Frenchman’s Bond theme auditions and gentleman B-boyisms interrupted by RA the Rugged Man, AFRO, Ghostface and Raashan Ahmed. Producer Blockhead doesn’t have a history of particularly forcing the issue, but finds rhymer MarQ Spekt putting the bit between his teeth and advising to ‘Keep Playin’. Resuming from 2014’s ‘JustPlayWitIt’, Spekt is the wide-eyed, tale-telling hitchhiker, riding shotgun – figuratively and literally – to Blockhead’s firm, unflinching grip of the wheel. Do as the title says.


Dusted off from sometime around 1999, J Dilla’s ‘Back to the Crib’ captures a bunch of funk, pop and soul classics inside the mind of the MPC master. A very necessary high grade mix from DJ Matman celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Cypress Hill debut, stuffed with classics and source material. Helle Hooper commemorates the same milestone of Main Source’s ‘Breaking Atoms’ in similar fashion, never missing out on any vital ingredients.

To close: the visions of Onoe Caponoe, and floods of consciousness from Red Pill.

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