Monolith Cocktail - Wheelchair Sports Camp - Matt Oliver


The pumpkin-powered Rapture & Verse is absolutely bursting at the seams this month, so we can only dwell briefly on putting the Prodigy prison cookbook on our Christmas list, and giving up on seeing Mos Def/Yasiin Bey rock a stage ever again. Straight into the singles files, and belly flopping on top of the beat, Junior Disprol’s boxy ‘Riddim (part 2)’ takes it back to the Welsh old skool. Fliptrix will leave haters white as a sheet on ‘The Poltergeist’, a potent warning ahead of a new LP and fresh to death come Halloween. Roots Manuva slows his grizzle for veteran deck surgeons Coldcut on ‘Only Heaven’, a track so bittersweet you can hear hearts swell and slump in earshot. Make sure you guard your grill against Strange U’s ‘Bullet Proof Mustache’, a weirdo space invader featuring Lee Scott plugging in the clippers; skills he transfers to ‘Mansion 38’, a spooked-to-fuck address he visits with Jam Baxter, Chemo and Trellion. Changing the mood, Ty and Seanie T try out a scatter and swing of their best chat up lines on ‘Baby Love’.

Carrying an air of the game not making ‘em like this anymore, Tone Chop & Frost Gamble’s ‘Veteran’ EP begins with a classic ‘Jackin 4 Beatz’-style breaks guide/rhymer roll call, takes time to reflect, and whacks chumps with boom-bap and punchlines plundered from the New York playbook. Coming off the top rope, Journalist 103 & Clear Soul Forces are the ‘Ultimate Warriors’: a model chest beater kicking down doors. Back riding a lightning bolt, Czarface unload ‘Two in the Chest’, Esoteric & Inspectah Deck revving their superpowers to 7L’s plunging stinger. Over wicked J-Live beats, mobster shadiness that then puts threats into practice, Ekundayo takes control and shows the ‘Style’ of someone whose pint you wouldn’t want to spill (not that he’s giving much away on the sleeve).

A smoked out Jim Morrison appears on the stylish ‘Untrue’, Villain Notsha, Nottz and Big Pooh working neo-soul to benefit your afterhours listening. Pair it with LIKE’s ‘Mission Road’, smoothed out by Anderson Paak, and ‘Clappas’ by the deceptively ominous Tanya Morgan, and you’re all set for past midnight. ‘Valley of Kings’ however is not a place to occupy after dark, with the evil eyes of SAS, NORE & Roc Marciano cast over BSDB’s supreme piece of supernatural dream shattering. Also reaching out to the other side, SO’s ‘Coliseum’ cooks a witches’ stew of mystic fumes and rhymes on a hot tin roof, tripping down an LA helter-skelter with a touch of glam.

Back to Tanya Morgan, and Donwill also drops EP ‘Stop. Waiting’, packing bundles of flavour into five funky tracks never catching him on the hop. Nothing vanilla about the reunion of Aesop Rock and Homeboy Sandman aka Lice, as they give the world ‘Lice Two: Still Buggin’’, a fine, verbose five-track freebie displaying flair for both the deft and daft. ‘No Dead Languages’ and definitely no dead air from Philly’s Lushlife, a six-track of instrumentalism, trip hop, and deliberation on how to let beats travel, presented with great texture.

Fantasy power moves pulled by Termanaology with Sheek Louch & Styles P put the rapper’s average shopping list in order as they ‘Dream BIG’ over Buckwild on ice. Not entirely dissimilar, Anderson Paak & Knxwledge let nothing get in the way of their caviar craving when ‘Get Bigger’ goes from stacking shelves to stacking chips. Barging on through, Fat Joe, Diamond D and Lord Finesse’s ‘Rock Shyt’ for DITC to teach the next intake a thing or two.


Occupying a throne that doubles as an electric chair, Danny Brown, juggling the mic like a grenade missing a pin, unveils ‘Atrocity Exhibition’. With Paul White leading the way in fitting Brown with a spread of abstracts set somewhere off the Wild West, he plays a blinding minder’s role wisely the mic treachery go for its gun. Brown is the maniac trick or treater; White gets the goodies through quiet force. One of 2016’s most individual threats.

The words ‘shrinking violet’ are not in the dictionary of Cakes da Killa either, whose ‘Hedonism’ LP carries out extreme bump n grind but also a good amount of lyrical flammability. Showing he’s not just some outrageous character flagrantly not giving a damn, it’s raucous, reckless club music for the most part, but actually pretty entertaining if you’re prepared for the manhandling. Perfect, piss-the-parents-off material.

Though he’s always had his own commercial appeal, Mac Miller grows into the role of modern troubadour and may have the plum soundtrack for late night coffees. ‘The Divine Feminine’ is luxuriously produced – lounge sax on command, thoughtful strums, Anderson Paak guesting on ‘Dang!’ and a bit of boogie – and pierces the armour of that ever present, unctuous drawl. Sometimes the sentiment is entirely unromantic for the benefit of ‘realness’, otherwise it’s surprisingly decent.

From the moment he’s “put lingerie on Marie Osmond”, Kool Keith acts natural on new and politically incorrect outer space mind bender, the firmly rigid ‘Feature Magnetic’. The clue to the album is in the title – a guestlist of rare calibre and sometime unlikely astronauts (Craig G, DOOM, Sadat X, Slug, Psycho Les, Mac Mall), help KK make himself at home from his inter-dimensional rocking chair, over brittle electro-powered beam-me-ups.

Turntable artisan DJ Woody locates ‘The Point of Contact’ with pinpoint precision, the world-renowned deck battler striking the right balance between accessible head nod material and scratches to leave your ears raw. Stuffed to the gills with samples cut into an orderly queue, the Lancashire spinner keeps his beats casual and free, while you should already know how his unquestioned 1210 trickery will fare.

Need some more Mouse Outfit? The Manc posse get ‘Remixed’. Tall Black Guy, Werkha, Sivey and FloFilz are completely in tune for the opening third; jazzy tingles and health-boosting vibes that come with the crispness of autumn leaves underfoot. Further blessing the boards, Dirty Dike and Pete Cannon keep the bar high, and some big soundsystem business takes over the second half to ensure the Mouse crew are the cats that got the cream.

A hip-hop summit reached by Heems, Riz MC and Redinho forms the Swet Shop Boys. ‘Cashmere’ mixes up topical injustices and plain hip-hop pratting about, over a sonic selection plate cooking Asian flavours for the club. Interesting and international, it’s half an hour’s worth of talking points.

Elliot Fresh’s ‘Mirrors’ is a quality, honest piece of plain English UK hip-hop – “this isn’t a fad, like Spliffy jeans back in the 90s”. Produced by the late Fish, both are able to reach into the dark while balancing a feathered touch and upbeat demeanour, spreading an everyman word while passing the biscuits. One of the fairest of them all as the year draws to a close. Creatures of Habit put themselves under the microscope on ‘Test Subjects’, and the results are positive. With Illinformed flashing his jazz hands all over the turntables, Eric the Red and Sean Peng hold down bass and treble/the nasal and throaty on the mic. Boys being boys, the findings are a beats and rhymes bazaar giving out rewinds. Covering his Channel U classics and a body of work that bodies the mic more than once, Akala’s ‘Ten Years of…’ is a relentlessly driven striving for the truth while doing edutainment most aren’t up to.

Mr Lif was back on top form with this year’s ‘Don’t Look Down’, and he makes it two from two with a hook-up with L’Orange viewing ‘The Life and Death of Scenery’. Classically utopian and classily, caustically executed, it’s told as mythology that you suspect isn’t too far from your doorstep. As the national anthem bangs drums of death from the royal courtyard, it’s worth sneaking a listen to come blackout.

Master of hip-hop requiring a bleach bath afterwards, Black Josh’s ‘Ape Tape’ broadcasts live from the itchy side. Hosted by smooth criminal Chimpo under a flickering red light, its illicit lo-fi vibe is music to blackmail by. Also cutting out letters from magazines for a ransom note, Bisk’s ‘Don’t Piss It Off!’ mainlines hip-hop until ears roll back into skulls. The title runs true: though hazy beats go backwards through bedsit treacle, the mini-album carries a hazing wrath that you’d be wise not to incur.

More gentle sways from Ding’s ever plentiful beat mine on ‘Movement’ go pretty easy on your neck muscles in another session that’s Scarborough fair game. Authentic boom-bap and rhymes spat like a lord: not sure you could ask for more from Spida Lee’s ‘Rise of a King’. From Huddersfield to ’94 NYC – it’s all in the horns and sleighbells wearing Timbs and baggy jeans – knowledge, wisdom and the essence of what’s real are taskmaster Lee’s cornerstones that burn brightly here.

Making a name for themselves out of Denver are the taboo-crushing Wheelchair Sports Camp. Headed by pocket battleship emcee Kalyn, reeling off rhymes and narrative to a lively mix of live funk and soul brews, ‘No Big Deal’ is “still encouraged by the most discouraging industry” – all the endorsement you need.

Couple of vids: the inner workings of John Reilly and Billy Danze.

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