Hip Hop Review

WORDS:  Matt Oliver

What October’s Rapture & Verse lacks in gossip (though we’re interested to see how Jay-Z talks his way out of potential ‘Big Pimpin’ problems), it makes up for in being nothing less than a fest of double pack reissues of J Dilla’s ‘Welcome to Detroit’, Camp Lo’s ‘Luchini (This Is it)’ coming back correct as a dashing blue 7”, and Run DMC and Schooly D Record Day specials for those who ask Santa nicely. Canada’s Vekked completed a DMC 1-2 by winning the World DJ Championships ahead of New Zealand’s DJ Spell and the USA’s DJ Precision. A bizarre mash-up album of Kanye and Weezer – guess what it was called? – Surfaced online, and even more bizarrely worked pretty well. Track it down before it gets pulled for party-pooping copyright reasons.

Tour dates? The Jazz Cafe welcomes Ty on November 12, Blackalicious embark on a ten-date UK tour in late October, and Vurstayl checks in with a nine-stop stay through October and November as the core of his European tour.

Singles & EPs

Here comes the Reain again: ‘Educated Perspective’ is five tracks of clear and crisp West London pad-and-penmanship, set up by Steady Rock and broken down so the unenlightened will pull up a chair. ‘Revenge is the Best Success’ decrees The Last Skeptik, the lord on the boards settling scores with four classy tracks with Dream Mclean in the box seat, branching out into frayed soul and his own private electric boogaloo. Dead Players define their own hotline bling with Jam Baxter & Dabbla getting into a lather over the bubbleworks brewed by GhostTown on ‘Call Us Now’.

Guidance and lessons from Blak Twang, held down by Blackmale Beats, are to be found at ‘The Pantheon’, a dressing/scrub down of six tracks that’ll sort you right out.

A shock to the RnV system is a half-decent, sun-spotted emo-hip-hop joint from Slipknot member DJ Starscream; ‘The Love Inside’ is a pleasant side-to-side loll allowing itself a mild jarring of axes. Kings of this field are Atmosphere, jauntiness masking irritability/suburban reality on the near Slade-like knees-up of ‘Finer Things’. Geed up at the weigh-in for the film ‘Southpaw’, ‘Mode’ is a pure run-up-city-steps moment from DJ Premier & Royce da 5’9”, going toe-to-toe with Logic for seven bruising minutes of inspiration. A hard day’s night from Pings shares muted jazz most estimable with Ivan Ave seeking ‘Peace’, before ‘Takin’ Hearts’ sets up Planet Asia and Killa Kali for some Untouchables hustle.


A two-minute stick-up from DOOMSTARKS is everything you’d expect from its two superpowers, particularly on recent form – ‘Lively Hood’ roughhouses a seesawing whodunit. DOOM also shows up on Madlib’s boogie-blessed ‘Knock Knock’ with MED and Blu. Even if the rhymes don’t commit to memory, the funk shall devour you. October or not, Marley B’s ‘Feels Right’ is the anthem for those hitting jackpots and lottos with the sun on their back.


The award for fewest fucks given this month goes to ’Sucking on Prawns in the Moonlight’. We’ve all been there, Dirty Dike more than most, spewing out a dirty great British banger that to his credit, does much more than frame him as a mere twilight seafood masticater – there’s got guile to go with the gutter sniping. The spectacular title and artwork are the icing on a cake to be feasted upon like a rampant attack of the munchies.

Pro-puffa, pro-parka duo Dr Syntax and Pete Cannon brush the shoulder of their ‘Elaborate Anoraks’ – no flak jacket, more like a golden fleece follow-up to ‘Killer Combo!’. From relationship laments to hipster disses there’s plenty of chirp on the boards and mic, and their standards in straight shooting satisfyingly hit you squarely on the jaw with the fun of a water balloon.

Apollo Brown’s ‘Grandeur’ is full of soul samples putting in the hard yards, his productions always expressive and looped into an emotional vividness, at the same made for knocking seven bells out of someone. A mighty guestlist, including MoP, Ras Kass, Masta Ace, Evidence and Vinnie Paz, file in to have a pop at the rounds of poignancy with the pressure on.

Flying away on Detroit zephyrs, Illa J’s self-titled soaraway bears all the qualities of his illustrious big brother. The familiarity of the coffee shopped, neo-soul bohemianism and loose mic grip might be old news for some, but it’s a safe bet to throw on at the end of a hard day, particularly when blends of star-shaped funk peek through. ‘Peace or Power’ as asked by Deacon the Villain, is similarly slow-handed in places but extends its digits to the front row as the fresh and clean CunninLynguist saunters with singsongs and food for thought. Listen out for him going halves with Jamie XX on ‘A Miracle Exists’.

Hg Beats resumes space combat on ‘StarLog Part 2’, instrumental heaviness defying zero gravity and providing a fine sense of engrossing unease while showing there’s still scope in the medium of astro-atmospherics. Portland pair Illmaculate & OnlyOne get to the point on the tightly wound ‘Only & Ill’, an album that’s the indie epitome of having its arms tightly crossed and not giving much away, but will chip away at you over time. Getting his feet under the table in NY, Parisian J Hart waves his ‘Passport’ in the name of networking and sorts out wads of chunkiness with the odd smooth centre for an underground cast headed by Sean Price.


Run the Jewels are on such a roll right now that even when they drop something a bit sillier, namely the catatonic ‘Meow the Jewels’, it still schools competition. It’s actually not as big a novelty record as has been made out, but then Killer Mike and El-P have kept a fan promise, roped in Just Blaze, Prince Paul and Massive Attack’s 3D for it, and then given the proceeds to charity. It is indeed, the cat’s whiskers multiplied by the cat’s pyjamas.

Cooked up over a ten year period, The Herbaliser’s Ollie Teeba drops business-as-usual funkiness on unexpected bonus boogie ‘Short Order’. Teeba lays down the lore for a string of emcees to brush up on, as well as jamming like old times with Jean Grae. Expect there to be a backlog of followers for this one.


A “scruffy mixtape made the old way before everything got trappy”, Ral Duke & Nature Reserve’s ‘SPST vol. 1’ is a sliver of dirt-baked goodness where rusted rhymes perforate beats of polish and spit. And it’s free. The unstoppable Run the Jewels have tour spinner Trackstar the DJ expand their battery with the ‘Jewel Runner Tour Mixtape’, a bullet-pointing of how the RTJ live experience, including Fashawn and Boots, has been reducing stages to teeny-tiny pieces. And it’s free.

RKTAL’s ‘Skunk Rock’ earns its black-n-white stripes with a big batch of hip-hop, grime and dub ingredients ideal for piling speakers like Jenga bricks to. And it’s free. How about a wedge of Hus Kingpin, bringing the heat to the 26-storey ‘House of Kingpin’ which is most definitely the wrong gaff to play Knockdown Ginger with. And it’s free. If Angel Haze drops ‘Back to the Woods’, will she make some noise? You bet. Fiercely flipping middle fingers, but still able to play the long game, this was free, but you can still stream it all day every day.

Pro P & Northern Structure float on, Killah Priest takes a leap of faith, Grizzly Gato’s latest is self-explanatory, and Chris Leese hits redial.


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