Semi Hendrix - Monolith Cocktail

Continuing to pick through all the best Hip Hop tracks, albums, mixtapes, videos and gossip Matt Oliver‘s September edition of Rapture & Verse features a stellar lineup, featuring Opio, Gangrene, Semi Hendrix, Illinformed, Sean Price, Prof, Voice Monet, RoQy TyRaiDStatik Selektah.

Rapture & Verse is still cursing that it never got its best suit back from the dry cleaners in time for the premier of ‘Straight Outta Compton’, something of a surprise smash despite the fact Compton itself doesn’t have a cinema to play it in. Chance the Rapper, BoB and YG were reportedly among those who didn’t receive post-audition call-backs for the film bound to trigger a zillion spin-offs – ‘Dogg Pound 4 Life’ is supposedly already being penned.

Tyler the Creator was banned from the UK for past lyrical provocations, Nicki Minaj’s Madame Tussauds waxwork caused photo op-roar, and Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def challenged any rapper to a battle…before quickly sticking his fingers in his ears and hiding. Wu-Tang Clan + classic kids board game Guess Who = Guess Wu, where Christmas wishlists write themselves. Styles P and Jadakiss pledged community spirit by heading a drive to open a chain of juice bars, and Kanye, the old scamp, kept his presidential options open.

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For those who enjoy shopping in second chance saloon, represses of Common’s ‘Resurrection’, Special Ed’s ‘Youngest in Charge’ and MoP’s ‘Warriorz’ will get you polishing your styluses. Then go get a front row view of Stig of the Dump rocking The Old Blue Last on October 7th, and Roots Manuva bossing Islington Assembly Hall on November 5th. Slowdown Sounds have a helluva run of guests through to the year’s end, with appearances at the Mint Festival/Mint Club by DJ Yoda, Mixmaster Mike, Mr Thing and Big Daddy Kane giving Leeds what for.

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Also involved are DJ Format & Abdominal, who reunite live throughout the country for the whole of November, and The Herbaliser, who touch down at the Electric Ballroom on October 23rd – also the date for Jazzy Jeff headlining at The Scala for The Doctor’s Orders 10th birthday. Dr Syntax & Pete Cannon aim to have Manchester’s Sound Control in their pocket on October 2nd, the High Focus gang march through October with Dirty Dike and Verb T & Illinformed promoting their newest wares seven times over, and Loyle Carner has four November dates bidding to build on his one-to-watch status.

Singles & EPs

Talking of which, Loyle Carner’s ‘Florence’ recounts unrequited love with a shrug, after hours vibing that has got live lounge written all over it. Marching to a bootcamp beat, Manage & Emcee Killa are on their organ grind in a bid to get ‘On Top’, simmered down by South London’s Bakery Boys, whose ‘Get Away’ is a smooth and balmy riser; a soul-stirrer refusing to pack away its Bermuda shorts.

With the phat content of a piled-high hog roast, J-Zone shoots and scores on plump drum break ‘Seoul Power’ before declaring ‘I’m Sick of Rap’ and giving the state of the game a real kicking. As chubby of drum, Opio’s ‘Stoned Temple Pilot’ bowls on through, sub-stoner cool enhanced by a metal detector rhythm doing G-funk. Dirt gets flung in NYC’s latest status reclamation on the Beat Butcha-produced, Styles P mic-share ‘Welcome to NY’.

Over a witch’s brew of metallic maximalism befitting his Barbadian background, Haleek Maul’s ‘Love’ is a sharply angled tropical storm, and King Reign’s ‘Don’t Fall In Love’ shows off fly short-sleeved funk – though it may just be a phase the Toronto rhymer is going through. Another Canadian, Montreal’s Wasiu, brings an eight-strong mix of Southern skitters and brooding step-ups across his shapeshifting invasion of ‘MTLiens’.


If you’re feeling frostbitten and are ready to batten down the hatches, these are the gloom merchants for you. Blue Daisy’s ‘Darker Than Blue’ is hip-hop ravaged by torment, a leftfield choice for those wanting scarred poetry uncomfortably sat atop reverb and deconstruction. Made for insomniacs long after the panic button has been pushed. Roots Manuva is also holding court just outside of the doldrums, with ‘Bleeds’ a stony-hearted set of considerations and warnings that includes the use of trap templates to his austere advantage (the disconcerting ‘Crying’). Where irked beats quirks, it genuinely sounds like RM is reacting to a spell in negative isolation, rather than exercising natural elder statesman wisdom.

Those dirtbags at team Gangrene are back for another muck-spattered stand-off. Oh No and Alchemist’s latest underground dredger, fortified live in a Californian foxhole, is dismissively called ‘You Disgust Me’. It’s another effortlessly swilled cocktail of ‘Gutter Water’ and ‘Vodka & Ayahuasca’ that drags Action Bronson, Your Old Droog and Evidence into its illicit ring of psych-rock flashbacks and funk binges.

A Grand Central reunion between Aim & QnC unveils ‘The Habit of a Lifetime (And How to Kick It’). The title itself is rare folly for an album steady sticking to beats and rhymes principles, with the Long Island duo dynamic still at large and the Cold Water musician helping prioritise fundamentals over flair.

Under the ambiguous alter ego Semi Hendrix, Ras Kass and Jack Splash send teacups flying when they go for ‘Breakfast at Banksy’s’ and sling forked bangers like it’s time for Grange Hill. The latter’s signature brand of hydro R&B jams receive bench time, so RK can flippantly work over a constant shuffling of styles still calling up swagger. Enough heat here to pep up any voodoo chile. Sling Talib Kweli your email address and you’ll get a free reply of ‘Fuck the Money’, trying on a variety of styles and finding most fit.

A major bonus of assembled Jigmastas material forms ‘The Prologue’, which captures the best of DJ Spinna and Kriminul and deals in iconic late 90s/early 00s independence; a wealth of sharpness dipping into the drowsy. Chicago’s Verbal Kent drops his own formula of ‘Anaesthesia’, but it’s no remedy for the sore necks and tingling ears you’re bound to experience. Determination, knowing the right way to go about things, a sense of pride in professionalism and a disconcerting cackle will have you breathing this in by the lungful. Caught between formats, Method Man’s ‘The Meth Lab’ is utterly awash with guests and seems content on only hitting an above average bar. Serviceable, if not one to take up residence in memory banks.

Verb T and Illinformed’s ‘The Man With the Foggy Eyes’ is assured, jazz-dappled goodness that can charge out from the middle lane to put a pair of pedigree top boys at the front of the grid. No clouded vision here, just long-established wit and wisdom. Illinformed also parades ‘The Mould Tape’, and whereas his Verb T collaboration was by handwritten invite only, here he fronts up 14 knockers and arms Leaf Dog, Smellington Piff, Lee Scott, Split Prophets, Q Unique and many more with megaphones. Almost sneaking past RnV’s ears, Philly B’s guest-loaded ‘Let It Play’, an impressive UK inventory lead by Jam Baxter, Dubbledge and Dabbla, holds down head bobs and ragga twinges still convinced the sun’s gonna come and play.

A nifty freebie from Deacon the Villain bags up a bunch of instrumental versions from his list of credits; always nice on the drums and rhythm, the collection shows it’s cool to take a breather from looking for the right rhyme. Pack mentalists Snowgoons are at it again, ‘Gebrüder Grimm’ dropping more hip-hop anvils and inviting like-minded knuckle-crackers Ill Bill, Apathy & Celph Titled and Reef the Lost Cauze to their latest cross-European headbanger rally. Sean Price’s final project, the posthumous ‘Songs in the Key of Price’, is a small snapshot of the Heltah Skeltah man’s curt niceness and domination of the mic device that has the mic stand buckling in fear once he steps up.

Mixtapes & VT

Funk and soul sultan Sam Redmore has done us all favour and put together a slick half hour mix of a dozen-plus Jungle Brothers favourites – go improve your playlist. Big-ups to Sammy B-Side as well, who selflessly goes through the High Focus back cat, picks 19 beauties for the ‘Highly Focused Selections’ mixtape, and watches a mighty free-for-all unfold involving all of the label’s merry men.

Come see the bird’s eye views of Prof and RoQy TyRaiD, Statik Selektah showing off and Voice Monet making sure everyone knows her name.

Words:  Matt Oliver

Catch more from Matt Oliver in the Rapture & Verse archives….

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