Bullet Proof Mustache
"Damn, when he’s finished grabbing his balls/He sat with half a gram and some British amateur porn/He should really stand up, be a man and spark a nation/But his dick was titanium alloy with armor plating."Oh. Yes. Fuck yes. They're baaack... Strange U return on a new home (hats off to High Focus for signing these psychonauts) with more of the hebraphrenic havoc that made 'EP#2040' such a huge highlight of 2014. All the usual stunning elements are in place. Kashmere taking you from the real to the unreal, from two-dimensional mind-scrolls to four-dimensional mind-fucks in the space of a syllable, Lee Scott ("swinging a bat like Freddie Flintoff") here dropping a cameo verse packed full of tension and trauma. Zygote brews a simmering plateau of funky, smoky, dubby, 16-bit murk underneath it all. The album 'LP#4080' drops soon and is going to be utterly essential, you know this. Welcome back to one of the most thrillingly wayward crews in hip-hop full stop right now. Awesomesauce.
Lil Yachty feat. Gucci Mane
''Bentley Coupe' '
'Kinell, s'the trouble with hip hop - you really do end up recanting, changing your opinions fast to suit rapidly-changing events. Unimpressed by both of the rappers featured here in the past but fuck - something about this WORKS. Helps that the music's just NUTS, a bass hum and a trap beat and Minnie Ripperton cut into ribbons threaded throughout the mix. The rhymes aren't great but they're non-stop, at least until they run out of rubbish to say and turn into the usual Trumpisms about pussies and bitches. Yachty is clearly an oaf, but I think he's a smart oaf - I just wish all these middling-to-mediocre rappers would form a supacrew a la P-funk and coalesce their mediocrity into ONE THING that might actually be 'good'. Just a thought.
Apollo Brown & Skyzoo
'A Couple Dollars'
Mello Music Group
What a startling, ravishing soundscape Brown has thrown down here. The bass kinda sticks and hums like a constant buzz but it's laced over with a gorgeous serpentine string part more Hugo Largo than the usual trap-synthstring stabs, the beat flickering through the low-end in a way you haven't heard since prime Arthur Russell, little slivers of guitar and flute creeping into the swell. Skyzoo's typically engaging and it's wonderful to hear Joell Ortiz spitting a few sharp bars as well. The album's called 'Easy Truth' and it's wonderful, including a gratifyingly rugged cameo from Griselda Gang's mighty Westside Gunn that's almost worth the price of admission in itself. Great hip-hop is still being made in America. Don't let the media tell you otherwise.
L'Orange & Mr Lif
'A Palace In The Sky'
Mello Music Group
Bizarre. Conceptual. Esoteric. Compelling. Orange & Lif were never going to create just another set of jams and their new opus 'The Life & Death Of Scenery' is a cerebral masterpiece portraying a world in which art has been banned on threat of death: DJ QBert, Gonjasufi, Akrobatik and Insight are some of the guests which should give you a hint as to what an eclectic stew it is. This lead-off single is hip-hop inasmuch as it features rapping but the music you hear is as far from current rap tropes as a post-stellar universe is from the big bang. Gurning backwards bass, Mingus/Monk modality, Lif taking you on a journey like only he can. Tantalising glimpse of a wild world of weirdness from these two. Get bit by it and then dig into the full-length. And can I just say — GOD BLESS MMG? Always bringing the intrigue.
People Under the Stairs
'Back From The Dead'
Redefinition Records & Piecelock 70
"I feel like fuckin' SISYPHUS", oh god, so great to hear Thes One and Double K back together under the PUTS moniker, dropping a new EP every now and then as part of series of six-track EPs they're calling 'The Getting Off Stage' (this track is from 'Step 2', the latest in the series). If you've heard PUTS before you know what to expect, jazzy, psychedelic beats and loops and razor-sharp back'n'forth between the two MCs — if you're not familiar with PUTS go get 'The Next Step' or 'Question In The Form Of An Answer' and work your way forward from there. LOVE the radiant rhodes and deep funk cuts going on on this track — somehow they always manage to balance their internal intrigue with a real sense of their Cali roots. We've ALL got some catching up to do here. Seek and be blessed again.
Dead glad to see Papoose has got a new mixtape (the just-dropping 'HSIII') coming out and 'Darkside' is our first chance to hear it. Aggressive, so friggin' doomy it's practically horror-core, beats so icily industrial it's like the hardest Co-Flow/Eric B, rhymes as engrossingly natural and nerve-ridden as ever. I could have been telling you about the new Kid Ink, Kid Cudi, Tory Lanez, Dave East or Kevin Gates but I'd rather not waste your time with new bullshit from new arseholes when you could be listening to new gold from old pros. Soon as any of those overrated motherfuckers drop anything worth listening to I'll let you know. Until then, I'm keeping it locked elsewhere.
'I Grew Up On Wu-Tang/What Your Life Like '
Blood Money Entertainment
If the tracks that have leaked thus far from soon-come new opus '1992' are anything to go by it should be a fascinating record — a recapitulation of past-styles and sub-genres in hip-hop, recalling that 1992 moment when hip-hop fans were deliriously able to thoroughly ignore the divisive narratives of the hip-hop media and really start enjoying hip-hop from all over the US map and beyond. Sublime tracks The Game's cooked up here, both redolent of that era yet also strangely current in the sense of tension and nostalgia, and lyrically he really suits that mix between dewy-eyed memory and red-eyed horror that ANY recall of that time should invoke. Late in the day, and a long time after the spotlight has moved on from him The Game is making some of his most fascinating work.
Of course, I'm innately distrustful of any rapper who first wants to tell you their instagram address, let alone renames a track from their latest mixtape in a craven effort to confuse Beyonce fans — glad to see my mistrust was warranted given the crock of say-nothing go-nowhere SHITE this is. Famous Dex appears to a be hipster prick in shit trainers and an ironic Wu hoodie tooling around Chi-town chatting bullshit bubbles like his life depended on it. Look — I have no problem with anyone wanting to anoint their music with soubriquet hip-hop, but when anyone who happens to open their mouth and lets tuneless fuckery fall out while some over-sprightly Logic-borne tedium seeps underneath it all, like a spreading pool of liquid ordure, calls their music hip-hop, I have to get syntactically stern on this nonsense. This is not hip-hop. This is nought but commerce. Don't believe any hype no more. It's all bullshit.
Phantasm & Soulbrotha
'Louder Than Ever (Brooklyn Remix)'
Ill Adrenaline Records
"...had to pen them bars/got out the street life had to mend them scars/Praise God or Allah whoever sent us Nas".One of them there Euro/NYC hook-ups that occassionaly deliver embarassment, but sometimes straight-up gold as we have here — Phantasm you might remember from when, alongside partner UG, he made up the Cella Dwellas, one of Loud's impossibly impressive roster from the late '90s. 'Louder Than Ever' is the result of Phantasm hooking up with Germany's own SP1200 maestros 12 Finger Dan and B-Base (aka Soulbrotha). True school feel, dope scratch hook, sharp delivery, this is unforgivably unfuturist and therefore massively enjoyable as just a boombap blast. Tuck in.
Yup, you read right. This IS the original Diggin' In The Crates Crew (minus Big L of course, Rest In Power) — Fat Joe, Diamond D and the mighty Lord Finesse all present and correct. A new album, 'Sessions' is set to drop soon and I have to say, as an auld fart myself it's deeply gratifying to hear them not attempt to fit in with the present in the slightest, just give us that rough rugged and raw hip-hop shit they KNOW we expect from them. Searing guitar lick, drums that thunk holes in the back of your head and rhymes so goddamned hardcore they grab you in the pussy. Essential essential essential and I don't care that both me and them are too old for this rap game — we KNOW BETTER.