Not All Bad
Beautifully balanced track from Split Prophets renegade Upfront from his soon-drop album 'Upfront & Personal'. Blank produces a beautifully measured perfect storm of rock-hard beats and sumptuous jazzy production, vocals and trumpet echoed and blended like Teo did to Miles. Upfront's rhymes are hugely engaging, a statement of positivity but not a mindless one, a statement aware of the tough times and the pressures but still emerging totally triumphant with its head proudly up. Gorgeous cuts from DJ Sammy B-Side as well. One of the clearest instant classics I've heard thus far in 2014. The Split Prophet camp just can't stop dropping brilliance into your day. Get with their programme.
'Big Baby Buddha '
Lifted offa King Grubb's new album 'Droopy Eyed Vegas', this is a near-somnambulent aquatic slipstream of the finest herb-headed hippy shit — production v. reminiscent of Outkast or Boogiemonsters at their most oceanic, rhymes hitting that perfect mid-point 'tween paranoid agitation ('the finest white cider') and weed-hibernation lassitude. One thing that always amazes me about vids these days is just HOW MUCH weed these people have knocking around their domiciles. How can they afford it? Oh right... remember kids, always get high on your own supply. Excellent stuff.
'Elephant Man '
Swamp Thing are a Toronto three-piece crew based around the axis of Timbuktu, Chokeules and Savilion, but what got me checking out 'Elephant Man' was the fact that Ghettosocks was involved — he adds customarily mindblowing vocals to the tuff post-punk funk laid down by Timbu here, and the other tracks I've heard (in particular the superbly aggressive psyche-funk of 'Raw Minded') hint that the album 'Firedogs' might have to get got as soon as possible. Will report back, in the meantime seek 'em out and enjoy.
Johaz of Deep Rooted and Exile of Emanon make up Dag Savage — this is the first thing I've heard from them since their collaboration with Blu and what a weird, warped little slice of freakiness it is. Think early Outkast in terms of the fuggy derangement of sound, think :Brownstudy in terms of the infection of sources until they're diffracted and drugged-up, think again of Outkast for the woozy but beautifully harmonised vocals. And what the hell, think Joe Motherfuckin' Meek for the gorgeous little twist of backwards keyboards that seals this into your skull. Curious and brilliant.
Shinobi Stalin feat Roc Marciano
Fly Definition Records
Goodness gracious me, a thousand apologies but how the fuck could I have been sleeping on this one? What a monster — fantastic rolling beat, swirling vintage strings, Hollywood soundstage vocals tremoloed and phased right to the outer edges of your mind's eye, stupendously good rhymes from Roc & Shinobi. Two-years-old but only now getting the attention it deserved at the time, including from this slack bastard. Essential.
Dooley-O feat Blacastan
Best hip-hop track to mention squirrels since Ice Cube's 'Giving Up the Nappy Dug Out' and the most relaxed, confident thing I've ever heard from Dooley-O. It's not that the sound is retro (it's too sparsely populated yet warm to be anything other than timeless), more that the way Dooley & Blacastan deliver the rhymes is instantly revealing of how few fucks were given that day, how great rap can be when it sounds like it's sure of its abilities. A great one to have tucked in your bag.
'Mums In the Garage '
One of the wackiest, wildest, most delicious highlights from the stunning 'Lord Steppington' LP that might just be the finest thing Evidence & Alchemist have ever given us. Love this for the lunging bass (very Erick & Parrish), the bustling, buzzing frantic peripheries (very Edan) and for the guest verses from the mighty Action Bronson. On the flip dig the dank and dark 'Swimteam Rastas' for some of the noisiest chug-a-lug dementedness this side of Death Grips or Boot Records. Superb.