Lee Scott X Black Josh
Still operating under the shady and slippery B-Movie Millionaires moniker, Scott and BJ are about to drop what promises to be an astounding LP on the ever-astounding Blah, entitled 'Attack Of The 50,000 Ft SWEG LAWDS From Outer Space'. I love the Scientist-style nuttiness of that title, but fuck me I ADORE this track, not only 'cause it nails the waste-of-time drift that we're all engaged in on social media, but also 'cause the beat thunks heavy-as-fuck and the loops are pared down to a minimalist blurred dream, like a piano's innards getting caressed by Cthulu's tentacles. No I'm not tripping, but this music is straight DMT to the eyeballs. Essential.
'Brick Or Bat '
The welcome return of HF's fastest spitter — here sitting proud on a thumping boombap track redolent of Kool G Rap (and uncannily like something off that astonishing Babylon Dead album from last year), and controlling things with sublime menace. He KNOWS listeners are waiting for those moments where he slips from rugged old-skool rhyming to light-speed grime-chat, and he holds back until midway through 'Brick & Bat' — then his mouth seems to slip into another gear and the ideas and lines come so fast, your finger has to hover on the rewind button just to catch the concepts. Can't fucking WAIT for the 'Wizville' set he's about to drop and I know I'm not alone.
Verb T & Pitch 92
'Everything That You Love '
A sweet release for the new year from Verb & Pitch's fantastic 'Good Evening' set, what makes it work isn't that the message is purely positive — there's great tinges of humour and insight in the verses that makes the chorus a delight when it arrives. "Hold on tight to everything that you love because that's all you're ever going to miss when it's gone" is a line that perfectly balances both the idealistic and hopeful with the fatalistic and doomed — that's precisely the tightrope the track walks, and it's a great message to start the new year with. Expecting big things from HF this year.
'I Really Rap '
Worth getting the new mixtape of which this is the title track from legendary Harlem veteran MC J.R, 'cause the sleeve is a hoot — ripping the piss out of XXXtentacion, Yachty, Pump, Danny Brown, Lil’ Uzi, Kevin Hart, 52 Savage, 22 Savage and Young Thug among others (even I’ve got to admit the inclusion of Brown is unfair). Whether you relish or are repulsed by the narrative of older-rapper calling out younger-rappers, ‘I Really Rap’ is fantastic: top rhymes, sharp beats, hilarious punchlines and a curmudgeonly dont-give-a-fuckness to be applauded. For old and young piss-takers alike.
Xtreme & Rosati
'It's Over '
After 'Cocaine Beach', like many I started seeking out as much Hus Kingpin as I could, but he kept it kind of quiet in the tail-end of '17 (bar that great 'Vader' track with Gabdullah). Fantastic then to hear him on the utterly wonderful 'Bobby Womack Dreams' EP by Rosati, with production throughout by Xtreme — this is the latest single pulled from it, and it showcases exactly how sublime a suite of punchy, blissed out, wasted yet lucid hip-hop it is. Xtreme paints neon textures with a cinematic brush and the rhymes from HK and Rozewood are on point throughout. Fantastic.
'Last Man Standing '
Dub Ditch Picnic
Yup, it’s THAT Jason Furlow, aka Nosaj, ex-New Kingdom. This is a couple of new tracks from his SoundCloud, picked up by Winnipeg’s DDP imprint and now available as a download or tape. Furlow’s a totally compelling vocalist — sounding steadier and a little less untrammelled than he did 30 years ago, but still positioning himself somewhere between street-corner savant and cosmic prophet. The beats are gratifyingly modern and trappish, but he throws on unmistakably unique textures, tremoloed guitar and lunging dub bass that puts this closer to DC Basehead and Tom Waits territory. Hoping for more in 2018. .
4Orce & Big Cakes
'Revolve Around Science '
Mind Tha Gap Recordings
The new 4Orce album is called 'Setting Standards', and the title perfectly summates its steady power and top-notch quality throughout. This highlight has been pulled as the single and it's glorious to hear Big Cakes not only spitting his customary flames, but finding a track that so perfectly suits his rugged old skool charm and bite. From an album that also includes guest-spots from Confucius MC, Dubbledge, Gee Bag, King Kashmere, Wan-Cee, Ray Vendetta and Lady Sanity, you can imagine just how essential 'Revolve Around Science' is.
Room 2 Records
The Mouse Outfit, Black Josh and Levelz served notice last year that any hip-hop head ignores what's going on in Manchester at their peril. Here's Manc-native Dubbul O (who you might recall from his ace 2016 LP with Pro P, 'As We Proceed') dropping a superb set of trax-on-wax for the first time, with production from Mankub throughout. It's Mankub's subtlety and grace that really elevate proceedings here — 'In The Mix', 'Do What You Can' and the totally nutzoid title track alive and animated with Looney-Tunes jagged magic, bass and beats locking together with insane cubist precision. Superb stuff, and keep an eye out for stuff from the affiliated Mothership Connection in 2018 too. The North keeps rising...
'The Way '
AZ has been travelling in Africa and Asia, and his new EP,'The Way' features collaborations with Chinese MC Raddam Ras, New York MC Jackson Turner, Cameroonian reggae dons King Lion Miguel and General Huge among others, all sealed by a bang-up mastering job from Chemo. This is the new single lifted from the EP, and it's a thoughtful, downbeat set of observations about the search for purpose, and the purpose of creativity in a world seemingly committed to its self-destruction. Great reflective beats from GI as well. Get into it.