Big Kahuna OG & Fly Anakin
Big Fly 420 EP
The pressure on artists when they have a major new release is immense in hip-hop at the moment, so it's glorious to hear that rap can still be loose, fresh, unhurried, FUN, like this utterly twisted, utterly compelling, utterly mind-bending EP from two underground faves on the ever-engrossing Mutant Academy. Though released, seemingly, merely as a nod to the weed smokers, it's precisely the un-pressured, ad-hoc nature of the five tracks here that makes it so compelling. Tracks like the astonishing 'The Oracle' have both forward and backward motion, the beats inviting the head to nod, but the loops spiralling back into your brain, creating synaptic webs as they go. Thankfully avoiding that beatless loop habit that the underground has now over-exploited, this is ESSENTIAL.
Blanco X Bis X MizOrMac
'21st Century Spartans'
Why do I somewhat belligerently insist on listening to shitloads of UK drill when my age should really put me out of its demographic? Because it's addictive and because I like worrying my kids. I'd be a damn sight more worried about any kid that listened to Catfish & The Cunting Bottlemen than this kind of track — heavily darkened with doomy synths and what sounds like distorted guitar, voices swimming through the murkage to counterflow and contradict each other. Long may the incessant flow of UK drill genius continue.
'Black Balloons Reprise'
Can't help thinking that a lot of those people who have been "waiting" for new Flying Lotus stuff would've been better chasing new sounds by Choosey/Exile or Clear Soul Forces, both creating innovative conscious rap this year that for me eclipses FL's new 'Flamagra' set. Hard to deny this track though: ripplingly gorgeous wide-screen soul a la Adrian Younge, with Denzel Curry nailing some sensational verses and a sense of Sun Ra-like cosmic kookiness round every corner. Nice one.
'Headlines (feat Westside Gunn, Conway & Benny The Butcher) '
Truth be told, even THIS Griselda addict was getting a bit bored with Derringer's productions, so great to hear the crew's finest MCs hook up with somewhat of a spiritual godfather in Premo — here finding new startling shapes to pull out of his typically lurid and twisted soundbox. Very redolent of his more hardcore-yet-lush work with Jeru The Damaja, 'Headlines' rampages confidently forth on hard-assed beats, sweet strings and sudden moments of jarring post-punk that suit Con & Gunn's vocals perfectly; fantastic verse from Benny The Butcher too. I'm not making this single of the month, 'cause essentially it's a dated thrill for old heads, but a thrill nonetheless.
'Jupiter feat Glock '
'Boombap To The Future' is WM's new full-length, out on Bristol's Official Recordings, and rolling deep with a fully produced set of beats from Baileys Brown onboard, plus bonus tracks with Simiah too. Fantastic verbals from Wish Master, absolutely shot through with that mix of red-eyed dissipation and gritty focus that Bristol MCs have always made their own. It was the Baileys credit that got me sucked into this, and so glad I did, because it's a typically stunning production from him, all neon-bleeds and dubby dissolution. Superb.
Ghee's magnificently murderous 'The Whole Half Of It' set gets this highlight plucked for single treatment — love the Pete Rock production on this, which grinds with all the right heaviosity, but also laces through glistening, twinkling moments of magic to make the thumping undertow hit even harder. Wonderfully aggressive rhymes from longtime Sean Price collaborator IG, which don't let up for one moment — that kind of monomania occasionally drags on the album, but in three-minute little slabs of menace like this, it works a treat. Excellent.
Cappo X Senz Beats
Heavyweight release from the ever-mandatory Boot Records, here hooking Cappo up with Brussels-born, Montreal-based producer Senz Beats. 'Tidal Wave' is an appalled, alarming, utterly devastating look at where we're heading as a species (spoiler alert — it ain't looking good), that delivers its hard-hitting message over sublime proggy, heavy beats and bass, all peppered with pure psyche organ and some fantastic held moments of electro-drone and keyboard. Even as an instrumental it works as music that both enshrines and excoriates our current march into oblivion. Get that summer BBQ sounding DOOMED.
Blu And Exile
'True & Livin' EP '
Dirty Science Records
Where the Fly Anakin/Big Kahuna EP [see single of the month] feels like a cohesive, coherent statement (albeit one that's stoned out of its box), this feels a little half-arsed. Were these tracks the middle-suite of a full-length, surrounded by harder tracks, I'd love it as a necessarily calm oasis in the midst of something conscious yet hostile. As it is, just a wee bit too soft for this ageing hooligan, but still jam-packed with gorgeous loops, beats and thoughtful verbals. Fantastic to hear Choosey, Aloe Blacc and Fashawn together on the superb 'Power To The People' as well.