Sunday, 24 February 2008

UK Classics Part II


Many people count ‘Falling Down’ as Jehst’s masterwork, with its claustrophobic bass-heavy beats and trademark mildly schizophrenic lyrics, but for me, Jehst gave us his best work on his first album release.

OK, I admit, ‘The Return Of The Drifter’ comprises mostly just Jehst’s first few EPs and singles along with some other gems, but still, it has been moulded into a complete album that contains almost 100% genuine classic hip-hop.

From start to finish this album is pound for pound one of my favourite hip-hop albums EVER to be released by a british artist. Jehst's lyrical ability is arguably better than anyone else's in the game and he can undoubtedly be seen as one of the most consistent artists the UK have ever produced.

The album starts off with the beautiful 'High Plains Anthem', which is about a trillion times better than the 'High Plains Drifter' track the Beastie Boys did on their classic LP 'Paul's Boutique' (Yes, I really do hold this album that high in regard). It sets the tone for the whole album as its classic Jehst production - dreamy basslines, rolling keys and dusty beats. Jehst has a knack of making very understated music that doesn't hit you straight away, but over time suck you in to his world.

A testament to this album is that the two interludes are great tracks within themselves. The first comes up straight after the opener, and sounds a little bit like Jehst's remix beat for Universal Soldiers track 'Soldier 4 Life' (an absolute banger from his Underworld Epics producer album by the way), and then the exquisite 'Bluebells' follows on from the classic early Jehst track 'City of Industry'. There's something about 'Bluebells' that just makes me want it to be a 7 or 8-minute long epic instrumental interlude. It just trundles along over a typically messy beat, with its hypnotic bassline and repeated vocal samples. Even writing this as I listen to the album I honestly can't pick a fault on it in any way.

After this we get into the real meat of the album, and its '1979' that I am impressed with most. I truly think its one of the best 50 hip-hop tracks ever made. The music and lyrics match beautiful. Jehst's words are at their best, with deep observations such as 'Between two worlds like the thief at the window' just flowing out one by one. Its a small little line, but in that one sentence there is so much to make you think. Trust me...nearly everything said in this song is like that. Absolutely brilliant.

You follow that on with classics such as The Trilogy (and its remix), Alcoholic Author and Return of the Drifter and you've got a great album. To top it off, you have the astonishing (I'm running out of superlatives) 'Staircase II Stage' featuring J-Zone, and 'People Under The Weather' featuring a then unknown Asaviour and, well, I'm basically nearly having a wank right now.


I'm off to clean you download this, or you are truly missing out on a UK Classic.

Jehst - The Return of the Drifter

1. High Plains Anthem
2. Skit
3. City Of Industry
4. Bluebells
5. 1979
6. The Trilogy (featuring Ricochet & Tommy Evans)
7. Alcoholic Author
8. Staircase II Stage (featuring J-Zone)
9. The Return Of The Drifter
10. People Under The Weather (featuring Asaviour)
11. The Trilogy (Remix) (featuring Chester P & Kyza)

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Utter Nutters

Two treats for you today, one a request, one I just wanted to share with the lesser informed world because its top class.

First off, we have the request, ‘Get A Life’ by Welsh-based rap crew The Headcase Ladz. Even the front cover of this album screams Britain at you. Its just two mates sitting in a dirt-drenched flat drinking cans of Guiness with some turntables set up and some weed paraphernalia in the background. Well, actually, that doesn’t scream Britain at all…that’s basically the average student flat worldwide (not mine of course, I wouldn‘t advocate drugs at all, I just laze about drinking tea and playing on Football Manager most days).

The Headcase Ladz comprise of producer/DJ Slicer Man and emcee Nobsta Nutts, and they are part of the ‘Wonky Wax Collective’, a band of hip-hop lads from the same place where Charlotte Church was brought into the world. This album is a really enjoyable listen because of the difference it offers you to your average rap release, even from the UK. Its full of top notch humour, top notch beats, and top notch scratches.

The fact that the group are championed by many a famous face in our scene such as Aspects, Blade and Junior Disprol of Fleapit (damn, I really need to up their album because its immense) just aids in showing you your dealing with proper artists here.

Nobsta Nutts is quite hard to get used to as a rapper at first simply because he sounds SO welsh, and SO regional. Imagine Goldie Lookin’ Chain all rolled into one guy who sounds like he’s high as a kite. Slicer Man, on the other hand, makes beats that truly special. They rumble and crackle like the old school breaks they’re built on, and are filled with horn and sax samples that are clearly reminiscent from early 90’s US boom-bap.

There’s something the most discerning of US hip-hop heads who can’t stand hearing any other accent on wax than the New York one would find enjoyable (just listen to the beats instead).
In fact, I think the best way to sum up this album is to use the chorus from 2wats:

“All for one and one for all, cos we’re t-wats and I scratch my left ball”

1. Back To Wonky borough (Fashionably Late Intro)
2. Modern Romance
3. Why Don’t You Pay Us A Visit
4. 2wats (featuring Lews Tewns, co-produced by Mr. Stophe)
5. While You Ponder (Tea Break 1)
6. 2-3 Stretch
7. Bittersweet Bermuda
8. Helpless (featuring Lews Tewns)
9. She Told Me She Was A Boxer (Co-produced by Mr Stophe)
10. Up The Garden Path (Piss Break)
11. Ruffle Your Feathaz
12. Humphrey
13. How Many Times (Tea Break 2 With A Hint Of Rum)
14. Mr Bubbles (featuring Nicola Williams)
15. Self Preservation (featuring Mykes, Wez Cooze & Lews Tewns)
16. Don’t Exit This Way, Go Back To Wonkysborough

Our second offering today comes not from Wales, the home of Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas or Anthony Hopkins, but France; the home of Gerard Depardieu, Jean Paul Gaultier and David Ginola, the second best footballer of all time (the first obviously being Alan Shearer).

Oh yes, those frenchies know how to hip-hop too, with such incredible artists as Saian Supa Crew, IAM, Fabe and Le 3eme Oeil being superb artists well worth looking out for.

But here, we have something completely different. This bunch of mentalists may be the best hip-hop outfit of the lot. They are the French equivalent of the Bomb Squad high on crack and glucose hooked up to ten thousand synthesizers. Indeed, it’s TTC.

Everything about their second Big Dada album release ‘Batards Sensibles’ is brilliant. The album cover looks superb, with the four members in a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’-type arrangement, and with the eyes of each member cut out in the shape of shades - the shininess of the CD behind it making it look like they’re wearing futuristic aviators.

The songs are huge booming soundscapes with every noise under the sun finding its way onto the record. Songs such as ‘Dans Le Club’ and ‘Girlfriend’ should have health warnings, the grandiose production really takes you back that much. Add in some frantic scratching here and there (I don’t care what anyone says, a hip-hop album isn’t a classic unless it has scratches on it), and some very enthusiastic French emcees (and a few US ones) and you have some sort of a twisted masterpiece.

Its light years away from any of the music TTC produced before it, and its truly a one-off. There isn’t another album in the world like it, and so-called avant-garde producers such as Diplo, RjD2, Blockhead and the like should bow in the presence of these stupendous Frenchmen. I give you…’Batards Sensibles‘…

1. Ebisu Rendez-Vous
2. Dans Le Club
3. Le Chant Des Hommes
4. Du Sang Sur Le Dancefloor
5. Catalogue
6. J’ai Pas Sommeil
7. Rap Jeu
8. Latest Dance Craze
9. Girlfriend
10. Batards Sensibles
11. Codiene
12. Meet The New Boss

Apologies for the files being on MegaUpload and not Rapidshare as usual. My Rapidshare Account is being funny with me at the moment.