Saturday, 31 December 2016

1000 Great British Hip Hop Albums: The Intro

When I initially created this site over 7 years ago it was give another platform, no matter how small, to the part of hip-hop considered local to me. I fell in love with hip-hop at an early age, in the mid to late 90s in Durham, North East England when it was decidedly unfashionable and barely at the peripheries of British popular culture.

I grew up on Illmatic, Enter The 36 Chambers and Midnight Marauders, like anyone else who entered the genre as a fan in the mid-90s as a young kid. But being far removed from the streets where this music was born/developed/created/nurtured/experienced, I wanted a relatable version that was closer to home. I wanted something I can see, something in front of me, something touchable that in no way pales compared to the original. 

British hip-hop, and by extension British sub-genres influenced by hip-hop such as Grime should not be able to be created anywhere else. As of 2014, the influence of the American original is so far reaching that 90% of the chart contents worldwide from Gateshead to Gaza can taste it in their basic ingredients. A lot of this is a straight copy of the original, but not my British Hip-Hop. The UK scene has been in existence since the early 80s, and over the last 30+ years has created its own history far removed from the brilliance of its US counterparts.

This website was always to celebrate the quality of UK hip-hop in its many forms. To celebrate its successes, its quirks, its personality and most of all, its talent. This series is a specific celebration of all of this through the eyes of a long time listener who has soundtracked his life to these records. There have been many great UK hip-hop albums, here are 1000 of them. 


Over the course of the next few years I will write about each of these 1000 albums, in no particular order, and the links to each individual post will appear in the list below. I would encourage everyone who is kind enough to read these posts to listen to the albums at the same time (I lived with a lot of these albums for many years and continue to do so) to see if you agree with my proclamation of greatness.

Not all of these albums will be classics. Not all of these albums will be here for the same reason. Some will be personal favourites, some will be widely acclaimed. Some will be here due to their undeniable impact or influence. Some will be here just because the music is damn good. There will be no order, neither chronologically, alphabetically or on the basis of a rating system. I hope you can discover a lot of music you can enjoy through these posts. 

1000 Great British Hip Hop Albums

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

1000 Great British Hip Hop Albums #2 - Fallacy's 'Black Market Boy' (2003)

Some artists are able to transcend genres, eras or trends and survive & adapt to new challenges in music. Some artists stay in their own lane and manage to carve out a niche that satiates the die-hards - this homebase allows them to prevail. Other artists however, flash like lightning but for whatever reason fail to roll with the thunder. Often this final group are exposed as fads or unable to replicate the successes of the past through a mere lack of ideas or ability to keep up, but our second entry had it all at once...and just couldn't for whatever reason, push over the top.

Fallacy was, at one point, touted above everyone else to hit gold and make that all-important crossover move to the mainstream kingdom. Not only that, but he was to do this without selling his soul. A tough sell, indeed. However, after the hype generated leading up to the release of his debut full length LP 'Blackmarket Boy', it was certainly feasible.

Both his beat selection in the past (namely his work with his main partner Fusion) and his own style and skill lent itself naturally to the radio-friendly ear. He had the swagger to back up any success that was forthcoming, and was white hot after the underground success of his signature song 'The Groundbreaker'.
This was followed up with 'Big N Bashy', a smash hit that managed to creep around the UK top 40 (no mean feat for a UK rap artist at this point) and was all over the urban music channels courtesy of a flash US-influenced video alongside the guest singer Tubby T.

The album dropped soon after this, and the years of work that was poured into this album showed instantly. It was a huge success critically, with almost universal acclaim credited to it, but then...

Fallacy's official discography to date, almost 11 years later, still noted Blackmarket Boy as his only full length release. He's popped up here & there in the years since, and has finally had a resurgence as part of the UK supergroup Sleepin Giantz alongside Zed Bias and UK rap legend Rodney P in the past year, but before 2013 he was that guy everybody in the scene loved but rarely saw. Sure, he was hardly a hermit, releasing the odd EP here and there, but nothing post-2003 ever stood up to the immense potential he showed with his opening crescendo.

So, with good luck to his newfound success and a quick recap on his past, onto the album itself. Before it dropped, my own personal experience of Fallacy's music and presence first came from an unlikely source, when Fallacy & Fusion used to host a hip-hop music video show on MTV Base (back when the channel was in its infancy and still played a variety of urban styles) for a short period of time. I taped it and watched it back religiously during its lifespan, as it was one of the only places in the UK I was able to regularly see underground US rap videos and discover new artists. The internet was still years off from being the basic amenity it is now, and it took about 5 minutes to load up the average 'naughtyslag.jpeg' at this point. Napster was on its way, but taking into account my parent's internet connection took a fortnight to download the average popular chart song, my chances of being able to discover Fallacy's music back in 2001/2 was fairly slim without this video show.

At the finale of one of the shows, they premiered the video for their own song 'The Groundbreaker' and I remember, even now, being so blown away by it that I recorded the audio from the VHS onto a cassette and abused that tape for weeks. From that moment on, 'Blackmarket Boy' was an 'event' album for me.

And judging by the press at the time, from Hip-Hop Connection to the even more mainstream broadsheet music journalists, it was an event album for many others too. Off the strength of 'The Groundbreaker' and numerous guest appearances by Fallacy on UK remixes of popular Rawkus 12" singles from the US in the early 2000s, he was able to get a major label deal through Virgin and really get to work on bringing his sound to the big leagues.

This deal allowed him to bring in the 'Champions League' of beatmakers in the UK to complement the hits he'd already created with Fusion. This gave it the feel of a true major label rap album the likes of which we usually see only from an established American emcee. Fallacy cherry-picked producers, whether through a marketing ploy put in place by his new employers or not, to cover a broad spectrum of urban musical styles ranging from straight boom bap and dancehall, to the most popular UK subgenres at the time in Garage and mainstream drum & bass.

Whilst Fallacy & Fusion formed the backbone of the album (and ironically most of the memorable moments on it, which raises the question as to why Virgin didn't feel confident putting the album together solely with the duo) there are occasional star turns behind the boards by drum & bass behemoths Shy FX & T Power and Roni Size alongside the odd inclusion of Rishi Rish, who was riding high at the time with the success of songs he'd made with eventual Cash Money Millionaire Jay Sean and their cohort Juggy D.

As far as the lyrical guest spots go, these were kept to an absolute minimum, allowing Fallacy to weave slang tapestries dripping with britishness, confidence and defiance. The only emcee to run with him on the whole album is Rodney P, who lends his inimitable vocals to 'Rap Folly', a Fusion-produced anthem poking fun at the nonsense they see in the rap scene on a daily basis. They go back-and-forth with experiences throughout their career and boasts of superiority over the average competitor.

Up until this point, all tracks have been Fallacy & Fusion, and the album is top-loaded with singles (both the aforementioned 'Groundbreaker' & Big & Bashy' are stacked back to back at the beginning after the opening title track). But once 'Square Beamer' kicks in with Shy FX & T Power trading in their usual DnB for futuristic bleeps and a more traditional rap groove it becomes a family affair.

Nearly all of the tracks on the album are blatantly designed to be hits in their own right, whether through club success or radio play, and this trend continues with 'Stopclock', a Full Range Production track that dances between garage & 2 step and hints towards early grime tendencies at certain points. Fallacy sounds at home just as much over these new styles as he does over his bread & butter, and this is something he's proven over many years. His current group Sleepin Giantz are experts at genre-bending and Fallacy is just as comfortable on modern dubstep and bass music as he ever was on any of these Blackmarket Boy tracks.

'Ooh' keeps the mood light, and Roni Size's 'Scrunch' is a truly classic RS banger that would be just as welcome on one of his Reprazent albums with Dynamite MC over the top. Fallacy is at his arrogant best over this song, and its one of the rare moments towards the end of the album that is able to replicate those earlier monster hits.

Speaking of monstrous, one of the album finales is called just that, and although lyrically its standard 'high life' fare, one of Fallacy's most prized assets is his ability to throw a swag cloak over anything and make it sound essential. The dude is Harry Potter ghosting past villians on some of these songs and its wonderful to hear.

A Shy FX & T Power Groundbreaker remix tops things off at the death, bringing things full circle and I can honestly say that despite the influence it had over the UK rap scene and Fallacy himself in the time since it was released not living up to the anticipation, its as fresh now as it was 11 years ago.

Its a shame Fallacy wasn't able to translate Blackmarket Boy into a mainstream career similar to many british emcees since, but that should never take away from how great this album was, is, and most certainly always will be. Enjoy it.

As usual, Spotify and iTunes links below for you to listen to and support the artists. If you liked this piece don't thank me, thank Fallacy.


Monday, 4 August 2014

1000 Great British Hip Hop Albums #1 - Roots Manuva's 'Brand New Second Hand' (1999)

I've made a grave error by announcing this series. I understand this now. 1000 posts will take me about 20 years at my current workrate but after years in the wilderness, I think British hip-hop is finally showing the promise it was in the early to mid-2000s again. It's great to see so many superb producers and emcees coming through with a new sound we can be proud of. The posts will be sporadic, but as mentioned in the introduction, I'm here to celebrate our sound. If you're new to this, hopefully you'll hear a large amount of great music you never knew about. If like me, you've had your ear to the ground for a long time, I'd like to think you'll be able to re-engage and experience this music for the second time, whether it's a forgotten gem or a well known classic.

I'll be going back and forth between new and old school hip-hop, from 80s classics that brought the scene its first shine all the way through to LPs from the last few years. With this in mind, I thought it would be apt to start off with an artist that seemed to usher in the modern UK hip-hop sound in the mid to late 90s.

Roots Manuva is as distinct a voice as UK hip-hop has ever had. Even today, when his prominence on the scene has diminished somewhat due to the change of trends in music, the Stockwell, London-born emcee has almost as much bass in his voice as the beats behind him. There is something almost soothing about his delivery - in the same way Guru from Gangstarr was able to sound both commanding and effortless throughout his life on the mic.

He truly hit the bigtime with his follow-up album 'Run Come Save Me', largely thanks to two massively popular singles, 'Witness' (arguably the most anthemic british rap song of all time) and 'Dreamy Days'. There will be more on this album and it's overarching influence another time. Before this album hit however, he was already an established name in the underground scene and threatening to make the crossover.

I remember hearing his breakthrough track alongside the legendary Skitz 'Where My Mind Is At' when I was 14 years old and it was one of the first times I can honestly say that my head had been turned from the US hip-hop that had dominated my life up until that point (sidebar: a few years after it first surfaced, the song turned up again on Skitz' Countryman album, but more on THAT another time).

His voice is what initially grabs you, but the largely introspective nature of his lyrics pulls you into his dream sequences as you rumble over basslines that sound like they're coming from behind a cellar door. It's an experience unlike any other, and it all started in full swing with BRAND NEW SECOND HAND.

Released on the then-upstart label Big Dada in 1999 after the success of the aforementioned Skitz link-up and lead single 'Juggle Tings Proper' (video below), Rodney Smith was able to lay down the foundations for his career to come straight away.

Largely self-produced and with minimal guest appearances, BNSH was a landmark album and this was apparent from the get-go. After all, he won a MOBO award that year for Best Hip-Hop Act back when that actually mattered. UK hip-hop had already been around for a long long time at this point, but as I recall it, this was seemingly the start of a new generation of artists ready to push through the soil and see daylight.

It's telling that one of the first things you hear on the LP opener 'Movements'  is a filtered bass drone that blends with melodic keys. It sets the tone for the rest of the next hour and creates a soundbed that was imitated many times in subsequent years by many a british artist. He clearly influenced, whether directly or indirectly, everyone from New Flesh to Jehst in their production styles. The scene was finding its own sound, and the low-key, dusty & bass-heavy beats that earlier groups such as The Brotherhood had utilised were being tampered with and given a new lease of life.

90s traditional boom-bap was low-key and dusty too, but this was nothing like it. It sounded futuristic in a sense, moving away from samples but still heavily influenced by dub and reggae music (a huge percentage of UK rap always has been due to the music youngsters grew up listening to and living around, and of course the generational and geographical descent of many artist's families).

Huge swathes of artists still utilise this dub-influenced production style today, and it is one of the most definitively British styles we can boast. The cocktail of English slang, lyrics symptomatic of the claustrophobic urban experience and the music of our parents created this.

From Movements to Juggle Tings Proper, Inna to Soul Decay, the album's opening few tracks introduce Manuva as an intriguing stranger, he lures you in with the swirling production and hits you with pensive couplets that often leave you with more questions than answers.

For long periods he lets the beats do a lot of the hard work and his personality, although hugely apparent, isn't put to as much focused use as it is on 2001's Run Come Save Me or 2005's Awfully Deep. However, 'Baptism' with the at-the-time preeminent UK female emcee Wildflower is a superb back-and-forth that signals the first time on the record that Roots allows the beat to dissolve into the background as he trades bars with Vanessa George (she absolutely slayed Skitz' 'Domestic Science' by the way).

'Strange Behaviour' ripples with familiar bass, key stabs and guitar licks as the lyrics tell stories of drug-addiction and the negative effects it can have on one's mood and how you react to others. The point-of-view narration is a particular master skill of Manuva's, and he uses it to aplomb on multiple tracks throughout his career.

Seanie T drops by for 'Big Tings Gwidarn' as the dub-influence is turned up to a Spinal Tap Eleven. Its another great example of Manuva's ability to mesh superbly with other artists over something undeniably original.

Nearly all of the beats are by Roots himself, either under his artist name or the pseudonym Hylton Smythe (his middle name and rework of his surname), but there is some outside help. IG Culture of Dodge City Productions turns up both behind and in front of the boards on 'Dem Phonies' and Wayne Bennett AKA Lotek handles a couple of tracks. Bennett & Smith have worked together to great effect multiple times, both here and on the Lotek Hi-Fi releases of late 90s/early 2000s. But it's mostly a personal affair, and it works magnificently.

I've never been a huge fan of the major label, multiple dream-team producer line-ups, because for one it often detracts from the rapper's ability to get across his own point through his lyrics, but also prevents him/her from finding their own voice/sound. Roots Manuva has no issue with this and this has remained so throughout his career, even up until his more recent work with Toddla T on Rhyme & Reason and Wrongtom on Duppy Writer.

The album rumbles through like the perfect 2am soundtrack. Whether smoked out or sober it truly captures the English inner-city mindset  in ways not many other albums have done since. 'Cornmeal Dumpling' and 'Yeah...' hit you heavy and Rodney rides the beat in his inimitable way, delivering lines such as 'raw from the south of the thames, bringing folks vision like a contact lense'. But there is one departure from this, and it just happens to be the jewel in the crown.

Sequenced at the end of the LP so as to not interrupt the narrative that preceded it, Motion 5000 was released as a stand-alone single months after the album's release, and it is unlike any other hip-hop song I've ever heard. It transcends genre and captures emotion in a way not even Roots Manuva himself has managed to compete with. The string arrangement is as beautiful as it is haunting, and above the violins and bass punches the man also known as Lord Gosh floats with lyrics that are reworked from the 1995 'Next Type Of Motion' track this was born out of. Its a wonderful end to the LP and both the original & the album version of this song are certified classics in my opinion.

For me, this album was important for the genre and as a singular work it sounds just as fresh & original today as it did when it was released 15 years ago. Roots Manuva announced himself to the world brilliantly on Brand New Second Hand, and built a continually memorable career off the back of it that we should all cherish while he continues to create music. Find the Spotify & iTunes links below and support the artist if you enjoyed the ride as much as I did.

Roots Manuva – Brand New Second Hand

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Busta Rhymes & J-Dilla - The Collection

Over the course of his (almost) 20 year career, Busta Rhymes has managed to stick close to a lot of his guns. Sure, in recent times he has been known to pursue a quick payday with a guest spot here for Tiesto, or a guest spot there for the Pussycat Dolls, and he has always had at least one track on his solo albums that have chased that elusive pop chart topper.

But one thing you have to respect about the man is that regardless of these temporary pursuits, he has been working with largely the same group of producers for most of his career. DJ Scratch has been on practically everything Busta has released in one way or another. Spliff Star has been surgically attached to his hip for 15 years, and no-one even knows what he does yet. Q-Tip invited him in to star on an ATCQ song in 1991 and they've been working together off and on ever since.

And then there's Jay Dee. Dilla.

Largely regarded as one of our generation's best ever producers, Dilla has been a mainstay of Busta's discography. Most of the tracks they've done together have nestled into his albums silently, often hidden deep in the middle of an album and never a single to be released. However, despite this, these are the very tracks that, for me, have became the bedrock of a Busta Rhymes album. The songs that make the albums worthwhile for repeated listens, even in some cases more than a decade later.

Ever since Busta starred on '1, 2 Shit' by A Tribe Called Quest over a Jay Dee/Ummah beat, the two have worked together in some form on most of his albums, with only 'Extinction Level Event' in 1998 and 'Back On My B.S.' in 2009 of his 8 full studio albums released without at least one burst of James Yancey's talent.

As Busta has been known for a lot of songs, but rarely his Dilla ones, and Dilla has been largely attributed to a huge amount of influence in music, but his Busta Rhymes beats are often overlooked, I've decided to immortalise their work together on one album to showcase just how brilliant a pairing they were.

A Jay Dee beat brought out the incredible character in Bus-A-Buss and that infectious personality surely affected Dilla enough to reciprocate with exciting, entertaining and creative beats.

There's the simple boom-bap of 'So Hardcore', the laid back bounce on 'Show Me What You Got', and the futuristic echoes of 'Make It Hurt' amongst so many other genuinely great great songs.

Recorded over a period of a decade, this is a home-made Northern Author collection I've listened to many a time as a playlist, and it's time I share it with the world.

They did in fact release a mixtape together entitled 'Dillagence' in the mid-2000s the year after Jay Dee passed away, but despite it's great intentions, that mixtape never truly did their working relationship any justice.

Obviously, it goes without saying that you should own these records already, and if not, I can't stress enough why you should. The artists deserve their payola for making the music that ultimately can shape our lives and that sentiment is never more correct than when dealing with true greats. Show respect for one of rap's true greats in Busta Rhymes, and his extraordinary work with one of the greatest producers of all time, Mr James Yancey AKA Jay Dee. Happy Dilla Month.

1. Still Shining
2. It Ain't Safe No More (feat. Meka)
3. Enjoy Da Ride
4. Turn Me Up Some
5. Genesis
6. So Hardcore
7. Ill Vibe (Jay Dee Remix)
8. It's A Party (feat Zhane) (Ummah Remix)
9. Woo-Hah (Got You All In Check) (Jay Dee Bounce Mix)
10. Show Me What You Got
11. Keep It Movin' (feat. Charlie Brown, Dinco D & Milo In De Dance)
12. What Up
13. Live It Up
14. Woo-Hah (Jay Dee Other Shit Remix)
15. Make It Hurt
16. You Can't Hold The Torch (feat. Q-Tip & Chauncey Black)

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Best DJ Premier Beats of 2011

Recently on there was a poll for hip-hop fans to vote on which beat Primo had produced in 2011 that they thought was his finest work. As far as I was aware, the Works of Mart were relatively small and low-key over the past 12 months, aside from a few tracks on the Evidence LP - but I was clearly mistaken.

Primo is a workaholic behind the boards. When he isn't producing tracks for his core family of Big Shug, the Year Round family, Freddie Foxxx, Big Shug's mother or Big Shug's landlord's stepdaughter, he's branching out and bringing some of his trademark boom-bap to overseas artists or musicians from outside his comfort zone.

So, I decided to compile the tracks rap fans voted highest in the poll into one nice, compact little album for general consumption. Isn't that nice of me? I'm sure Primo will approve.

There's a lot to like here, as usual. If you're a fan of DJ Premier (and if you're not you really have no place looking at any rap blog whatsoever - get back to your hippy bullshit and buy a thin tie and some elbow patches - pick up that empty Lana del Rey album while you're there) you know what to expect.

He has a very defined sound which hasn't really changed for a decade now. Some people would consider that to be a downside, and in some ways it has led to the popular opinion that hearing a new Primo beat isn't as exciting as it was say, in the late 90s. I can't really disagree with this, but it doesn't change the fact that he is a top 5 DOA producer in hip-hop history, and there aren't really many people out there that can claim to have a better discography than him.

Here he continues his legacy with a set of mostly understated tunes, none of which will make their way into the average backpackers 'favourite Primo beat ever' sentence, but songs that we can all respect and listen to on our iPods regularly with glee.

The beat that was voted highest in the pool was 'You' by Dilated Peoples emcee Evidence, which was from his superb full-length 'Cats & Dogs'. That particular choice isn't too surprising as it was arguably the most high-profile beat on the list aside from 'Born In The Trap' from Dr.Dre's former butler and reference library The Game. Then there's the remix to 'Writer's Block' from Royce & Eminem's successful Bad Meets Evil EP, which eclipses the original with relative ease. Royce is the only artist that appears twice on the list, as he brought Primo on board for 'Second Place' for his solo LP 'Success Is Certain'.

Strangely, my favourite beat on here is probably the remix to 'Embody' by French dance producer SebastiAn, as not only does it keep the general vibe of the superb original song, but it opens up a great great track to a whole different genre. DJ Premier seems to be producing for a lot more eclectic set of artists these days, from pop to dance to rap, both US and overseas, and that can only be commended.

Enjoy everything here. And thank DJ Premier for the music. RIP Guru.

1. Evidence - You
2. Reks - 25th Hour
3. Torae - For The Record
4. Prop Dylan - Shock & Amaze
5. Edo G - Fastlane
6. The Game - Born In The Trap
7. Apathy (feat. Celph Titled) - Stop What Ya Doin'
8. DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles - B.A.P.
9. Royce Da 5'9" - Second Place
10. Venom - Vigilantes (DJ Premier VHS Remix)
11. Bad Meets Evil - Writer's Block (DJ Premier Remix)
12. Big Shug - We Miss You (Guru Tribute)
13. Kendra Morris - Concrete Waves (DJ Premier 320 Remix)
14. Mac Miller - Face The Facts
15. Bushido - Gangster
16. DJ Fudge (feat. Afrika Bambaataa) - Jump Up (DJ Premier Remix)
17. SebastiAn - Embody (DJ Premier 95 Break Remix)
18. Nick Javas (feat. Khaleel) - Anonymous

Monday, 2 January 2012

It's So Hard Out Here For A G

The turn of the new year brings some new music from one of UK rap's true living legends. Farma G, one half of Taskforce, is set to release a new EP entitled 'The Art Of Moron' with hints given in this first leaked track as to who the targets are.

'It's So Hard' is a superb starting point for the EP, due out this month, and strangely enough, the real shining star in the song is the production. Farma Jesus does his thing on the vocals as you'd expect, but the beat is a sensational cut of emotional soul rap filled with drama, sadness and passion. It comes courtesy of Life Scarz, a producer who admittedly hasn't been on my radar until now. Consider that corrected from this moment forth. Listen to the track below, and look out for Farma G's new release later on in January.

Follow Farma G on twitter for more info:
Follow Life Scarz on soundcloud for more beats:


Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011. Done.

It's the last day of the year, so what I'd like to do is take a moment on look back on what has happened in my life, and in life in general over the past 365 days. What I'd like to do even more than that though, is allow a world class emcee from my country sum it up in a far funnier, more in depth and wittier way than I ever could. In steps Mystro.

Below is the radio rip premiere of the most recent of Mystro's long awaited and always brilliant rap-up series. Skillz has the US, Bekay has the Aussies, and we have the best of all with Mystrogen. Listen muthaluvaz, and have a happy new year.

Maybe one of my many new year's resolutions should be to update this site more and give it the love it deserves like I did in the past. But if I state that officially it'll just fall to the way side like all my other half-cocked resolutions. Really, Adam? Are you really going to join that gym or pass that driving test? Are you fuck, mate. And deep down you know it.

New Year's resolutions are for people who need a legitimate reason not to enjoy their lives. I'm going to eat more, fuck more, sit around more and insult more. Enjoy your night, see you in 2012.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Meet The Quaranteam

While trying to find photos of the new burgeoning rap collective from London, I couldn't get anything past photos of spanish horror movies. Its almost like the group want us to think they're picking Spaniards off in a high-rise inner city flat by biting the fuck out of them. But keeping on the subject of throat-rips, Quaranteam - probably one of the most promising straight rap collectives that the UK have produced for at least a few years - are far from tough to find and they're here to annihilate the competition.

In 2011 alone, every member of the group have released at least one full-length album, all of which have the same theme and aesthetic running through them: hard beats with a soulful edge, a good mixture of punchlines and street poetry, and an undeniable chemistry between them that can make for some brilliant collective efforts.

As a christmas gift, the group have released their first ever EP, and it continues their rise in the UK rap game with all 5 emcees trading verses through 8 solid songs that showcase everyone's talents.

Loudmouth Melvin & K-Nite handle a lot of the beats on most Quaranteam releases, and this allows the group to gain a musical identity without having to waste time on bullshit gimmicks or shock tactics. The music, with these two on the boards, is always at a high standard and it provides the perfect backdrop for Pyro Barz, Skillit, Chris Mentalist, the aforementioned Melvin and K-Nite (along with their affiliates) to spit fire like Spyro The Dragon.

This is no kid's game though, this is just as much introspective as it is rap boasts, as much intellect as there is ignorance, and as much fun as it is serious. Below, not only will you find the brand new Quaranteam EP, but also the recent releases from each member of the collective. There's enough music here to keep you inside the world of your headphones for weeks, and all of it is so ill it's got NHS Direct on speed-dial. Enjoy and Merry Xmas.

*click the titles for download links*

1,2,3,4 Cover Art

The Drawing Board LP Cover Art

Are you not entertained? Quaranteam should keep you in music well into 2012, by which time we'll all know their names.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Dangerous Adventures

Lewis Parker seemingly left these shores a long time ago, opting to hone his already considerable skills in the birth city of hip-hop, New York, instead of his native UK. Over the past few years he's produced for such luminaries as Ghostface Killah, done remix LPs reworking songs by everyone from MOP to Kool G Rap, and he's released albums with underground stalwart John Robinson.

I'm so late on this if I was a lass I'd be pregnant, but he released on the low a new EP entitled 'Dangerous Adventures' back in the Summer. It continues his new direction of working with US artists and harking back to the so-called golden era of our beloved genre and culture. Below you'll find tracks he has laid down for emcees like one half of the Cali Agents, Planet Asia, one half of Def-Jukies Cannibal Ox, Vast Aire, and QB emcee Killa Sha amongst others.

Its the sort of material we've come to expect from Lewis, which is definitely a compliment, because this guy has been churning out brilliant material since the mid-90s. Although his songs seem to have became a lot more homogenised over time (and less reliant on odd antique samples which was a facet to his music he relished in back at the turn of the millenium) he still delivers the very definition of boom-bap.

It baffles me why he hasn't had more beat placements with great emcees, because he can create soundbeds that, if handled by the best emcees, can become classics.

Enjoy his latest.

And as an added extra, here is a song he produced recently for songstress Brianna Colette. It's so smooth out the mp3 is slippy. Versatility is one of the greatest things a producer can be, and I've not heard much material from Lewis tailored to an RnB audience, but this song is superb. I could definitely chill with a full album of this.