We’re back, it’s that time again and Kris Drew and Abjekt are here to deliver you the latest in Hip Hop from around the world.
Today has started off to be a good day. The sun is shining and I won twenty quid on a scratch card. Although that’s not very much, I never buy them so that’s a right little treat for me. I can buy a new couple of records for nothing. Now this month I’d like to introduce you to Red Bull Music Academy if you don’t already know about it, this might be something right up your street. The Red Bull Music Academy brings together DJ’s and music producers from diverse musical and cultural backgrounds to exchange their ideas about music and their knowledge of how life in the music industry works.
It’s basically a two week course in which you can cover all major aspects of DJ culture, including music history, technology and production, business and skills. They invite a variety of accomplished international guests – from industry movers and shakers to pirate radio station operators, from turntablists to sonic theorists. It’s all pretty damn cool really. If this sounds like something for you click on this link: http://www.redbullmusicacademy.com/fileadmin/documents/application_form.pdf
Now there are some crazy questions on the application form and it does take a good few hours to fill in, but if you really want something you should put in a little effort. You’ve got until 3rd June 2006. Get on it!
On with the tunes:
Now this is Us3′s fifth album, I first heard of them about a year ago. “Schizophonic” retains the quality I originally listened to when that first CD was passed to me. Developing on the groups enormous 50-date/14 country European tour last year, this album is an energetic, wild and up-tempo affair returning to the task of fitting pieces of live jazz and hip hop beats together.
Akil Dasan provides us with the raps and rhymes throughout the CD. He describes himself as an African-Judaic of multiple ethnicities and cultures, referring to Stevie Wonder, The Roots, D’Angelo, & Mos Def as main influences.
“Schizophonic” bound from the Brazillian samba school sampling “Kick This”, to the lyrical hip hop sarcasm of “Huff & Puff”, through the 60’s soul-jazz vibe of “Girls U Like”, to the furious jazz drums & monk-like piano of “Get Busy”. This album could easily attract people from all walks of life, so if you like tunes with a difference go and get this one when you can. It is released on 5th June; keep up to date by looking at www.us3.com. This way you’ll be able to check out some of their past albums and be ready to buy the new one as soon as it’s released.
Swift It Major
“Road Work Mix CD”
The UK stands wobbly kneed under Swift It Major’s pressure! With production from Maguyver (KJB Records) and Chino (FMP). This mix-tape is being circulated within the industry, but it has brought out to prep you rowdy lot for the soon to come video of “13 Years On“. Swift is 25 years of age coming from North West London, training and meditating now for a good 2 years and has finally perfected his own style which now is ready to be shared with the rest of the world.
Swift It Major AKA Rob Swift has been rhyming seriously for a few years now. Once a member of the SBK sound, swift developed his sharp style of rhyming by dabbling in Garage bars with fellow MCs Ruma Doobz, AMT and QT2Hype. Breidgen Paradise (former 57th Dynasty) birthed TGSMP and out of the blue decided to put Swift It Major on the track “UP2US“. Major’s second stab at the verse earned him the chance to feature on other tracks and eventually became a permanent member of the TGSMP camp. You can find out much more at www.myspace.com/swiftitmajor. There are 4 tracks on there for you to listen to and make your own judgments.
“Verbal Assassin” [Single]
Straight out of Huddersfield comes an emerging new talent, Spida Lee, ready to deliver a mighty onslaught of kick ass beats and rhymes with his brand spanking new single, “Verbal Assassin” taken from his forthcoming debut album on Rubicon beat. This tune is a hard hitting Northern hip hop track, with a strong UK emphasis. The catchy chorus and crisp production by the beat butcher, along with a sinister circular synth refrain, underpins Spida Lee’s debut single.
Building up popular support in the north of England and supporting acts such as Skinnyman (who makes a cameo appearance on his new video) the progress made by Spida Lee from Huddersfield to national release is proof of his ability. Having featured in Invincible magazine and rewind magazine, the Rubicon Beat label and it’s artists are increasingly raising their profile. You can check out the label’s website – It’s a pretty funky website with good images and decent snippets of music from some of the labels artists.
Departure Lounge Volume 1
It’s been a long road, but its here at last! Here it is straight outta Nottingham. Over 18 months in the making, The Departure Lounge represents the sounds of the underground, floating through jazz, funk and electro beats, but all the while coming at you with a conscious Hip-Hop undertone. The album is a 14 track compilation CD with input from the likes of Karizma, Sophie Johnson-Hill and Lost Project. How could you possibly go wrong!!??
The style’s aimed at more of a live based soundscape and works in juxtaposition with the UK Duty Paid series of releases, showing the more chilled, laid back side to the labels identity. The Departure Lounge also represents Dealmaker Records as a whole, and provides a benchmark of where they’re at now as a label as well as reflect where they’ve come from. This album was released on the 24th April so it’s quite a newby and there are some great tracks on this bad boy.
This month’s sites and sounds:
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=49475212 This is the best Myspace profile I have seen yet. Full of videos and tunes you can listen to, perfect if you’re bored at work.
www.k7.com – Ok not strictly hip hop but there are some elements in there. Just good music all around, a brilliant label.
www.jonkennedy.co.uk – Some funky shit on some of his albums
www.trunkrecords.com/intro.shtml – Basic site but there’s some good tunes on there if you have a good look.
Right that’s it for me this time we’ll be back with another installment of great music very soon. Until then…
Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years… well, months. Whatever, the Mix is back and this time round I have a nice mixture of things for you all to check out. UK stuff, reggae laced hip hop, chill out stuff, the lot. First off I wanna big up my interviews with Akala and Ugly Duckling, which you should check out if you haven’t already. They’re all great guys and a podcast of the UD interview will be up on the site very shortly. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a new hip hop radio show!
The new Atmosphere video, for the single Say Hey There, was premiered recently and it is a belting video for an awesome track. With appearances from producer Ant and Ohio native Blueprint, you can’t really go wrong. It has a bunch of semi-naked women in it too, so pimp it by clicking right here.
Ok, on with the show:
Its Not A Rumour
www.akalamusic.com / www.myspace.com/akalamusic
From the moment the crunching intro of Stand Up kicks in, you know this is going to be a UK hip hop album that’s a little bit different. Akala is a bright new star who isn’t scared to mix things up a bit and he does it right from the off on his debut album. Guitar licks provide a fair slice of the output on this release and he raps with ease and precision over them all with clever and socially aware lyrical content.
But it’s not all social commentary on the album, Akala still has time to rinse lines like “I’m off the scale like Hampstead house prices” and other gems, as he tackles all sorts of issues and throws in some nice bragadocia for good measure. The stand out songs on the album might be obvious choices, but they are quality and I can’t help but big them up.
The Edge has a catchy guitar hook with a nice bouncy beat and the sublime vocals of Niara, Bullshit the brilliant single that got him the recognition he deserved with its forthright views and piano samples, Shakespeare with his fuzzing beat and sharp almost grime-like snare claps and This Is London, where he raps over a sample of London Calling. It’s not what you’d expect to hear on a hip hop album, but its to his credit that it doesn’t sound out of place at all. A wicked release.
The Borrowed Ladder
For a while now, Asaviour has been known as Jehst’s hype man, a good presence on stage but no-one really knew if he could transfer it onto a long player. His Savoir Faire EP was hot, but it only had a few tracks on it, so the mystery continued. Well let that question be answered with this release, because it’s a banger of epic proportions. The lead single, So Northern, which he produced himself and which features Braintax on the chorus is a chunky beat which its impossible not to bop to, as he shouts out his up north crew.
Jehst produced Bangers N Mash is another class joint as the low piano notes and busy throbbing beat gives the perfect canvas on which to let Asaviour loose. His distinctive voice blasts out brilliant dialogue with carefree abandon as he trades it with Micall Parknsun. My favourite track is another heavy track, Findaz Keepaz, which features Jehst as the two throw it back and forth over the dirtiest of beats and not once does Asaviour come across as the lesser MC.
He can mix it up as well though, as he raps over more chilled beats like the Evil Ed produced Field of Dreams, Ghost’s beat on Borrowed Ladder and Gameface which Asaviour laced himself. He’s even good enough to include a remix of Money In The Bank with Kyza and Yungun guesting. I knew Asaviour was good, but this is the biggest surprise hit of the year so far for me, he’s showed he’s not just a hype man, he’s part of the elite and he’s done it in style.
Alias & Tarsier
www.alias-anticon.com / www.myspace.com/aliasandtarsier
Alias has always been one of the most progressive and musical members of the Anticon clan, and his teaming up with vocalist Rona Rapadas [Tarsier] has taken him to yet another level of musicality. But whilst other Anticon members [Jel aside] move further and further leftfield at the expense of melody, Alias’ floating atmospherics always draw the listener in for Tariser’s beautifully vocals move you into a twilight state of mind.
In fact, Tarsier’s vocals are sometimes reminiscent of Bjork’s, when the Icelandic phenomenon was being less brazen and more sombre. Her perfectly soothing singing is juxtaposed with Alias’ fast paced delivery on Last Nail and is a prime example of how their differing styles blend so well over whichever beat Alias has cooked up.
Even the nasal vocals of Dose One, which usually force me to skip a track [or entire album] can’t take away from the staccato canvas painted by Alias on Luck And Fear and the mood changes up for the end of the album with the final couple of tracks, Picking The Same Lock and Ligaya chilling out a little and moving to the more orthodox hip hop stylings that Alias brought us on his solo work. You want to kick back on a Sunday evening and let it all wash over you? Stick this on your stereo.
Bongos, Bleeps & Basslines [Single]
The people over at Ninja Tune have done it again and released a belting single courtesy of ZeroDB with a little vocal help from Pase Rock [of Five Deez fame] on the flip side’s Know What I’m Saying. Rocking the shuffling drums and tinkling pianos, the double bass kicks its way over brass samples as the undeniably booty-shaking fuzz gets to work.
The A side is a more jazzy affair but also has shuffling drums, some nice cymbal work and a head splitting bassline. The vocals ask “Are you swinging? Are you swaying?” and after 30 seconds of this track, if the answer is no, you must be deaf. If this is anything to go by, the album will be awesome.
So we all know Killa Kela is nuts when he’s kicking his beatbox antics on the mic, but can he cut it on the singing tip well enough to be taken seriously as a singer? Secrets, his new single, gives us a positive answer. The strings pluck and wind themselves around his high voice and compliment it perfectly. The chorus is one of those choruses that you’ll be singing whilst making yourself a cuppa a few hours later.
Kela’s singing voice isn’t what you might expect if you’ve only heard his beatbox but it doesn’t sound out of place at all and he even finds time to rinse out a little human turntablism just to bring in his more famous talent. The single features remixes from Wiley and Adam Freeland which bring in a bit of grime and more dance club feel to the track. Good stuff indeed.
Matisyahu is getting a load of press at the moment, being unique in his background and music. A Hasidic Jew, he’s moulded his own form of reggae, bringing in elements of hip hop to get his spiritual message across. Now, I’ve never been a fan of reggae, but Matisyahu has that something extra about him, and this single, taken from the album with the same name is a perfect example.
Rolling drums and a really uplifting melody with liquid guitars, the singer sends out a message to the youth of the world that they can make a difference if they grasp what’s in front of them and be pro-active. A great message and a brilliant song, this one is going to be on fire in the next few months.
Right, as always before I leave I’m gonna pimp some street art your way. This is something that was done in New Zealand where a shadow of a tree was painted next to a lampost to raise awareness of the environment, done by the Auckland Regional Council. Nice to see the council actually promoting and using street art as opposed to the usual close-mindedness we get from painting over graffiti and stickers.
That’s it from me for the time being, I hope you dig what you’re heard from this page, and remember to always drop me an email if there’s something you particularly like or want more info on. I’m happy to help out any way I can. If you want to send me anything, then hit me up also and we can sort something out. The address to get in touch with me is firstname.lastname@example.org so get typing!