Well, there have been a lot of artists and record labels putting in a load of work to get their new 12″ singles, albums and CD’s out on the market this month. We have a shed load of things to wet your appetite for my 12th month at Crossfire. (Happy Birthday Kris! – Z-Ed)
For those of you that haven’t quite got your heads on, that’s one whole year I’ve been at Crossfire already! We are starting with one that I’ve been waiting for since the last album came out in November 2001…..Yes, you guessed it!
BRAINTAX – Panorama
This one is soon to be released on Lowlife Records…. on the 23rd of October in fact. “Panorama” takes a widespread and extensive look at the world including cultures, politics, and the hip hop scene on a whole. This album attempts to make us take a step out of our usual dreary seats, think outside the box and give us a different focus. “Panorama” definitely hits on subject matters that are not often found within the realms of a hip hop cd. “The Grip Again” has detailed views on the world and environmental concerns, while “Anti-Grey” ft. Dubbledge investigates race issues and home affairs. Interludes between tracks include harrowing speeches from journalist Robert Fisk and George Galloway that act as a great accompaniment to the view of the rest of the album.
Anti war, pro multiculturalism, a somewhat left wing political view, anti Thatcherism. How could you possibly go wrong? You can go out and buy the double A sided new single “Run the Yards/Last Tenner” right now. It was released on the 2nd of October. It’s a good sniff of what’s to come. If you buy it from the Lowlife website you will receive a 12″ signed by Joey Brains himself!
FOREIGN BEGGARS – Stray Point Agenda
Voted best group and winners of best single at the Lyric Pad Hip Hop Awards 2005, Foreign Beggars, if you have been missing for the past few years and somehow don’t know, are a 5 man crew that comprises of rappers Orifice Vulgatron and Metropolis, DJ Nonames, Beat Boxer Shlomo and Producer Dag Nabbit.
This album is another banger that you can already buy from the Dented Records website on vinyl or cd. As usual, there are some great tracks on this one. “Confessions of a…” is one that stands out for me. There is some nice word play and top flows throughout this track. “Stray Point Agenda” brings in the recently released “Slow Broiled Ilk” which also includes “Let Go“, two tunes that I have been playing out for a few months now. I’ve just been waiting for this bad boy to arrive on my doorstep. I’ve found that it’s perfect for those funky bars that people tend to love to go to. And lets be honest those types of bars have the hottest girls in them. So DJs! Get to work and share another spot on album from the Beggars with everyone else!
MANAGE – Live In Protest
This album was sent to me as a surprise. I don’t know who sent it or where it came from but it definitely did impress me. This album was released on the 1st of September so everyone out there can get their grubby little hands on it now. “Live in Protest” has quite a dark feel to it; you can often hear the sounds of an eerie organ throughout a number of the tunes. The entire album has been produced by Chemo. Chemo has worked with some of the most talented artists in both Britain and America; Kyza, Yungun, Verb T, Jehst, Kool G Rap, Rass Kass…….The list goes on and on.
The flows that Manage spits are powerful and can leave you knocked back into your seat at the worst of times. The album is also enhanced with some knock out artists and some quirky little samples that we all know and love. You can have a sample listen to this album at the myspace website written above. So check it out and go buy it. Its £5 for the cd and £7.50 for the double album. What a bargin!
MOLE & IRIS – An Introduction
There is some dope artwork from delarge, dope production from evil sun, 184, biji, cuth, ido, steve clear, and iris, dope cuts from g-petz and daps, dope guests including, well, Mole and Iris… All in all its a good little introduction to the type of music they make but they say that they know its not perfect but any feedback would be appreciated… I think that they are under cutting themselves a bit; this is a good introduction album.
They have that definitive Brighton sound to them, which I must add, that I really like. I first heard of Mole & Iris on the 2005 Brighton Hip Hop Festival CD with a track called “Inheritance” a nice chilled tune with largely intelligent lyrics and a subject matter that makes a good observation of problems that have arisen from past events in society. Pretty damn good really. If you like your Dr Syntax, Elemental or Koaste then grab yourselves a copy of this. You can get a copy for £3 if you go here and drop them a line. Alternatively, if you buy your stuff from Suspect Packages they are sending this out with any orders that you make while they last.
LOW BUDGET SOUL – Strangers to the Ordinary
Ok, this CD doesn’t quite fit my usual remit but you people out there need to know about tunes that not only I like, otherwise we wouldn’t get anywhere would we. I’ve been sent a bit of info on this CD so I tell you what I know about them. Lead vocals are supplied by Randolph Matthews who has sent his talents to a whole host of projects over the past few years including NSM, TY & Gum Drop. His smooth delivery really does compliments the rough edged, sample led beats of producer Tris “ol English” Browne whose off the wall and yet soulful creations draw comparison to the music of Madlib, the late J-Dilla and Pete Rock.
So there you have it! These people have worked with some other amazing artists that are world renowned. This shows how good they really are. This CD is one for sitting at home with the ladies, cracking open the wine and turning the lights down low. Unless of course, you like the type of girl that likes happy hardcore blasting out on a week night.
Already receiving huge support worldwide from Giles Peterson, Patrick Forge, Mad Mats, Dirk Rumpff, Giant Step…..I just feel like im name dropping here! Nevertheless, “Low Budget Soul” are staking their claim for notoriety as a classic future soul act.
BLACK GRASS – Oh Jah ft. Marnyah [Single]
(Cat Skills Records)
This is a continuation of releases from the Black Grass album A Hundred Days in One. Following the success of the single “Don’t Leave me This Way” Black Grass have decided to drop this heavy track right on top of your heads, “Oh Jah“!
This track gives a feel of happy summer days with a funky reggae vibe to it. Featuring rising reggae MC Jah Mamyah on the vocals, this tune has a catchy hook and has all of the attributes of any good times classic. Mex’s up tempo beats, a heavy bass line and some harmonious trumpet action help to emphasize Jah’s top quality lyrics. There are a few remixes on the single courtesy of The Nextmen and Mr Trick. Also included on the single is “Lucha Contra De La Injustica” Which you could find on my myspace page a couple of weeks ago. Every so often I put some good tracks on there so take a look. www.myspace.com/krisdrew Add me if you wish, nothing wrong with a bit of networking. Anyway, Great tune!
That’s that from me, Kris Drew, this month, on to a couple of new additions to the Mix before Abjekt’s look at the world of music.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – Eye Of The Tiger Vol 1
(True Tiger Recordings)
I know this Mix CD has been out for a while, but trust me it’s one of the strongest records on road in a while. This record focuses on the Scandalous Unlimited crew but there are loads of cameos by some of Grime’s biggest names. These guys slowly leaked hit after hit on the airwaves and clubs creating a whole lot of hype and a demand before the product was finished. Main man on the buttons, Stanza, lost his hearing just weeks before the deadline, so things got delayed a little but this only served as more anticipation for the debut stormer, Eye Of The Tiger Volume 1.
The Scandalous Unlimited crew counts the talent of conscious lyricist Purple, amazing vocalist Ny, quick spitter Ghetto, crooner Shyam and pushing buttons is Wretch 32. Add to this incredible line-up the talent of Wiley (who was cornered in Copenhagen and dropped his bars in one day – Boom!), Bearman, Aftershock crew, Skepta, Virus Syndicate, L Dot Man, Doctor, Plan B, Bruza and more, and you know this CD is heavy!
To drop a few of the hits that blew up on the radio and in the raves are Ny’s Fire, Wiley’s unstoppable WD25 Freestyle, Purple’s provocative Blowin’ Up, Doctor and Bearman juggling funny rhymes for Let It Go and Purple, Plan B and Doctor killing the mad samples of Broken Wings.
Basically Eye Of The Tiger Volume 1 can get played from start to finish, and then repeated over and over without trouble. It’s sick to see the quality Stanza and the True Tiger camp managed to produce out of a garden shed in Watford. Since this dropped, no Mix CDs have come close. Expect to see Volume 2 drop soon.
ESKIBOY [WILEY] – Da 2nd Phaze
(Boy Better Know Records)
Wiley is the Godfather of Grime- a UK musical genre that mixes garage MCing with twisted Hip-Hop beats. It’s pretty unique, and if you’ve got your ear to the street, then you know the yoot are loving it more than the mainstream American rap tunes, and Eskiboy over here is holding down the fort at Top-Spitter.
Basically, the Grime game is a rough one because the competitiveness between MCs and their crews can go beyond the simple battle rap, even though physical violence is not a good look and hinders the artists getting shows booked etc. Da 2nd Phaze is Wiley’s second album after a good few years hiatus from his debut Tredding on thin ice (2004). Released as a mixtape of sorts, Wiley has produced an album that is chock full of street anthems. From the controversial number one hit on road Gangsterz, the raving favourite Eskiboy, to the Rza-esque production of Story Weather, passing through the emotional melody of Mystery Girl, it’s all here and banging.
Wiley is a real busy guy, and after having a daughter and turning 27, the ‘E3 boy’ has decided to step it up a knotch. This second album really is the signal for a second phase of sorts, with Grimes Godfather signing on Big Dada Records and several new mixtapes hitting the streets as we speak (Tunnel Vission, Crossfire Vol.1, Flame Grilled Whopper Vol.1…).
LUPE FIASCO – Food And Liquor
Fresh out the windy city of Chicago, Lupe Fiasco has gained recognition from some of Hip Hop’s greatest connoisseurs, including Sir Jay-Z himself. Understandably so as debut ‘Food and Liquor’ stands tall against any recent competition. Chilled and tight production provides a sly undertone to the witty, fresh lyricism, notable on single “Kick, Push“, a song dedicated by the man himself to good ol’ wood pushing. Crossing the divide between rap and skateboarding has been an often attempted, yet unfortunately often miserably failed scenario.
Lupe pulls it off with class, resulting in a slick beat and a catchy hook with not the slightest odour of fromage, well, maybe just a little. Plus, the guy deserves props for looking dapper as fuck while doing it. While the album lacks a certain stand out track that defines the album, songs like ‘Daydreamin” and ‘I Gotcha’ come close, but why have one stand out song, when you can have a whole album of smooth, toe-tapping grooves that could make you smile like a Cheshire cat? ‘Food and Liquor’ is an album worthy of your coins and iPod capacity, check out the album artwork inside too! Dope! With the like’s of Kanye, Lupe and Pharrel being major heads in the hip hop industry these days, hopefully some similar artists will start to emerge and fuel our passion for cleverly written rhymes over a jazzy score. Geek rap has never looked so cool.
What’s shakin’ you lot? This month has been a quality one for me, getting to see Kid Koala, Jay Z, People Under The Stairs and Stone’s Throw live, with Jehst and Edan lined up in the coming weeks. I’ve also had a lovely amount of CDs in and as always I’ll share it with you fine upstanding citizens. But this is only for the sexy people!
SURREAL & DJ BALANCE – Future Classic
(Hip Hop IS Music)
I might start sounding like a broken record if Braille’s new label keeps putting out brilliant music, but that’s something I’m happy to do, so long as I have this soundtrack behind me. Florida’s Surreal is a rapper who I’ve heard on various guest spots, but this is a chance for him to really come out on his own steam and DJ Balance’s cuts certainly stand up well underneath the flows.
Hip Hop IS Music make a point of keeping hip hop true and making sure the producers have equal footing on the tracklisting on the back cover. So even before listening, I saw the likes of Ohmega Watts, Tony Stone and The Sound Providers listed as some of the beatmakers for this album, and I was already excited. So, what does the record sound like? In a word: Awesome.
The deep horn thrusted amongst the liquid guitar on Car And A Job compliments Surreal’s raps perfectly and is followed soon after by the bluesy instrumental by DJ Balanace on One Man Band. The one producer who I didn’t know before this album but who has made me find out more is Vintage, who provides the beats for The Proof, a brass infused beat and my favourite track on the album, Permanent Ink which features Sivion and Braille.
This is a jazzy album with great beats and great lyrics. Can’t really say much better than that can you? Get online and buy it.
JUGGAKNOTS – Use Your Confusion
The Juggaknots are finally back and there won’t be too many people more excited about this than me. After about 10 years since releases, brothers Buddy Slim and Breeze Brewin have added their sister Queen Herawin to the mix and are still coming with the freshness that made them stand out so much on Clear Blue Skies.
The beats go from nice and chilled in Hey to bouncing and party-vibed on Leon Phelps to bleepingly grimy on Strip Joint. All three MCs have their own style and Queen Herawin’s raw sounded vocals really give it another edge to what the Juggaknots put out there. Guest producer Oh No gives a couple of beats to the album, one of which, Vows, sees Slick Rick up on the mic too in a nice addition to the vocal talents already on show.
In short, if you dug the Juggaknots before, then make sure you pimp this album because they’re back and they’re just as good as they ever were.
STONE’S THROW – Chrome Children
Stone’s Throw have become the staple of jazz-infused hip hop and have built up a deserved reputation of a great label in the ten years they’ve been around. Peanut Butter Wolf’s label is celebrating its ten year anniversary with this release, which showcases the talent available to you. Oh No opens it up in fluid fashion on Oh Zone and the hardcore sound of Guilty Simpson follows up, showing the variations on the label.
Madlib, arguably the most famous of all the label’s roster, drops Take It Back, a typically off-kilter buzzer with his so-laid-back-its-horizontal delivery and the legendary J Dilla appears with his Nothing Like This, a short but swirlingly brilliant track. MF Doom’s vocals on Madvillain return with Monkey Suite, and Quasimoto teams up with Percee P on Raw Heat and it really is as raw and stripped down as you can get, whilst remaining as hype as possible.
Beat Junkie J Rocc delivers his usual hype material and label boss Peanut Butter Wolf pops his head into the mix with his remix of Baron Zen’s Turned Around, with a grimey slice of production. This album also comes with a DVD which features a full length concert of Madvillain. They’ve produced some awesome shit over the last 10 years and this album proves there’s a hell of a lot more to come.
FOUR TET – Remixes
Four tet can stand on his own as a quality musician and provide brilliant soundscapes for people to immerse themselves in. But this release doesn’t just feature the obvious talents of Kieran Hebden, it gives you a two disc selection of remixes. On the first disc, the disc that I have, you’ll get the remixes he’s done of other people’s work and with the list providing names like Radiohead, Madvillain, Bonobo, Aphex Twin, Beth Orton and Bloc Party, you know you’re in for a varied ride.
And that’s what sets this album apart from other similar ideas. Hebden has managed to collect a selection of remixes that all sound completely different and individual. Instead of giving all the tracks he’s worked on a certain sound, he’s moved from bleeping hip hop to lo-fi to synthy pop and he does it all with effortless precision.
The second disc, which I unfortunately don’t have a copy of, gives a collection of every remix done of his own work by other people, which includes remixes by Boom Bip and the late, great, J Dilla. Even without hearing it, I know it’ll be worth getting because of the calibre of remixers on the record. Make sure you check this out, you can’t go wrong.
TY – Closer
Ty has always flowed along neatly with catchy hooks and laid back style and he’s back with another quality release, Closer. The first track, Don’t Watch That, is a great track about rumours that circulate about him, with him dismissing the idea that he’s loaded or always posing, with some great sharp snares and guitar strums. With a staccato melody hopping over a low funky bassline, Everybody shows Ty has another string to his bow and he switches it up again on The Idea, which features De La Soul.
When I saw Zion I were guesting on the album, I’ll admit I got excited. And when the fuzzy beat drops over a chorus of “Oh”s, the head of yours truly was snapping all over the place. Ty asks “What kind of world do we live in? Some of us are just shedding tears for a living” and providing a voice against the rappers who rap about material things. It might not be an original idea but it’s certainly delivered well.
Ty is not going to be on the list of the greatest rappers ever, but what he does, he does well. He’s chilled, he’s insightful and he knocks out some quality beats. So if you’re a fan of his earlier stuff, you’ll love this!
VARIOUS ARTISTS – Finger Lickin’ Thang 4
The Finger Lickin’ label has won best label at the Breakspoll awards 4 times, and with that sort of reputation in your locker, you know that a mix series brought out by the label is going to be quality. The opening track, by the Finger Lickin’ Allstars, 2 Da Break, is as funky as you can get and if this was played whilst you’re on the dancefloor, you’d be all over it.
Trouble! By Soul Of Man featuring The Ragga Twins is just the sort of track you’d want to be breaking out the moves to at the Notting Hill Carnival, with its infectious and rowdy beat and Soul Of Man bring the heavy basslines again with their bumping Mylodowndirty. If you wanna pump up the jam, get this. I could use the pun that it’s finger lickin’ good, but I’m too cool for all that… right?
SQUAREPUSHER – Hello Everything
Now, I’m going to admit, Squarepusher really isn’t my thing. It’s a bit too all over the place for my liking, but I thought I’d give his new record a try anyway just to see if I was all wrong about him. Whilst it is still all bit busy for me in most parts of this new album, which is Tom Jenkinson’s tenth, there are some nice parts in, such as the chilled out second half of Bubble Life, which comes as a welcome relief to the fast paced bass solo that kicks in. The drum and bass stylings of The Modern Bass Guitar is a standout track too, as I like a bit of DnB in moderation.
So, whilst this isn’t an album I think is all that great, I’m sure it will appeal to his fans, of whom the Neptunes, Thom Yorke, Flea and Andre 3000 are a few, as it is typical Squarepusher madness.
GHOST F. ABSTRACT RUDE – Basic Instinct (Single)
Ghost is one of the most highly regarded producers in the country right now and this track will only serve to cement this position. The track, which features American emcee Abstract Rude [check him out on Basement Records] is a nice smooth track with a great sounding wind section floating on the beat. It’s a chilled track from the album Seldom Seen Often Heard and is a definite late night jam.
The single also features some remixes, one by Ghost himself which is another jazzy affair and a Natural Self remix which has some neat guitar work and funky vibe to it. You’ll also get a second track, Round Trip, an instrumental which showcases Ghost’s handiwork which is another chilled track, with flutes and pianos working around some great drums. Make sure you pick this up.
This month’s art section is going to be a big “we are not worthy” to Flying Fortress, who have plastered their bears all over the place, and also done the “Don’t Copy Me” campaign. Always coming with the freshness, their designs can be manipulated by artists the world over. So when you get two of my personal favourites working together, how can you go wrong with a D*Face Fortress bear? You can’t. Now get on your knees and worship motherfuckers, because this is word to your MUM.
That’s your lot for this month, but make sure you hit me up with emails, even if you’re gonna slag me off and tell me 50 Cent knocks bells out of what I listen to. Keep your eyes peeled on Crossfire for other hip hop, be it live reviews or buzz charters. Until next time, keep it chill.