We’re back with another installment of your favourite hip hop reviewing rollercoaster. I always talk about the weather in my introduction and I’m not going to change because until every single day is sunny and I can wear shorts to work every day, I’m going to bitch about the crap weather. It rained on me today, now tell me, what good can come of that?
Anyway, fresh off the back of seeing El-P demolish Dingwalls with one of the most exhilirating performances I’ve ever seen, Brother Ali do his thing at YoYos and TTC bring the French flair to the Scala, I’ve had some belting records to review this month and some not so good ones. So, onwards!
RECORD OF THE MONTH:
MARK RONSON – Version
Mark Ronson is going to release the biggest crossover album of the year, there’s absolutely no doubt about it. He has already made a name for himself with Ooh Wee and is currently storming it by producing Amy Winehouse’s surprisingly good album, but it is all just a foil for his new album, which features his own re-working of both classic and modern tracks.
Teaser track Toxic, a superbly streetwise cover of Britney’s best song, featuring the never-delicate-but-always-awesome ODB [remember, you can’t spell Bob Dylan without ODB!] was the perfect way to get people interest, though his cover of Just was obviously good enough to do that anyway. And currently single Stop Me, featuring his Allido protégée Daniel Merriweather is Stax-like maze of horns and typically Ronson-y drums.
Whether you’re listening to Lily Allen’s widegirl vocals of Oh My God, Amy Winehouse’s sultry tones on The Zutons’ Valerie or the instrumental explosion of God Put A Smile Upon Your Face [trust me, it’s a hell of a lot better without Chris Martin all over it], you’re going to find something to sing along to, dance to and enjoy yourself to. But the standout track for me, aside Ronson’s own interludes [if you like Snoopy, check out Inversion], is the jazzed up cover of Apply Some Pressure with Paul Smith singing over a remix of his own track.
This album is going to please everyone, from pop lover to indie kids, hip hoppers to parents, and it’s going to be a huge one. Make sure you’re part of the tidal wave that is Mark Ronson. He’s about to hit your ears like a Tsunami of epic proportions.
DJ KENTARO – Enter
When you’ve annihilated the world of turntablism, getting the DMC title with the best score in history, where do you go next? Do you whore out your skills on the decks and milk that dry or do you go on to produce a majestic album full of experimentation? Thankfully DJ Kentaro has chosen the latter, and Enter proves that he’s equally adept at production as he is on the turntables.
From the opening track, Enter The Newground, his scratching and worldly rhythms mesh together perfectly before following on into Keep On, a track featuring The Pharcyde which booms in with some deep piano rolls, pacy cymbals and hectic drums before once again Kentaro’s skillfull fingers do their thing. The single, reviewed in the last Mix, Free featuring MC Spank Rock is a buzzing club hit whilst stand out track Rainy Day, with New Flesh, delivers some bass dub which is currently knocking the burberry off the pikeys making trouble on the corner of the road, as I type this.
But don’t worry if you want to hear some of that award winning scratching, because One Hand Blizzard will feed your appetite and having you reaching for a bib as his cuts smash up the airwaves over the Japanese soundscapes underlying the ever changing beat. For the sake of your health, buy this record. It’s the SHIT.
TIMBALAND – Shock Value
Timbaland is the producer of the moment in rap and rightly so. Rather than dredging out the same old beat over and over like The Neptunes do to constant misplaced acclaim, Timbo pursues new endeavours and constantly lays down beats that the rap game copies 6 months down the line. So with his tunes currently knocking the charts down with Nelly Furtado and Justin, his album was surely going to be a big player.
All good on paper, with the eclectic line up of guests showing his willingness to experiment, like bringing in The Hives, M.I.A., She Wants Revenge, Elton John and Fallout Boy. But as we know, it’s the music that makes an album, not the paperwork and, unfortunately for Timbaland, this album doesn’t live up to the hype. The single Give It To Me featuring Miss Furtado and Mr Timberlake is a good ‘un, but it falls down big time, not least because it stretches to 19 tracks.
Timbaland gets points for effort, but it just feels as though he was more concerned with showing his sphere of influence, getting in varied guests that actually penning decent songs. Keri Hilson brings in some nice vocals on the tracks she’s featured on, but it just doesn’t do it for me. Which probably means it’ll do great in the charts.
DJ FOOD & DK – Now, Listen Again
Six years after their original mix tape, Now, Listen, DJ Food & DK are back showcasing their brilliant ability to bring together music from all over the place and form a coherent, fun mix. What kind of different music are we talking? How about mixing up Rakim with the Human League? Maybe a little New Order with New Flesh’s two step rhythms? Or even giving Roots Manuva a little DnB remix courtesy of Qemists?
Not only do they pick some absolutely stonking [yes, you heard me, stonking] tracks to throw into the melting pot, like Black Betty, Dans Le Club, Tarantula and more, but they are able to change the entire vibe of the album throughout without ever sounding contrived or glitchy. Starting off with hip hop, moving through rock and ending with drum n bass isn’t easy, but they do it seamlessly and if you are looking for a mix to put on before a night out, this is definitely one for you.
DEEKLINE & WIZARD – Deekline & Wizard Live
The tagline reads “from Brixton to Brisbane” and, being a blatantly proud South Londoner, I wanted to see if they did my manor justice. However, having listened to it, I’m not really sure they have. With Skibadee on the opening tracks, I was immediately transported back to the late 90s as if I were in Ayia Napa listening to garage, which ain’t what I want to be hearing when I’m lounging on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Throwing in Stanton Warrior’s Get ‘Em High featuring Sway and a track featuring Rodney P could have been their saving grace, but the dance-based vibe of the tracks meant that you couldn’t get away from the same sounding beat throughout the album. From Brixton to Boring would’ve been a better tagline on this record.
REDMAN – Put It Down [single]
Redman is back with this new single, taken from his upcoming album Red Gone Wild. Put It Down is produced by the man of the moment Timbaland and the fuzzy backdrop certainly smacks of Timbo’s beat making. However, as pumping as the beat may be, it’s pretty monotonous and doesn’t ever really go anywhere.
Apparently there was a high buzz when the anime-inspired artwork for the album leaked onto the internet. This doesn’t really surprise me because after hearing this single, where Redman seems to be doing an impression of Ludacris from 3 years ago, the artwork must be more interesting than the music.
FLOSSTRADAMUS – Act A Fool [Single]
(My Space Exclusive)
Let’s get it straight from the very start – on its own, Zombie Nation might sound shit. Especially when its played at Palace on a Saturday afternoon in a vain attempt to get us to pretend our season still has a purpose. And then we get onto Crunk, which basically sounds a bit naff unless you’re in a club with speakers the size of a small country vibrating your brain from pillar to post.
So how comes Flosstradamus‘ mash up of the two is fucking great? Well, maybe that’s something no-one will ever be able to answer, but basically the long and short of it is that this is a track that shouldn’t work, but really, really does. From Lil Jon and Three 6 Mafia giving it the “YAYUH” to the Zombie Nation bassline pounding behind the vocals, this is something that you’d love to hear in a club. You just won’t admit it.
Flosstradamus recently blasted the shit out of Cargo on the Catch An Attitude tour with A-Trak, Craze and Kid Sister and when you hear this and imagine it amplified a million times, you’ll understand just why they went down so well.
They also persuaded me I should buy a trillby. No, seriously, I’m gonna.
BLUE SCHOLARS – North By Northwest [Single]
Seattle’s Blue Scholars previous two records, their self titled album and the Long March EP set up forward thinking lyricist, Geologic and an adept beatmaker Sabzi as a group to look out for on the hip hop scene. With their summery tunes, they gathered critical acclaim from all over and finally took the step up by signing to the newly risen Rawkus alongside the much hyped Kidz In The Hall.
This track, North By Northwest, is taken from their forthcoming album Bayani and showcases all that is great about the duo. From the swaying brass through the heavy snare claps to Geologic’s bigging up of his home territory, this is a track that you’re going to be hitting the replay button on time and again.
“Two Scholars rock fresh” he says as the unrelenting tunes marches on and after hearing this four and a half minute blast of feel good hip hop, you’d be one hell of a fool to disagree. Bayani should make waves this year if this song is anything to go by, so keep those ears ready for more.
This month’s art comes from Eboy, who are a collective that specialise in high end pixel art.
Their pixelated versions of cities all over the world are absolutely brilliant, showing the city’s big sights as well as mixing it up with little characters getting up to all sorts in the nooks and crannies.
Here is Eboy’s London, the best city in the world. Have it.
So, that’s it for now, but there is always more where that came from. If you want to send me in your record, then please hit me up on the email address below. The summertime is coming, so let’s get those shades on, pasty white legs out, and our collective grooves on!
Until next time, peace.