Album: Body Armour
Label: Northbridge Records
Rating: 8 / 10
Reviewer: Wasteland Drifter
There aren €™t many Hip-Hop albums expelled from England €™s rectum (better known as Doncaster) and there are many good reasons for that. Not since the days of Honky €™s €˜The Whistler €™ has anyone from Doncaster made a serious attempt at making a name for themselves on the UK Hip Hop scene, now it €™s Eighteen18 €™s turn.
From the moment the haunting strings and distant vocals of the albums intro begin to the build up of a dramatic crescendo of drums and vicious vocals, the tone is set for the rest of the onslaught you €™re about to experience.
€˜Ashtray Blues €™ provides Lexis with the chance to let the listener know who they are listening to via references to their long time existence on the scene ( €˜You €™ve been in fan clubs, I €™ve been in major crews €™), self-confidence in a confrontational style ( €˜Lexis boogie banger, Yorkshire street slanger / Butt naked in Brixton with a sign saying €˜Fuck your manor! €™ : €™), British self-deprecation ( €˜I €™m a walking disaster, I €™m LL Cool J when he put out €˜Walking With A Panther €™ : €™), along with glimpses of ign €™ant lyrics ( €˜A fucking slag like Kat Slater / Break the bitch and save her sisters for later €™.)
Throughout “Body Armour”, Lexis manages to vocally walk over the tracks with an arrogant swagger which is only exposed as a partial front when listening deeper to the content of what he €™s saying. This is an MC who €™s been lurking in the shadows of the UK scene for years. Learning his craft, occasionally recording, and now confidently standing tall ready to unleash his vision onto the world. He €™s able to rip you a new arsehole in one verse then expose emotions and talk about life events a lot of MC €™s wouldn €™t dare go near in the next.
All of that is done over the superb collage of sound which Adee provides.
Including many elements of what is good about modern UK music (with the notable exception of the shoe gazer, backward thinking of Indie rock) Adee couldn €™t have made this any better.
Sounding at times like an aggressive Roots Manuva (most notably on €˜Firefly €™ with it €™s reggae tinged bass line and sonics and €˜These Knives Are Words €™ with its heavy bass and drums passed through a reverb filter) whilst at other times using everything that once made the Chemical Brothers enjoyable, regurgitating it adding his own twist (see the excellently titled €˜You Bum For Smack €™.) Not everyone will find it enjoyable as it €™s not Hip Hop in its easily recognisable format and that will no doubt lead to some detractors. (no elitism)
The €˜Lex and Jehst skit €™, delves into the eighteen18 archives to show €˜Boogaloobuggedout €™ wasn €™t a chance meeting with one of the UK €™s brightest stars.
Using snippets of the €™95 freestyle €˜Won Time 4 Your Diluted Mind €™, €˜Deviance €™ from Fools I View €™s €˜Doldrums EP €™ and €˜Art Imitating Life €™ from Jehst €™s debut EP €˜Premonitions €™, this provides a brief history lesson before going into what should be a UK club banger, €˜Boogaloobuggedout €™.
Also on the club tip is €˜Dirty Sex Bastard €™ which could and should challenge most US club joints this year both for it €™s highly charged beat but also it €™s ign €™ant lyrics €“ €˜I like your calves on my shoulders / Getting off while I watch you lick your boulders :Writing Dear John letters on your knickers with your lipstick / Writing my name on your titties with my jizz stick €™ – J-Zone would be proud.
The only low points are the title track and €˜Carol Patricia Kilner €™.
The latter is not a low point as such, it €™s just it €™s an intensely personal track and those tend to be hard to listen to no matter who performs them. That said it is well executed and no doubt therapeutic for its author but it feels like you €™ve found Lexis €™ secret diary and are guiltily reading the entries about his relationship with his mother.
‘Body Armour’ on the other hand, well : While lyrically competent (although veering into clichÃ© €™s at times) and musically good the problem centres around Lexis sounding out of place, kind of like he €™s been teleported from the bus station in Doncaster town centre on a cold winters day while talking to a girl and ended up on an idyllic tropical island beach, not quite sure how to deal with his new surroundings but continuing his speech.
€˜Ruths Song €™ provides a better example of an eighteen18 €˜ballad €™, despite it being about heartbreak and a failed relationship. Lexis manages to torment and tease his subject whilst still remaining to sound sincerely regretful about the outcome of the relationship.
These two tracks leave the listener questioning whether these events have created the €˜Dirty Sex Bastard €™ or as Lexis proclaims €˜Hear me crying like a bitch on Ruths Song / If you can hear me now you know why it went wrong €™ but that €™s something better suited for shrinks to ponder over than the €˜average €™ listener of this album who should just enjoy the ride. (no homo)
Due to not really fitting into any media created sub-genre this album will probably be €˜loved by crusty students like (their) name was Herbalizer €™ but should also be given a listen by anyone who enjoys the (roll out the clichÃ©) €˜diversity €™ that Hip Hop from the UK provides.