Verbals by A to the L
FatLip – Here Comes The Lip (Delicious Vinyl)
Whenever you mention Fatlip, the word Pharcyde is never far behind. Despite the fact that he jumped out the group to go for dolo several years ago, its still his work as a member of that crazy collective that always seems to crop up first when he’s mentioned. Lets get this straightened out though – Fatlip is an ill emcee in his own right, nonchalantly spitting witty punchlines and off the wall words at ease, on both the lazy paced title track, and the hard-edged, soft-chorused ‘Story Of Us’ B-side. In fact, ‘Here Comes The Lip’ sounds almost like a freestyle, with Lip coming off with crazy rhymes thoughout, as the beat crawls along in the background. A competent return to the spotlight for Mr Lip, and a nice indicator as to how good his forthcoming longplayer “The Loneliest Punk” will be.
RATING: 7 / 10
Knoc-Turn’al – St8 West Coastin’ 2 (Elektra)
A follow up to the album cut, this one features Xzibit and Warren G on the mic help outs. The beat remains the same – an uptempo Dre circa 2002 track, ie. one looped beat, a guitar sample floating in and out, with synths dripping all over the track. Now isn’t the time to debate Dre’s increasingly lazy production techniques, so lets just say that the beat ain’t the best he’s ever knocked out, but it ain’t as tired as Mary J’s ‘Family Affair’. Lyrically Knoc-turnal is competent on the mic, outrhyming Warren G (admittedly not the hardest thing to do)… but ultimately its Mr X to tha Z who owns the track. The other main track on here, the remix to ‘Get Away’ is a slow paced ode to friends and homies, which has its heart in the right place, but which suffers from a fairly run of the mill beat. Sandwiched either side of this track are a couple of “freestyle” tracks featuring Knoc spitting over instrumentals from Busta and State Property amongst others. They ain’t bad at all. West Coast fans might be interested in this, but overall its one that many heads may pass on.
RATING: 5 / 10
Wan-C – Grey Skies (Prodigal Son Ent.)
A debut release for North London emcee Wan-C on new Prodigal Son imprint, this one is already getting major major play on several radio stations in the big smoke. Its not hard to see why – the lyrics are, to use a cliche, keeping it real. Wan-C speaks on the violence occurring daily in N15, referencing how things have transformed to the point where arguments are constantly settled with guns (“I remember being 14 and bottling niggas, 10 years past and kids have changed the bottles for triggers”), and where youths are blasting 2pac and DMX and trying to live up to the violent imagery that those artists spit on wax. Another excellent UK release, and one which deserves to be in your collection, especially since all bases are covered on the music side – you get a mellow-ish r’n’b influenced mix, a more ominous street mix, and if you really want to torture yourself, a horrible drum and bass mix. Buy it for the Hiphop though – its bloody amazing.
RATING: 8.5 / 10
Ramjac – Ramjac 001 (Ramjac)
More evidence of Hiphop’s global reach comes from Swedish producer Ramjac – this 4 cut EP has been well received in his homeland and has made it across to the UK to be stocked by Bongo’s, and Rough Trade amongst others. Cut number one, ‘Touchdown’ features a cat called Shortfuse on the mic, and he spits some fairly nice lyrics (though in a fairly monotone style) over a very hard beat. There’s an element of James Brown in here too, and the whole things rests easily on a rubbery bassline. A nice starter. Following this is an extremely chilled out nu-soul type cut, ‘Monday Girl’, from Natalie Gardiner. Again the bassline is in full effect, but the hard raps are left on the shelf this time, in favour of Gardiner’s soothing vocals. Its dope dope “afterparty” music. You know what I mean. ‘Back To Back’ has a real live instrumentation feel, although the reliance on the same bouncy synth as the backbone of the cuts is starting to become a little repetitive. This time the emceeing comes from Minkhai and Iron Grip, and is a little more livelier than the previous Hiphop cut. Rounding things off, ‘Action Is Go’ is almost a producers’ attempt at a freestyle, and unfortunately it doesn’t quite come off, resulting in little more than a mess of stabbing bass keys, slaps, and kicks. All in all though its an interesting debut – there’s definitely talent there, although a few more varied examples would’ve been a little more helpful.
RATING: 6.5 / 10
Concise – Fame (Double Up Music)
Canada’s roster of hot emcees continues to swell. Concise has certainly paid dues, with his back catalogue containing impressive work with the Rascalz and Swollen Members. Still only 22 years old, his ‘Fame’ debut shows evidence of a long and fruitful career ahead. Its a smoking slab of self-produced Hiphop, featuring cuts from DJ Revolution over a sparkling Premier-inspired beat heavy with horns, and dripping with funk. The flip side, ‘Night Life’ features Concise trading rhymes with his partner Checkmate over a beat that, although a little more mellow in construction, still manages to squeeze in another lovely little horn break. And what of the man himself? Well Concise sounds uncannily like OC bang in the middle of his ‘Times Up’ era. Heads in the know, will realise that this can only be a good thing. This is how Hiphop should be.
RATING: 9 / 10
Richocet Klashnekoff – Zero (Kemet Ent)
Look past the cheesy moniker and you’ll soon discover that Hackney resident RK’s ‘Zero’ is a fabulous attempt to bring back Hiphop with a major injection of boom-bap. Produced by Lewis Parker, it conjurs up images of Hiphop music around ’94, when beats where bass heavy, snares snapped violently, and the only way that emcees could spit over such momentous tracks was to almost scream their lyrics. Think MOP, think Double XX Posse… then add RK to the list. The delivery is high octane for sure, but despite the debt it obviously owes to this style of Hiphop, it doesn’t sound dated. The B-side ‘Our Time’ is a lot more chilled out – again its Lewis Parker on the boards, but this time the track is built around a funky bass guitar groove, and a series of ascending / descending synths. Subject matter is as hardcore as ever though with RK calling out Sir Paul Condon (go google him) by name (“Cunt”) – its filled with references that’ll hit home with UK heads, but may fly over the heads of those in other places. But who gives a fuck – its cool to see UK cats making records FOR UK cats.
RATING: 8 / 10