Verbals by A to the L
Josh Martinez – Rumble Pie EP (Low Pressure Records)
Straight out of his normal position in left-field, Mr Martinez according to the press release for this, is trying “to shed the hippy image” that’s followed him around. Sorry Josh, but this EP isn’t gonna help shift it. This EP is kooky… its strange… the emceeing is totally off the wall… the beats sound like they were jacked from a 70’s porno flick. ‘Rip Rap’ is a 100-mile-an-hour romp over a set of funky guitar licks that will certainly take you by surprise – its as far from 2002 Hiphop as you can get. ‘Nightmares’ (a 2-parter of sorts) is a return to fairly “normal” Hiphop landscapes, with a simple beat-snare combo combining with a mournful piano loop on part 1, before changing halfway through. Producer Sichuan still keeps the mood sombre though with another sad little piano routine on this beat. Josh doesn’t let this hold him back though, continuing with his motormouth rhyming style throughout, and actually bouncing back off the beats perfectly. ‘The Deep End’ is a little bland to begin with, especially after the maniac styles displayed on the last couple of tracks, but improves with by way of a trippy hypnotic chorus to keep interest levels from falling too far. Next cut ‘Women (Loving Women)’ is very Beck-esque – there’s a definite indie rock-meets-country-meets-Hiphop vibe going on here, and to be honest it really doesn’t appeal to me. Again though, there’s an interesting chorus that does make the ears prick up again, before it slides back into dull territory. The B side gives you instrumentals of those first 3 tracks, plus a cut called ‘Outlook’ which is a bit of a rambler to be honest. If you can look past the anti-Hiphop vibe this gives off, then you may enjoy it – the first couple of tracks are certainly worth returning to.
RATING: 5 / 10

The Masters – Unprecedented (New Realm Records)
The Masters are a three man crew featuring brothers Keezo and Average on the mic, and DJ Kwestion on the DJing and production tip. Their debut joint ‘Unprecedented’ also features Chops from the Moutain Brothers dropping a verse over some laidback radio-friendly beats that still maintain a hard edge. On the flipside, don’t be fooled by the mellow piano intro of ‘And It’s On’. Once the Redman-fuelled hook drops, accompanied by a heavy boom-bap, its over. Chuck Treece, former bassist with the Roots pops up to help out on mic duties here too. ‘Keystone Cops’ is a similar contruction, built around an piano loop that’s a distant cousin to the one on Mobb Deep’s ‘Drop A Gem On Em’. Another addictive scratched chorus from DJ Kwestion incorporates samples from Krs-One, Jeru, and Prodigy, and tops things off nicely. Definitely a crew to watch.
RATING: 8 / 10

Single Minded Pros & J.U.I.C.E. – Session 1 (SMP)
Single Minded Pros are a Chicago based two man production team, who are definitely earning respect on the underground scene. The two members, DJ Rude One and Doc West sent me this, their debut single, with their new 12″ (see below). I’m glad they did, because up until now I was totally ignorant to this, and its one of the dopest joints I’ve heard for a while – basically their plan is to hook up some dope beats, and then get some equally dope emcees to come in and bless the tracks. ‘Session 1’ features freestyle legend J.U.I.C.E. on two tracks. ‘Dumb Hot’ is just disgusting… heavy rugged beats, a lovely scratch chorus, and the J man ripping the mic to pieces. ‘It’s All About Me’ meanwhile is a little faster and is built around an addictive Big L imprinted chorus. Both represent everything that’s good about Hiphop… dirty beats, grimy rhymes, and recognition of the DJ on the cut. What more do you want?
RATING: 9 / 10

Single Minded Pros & Pacewon/Profound – Session 2 (SMP)
Part two of the SMP’s installment is the new ‘Session 2’ 12″, which picks up where ‘Session 1’ left off. This time around ‘You Know Its Like That’ features the Outsidaz’ Pacewon on mic duties. Beatwise its a little plainer than the previous 12″, but this only serves to focus attention on Pacewon’s lyrical prowess, as he spits crazily over the bumps. Again, an inspired selection of cuts on the chorus helps to top things off, with instantly recognisable phrases from Biggie and Nas being added to the mix for extra flavour. The flipside, ‘How That Sound’ has Profound on the mic as Rude 1 and Doc West again come correct with the production, keeping things simple and letting Profound’s lyrics take centre stage. It’s a successful tactic, as both emcees on these joints would perhaps have been overshadowed by the type of track they threw down for J.U.I.C.E. on the previous 12″. There’s also a bonus cut on here called ‘Who’s Fuckin’ With This?’ which features C-Rayz Walz, Breez Evahflowin’ & J.U.I.C.E. (again!) spitting absolute flames over an extremely sick beat. Truth be told, it actually blows the other two cuts out of the water, and makes this release a necessity.
RATING: 8.5 / 10

Mad Ro – White Neighborhood (Noc On Wood)
Straight outta Boise, Idaho… yup I’m not lying. OK, so maybe its not your normal Hiphop hotbed, but these cats mean business, having opened for Ja-Rule and Wu-Tang amongst others at recent live shows. ‘White Neighborhoods’ is an in-depth look at ghetto living, from the lighter shaded side of the fence, and is extremely interesting for this fact alone. The production makes it an equally enjoyable experience, although instantly draws comparisons to Muggs produced projects like House Of Pain, and Cypress Hill. Nevertheless, its a solid piece of work, and once which might be worth a little interest.
RATING: 6.5 / 10

Nocturnal Rage – Miss Mary Jane (Noc On Wood)
These cats are getting a lot of good looks from cats like Davey D, Nasty Nes, and Daddy-O due to their tactics of using a live band in their performances to add to the funk breaks they use in their music. Their debut single is an ode to every emcee’s favourite girlfriend, and is very much geared towards listeners who like their rap music with a west coast flavour. Its a straight up G-Funk affair – very laidback, with a little bit of bump, and a catchy sing-song chorus. Its far from being boring, but perhaps doesn’t possess quite enough of a kick to make it stick out in the memory.
RATING: 5.5 / 10

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