Verbals by A to the L
Loop Troop – Fly Away (Burning Heart )
The lead single from this Swedish crew’s 2nd album “The Struggle Continues” is a supremely jazzy affair which breaks down the trials and tribulations of life on the road as a successful Hiphop artist – living out of a suitcase, flitting from hotel to hotel, catching flight after flight – it ain’t all glamourous ya know. Embee’s production here features fine layers of muted trumpets, tinkling piano keys, and sassy female vocals, while Cosmic and Promoe sound decidely more American than European, though that aint necessarily a bad thing. If the rest of the LP sounds like this then you could be in for a treat.
RATING: 8 / 10

The Blak Prophetz – With FX (Fatt Jointz)
What would the word do without DJ Premier? His template for putting together a hot joint has seen many attempt to copy his blueprint and fail to pull it off – fortunately New York-but-based-in-London duo Blak Prophetz haven’t added to the number. On the title track, amid a collage of throaty female vocals, chopped KRS snippets, and a snare heavy beat, Sure Shot and Willie B represent lovely – coming off an with in-your-face mixture of rhymes and attitude that owes no small debt to Freddie Foxxx. The flipside, ‘Maddest Style’ sees an even more Primo-by-numbers steelo on displayed – the beat, the cuts and chops on the hook… it all smacks of the Gang Starr DJ’s signature. Rather than looking on this as BITING Primo’s style though, you should look on this as building and adding to a successful formula. And then you should go pick it up, cos its off the chain.
RATING: 9 / 10

Time Machine – Personal Ads (Glow In The Dark Records)
WHEN are these guys gonna a drop an album?!? Following up the superb ‘A Million And One Things To Do / Reststop Sweetheart’ 12″, the Providence quartet of emcees Jaysonic and Comel, and producers Mekalek and Stoerok manage to even outdo the quality of their debut with the tongue in cheek humour of ‘Personal Ads’. Similar in beats, rhyme styles, and overall attitude to the much underrated Ugly Duckling, Time Machine help to bring a smile back to the face of Hiphop with their ode to picking up chicks through the small ads. One of the catchiet choruses you’ll hear this year laid over the top of drums reminiscent of Tribe’s ‘Oh My God’ make this a instant winner. The B-side, features ‘Who Needs A Mic?’ which is built around an understated jazzy vibe a la Lou Donaldson, with a shuffly percussion break intertwined with a buttery horn break and a cut up Slick Rick sample, and a swirling remix of ‘Reststop Sweetheart’ which adds a different (but equally dope) flavour to the original’s ingredients. Fantastic stuff – track this down.
RATING: 9.5 / 10

Task Force – Fugs R Us (Low Life Records)
This is strange. Task Force in almost MOP mode with a start/stop stutterer that is an almost complete departure from anything they’ve done before. This Farma G/ Mic Skilligan-produced joint is heavy on the strings, and high on threatening content, with Farma, Chester P and guest MC Kashmere ice grilling you in audio format. Despite the evil intent with the distinct UK spin (“watch ya looking at – we snatch ya granny’s bag”) and the definite head nodderingness of the beat, the whole thing just confuses a little too much. Its so un-Task Force. Luckily the flip ‘Tears On My Pillowcase’ sees Farma and Chester slip back into normal style, and over a brooding piano filled beat, they take a verse each and both DESTROY the microphone. This for me is the true A-side. Oh and the cuts from 2002 UK DMC champion Skully just top it off perfectly. Worth the entrance fee for the B-side alone.
RATING: 8 / 10

Shadowless Presents Defesis & Infinite Livez (Big Dada)
A follow up of sorts to the recent “Extra Yard” compilation. Two of the Gamma squad’s Shadowless crew step up to the plate, with Defesis taking the A-side with the bouncement vibes of ‘Earthtime.’Lyrically, Defesis is quite impressive, flowing confidently over the beat, and dropping some nice little gems. Unfortunately the beat is a little sterile, and ultimately detracts from the overall enjoyment of his flow. The chorus is fucking horrible too. The B-side sees Infinite Livez go for his on ‘Emceeme.’ The beat here is a much more bouncy affair, and the eager Livez impresses with his enthusiastic spitstyle. His debut album is due out in the summer of 2003, and on this evidence should be an interesting package. UK heads may find this worth a look, but those abroad may struggle to find the appeal.
RATING: 6 / 10

People Under The Stairs – Acid Raindrops (Om Records)
Another release from PUTS’ excellent long player “OST”, ‘Acid Raindrops’ sees Thes One’s self-produced beat acting as the perfect mellow midtempo beat for he and guest Camel to vibe over. With tongue-in-cheek shots at the commercial side of the game – “wear ice to this, pop ya collar to this” – this is a lazily efficient 4 minutes or so of funk. The flipside has another two joints from the album (though only one is in its original form) – ‘Montego Slay’ is unchanged with its laidback bassline driving the song on from start to finish, but ‘Hang Loose’ has had a few minor tweaks (as far as I can see) with the addition of some nice horns and a funky guitar lick giving it a “sampled-from-the-Meters” feel. It still captures the old school vibe of the original though. If you STILL haven’t checked for PUTS, then this is a good place to start.
RATING: 8 / 10

TTC – De Pauvres Riches (Big Dada)
The lunatics are back! I was mightily impressed with this cut from TTC’s debut, “Ceci N’est Pas Un Disque” earlier this year. Obviously these guys were too, and as well as releasing it as a single went back into the studio and stuck some a revocal over the Detroit Grand Pubah’s remix that’s also on here. Unfortunately its not a patch on the original’s slapstick cartoon vibe, as it sucks all fun right out of the track and replaces it with cold almost techno-ish beats. The three other remixes on here aren’t much better either – with Diplo’s remix full of plodding blips and bleeps, Tacteel’s effort a little more Hiphop in theme, but with an unfortunate Def Jux-ness about it, and Octet’s contribution a faster little thumper, that only piques the interest because it pisses all over the two previous efforts. None of these remixes come close to the dopeness of the original, and its only because IT is on here that the mark is as high as it is. Go buy the album instead.
RATING: 5 / 10

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