Artist: Lewis Parker
Album: Its All Happening Now
Label: Virgin / Melankolic
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
With his critically acclaimed debut “Masquerades and Silhouettes” in 1998, Lewis Parker firmly established himself as one of the names to watch in the talented inner circle of UK Hiphop. Over the past few years he has solidified his position as one of British rap’s premier emcees with a series of tour sets with labelmates Massive Attack, and tracks with his crew Champions Of Nature. Now with the release of his second album, Mr Parker is ready to take shit to the next level…
Things certainly start brightly enough with the hard drums and cheesey female “ooo-wee-ooo’s” of ‘Intro To The Sky’ and swirling strings and chimes of lead single ‘Incognito’ both providing Parker with an ideal audio platform to drop his lazily confident flow over the top. Of course the addition of the scratched Lord Finesse hook on the latter track can only make me appreciate this all the more. The more uptempo ‘City Expanse’ still retains the edge to the drums, but this time the track is laced with urgent synths and a sprinkle of xylophones, as Parker drops tales from the Big Smoke. The comparison with classic Gang Starr tracks has to be made here, as this sounds like it would fit comfortably onto “Moment Of Truth” or “Hard To Earn”, and noone would bat an eyelid.
There’s a marked change in the centre of the album, with the uptempo urgings of the opening series of tracks being replaced with a sequence of cuts that although still keeping the ruffness in the beats, also sound a little more mellow, a little less angry. ‘What The Ancients Say’ in particular catches the attention with its jazzy piano loop and addictive female crooning perfectly complimenting Parker’s mic mastery, with sparkling results. Elsewhere in this little series of tracks, Mr P’s love for digging in the crates sparks a smile, as he describes situations that many heads will be familiar with on ‘Mum’s The Word’, over a tropical acoustic guitar break.
Of course it goes without saying that Lewis’ Champions Of Nature crew come through to represent. Man of the moment Jehst pops up twice – first on the J-Zone-esque ‘Communications’, then on the mean and moody ‘Cold Sun’ where he and Parker team up with the equally adept Profound with devastating results, and finally on ‘Seasons Of Espionage’ where he steals the show from Parker and Supa T with effortless ease. Profound and Supa T also pop up elsewhere, with Supa T’s team up with Parker on ‘Movement And Rhythm’ standing out for its simple but effective ascending/descending jazz bassline. Other guests on the album include Apollo, A-Cyde, and the impressive Klashnekoff who gets down with Parker on the title track over a heavily chopped up Star Wars theme and rock hard drums.
At 24 tracks, some may feel at first glance that this is too long, but ignore them – they obviously haven’t heard the album yet. Its an incredibly strong follow up to an already impressive debut, with Lewis Parker showing an incredible talent for both his microphone duties and for his work behind the boards. A heavy, heavy release, and one which should certainly elbow its way to the front of your shopping list. Once again, UK Hiphop proves it can hang with the big boys.