REVIEW: Word Lab 2

Word Lab 2

Artist: Various

Album: Word Lab 2

Label: Wordplay

Rating: 8.5 / 10

Reviewer: A to the L

The first “Wordlab” compilation dropped last year, and by all accounts, was one of THE top releases in UK Hiphop. Since the release of the first album, the hiphop scenario in the UK has changed – Mark B and Blade have blown up radio stations with their ‘Don’t See The Signs Track’, and the accompanying MBAB album got some great reviews. “Wordlab 2” has a lot to live up to – but Wordplay clearly know this, as the track listing runs like a who’s who of the current UK Hiphop scene – as well as the already mentioned Mark B and Blade, there’s tracks from Taskforce, Ty and Shortee Blitz, and DJ Plus One. Artists like Estelle, Scorsayzee and Champions Of Nature carry the flag for the newcomers. So without further ado… lets see what this is about…

1) Braintax & Mystro – Free The Walls
Braintax, Leeds based founder of Lowlife Records, gets down on this bouncy beat with West London newcomer Mystro. The beat is definitely a grower – I could see myself throwing this on in a club. The two emcees compliment each other well, on what is basically a chance for them to spit braggadocio rhymes, with a UK twist – “I combine with the beat, fuck the doubters, Go and buy Shyne with your Virgin vouchers.” Classic.

2) Scorsayzee – We Don’t Care
More laid back this one, but Scorsayzee (from the Outdaville Crew) attacks the mic right from the off – “My verses are like knives slicing you wide open, You was a kid in school known for smelling of lice lotion.” Again, basically a straight up bragging track, but this is another one I couldn’t skip over.

3) Extremists & Skeme – Fire Blaze
Quite a simple dub type beat with a horn and siren flying in and out of the mix. Extremists and Skeme blow this up though – football references (real football – not the US fancy dress type) throughout – half the Brazilian national team get namechecked. Lyrics are sick on this track. Check this – “I’m flash rap, turn my gap cap to the back, and overlap this track with lyrical contact.”

4) Champions Of Nature – Salsa Smurf
The Champions Of Nature are Apollo, Jehst, Lewis Parker, Profound, Supa T, L Dolo, AM and they first met up in 95. I’m only really familiar with Lewis Parker and Supa T though. Another kinda laid back vibe to this track – and this is the first one I’m not really feeling. The chorus isnt up to much either – ‘Salsa Smurf’ being repeated over and over through a vocoder. Its not a BAD track – maybe I’ve just been spoiled by the three that came before it.

5) Taskforce – Its Us We’re Back
This is pure sickness. The beat is so simple – a basic jazz loop. Taskforce consists of Chester P and Farma G – two emcees who are widely respected in UK hiphop circles. Its not hard to see why from this. Both emcees merge with the beat perfectly – this is a classic. Its so hard to describe how perfect this is – you need to hear it. “Taskforce stay nasty, like girl who wants sex with a dirty punani.” True indeed.

6) Estelle – Hands Up
Fresh from her appearance on the Skitz “Countryman” LP, Estelle gets down on another Skitz track. Lots of different elements make up the track… but at the end of it all Estelle hasn’t come better than above-average. Again, a track that isn’t BAD – but one which is maybe overshadowed by the other bangers on the album.

7) Styly Cee Feat. Karizma & Midnyte – All Stylz Anthem
The intro on this reminded me of KMD’s “Mr Hood”. And then the beat kicked in and my mouth dropped open. All Stylz production style on this rivals DJ Premier. Yes THE DJ Premier. The beats, the cuts, the scratches all owe something to the Gang Starr supremo, but once again, the UK stamp is all over this. The rhymes are a bit simplistic though, but to be honest I ain’t caring. The beat is beautiful.

8) Mark B & Blade – Ya Don’t See The Signs (Phi Life Cypher Remix)
The remix of the track that blew up the UK charts. Most UK heads will have heard this already, while US heads will probably still be like “Mark who?” Its a shame these guys can’t get a push in the States cos at the minute they’re carrying the torch for UK hiphop and getting a lot of recognition over here. The track, by the way, is hot – rumbling basslines and echoing horns create a kinda dark mood, while Blade, Life, and Si Philly rip the mic.

9) Richocet Klashnekoff – Dago Mentality
This new London artist gets down in a ragga style. The beat is almost Wu-Tang like, and I even heard a “36 Chambers” reference in there. Another strong track.

10) DJ Plus One & Killa Kela are the Proservas
Scratch Pervert affiliate DJ Plus One and human beatbox Kela (Rahzel who?!) collaborate to provide one of the stranger moments of the LP. Kela provides the beatbox sounds while Plus One cuts up little phrases. There’s no lyrical content as such – its more like a cut from a turntablist album. Cool, if you’re into that type of thing, but to be honest, it goes on a little too long. Would have been a cool interlude, but its a little too much of the same thing to make it a full track.

11) Karl Hinds Feat. Blak Twang & Seannie T – Don Gramma (Remix)
The UK answer to Big L’s ‘Ebonics’. The remix is totally changed from the orginal with a lot of electro-type blips echoing over the beats. Newcomer Seannie T despite being in such illustrious company, still gets down and rips a cool verse. Dope.

12) Skillion Grimes – Hot Gal
Orchestral intro with a heavy bassline, introduces the more ragga tinged lyrics from Skillion Grimes. A kinda dull track though. The emcee doesn’t really seem to have much enthusiasm on this.

13) Ty & Shortee Blitz – I Can’t Hear You
Following his critically acclaimed album “Awkward”, Ty reunites with ace DJ colleague Shortee Blitz to get down over this nice guitar loop. Shortee Blitz even does his best Pete-Rock-DJ-On-The-Mic impression and holds up pretty well. Another dope cut.

So thats the runthrough. Overall, this is a very very good album. The only real let downs were the DJ Plus One track and the Skillion Grimes track. The rest more than make up for this though, and so its gotta be recommended that you pick this up if you can. Wordplay have done it again…

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