Hold tight this might be a long one.
This album right here is a serious affair. In the last few months I have seen few releases heralded as much as Philli and Dotz debut release, the cleverly titled Phil n The Dotz. Such is the high quality nature of this album it made me wonder something – what is it that differentiates ‘underground’ and ‘mainstream’ hip hop releases. A person unfamiliar with either might suggest the quality of recording. They might suggest the talent or ability of the artist. They might suggest the presentation of the album as a product. They may even suggest the artistic value of the music. Here lies the conundrum. Phil n The Dotz completely rubbishes these proposed differences with one of the most accomplished releases it’s been my pleasure to be aware of. That I think is really the thing of it that separates the two perceived worlds of hip hop, the attention it gets. If Philli and Dotz were all over the media I have zero doubts of the success they would have. So I urge you all who read this to buy this album and show it to everyone you know. Obviously there are more of this calibre than just this album, but for me it dances with brilliance and shows the level of quality that can be achieved in a scene marked as ‘underground’.
When I first heard of Philli and Dotz my reaction was not one that would lead me to think this would be the debut outcome of the pairing. Given that at the time I’d only just heard of Dotz through battling I wasn’t quite certain how he would fit with such a seasoned veteran of UKHH in Si Philli of the legendary PhiLifeCypher. At the time I’d not even heard music form Dotz. Then I heard Training For Battle Rap, one of their first released tracks that appears on the album. Listening to it and seeing the video for the first time it was wholly apparent that not only could Dotz hold up next to Philli but that the two of them formed a very, very cohesive outfit and I knew that were capable of making some great music.
However these two guys got to the point of deciding to rap together be it luck, coincidence, mutual friends or deals with satan it was indeed a significant occurrence to the scene. They’ve created an album bursting with crazy flows, original concepts, boss level features and some very varied production. “We need everything fucking loud” screams Dotz on the intro track, and this is good advice to the listener as bumping this loud is essential. The energy that seamlessly weaves back and forth between these dudes is undeniable. The way they write off of each other is so natural, showcased perfectly on the track Travel The Globe in which they act like a tag team going scheme for scheme, starting a bar to fit the end of the others last bar, all the while holding a brilliant ‘places of the world’ concept.
Every single song on Phil n The Dotz is killer. I could happily list an essays worth of bars to illustrate this but that would sell short the fluidity of the whole thing.
Let’s be honest here, Si Philli is one of the most regarded artists this country has produced. Yep I said it. PhiLife were brilliant a great loss to ears everywhere. He absolutely goes in on every one of these tracks (apart from one as they each have a solo track) and it’s clear he has done some of his best writing, cementing his stature with personality and individual style. The way his flow sounds stuttered but clear sometimes is crazy, it’s like it just pours out of him without the need of breath. There are sure to be listeners who are new to him that will continue to add to the the loyal fan base he has built up, and they come at a time where he has released something really quite different whilst still keeping his identity.
It’s fair to say there were probably a few jealous rappers when they heard Philli had teamed up with Dotz. A man who a lot of people would’ve heard of through don’t flop. With far less reputation around him the need to step up was obvious, and he jumped up at it with cockiness and snarling ability. With this album under his belt he has for sure graffed his name on the wall of names. Rapidly gaining momentum he doesn’t disappoint on Phil n The Dotz, with each verse drawing you in and making you pull that face that non hip hop heads don’t understand. Bars and flow to match most artists his self belief is evident, and a belief that is shared by a fast growing number of fans including some of your favourite rappers. With a brash and sometimes fierce style it’s pretty hard to ignore Dotz.
Sometimes features on an album can make or break it. With the list of names on here they could’ve reached too far and been owned on their own shit. This is not even close to being the case and in fact only confirms the ability of both Philli and Dotz. Let’s not fuck about now you’ve got Klashnekof, Black Twang, Verb T, Wordsmiff, Phoenix Da Icefire, Flo (who’s e.p with Flotz is also excellent) and Leaf Dog. Now you might understand the threat of self destruction in having this kind of list of amazing artists on your album, but each one adds to the track they feature on rather than eclipsing it, and they solidify the album as a certain contender for album of the year.
Then there’s the production which is drool worthy from names like Passion HiFi, Richy Spitz, Pete Cannon, Bad Habitz, Cystic and Leaf Dog. With a range of styles and levels of complexity, the beats try to steal the show here. When you boom this album out you will not be able to remain still and calm, you will unavoidably skank out. I’ve been given looks on the bus for going off whilst listening to it on headphones. A musical landscape that will inspire a lot of new producers for sure, who aim to replicate the level of class this selection of some of the finest beat makers has set.
If you’re still with me now then this album is for you. It’s for the people who truly love the craft of hip hop. It keeps the ideals we have about this music, but it also represents a move forward. Philli and Dotz have given us something that is head bangable, quotable, innovative and most importantly very very enjoyable. Me personally I know I’ll consider this one of the top albums for a long time and hope to hear a lot more from these two in the future. Don’t miss out, buy this now and support the artists. If you bootleg this, you are a complete prick