Yo, I’ve longed out my bro Nephilim too long on this write up, so let’s talk about his latest release ‘The Ben Reilly Tape’…
All I want to say is LEVELS, LEVELS and more LEVELS! From concept, beat selection, visuals, artwork and through to the final product Nephilim has really raised his game on this project.
Firstly, the concept and title ‘The Ben Reilly Tape’, now if you’re into Marvel you’ll get it. For everyone else I’ll try to simplify it for you. Ben Reilly is the Scarlet Spider, a clone of Peter Parker aka the original spidey, (I could confuse you more and talk about the third clone and The Red Team, but this is a Hip Hop review) you still with me???
Cool, I’ll continue… this leads nicely on to the artwork with the hooded figure again a reference to Ben Reilly and if you cop a CD on the inside is a quote from Ben Reilly “I thought that I was real, but I realised I was a clone. How could I continue to be, to be not me, in spite of still being me?
This quote gives us a big hint to the themes of being yourself ,fitting in, not conforming, belonging and what’s real and what’s not, you are about to hear in this dope project from Nephilim. The whole concept of the album is perfectly demonstrated with the opening track ‘Gecko’, produced by Messiah Kaeto, that also came with a dope visual directed by Joe Charman that continues with the hooded figure theme. Check it here
What impressed me most about the album is the range of flows and more intricate rhyme schemes Nephilim is introducing into his music. Take the track ‘Swift AA’ he switches up flows and brings it back down in a way that we perhaps may not have heard from him before, but something he now sounds comfortable doing. This track again came with a visual check it HERE
With sick production from Messiah Kaeto, Illternal Beats, GreenFingers,and Jmin. Man’s even got a beat of Genesis Elijah’s go to producer Pastor Dutchie and not many artists in the UK can claim that with one of my favourite tracks on the album ‘Bespoke’. The hook on the joint illustrates Nephilims mindset perfectly “If I can’t change I might as well rot away// And I’m not staking plots and I won’t drop my name// If I can’t prove I’m not 1+1 like you// And I’m not stuck like glue then I must not be cutting through”
Nephilim has done exactly that. I’ve been blessed to rep his music since the beginning of his Hip Hop journey, he’s prepared to adapt, evolve and not be pigeon-holed. With ‘The Ben Reilly Tape’ you get an air of confidence from Nephilims delivery of his bars, he’s always been a great songwriter, but you finally get the feeling that he feel’s that he belongs in this Hip Hop game and for me this release makes him fully fledged.
The album finishes in a great way with the track ‘Indebted’ a message to everyone who has supported him through life and music and the only track to have a feature. Nephilim is heavily influenced by other genres of music and the track features a long time hero of his, Dave McPherson of the indie band InMe, on the hook, which i know my bro is extremely gassed about.
I don’t enjoy reviewing to be honest, especially reviewing someone’s work who I consider family. So it may come across that I’m a bit biased and that could be true but I really hope Nephilim is proud of what he has produced with ‘The Ben Reilly Tape’.
You can digitally download ‘The Ben Reilly Tape’ below for just £4 OR for a whole extra £1 you can cop yourself a CD. You remember in the opening paragraph when I said “… through to the final product Nephilim has really raised his game on this project.” Well for £5 you’re not getting those standard card covers but a proper case just for a fiver. Go get your copy now here… https://nephilimuk.bandcamp.com/
After a break from releasing music our homie Mr Melta is back with new music. The East Anglian lyricist and Gully Goat Gang member Melta returns with his debut album `Half Past Yesterday’, produced entirely by long time collaborator and fellow Goat Twiggz.
In fact this project has been three years in the making and Melta is back with renewed energy as he gives us a look into the thoughts, struggles and influences that have shaped the recent years for Mr Melta. He touches on a number of topics some highly personal, some light hearted, some rowdy and drops some truth bombs on the joint ‘Andre Pop Maestro’ as he takes shots at the mainstream media and government.
Throughout the album Mr Melta demonstrates his versatility as an emcee, displaying a range of styles and flows with the ability to ride beats ranging from classic samples and moody rap to rowdy grime and up beat garage. Twiggz lays the audio canvas with a modern twist of head nodding bangers, to tracks leaving you wanting to skank out as Melta effortlessly lays down the lyrics.
This is a 11 track banger from Mr Melta and Twiggz with something for everyone to enjoy on it. I’ve skanked out all the way through it! It’s great to have Mr Melta back and ‘Half Past Yesterday’ either serves as the perfect introduction to this talented emcee, or a reintroduction where you will see Melta has upped his levels while he’s been away and is back with a bang.
Stream and download Mr Melta and Twiggz – ‘Half Past Yesterday’
YO! Stop do not pass by!! If you’re one of my non Hip Hop friends scrolling through thinking “not another Hip Hop post from Stix”, then stop what you’re doing and listen to this. Because it will take something on a masterpiece level to surpass Children of Zeus’ ‘Travel Light’ as album of the year.
Oozing with soul Children of Zeus are Manchester duo Konny Kon and Tyler Daley and they released their debut album ‘Travel Light’ back in July on First World Records. Having previously heard their music before, I Pre-ordered the vinyl and waited with anticipation for its arrival.
Jheeze, since it’s arrived ‘Travel Light’ has been on constant rotation on my phone, on the decks and every device I own. If you follow me on FB I’ve been banging on about this album all summer and it was this record that brought back the spark to start blogging again. I gotta be honest with you all it’s taken me this long to write it up because every time I tried to write it up I never thought my words were doing the music justice. So the best way to appreciate it, is to just listen to the dopeness.
I will say this however, when music provokes emotions, feelings and memories that shit right there is ART and that what ‘Travel Light’ is, musical art! Two tracks that really stand out on a real personal level for me are ‘Kintsugi’ produced by Beat Butcha and ‘Daddy’s Car’. Man, when I first heard ‘Daddy’s Car’, it bought tears to my eye. Any one that knows me well will understand why those tracks especially resonate with me so much.
But hey the album is a whole lot more than those two tracks. It’s been a long road leading to this album for Tyler Daley and Konny Kon. They first embarked on their expedition into the music game two decades back – Tyler entered the scene as a songwriter, producer and vocalist, originally under the moniker Hoodman, whilst Konny began MCing, DJing and beat-making for hip hop crews The Microdisiacs and Broke’n’£nglish, along with DRS & Strategy.
To date, Children of Zeus have released three sell-out singles on First Word (‘Still Standing’, ‘I Can’t Wait’ and ‘Slow Down’) and a compilation EP comprised of tracks made by the duo over the last decade entitled ‘The Story So Far…’. Children of Zeus are finally at the stage where they are releasing their debut album proper; the over-riding ethos of which is about keeping their eyes on the road ahead, whilst shedding the baggage they’ve accumulated over the years – ‘Travel Light’.
Features mainly come from Manny family; [ K S R ], LayFullStop, Metrodome (Levelz) and former Broke ’n’ £nglish spar DRS. Guest production comes in the form of Switzerland’s Sebb Bash, Nottingham’s Juga-Naut, and London’s Beat Butcha, and there’s your favourite DJ’s favourite DJ, Mr Thing, slicing up the turntables on two tracks too.
Enough words. Let the music do the talking…. Please stream, buy and share Children Of Zeus’ ‘Travel Light’ on all formats.
Our HHLAT brother Nephilim recently released this dope five track EP ‘Unassume’.
The EP has some killer features ranging from the vocal talents of Greg Blackman on the hook of the opening joint ‘So Tell Em’ to Flowtecs rough and rugged delivery on the sick track ‘Leamialown’ followed swiftly by Alex-Is and Nephilim gliding over the soundscape of ‘Special Move’. The EP features some dope beat selection from Nephilim and Production skillz from Anno Domini and Nephilim’s fellow Unit731 member JMIN.
My two favourite tracks on ‘Unassume’ are the two tracks with no features, the tracks that let us peer into the inner thoughts of Nephilim. I’m really feeling the flow over the dope JMIN production on the joint ‘Shabby’. However, I think at the time of writing ‘Fine Wine’ has got to be my favourite track on the EP it’s just everything that I love about Nephilim in one.
Nephilim – ‘Shabby’ (Produced by JMIN)
It’s been a pleasure watching from a distance Nephilim grow as an artist from the day he first hit me up with his release as part of the duo ThinkTank with SingerDread to the present day. With each release and live performance since, his song writing ability, delivery and flow has consistently bettered the previous releases and throughout his work there is a continuing theme of honesty, humility and inquisitiveness to himself and the world around him.
There are those out there that will say “Yeah but he’s your fam, part of the team” to that i would respond… A. Go fuck yourself and 2. I’m not the only one that thinks that. Nephilim has grown a steady, loyal fanbase any one who’s met him at a gig, talked with him via Social media will recognise the above attributes and tell you the same.
You can and should get Nephilim’s ‘Unassume EP’ on digital download below for just £3 and for just one extra Pound you can get the CD including posting…. are you crazy??? And if you can afford it why not give a little more! https://nephilimuk.bandcamp.com/
UK producer Configa unleashes his long awaited NEW album ‘Configaration Volume 1’, 16 tracks deep of music from the soul via Chuck D’s SLAMjamz International label.
I’ve been looking forward to this release and once I heard earlier this year that Configa had signed to Chuck’s label the anticipation grew. Hailing from Newcastle the dope producer is renowned for his raw, Golden Era sound and neck snapping beats, also the CEO of Configaration Records, as well as having a doctorate in Hip Hop and Ethnicity.
Configa describes his sound as “True-school”, now I know what he means by that, but I thought I’d ask the man himself to explain it in his own words rather than me getting things twisted. Configa says “True-school means that it can’t be classified as ‘old school’ OR contemporary. It’s not old, it’s not new. It’s true. It is about a feeling more than any image or sub-genre specifications. It’s music that maintains and represents its true spirit and essence. When I hear music today I don’t get a ‘feeling’, music should ALWAYS evoke some kind of visceral response. True-school is music free of any outside corruption, artists that can express themselves exactly how they desire without pandering to the latest fad.”
When Configa sent over the files and I started to download ‘Configaration Volume 1’ a big grin went from cheek to cheek as the track list and features began to reveal themselves….. the iconic Chuck D, Juice crew legend Craig G, Grand Surgeon and Spoonie Gee, Reks and an exclusive verse from the late, great Sean P (Rest In Power) just to mention a few. Now add to that mix heavyweight UK names such as Genesis Elijah, Si Phili, Serocee and Skriblah, accompanied by Dr Configa cooking up that flavour in the lab we have the recipe for dopeness.
Configa – ‘Configaration Volume 1’ Promo feat. Chuck D
‘Configaration Volume 1’ allows Configa to display his many attributes as a producer taking influences from latin music, reggae, guitar rifts, brass instrumentation and infusing it with his customary head nodding drums, the album is interspersed with a couple of instrumentals that keep the pace of the album going. Sometimes these kind of tracks can turn into throw away joints or ones that get skipped but the album really flows and keeps the pace going throughout the 57 minute duration, but what the album really oozes is SOUL and lots of it.
Perfectly demonstrated by the Craig G track ‘From The Soul’ and further reinforced with the truly dope joint ‘U Make My Day’ featuring the vocal talents of Sulpacio Jones. Remember earlier in the article when Configa said, “….music should ALWAYS evoke some kind of visceral response” this is the mantra the rest of ‘Configaration Volume 1’ holds true to and that’s exactly what I got from this track. Man, I had flashbacks to the early 90’s listening to this! Those of you old enough to remember the days of making our own mixtapes with our favourite joints on to cassettes and in amongst the hard hitting rhymes and beats would pop up a soulful R&B joint. Well, that’s what we exactly have here with this little gem of a track. Sulpacio Jones voice beautifully gliding over Configa’s uplifting keys and the dum dum dum of the Double Bass in the background had me reminiscing of dusty, warm, late summer evenings playing B-Ball on the courts.
That soulful joint flows nicely into ‘Pop Off’ where we get a reggae/dancehall vibe from Configa accompanied by the lyrical talents of UK veterans Si Phili and Serocee joined by Queens, NYC’s Corporal AK and our adopted Bajan brother Fdot1 also adds his Caribbean flavour to the track.
Another stand out track featuring some sick UK talent is ‘Mind Control’ The track originally featured on Configa and HaStyle’s dope 2016 LP release ‘Hastility (H1)’ and was a fan favourite. Configa has given it the UK remix treatment featuring a killer verse from one of my favourite UK emcees Genesis Elijah. Check it out here
But guess what? On the album release you get a super dope extra verse from East London emcee Skriblah as he kicks the joint off. Configa tells me that the only reason Skribz doesn’t appear in the above visual is they couldn’t get it shot in time.
The album also features an EXCLUSIVE and never before heard verse by the one and only Sean Price recorded just months before his untimely passing. This track contains a hypnotic, menacing, aggressive beat by Configa which the legendary Sean P, with the help of underground sensations Green Tank, ably assist. The video is carefully constructed by the creative genius of GuerillaPress, culminating in a sensational boxing backdrop of photo stills all blended together in an emphatically original and fitting way. Check it here
Configa – Make ‘Em Pay (ft. Sean Price & Green Tank)
Now, there’s a name I haven’t mentioned yet and that’s of a young Chicago emcee that appears on two tracks ‘What’s Your Story’ and closes out the album with ‘Be Like That’ and his name is John Vietnam (JVN). The tracks are posthumous releases as John is sadly no longer with us after he drowned whilst selflessly saving somebody else’s life in a lake. (If you type his name in our search bar you can learn more about him)
Configa says “What started out as an entry for a competition I ran in 2012 to win a place on my album (which John Vietnam won pretty unanimously via the panel) – quickly became something WAY more, due to JVN’s extremely untimely passing, very shortly after. This kid was set to blow, I knew it, and everyone who knew him, or of him, knew it. It’s just an honor to have his vocals bless my beat, bearing in mind what happened shortly afterwards.”
“Anyway, he was a great guy, and understood hip-hop as a CULTURE rather than as just some disposable trash. I’m a hip-hop academic, with a PhD, and this skinny teenager could hold his own with me in a debate – amazing! I just wish we had more 19 year old’s like him to carry the flame. Rest In Power – John Vietnam. Rapper, Poet, B-Boy, Scholar.” Configa added “So the stuff you’re hearing is me in the vaults, remixing, with the blessing of his family.”
As a blogger its easy to focus on the big names that draw in views, trust me they all deliver on the album. However, I felt it really important to shed some light on this talent that is no longer with us, especially as in no way are his lyrical talents overshadowed by the more familiar names that appear on ‘Configaration Volume 1’ and he deserves to be alongside such artists.
We live in a world where it’s a consume and throw away society. In the internet age producers post up beats in batches and sell them off at £30, £50 a beat, some cheaper. Don’t get me wrong I respect their hustle and there are some dope beat makers out there doing it that way. But with Configa, here you have a man who takes time with his craft, sculpts and moulds his soundscapes and carefully selects the artists he wants to work with and always keeps to the raw essence of Hip Hop. I often get angry at people who still try to say “Hip Hop is dead”….. REALLY??? Sorry guys you just ain’t looking in the right places because this album and the HHLAT inbox is testament that Hip Hop is alive and well.
On a personal, more selfish note, if i had one grumble it’s that the album is not going to be available on Vinyl or CD, but that’s just a minor thing. The best way I can sum the album up is…. you know when you’re really looking forward to something for a long time and it arrives, but often doesn’t live up to your expectations, well scrub that notion right now, not only has ‘Configaration Volume 1’ lived up to my expectations, it has exceeded them with this quality release.
‘Configaration Volume 1’ is OUT NOW on Slamjamz Records and available at all good digital retailers below. What you waiting for???? Go cop that dopeness!
‘Penis For The Day’ featuring Dubbledge & Dirty Dike is lifted from Dabbla’s sick debut album ‘Year Of The Monkey’ which was released back in September.
The LP features jaw dropping production from the likes of GhostTown, Tom Caruana, Star.One, Don Piper, Naive, Chemo & Sumgii as well as guest appearances from Dirty Dike, Ocean Wisdom, Jam Baxter, Dubbledge, Cobes & Graziella. Check our review of the album and all previous video releases HERE
On Friday 25th November, High Focus head honcho and highly respected UK emcee Fliptrix releases his 6th solo album ‘Patterns Of Escapism’. We were lucky enough to get an early copy from the good people at High Focus Records of this DOPE release, so i went to my go to reviewer at present Intuitive and it would appear ‘Dope’ is relevant to his review in more ways than one! Here’s what Intuitive had to say about the album……
So over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to keep myself on the straight and narrow.
Trying out veganism, joining a gym, quitting weed – you know the ones. Those resolutions you make to stop you from coming to the conclusion that your life is one empty, unstoppable train wreck, happening in slow motion. And I’ve been doing okay at it, as well. I haven’t been eating meat, I’ve been getting up early, but the weed… Well…
I was trying my hardest, but then Stix decided it was time for me to do another review. Another week of listening to brand-new UKHH bangers for me to assess. To keep my mind off of the ever-growing need for a zoot. And who does he give me?
Fliptrix. Of course it’s fucking Fliptrix.
So a week later here I am, big stinky zoot in hand, typing at my computer with eyes redder than an angry tomato, feeling at peace with the world. Fuck going to the gym. Fuck it.
Fliptrix has been one of my all-time favourite artists ever since I heard ‘Theory of Rhyme’ and he does anything but disappoint on his newest release, ‘Patterns of Escapism’. Entirely produced by Illinformed, it’s a 17-track experience – featuring some brilliant verses by names such as King Kashmere, Ocean Wisdom, Life MC, Verb T, Dabbla and the Four Owls. Many would argue, myself included, that Fliptrix has been instrumental in the development and success of the UK hip-hop scene so far, having spearheaded the legendary High Focus label that is now one of the biggest hip-hop labels in Europe, and also mentored and assisted countless UK artists who have gone on to big things such as Rag ’n’ Bone Man and Ocean Wisdom. Therefore this release and the artists who collaborated to create it are right at the forefront of where UKHH is going – helping to shape the scene’s sounds and influences in a groundbreaking fashion.
Characterised by wise words, thought-provoking concepts, greezy style and a strong underlying message of both peace and passion for music, Fliptrix has very sharply defined who he is and what he stands for over the last twelve years. As a result of this I have always felt his songs have two main ‘themes’ or ‘styles’ – one style where he is not attempting to send any specific message, but is going as hard as possible – and another where the beats are more contemplative and less neck-breaky, and he attempts to educate you rather than make you go nuts. This duality and versatility is one of the reasons Fliptrix is a unique artist and is also why he has such a loyal fanbase. After coming to this conclusion I decided to try and pick my favourite ‘go hard style’ tune and my favourite ‘send a message’ tune from this album. ‘One Time’ outstripped the other tunes as my favourite banger – packed full of punchy flows, witty lines and big boomin’ samples, for me, it’s Fliptrix at his finest. ‘Burn It’ featuring Ocean Wisdom definitely deserves a mention though as well – the beat is one of Illinformed’s best contributions for this release, the bounce that the track has is fantastic – and for anyone new to High Focus, listening to Ocean Wisdom’s feature on this tune will help you realise why High Focus stuck him on practically every one of their releases this year doing doubletime features. In terms of the more laid-back songs with a message to transmit, I felt as though ‘Spread Peace Around’ was a standout effort – I’ve felt for a while like Fliptrix’s ability at lyricism gets forgotten sometimes because he always has such great production. As an emcee myself I can see the care and thought that goes into songs like this – too often rappers leave a line that they’ve written that doesn’t really fit because it rhymes nicely. With songs like this however you can tell that there is a real, conscious effort to connect to the listener’s emotions and understanding of the world around them. Fliptrix himself said “The music I make is all about the depths of self-exploration and the heights of human consciousness.”
In conclusion, this album is absolutely fantastic. I cannot really fault it – it’s hard to try and find cracks in music that you consider to be better than your own. From the production, to the features, to Fliptrix’s own verses, message and style, the album is consistent in a way that can only come from making honest music and music that you truly believe in. This is Fliptrix’s 6th solo release, and so marks the 6th chapter in his extraordinary story and list of achievements. If I had to think of a criticism, I would say that Fliptrix and High Focus in general have positioned themselves to be ambassadors of the UK scene, and as such could collaborate wider within the scene with things like features and guest production. They do this already, don’t get me wrong – but as somebody who listens to every High Focus release (and I’m not the only one – their fanbase is steadily growing) I’d really like to see a wider range of artists on their albums. After all is said and done, however – I reckon I can probably forgive Fliptrix and ‘Patterns of Escapism’ for completely destroying my attempts to quit weed. It was worth it.
Fliptrix ‘Patterns Of Escapism’ is available digitally, on CD and Vinyl here
NEW VIDEO (Out Today) Fliptrix – ‘Smoke Lingers Always’ Feat. King Kashmere (Prod. Illinformed)
Fliptrix – The Poltergeist (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Fliptrix – Thunder Clouds (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
HF TV – Fliptrix (EXCLUSIVE BARS)
NOMINATED FOR BEST NEWCOMER URBAN MUSIC AWARDS
Despite having released 6 solo albums, 2 crew albums and over a decade in the game, it was revealed that Fliptrix has been nominated for the ‘Best Newcomer’ Award at the UK Urban Music Awards. The award ceremony is scheduled for the 26th of November(the day after the release of ‘Patterns Of Escapism’), it would be a real honor for a High Focus artist to pick up such a prestigious award. Please take one minute out of your day to vote for Fliptrix using the following link: HERE
On top of all this, High Focus also have the ‘Patterns Of Escapism’ Official Launch Party taking place at the infamous Brixton Jamm in South London on the 10th of December. Not Only will both Fliptrix and Illinformed be present performing a special album launch set, but legends such as Task Force will be in the building performing their first show together in London for over a decade, The Four Owls will also be swooping in as will Dabbla and new signings Strange U. Dont miss out on this event, its bound to be a night to remember! GET YOUR TICKETS HERE
Check the new visual that dropped over the weekend for the joint ‘Venom’ taken from Skrabl’s new album ‘The Emperors New Garms’ that dropped on Friday on True Unity Records. If you missed Adam’s review of the LP check it out HERE and you can cop the album here
Today marks the day that UK rapper Skrabl’s highly anticipated album ‘The Emperor’s New Garms’ drops. Adam was fortunate enough to be hit up with an early copy of this dope release. Here’s what Adam had to say about it…..
Skrabl comes with his new album ‘The Emperors New Garms’, produced by Oozhe. This album is SICK! End of review, send to Stix….. Nah lets actually get right into this because it’s worth some serious attention.
There are a few things that you can’t buy and a couple of those things are heavily involved in making TENG the reload laden, top spot on the rotation stealing entity that it is. Before I tell you what they are, and I bet you’re on the edge of your seat, I honestly wanna just say I’m not saying this for sake of review fodder, these are my truths (Holla Aimee). So you ready then? . . . Aside from talent being the essential tone of this release, its got PERSONALITY and DEDICATION at the centre of it and it is obvious from the jump. 14 tracks that are put forward with zero filler, and zero half arsed bars over zero half arsed beats. Essentially just natural and meant to exist.
Let’s have a wee chat about Skrabl if we may because there’s a lot of people vying for your ear drums with words, so sometimes even someone with frankly undeniable style and talent can be missed, and TENG should be where everyone realises. With a tongue in cheek cynicism that’s laced with layers of depth and hope, the lyrical content of these tracks is masterfully worked and crafted. Throughout this album keeping true to his own character and being honest and straight talking with a tenacity for turn of phrase, Skrabl takes the respect that he’s rightfully earned, multiplies it and evolves. Multi syllable control level – calm killer. With a vast vocabulary befitting of his moniker but yet a complete lack of pretentious long wording, Skrabl steps to every track with thought and precision I don’t really like to break down tracks because I just want to encourage you to listen to it for yourself, but ’26 Letters’ is so dope that as a writer myself I just go ahhhhhh that execution of concept is bang on.
So that’s the review then OH WAIT NO THE PRODUCTION IS LEVELS. Oozhe? I’ll tell you who he is, this is a dude who’s currently relentlessly marking out his name with varied production style and professionalism. These here beats on this here album are, . . wait . . , these here instrumentals on this here album, . . hold on . . , this here MUSIC on this here album bangs. Crisp and well structured production from Oozhe on this was almost to be expected at this point, but still I was shown new things and I did the face umpteen times, you know the face. You could easily be forgiven for assuming it was a group of producers on this album because of the different styles and therein lies the ability.
Available through True Unity Records and featuring Dotz, Gee Bag, Flo, Wordsmiff FLIP and Si Phili, ‘The Emperors New Garms’ is gunning for your playlists. Buy the CD if you like the album, can’t stress that enough!
Get Skrabl’s ‘The Emperor’s New Garms’ Digitally here
If we had an office for HHLAT I’m pretty sure that there would have been a bundle to see who got to review Dabbla’s debut solo album ‘Year Of The Monkey’, as we all wanted this banger of an album, another to add to High Focus Records ever growing list of quality releases. However we don’t, so I gave the opportunity to Intuitive who done such a great job with his first review for us last month. Here’s what he thought about Dabbla’s highly anticipated ‘Year Of The Monkey’ album out Friday (9th Sept)……
Nowadays Hip Hop is a very broad genre, but I’ve always felt as though rappers can be grouped into two general types.
Four decades of Hip Hop emcees from all corners of the globe, from the worst bad-breath sideman spitting 16s in your ear on a Sunday night in suburbia to the absolute pinnacle of underground talent, pushing the limits of what we thought possible in music, can be differentiated as belonging to one of two classifications. Two types. Those heads you’d prefer to hear smash out a set live on a messy night, or the ones you listen to whilst you smoke a zoot to recover the morning after.
Dabbla is definitely the first type.
Bouncing and skipping over beats that thump with that trademarked High Focus sound, he oozes personality, charisma and narcissism in a perfect combination. This is his debut album and in classic Dabbla style, every track is a statement. Subject matter is strictly limited to a witty blend of bars, bitches, booze and buds in a way that is actually fresh and enjoyable. Any new listeners should not be deceived into thinking that Dabbla is some next guy fresh onto the scene, however – he uses descriptive wordplay and multisyllabics with the experienced ease of a rapper that is ten years deep in the scene, having sharpened his skills over his years in groups such as London Zoo, the well-respected Problem Child and Dead Players.
As with any High Focus release, ‘Year Of The Monkey’ comes with a string of brilliant features and production attached. I have been a long-time believer in the fantastic production that High Focus get for their artists being a major factor in the label’s distinct sound and long-term success, and this theory is collated by this album. Names such as Star.One, Naïve, Don Piper, Tom Caruana, Sumgii, Chemo, Roast Beatz and DJ Kermit all bring fucking ace beats to the table, and many of these names are recognisable from other HF releases.
Long-time allies of Dabbla such as Jam Baxter and Ghosttown make expected appearances as well, but we also have brilliant additions from talents like Ocean Wisdom, Dirty Dike, Dubbledge, Graziella and Cobes. This is a 17-track album and despite having a roster of musical talent to compete with, Dabbla not only matches pace on every collaboration track but with every one of the 12 solo tunes being just as good, also proves to any listener that he does not need any help to make a banger.
One of my favourite tracks from the album is ‘Cheers’, produced by Ghosttown – to me it really sums up what Dabbla is about. The beat is fucking DIRTY, one of them really greasy smooth screwfacers, and Dabbla flows over it like water. A perfect track to chug a bottle of vodka to, or kill a bear, or something. I listened to this album in the gym and I put on three stone of solid muscle just from listening to this song once. I’ve got a name for Dabbla – the doubletime Dirty Dike. I’m also copywriting that if it takes off. He seems most comfortable on fast-paced tracks, and he utilises this on the majority of tracks on ‘Year Of The Monkey’. This doesn’t mean he’s not great at a slower BPM however, and shows this on tracks like ‘Psychoville’ and ‘Everything’. ‘Psychoville’ is a really snappy tune, with a great hook from Graziella that makes me wish Dabbla did more hooks with female singers.
Dabbla – Psychoville Feat. Graziella (Prod. Roast Beatz) (OFFICIAL VIDEO by Obese Aesthetics)
‘Everything’ is another great boombap track that encapsulates Dabbla’s arrogant attitude – “you might not like me, but I fucking love me”. Songs like this prove that he’s not just a party rapper, but a Hip Hop head.
There is a definite difference. Another facet of his personality, aside from the badman bars and his affair with himself – is a distinct element of a love of the ridiculous – the rude side of rap. I think heads like Dabbla, Dirty Dike and Dubbledge are some of the only people who could just about get away with writing tracks about dicks and them still be listenable. Just about.
Like I said before, I think there are two types of rapper, and Dabbla fits very neatly into one of those types. There are pros and cons to this. I absolutely love this album, and I’ve already cleared a space on my shelf and in my playlists for it, but that’s because I love this kind of album – nothing but hard beats, ridiculous concepts, doubletime bars, and all round general get-messy-to music. This album is definitely catered towards a certain demographic – there isn’t a lot of variation in what each individual song provides in comparison to the rest and there is definitely some repetition. But I’ll accept that there is definitely an argument for there not being too much of a good thing within music, and also for that just being a reflection of who Dabbla is as an individual. What is definite is that this release solidifies his presence as one of the best in the underground scene, as a solo artist, and puts him right up alongside all the newest players on High Focus’s roster as some of the best in the UK. Big the fuck up!
Dabbla’s ‘Year Of The Monkey’ is out now on all formats, digitally, on CD and Limited Edition Vinyl from