DEDW8 – 21 G$ (Review)

DEDW8, Reviews, Split Prophets

Baileys Brown and Blanka, or if you want to go by their rapping aliases Dee Green and Bewbonik, bring us their debut collaborative LP ’21 G$’, released under the name of DEDW8. This is an unashamedly murky and gloomy journey, filled with futuristic beats and hard-hitting lyricism throughout the project.


‘Next 2 Nun’ is an early highlight; the gritty, gloomy production backs Dee Green and Bewbonik as they drop hard-hitting punchlines with a confident swagger and on-point flows. There’s as much focus on the production as on the lyrics, and the haunting, crunchy boom-bap adds to the mysterious and murky aura on display throughout the project. The trap flavours of ‘Whatchukno’ are energetic, intoxicating and entertaining; the rattling hi-hats, swirling bass synth and wavy flows make for another indisputable banger, and DEDW8 are quickly affirming themselves as one of the country’s leading electronic-driven groups. The rise of collectives like Problem Child, Levelz and Dead Players have proven that the hip-hop scene in the UK has plenty of room for acts with something else to offer than traditional boom-bap, and this Bristol duo is another to add to the list of ones to watch.

‘Stoopafly’ is another synth-driven stomper; the grime and influenced flows suit the glitchy, intense production and the overall aesthetic DEDW8 deliver impresses over and over again across the ’21G$’ LP. ‘Dedrow’ is another murky track, and the looming, somber beat is a match for the two MC’s formidable and forceful lyricism; complex rhyme schemes, vivid imagery and a hedonistic attitude makes for some inspired material. ‘Born Sinnur’ too is menacing and in-your-face; the distinct sound that Dee Green and Bewbonik exploit across the project is encapsulating, and the street-wise lyricism is laced with a healthy dose of Bristolian attitude. The title-track closes the project, and the intense electronica once more backs cocky bars from the two MC’s; both the lyrics and the production are faultless across the ’21G$’ LP, and their sound is both recognisable and unique.

This is a fantastic introduction to DEDW8’s vibe, which is unique and entertaining both sonically and lyrically. The Bristolian scene is thriving, and it’s diverse with it, exemplified by this here project. We’ve heard rumours that the duo’s second LP is already complete, so hopefully we won’t have long to wait before another healthy dose of DEDW8 is amongst us.

By Sam Bennett





Chris Leese & Oli Frost – Big Shots (Review)

Chris Leese, Oli Frost, Reviews

Chris Leese and Oli Frost release their (loosely) football themed LP entitled ‘Big Shots’. The album was released back in June, and the Euro’s have been and gone, but the concept is still pretty original. Chris is perhaps best known for his appearances on the Don’t Flop battle league, but he’s got a fair few musical releases under his belt, and this latest LP is distributed through his longtime home of Innit Records.


‘Kick Off’ is a decent opener; the beat is a banger and it’s a good introduction to the rapper/singer partnership. Chris’ tongue-twisting flow comes out towards the end of the track, and Oli’s hooks and harmonies are a great addition; the chemistry the duo possess is clear from the outset. ‘The Landline’ is one of Chris’ best performances, displaying honest and introspective writing. ‘Moan’ is a highlight; a catchy chorus, bouncy, crisp production and a witty perspective make for an entertaining and captivating track. The distinctly British character portrayed by Chris and Oli is executed with frantic flows and accessible production.

The excellent ‘Can You’ might piss off the feminists, but Chris delivers a scathingly accurate of Made In Chelsea types and the like, and he displays complex rhyme schemes and hilarious content. The aggressive delivery and hyped production of ‘Tattoos & Trainers’ is well-executed, and it’s nice to hear the LP laced with a wide sonic variety. Chris Leese’s percussive, rapid-fire flow is wildly energetic, and he’s perfectly in-pocket throughout. The album’s closer ‘Full Time’ is an an example of the main flaw though; when the production is on the level of Chris’ animated delivery the results are great, but the beats found on ‘Big Shots’ have a tendency to be overly-dramatic, instead of sticking to the punchier, rawer vibes found on the LP’s more successful tracks.

If you like your hip-hop distinctly British with a sharp injection of humour, Chris Leese and Oli Frost are sure to deliver some material that is to your liking. Chris’ ferocity on the microphone is displayed consistently through the album, and although some of the production is a little overcooked, the overall sound found on ‘Big Shots’ is a cohesive one.

By Sam Bennett




Mindz Of A Different Kind – Foursight (Review)

Mindz Of A Different Kind, Reviews

Mindz Of A Different Kind are a four-piece collective from Austin, Texas, and they are pushing a forward-thinking, traditional sound which sets them apart from the expected style of a southern group in today’s age. ‘Foursight’ is their third release, and the project boasts production from Blueprint and Gensu Dean as well as guest appearances from Abstract Rude, Myka 9 and Kydd Jones.


‘Astrophyziks’ is a tense, haunting opener with a sinister beat and intelligent lyrical acrobatics from each member of the upcoming collective. The gritty boom bap drums and off-kilter, horror soundtrack-esque textures create an intoxicating vibe that grabs your attention from the first few seconds of the track. ‘Perception’ is thought provoking and intelligently composed; the four MC’s in the crew each demonstrate their outlook on the importance of knowledge, and each verse is delivered uniquely, both in terms of style and content, yet the message is consistent.

The smokey beat of the appropriately named cypher cut ‘Pass The Mic’ is perfect for the solid, confident lyricism delivered from each member of the Mindz collective. The percussive flows and hard-hitting verses are flawlessly executed, and the reggae influenced hook is a nice touch too. The funky, synthetic production on the groovy ‘West Coast’ makes for a standout, and it’s another interesting vibe to add to the eclectic mix of styles exhibited across the ‘Foursight’ project. It’s followed by another highlight; ‘Black & Brown’ is a soulful, smooth track with dope sample-work and top quality lyricism.

‘Foursight’ is an excellent release; the musical backdrop and the lyrical dexterity on display are both first-class, and the lack of focus on intelligent southern hip-hop by the mainstream hip-hop media is glaringly obvious when listening to Mindz Of A Different Kind. They deserve so much more attention than they’re currently receiving, but with some notable collaborators on this release they’re sure to start to make a dent on any self-respecting hip-hop connoisseur’s radar.

By Sam Bennett




Dem Atlas & MF Doom – MF Dem (Review)

Dem Atlas, MF Doom, Reviews

Minnesota MC Dem Atlas is building his buzz in a very commendable way; the upcoming artist is signed to the reputable Rhymesayers Entertainment label, and he’s capitalising on his increasing stock by releasing ‘MF Dem’, a concise project which finds him presenting us with some wildly entertaining tracks over previously released MF Doom instrumentals.


The project kicks off with ‘Grbge Trsh’; Atlas’ quirky, melodic delivery sets him apart from his contemporaries, with an utterly distinctive style and left-field approach, and it’s a true breath of fresh air to hear an MC ride the beat with such a confident, unorthodox quality. The off-kilter, silky flow displayed on ‘Sum-Mo’ is really dope too, and Dem Atlas displays a natural ability to be fully entertaining with his vocal performances. The subtle R&B vibes of ‘Flawless’ are thoroughly entertaining, and it’s impressive how wide of a skill-set Atlas has at his disposal, and he uses each and every corner of it on ‘MF Dem’.

The wide variety of styles on show here continues with ‘Lack The Lad’; the charismatic and hyper-energetic vocal display from Dem Atlas shows his potential beyond the traditional hip-hop leanings. Of course, this is a tape filled with MF Doom production, so the boom-bap is very much alive and well on this project, but Atlas takes his performances beyond what most MC’s would bring to the table, and that is a very good sign for his future and longevity. The catchy ‘Nervosa’ is a catchy, melodic cut, and the project closes on the subtle standout ‘Resolve Dissolve’.

Dem Atlas is one to keep tabs on for sure; this is surely just a pre-cursor to a proper project to follow at some point. The MF Doom beats are an exhilarating soundtrack for Atlas to demonstrate his wide-variety of flows and tones, and it’s entertaining from beginning to end. If you’re a fan of hip-hop that pushes the boundaries and doesn’t stick to the traditional, tried and tested formulas, this is bound to stay in rotation for a while. Check it out.

By Sam Bennett




A-F-R-O & Marco Polo – A-F-R-O Polo (Review)

A-F-R-O, Marco Polo, Reviews

A-F-R-O first caught the attention of hip-hop fans the world over when R.A. The Rugged Man stood alongside him on a YouTube video as the Los Angeles MC dropped freestyles at a terrific pace. The ‘A-F-R-O Polo’ EP finds him teaming up with revered producer Marco Polo for a flawless collection of boom bap tracks. The young MC is one of the most hotly tipped lyricists to build momentum over the past few years, and collaborating with such a respected producer on your first proper release is definitely a good sign.


The EP kicks off with ‘Long Time Coming’, which features scratched from Shylow of First Division. A-F-R-O displays percussive syllables delivered with an uptempo, energetic feel and Marco Polo’s crisp boom bap production is authentic and enjoyable; if you’re still of the opinion that the classic sound has died, you need to clean your ears out and check this project out. With multisyllabics and internal rhymes galore on ‘Nightmare on Fro Street’, A-F-R-O is one of the most talented spitters of recent memory, and it’s great to see a young lyricist representing for the complexity and depth of years gone by. The funky bassline of ‘Sunshine & Flowers’ is great, and the rising MC drops with power, and his precise flow is captivating. The hook on this track is impressive too, and it points to A-F-R-O’s songwriting prowess, something that many up and coming rappers overlook.

He recruits Eamon for ‘Use These Blues’, and the tasteful production and mature vocal performances from both MC and singer result in a track that exhumes that instant-classic feel. The gritty, intense beat on ‘Lair Of The Black Worm’ is a guaranteed head-nodder, and A-F-R-O displays charisma and confidence with his expertly executed lyrics. The EP closes out on ‘Joe Jackson’, which is another cut that showcases A-F-R-O’s flair and Marco’s raw production; the chemistry between these two is impeccable, and hopefully this is just the start of their musical partnership.

Any hip-hop head worth their salt needs to check this one; the rhymes are intelligent and complex, the flows are smooth and effortlessly delivered, and the beats knock for the duration of the project. A-F-R-O and Marco Polo have once again proved that hip-hop is in no way, shape or form doomed for over-saturation and poor quality, not when there’s releases like this to listen to.

By Sam Bennett





Chillman – Abstract Patterns (Review)

Chillman, Reviews, Verb T

Chillman’s debut LP is the first full release from In The Balance Records, a new label bringing some quality hip-hop to the table. It’s no surprise really, considering the label was started by veteran MC and producer Verb T, and he provides all of the beats on here, as well as appearing on a number of tracks. Chillman is a Hereford based artist, and his name suits the music; the mellow vibe and introspective lyricism is executed masterfully throughout, and there’s also features from Leaf Dog, Moreone and Chillman’s Verbal Highz crew.


‘Say’ is a fantastic opener; the glossy synthesizers and thumping, filtered drums are great production choices and Chillman demonstrates his silky flow, and for those previously unfamiliar with his music this is guaranteed to get you vibing with the positivity and mellow lyricism. ‘Defeat Stress’, previously released on the EP of the same name follows, and it’s chilled, professionally executed aesthetic still sounds as fresh now as when it first dropped. ‘Get Live’ features Leaf Dog, and the subtle joint is another dope, calmly delivered track; the consistent sonic theme and raw, introspective lyricism keeps coming with each cut from the LP, and Chillman doesn’t stop impressing for a second.

‘Royale With Cheese’ is a great, witty cut, and ‘Funky Drifiting’s infectious bassline and dusty drums are authentic and memorable. The majority of the tracks on ‘Abstract Patterns’ have a short run-time, and the concise nature of the LP works very much in the MC’s favour, as the diverse collection of songs serves as a great introduction to the various styles that Chillman can operate in. Verb T and fellow In The Balance signee Moreone appear on the authentic, boom bap banger ‘Step Into The Unknown’, and the energetic, charismatic verses are convincing and flowed with passion and skill over the smooth instrumental.

The quirky, upbeat ‘You Are You’ is a standout, with it’s groovy bassline and phased drums. Verb T appears once again, and the chemistry between his beats and Chillman’s writing is fantastically enjoyable; you’d have thought that this was a project deep in their catalogue, not the first collaborative release from the pair. The double-time spitting on ”Drop Degrees’ is well executed, and it’s a dope change from his usual style found across the majority of the ‘Abstract Patterns’ LP; the simplistic, spacious instrumental complements the vocals brilliantly, and it’s not the stereotypical vibe you’d instantly think of working with the rapid flows found on the track. The LP closes out with ‘Funk Dialect’, a superb posse-cut featuring the other members of Verbal Highz, alongside Joe Publik.

‘Abstract Patterns’ is never stale, and it’s forward-thinking too. Chillman and Verb T have a natural chemistry, and both the beats and the bars are original, unique and distinguishable. The cohesive sound and the concise length make for a great introduction to Chillman as an MC, and also to start to carve out a niche for In The Balance Records as an entity. This is the first thing to drop from the label, and with plenty more talented artists in the roster, things are looking very exciting over at ITB. Go cop this one, it’s available now.

By Sam Bennett




Sleazy F Baby – All Blahk Tracksuit (Review)

Reviews, Sleazy F Baby, Wordz

Blah Records continue their incredibly impressive streak of releases this year with ‘All Blahk Tracksuit’, the new project from Manchester MC Sleazy F Baby. With a select few in-house features and a unique sonic direction, Sleazy is representing for a new generation of rappers. This takes the traditional hip-hop sound that is so often the standard formula for UK artists, and fuses it with trap-inspired flows and quirky production.


Opening the LP (after an introduction from Black Josh) is the title-track, and if you weren’t prepared for the rowdy, hard-hitting and unashamedly weird sound showcased across the whole of Sleazy’s debut LP, this track is guaranteed to put you in the right mindset. The simplistic but energetic instrumental backs the Mancunian MC as he drops bars with wit, intensity and a ferocious delivery. The trap influence is clear, with skippy flows and stuttering production, both of which are touches found across the entirety of ‘All Blahk Tracksuit’. ‘From The Bits’ follows, and the more traditional sounding cut is a hard-hitting anthem, with a brilliant accompanying video. The raw attitude Sleazy exhibits with effortless finesse is packed with dope quotables and relentlessly ignorant content; ‘this the might have fucked your baby-mother flow’ being just one small segment. It’s incredibly entertaining and the beat is an absolute banger too.

‘Y.N.I.F’ is dope; the crisp drums, weird samples and in-your-face attitude from Sleazy combine to make it a standout from the ‘All Blahk Tracksuit’ mixtape. The off-kilter double-bass riff and invasive, experimental jazz flips make for one of the most memorable beats on the entire project, and the Manchester MC drops his bars with precision and passion. ‘Sleazy’ is another brutally delivered cut; the aggressive and energetic flows and deliveries sound sick over the bassy, modern production. Any heads who are of the opinion that hip-hop in the UK sticks purely to the traditional, boom-bap ethos needs to check out ‘All Blahk Tracksuit’ for a refreshing and enjoyable perspective.

Fellow Blah MC Stinkin Slumrok joins Sleazy on the wavey ’21’, and Slumrok’s verse is charismatic and outlandish, which has come to be expected from the North London spitter. ‘Rob The Plug’ features upcoming rapper Bisk, and the gritty production is both dusty and synthetic, a combination which appears throughout the project, and it goes a long way to making it cohesive and consistent. ‘Ignorant Shiznit’, featuring Black Josh, is a late highlight, with a gloomy atmosphere executed smoothly over the subtlest instrumental on the entire release.

Wildly entertaining, relentlessly banging and instantly recognisable, Sleazy F Baby has dropped a very impressive debut project. This off-kilter direction fits perfectly with the Blah aesthetic, but he’s certainly carved out his own niche with the ‘All Blahk Tracksuit’ release. The beats are heavy, and the same can be said for the bars, and any hip-hop head is going to thoroughly enjoy this one.

By Sam Bennett




Dotz – Bring The Soul Back (Review)

Dotz, Elbe Kim, Reviews

Bedford MC Dotz has a remarkable work-rate. He’s never silent for long, and his most recent addition to his growing discography is the five track project ‘Bring The Soul Back’. It’s produced entirely by Elbe Kim, a producer hailing from Philadelphia, and it’s great to see Dotz expanding his network and potential fanbase with this latest collaboration.


The EP opens with the emphatic title track; the style of production here certainly lends itself to the project’s name, with infectious, soaring soul vocal samples and traditional, punchy boom bap drums backing Dotz’s infamously ferocious flow. The socially conscious and politically minded ‘We Need You To Fight’ is really dope, and the energy that Dotz brings over Elbe Kim’s tasteful, golden era influenced banging beat makes this one a memorable cut, and it’s great to hear UK MC’s touching on the high unrest in the country and the world over on record.

The EP closes out on an impressive posse cut with a dynamic line-up. Dotz drops first on the gritty beat, and his multisyllabic patterns are intoxicating and convincing, delivered with fury and precision. Skrabl is next, with a chilled delivery and complex schemes providing the build up for Mancunian MC Blizzard’s skippy, fast-paced appearance. Tony D’s verse is laced with potent punchlines, and the Poisonous Poets representative shows his experience with a flawlessly structured appearance. Blak Twang too drops with authority and hard-hitting impact, before Wordsmiff Flip delivers a characteristically heavy sixteen, laced with wit and passion. Dotz’s frequent collaborator Peterz also represents, closing the tune out with a silky appearance.

‘Bring The Soul Back’ is well worth checking out for any fan of classic hip-hop and superb lyricism. Dotz and Elbe Kim come together to bring us a hard-hitting, cohesive and concise project which showcases both gritty production and grimey bars, without letting up for a minute.

By Sam Bennett




Ed Scissor & Lamplighter – Tell Them It’s Winter (Review)

Edward Scissortongue, Lamplighter, Reviews

Ed Scissortongue and Lamplighter bring us their sophomore LP, entitled ‘Tell Them It’s Winter’ (did anybody tell them it was July?), released once again through High Focus Records, who have been setting the hip-hop scene alight with every project they add to their growing catalogue. The duo, comprised of the Cambridge lyricist and the Edinburgh-born producer, are one of the most forward-thinking acts operating in our incredibly diverse scene, and this release continues the mature, provocative sound introduced on their debut record ‘Better. Luck. Next. Life’, but with a more uplifting undercurrent than it’s predecessor.

TTIW - Front Cover

Opening with the cinematic ‘Grandzeen’, the glitchy, off-kilter soundscape builds in intensity before Scissor’s vocal completes the scene as the track draws to it’s close; it’s clear that the maturity this duo showed on their debut LP hasn’t gone anywhere. The subtlety and intelligent nature of their output is perhaps best exhibited on the following track; the sublime ‘TTIW’ is an early highlight, with Lamplighter’s textured production and Scissor’s vivid writing combining to result in a true work of art. The sparse production of ‘Week’ and the poetic lyricism that falls sharply over the thumping, intermittent percussion and heavenly synthesizers makes this track another excellent cut. The addition of the violin towards the end of the track is a tasteful and memorable production choice, with the emotional tale reaching an intense finale.

The album’s impeccable opening run continues with ‘The Dust Don’t Lay’; the imagery conjured by Ed’s metaphorical musings is fantastic, with a wide, emotive vocabulary complimented by expertly handled production from Lamplighter, which mirrors the feelings stirred by the vocal perfectly. The eery ‘Hyperballad’ is great too, and the beat changes and switch-up’s unfalteringly sustain the mesmerising vibe until Ed’s final “summer in a hyperballad” rings out for the final time. The back end of ‘Tell Them It’s Winter’ finds Scissor and Lamplighter experimenting with ambitious tracks such as ‘Light Round Here’, ‘AFK’ and ‘Detours’; the sonic, structural and compositional elements of these songs go far beyond your traditional hip-hop music, and it’s a testament to the versatility of the High Focus crew that this left-field side of the spectrum is showcased in such glory.

‘Tell Them It’s Winter’ is a memorable project that requires some work from the listener to be properly appreciated. The grandiose instrumentals and the layered lyricism take some time to be digested, but as is so often the case with stellar music, this is in no means created on solely a surface level. Ed Scissor and Lamplighter have just released one of the most intelligent and rewarding projects in recent memory, and you need to check it out.

By Sam Bennett





Haze – Thinking Out Loud (Review)

Haze, Reviews

Haze first started his music career at the side of Mega and Mayhem, better known as S.A.S. The Eurogang movement that formed out of that era saw him collaborate with international artists and set the trend for the music coming out of London in the years that followed. As time has passed, Haze’s style and situation have changed, and after an EP release with Harry Fraud last year, he’s back with his latest full length LP entitled ‘Thinking Out Loud’.


The album’s intro is intense, captivating and uplifting, setting the tone perfectly for the emotional ride Haze is embarking on. ‘The Calling’ is ambitious in terms of it’s production, and this is a trend that is repeated throughout the project; the majestic, cinematic backdrop is complimented by Haze’s insightful lyrics, which are humble and honest throughout the track. Haze’s melodic approach on the thumping, tasteful trap inspired title track is executed flawlessly, and shows his maturity and versatility. ‘Follower Or Leader’ is a hard-hitting banger which features a frequent collaborator in Pak-Man. Both MC’s deliver passionate verses, and Haze is incredibly cutting with it; he spits

‘I hear the cries of the angels, it’s like they were speaking to me. Walking with me creeping with me, talking with me, reason with me. Never following, word to God they be leading with me. Reminiscing ’bout when I was younger with the heater on me. Feeding on me, leading on me, trying to get the demon off me’.

‘Suttin About Me’ features J Spades and Whooli, and the gritty, street anthem is convincing, menacing and textured. Haze again demonstrates his melodic delivery, which is matched with self-confidence and audible experience. The upbeat, punchy ‘Fly Boy Fresh’ is a standout, and it’s a track with commercial crossover potential beyond much of Haze’s more intense material, and the modern production shows how the London MC has maintained his relevance, and has adapted his sound to the new era and stylistic leanings of the UK rap scene. Switching up his content again on ‘Problems’, Haze impresses with a politically infused track, sending scathing messages to those in positions of power. Akala and Black The Ripper are recruited for this tune, and the combination of MCs and styles works impeccably. ‘Nostalgic’ too is a highlight, with a wavey, synthetic instrumental backing Haze as he rocks with an unorthodox, spacey flow.

‘Confessions Of A Clean Heart’ is one of my favourite cuts from the LP, with a glorious instrumental and smooth vocals from Haze; the diversity and fantastic execution of a wide range of styles goes a long way towards making ‘Thinking Out Loud’ the success it is. ‘Everything’ is another deep offering, and it’s this very insightful, introspective side to Haze that impresses so much, and it’s a side that’s perhaps been slightly under-explored in his previous projects. The album closes out with the fantastic ‘Made In Love’, which also features established Hackney born singer-songwriter Maverick Sabre, and is dedicated to Haze’s children.

‘Thinking Out Loud’ is a mature, inspirational, provocative project, and it finds Haze at new heights compared to the rawer leanings of his earlier mixtapes. He sounds polished, confident and comfortable, and the production value is at a consistent high, twisting and turning with Haze’s various different concepts and vibes. This is guaranteed to stay in rotation long after the first listen, as Haze’s layers and intelligent writing needs time to fully hit home, but when it does the wait is undoubtedly worth every second.

By Sam Bennett