Swindle – Funk & Grime (Review)

Reviews, Swindle

London producer Swindle brings us a superb, hyped-up EP with ‘Funk & Grime’. Swindle recruits some leading names in the grime scene to provide vocals for the bouncy, dynamic beats that make up this concise, entertaining project.


UK veteran Ghetts appears on the rowdy, revved-up ‘Works Haffi Run’, and the textured, glitchy banger is grime in it’s purest form. The formula of hard-hitting synthesizers and frantic drum rhythms works fantastically, and Ghetts’ characteristic energy and intense personality shines through on this cut. Newham Generals representative and staple in the 140 BPM scene D Double E joins Swindle for ‘Lemon Trees’, and the witty lyricism describes Double’s experience mixing marijuana and liquor, and it’s delivered with finesse, humour and unrivalled vigour, with ferocious bars being laced over an intense, upbeat instrumental with loud, unflinching drums and intertwined melodies providing a perfect backdrop for the East London spitter.

Also contained in the ‘Funk & Grime’ EP are the instrumental mixes, as well as a Flava D remix of ‘Mad Ting’, and the genre-bending sound is exciting and entertaining throughout it’s five-track runtime. Any grime or hip-hop fan needs this one in their collection.

By Sam Bennett






Bisk – Don’t Piss It Off (Review)

Bisk, Reviews

There’s no stopping Blah Records this year; the longstanding independent label continues its incredibly productive schedule with the release of ‘Don’t Piss It Off’, an LP from London MC Bisk with production handled by North London beatsmith Formz.


The LP opens with ‘Slippin’, and the gloomy, slow-moving instrumental backs Bisk’s signature gritty, cocky lyricism and murky flows as he drops hard-hitting punchlines in creative bars laced with vivid imagery and drenched in swagger. ‘Big City’ features veteran Blah MC Lee Scott, and the crisp, jazzy drums and haunting piano lines are perfect for Bisk’s braggodious approach, and Lee’s witty verse is an absolute killer, and finds the Runcorn lyricist spitting quotables such as “lost in me own mind/The Higgs boson was in me pocket the whole time” and the genius closing bar “why? It’s just the letter after X”.

‘Cult De Sag’ is a banging posse cut; the track features Danny Lover, Salar and Sleazy F Baby and the four Blah heads go back to back cramming in short, energetic verses. The track lasts just over two minutes, but the concise format definitely works in it’s favour. Sheffield based MC Sniff appears on the lazy, ultra-chilled ‘Beazy’; Formz’s low-key production and the intoxicating vocals from both rappers make this track a highlight of the ‘Don’t Piss It Off’ LP. Closing out on the subtle piano based ‘Marooned’, the concise, cohesive project is yet another one to add to Blah Records ever-growing discography; the independent label is enjoying one of it’s most consistent and creative periods in it’s decade long history, and Bisk is one of several new additions to the roster that has been killing it for the past year or so.

With one of the most impressive work-rates in the game, Bisk is one to keep tabs on. ‘Don’t Piss It Off’ is the latest in a healthy run of projects for the London MC; with Formz at the helm of the beats, Bisk is free to let loose with his razor sharp pen-game, bringing a unique and distinctive outlook to the table, executed with flair and finesse across the album’s ten tracks (discounting the intro and outro). Something tells me it won’t be too long before we hear from the Blah MC again, but until then ‘Don’t Piss It Off’ is sure to remain in rotation for the foreseeable future.

Giggs – Landlord (Review)

Giggs, Reviews

Giggs is one of the UK rap scene’s most successful and respected lyricists; since his 2008 LP release ‘Walk In Da Park’, as well as a long string of heavy mixtapes helping build his momentum to an unrivalled point. With a style and aura that commands respect, Giggs brings us his fourth full length album entitled ‘Landlord’, which features a more refined, polished version of the Hollowman’s unique, hard-hitting formula than we’ve heard previously, as well as a feature list including Youngs Teflon, CasIsDead and Dubz.


Bringing us up to date with his story on the LP’s ‘Intro’, which demonstrates Giggs’ under-rated storytelling abilities, the ‘Landlord’ experience gets properly underway with ‘The Blow Back. With a pounding trap beat and characteristically menacing delivery from Hollowman the track is vintage Giggs; man of the moment Stormzy also appears on the track with a heavy feature, as well as longstanding collaborator Dubz contributing a charismatic verse.

At this point you’ve surely already moshed out to ‘Whippin’ Excursion’, and the energy that Giggs brings on this track is unrivalled, and the emphatic reaction it receives in the clubs and in the crowd of a performance is a testament to the banging production and memorable, witty lyrics. ‘Just Swervin’ features a haunting, spacious instrumental and matter-of-fact bars delivered with precision and passion; ‘Landlord’ gets going with an intense and thoroughly entertaining run of tracks, with both production and lyricism being at a very high level.

‘The Best’ is appropriately titled; the traditional hip-hop production and killer combination of Giggs, Youngs Teflon and Liverpudlian MC Aystar makes for a definite standout. ‘Slippin’ is another prime example of hard-hitting beats (this time contributed by frequent collaborator Boom Productions) and energetic flows; the combination has served Giggs well in the past and it’s no different this time around. ‘501’ is also a highlight, and the partnership of Hollowman and rap boogieman CasIsDead is repeatedly successful; this is the first of two appearances from Cas on ‘Landlord’, and the duo’s 2015 collaboration ‘What’s My Name’ is still very much in rotation.

Fellow SN1 representative Kyze makes an appearance on the menacing cut ‘Savage’, which is followed by ‘Lyrical Combat’. This track features Dubz and CasIsDead, and with a line-up like that it’s no surprise that this one is an indisputable street banger. The LP closes out with the pounding ‘The New Shit’, and the braggadocios lyrics and hard-hitting production is a fitting finish for the ‘Landlord’ LP; it’s not been any different since the first cut, and Giggs excels on this project, bringing energy, confidence and swagger without a moment’s hesitation.

Exciting from the word go, ‘Landlord’ is one of the most impressive releases of the year, and with a successful run in the charts and some high profile live performances, Giggs is forcing those who have been fighting against him for the duration of his career to finally sit up and take notice. The Peckham MC has always done what he wants to do, how he wants to do it, and has refused to change for anybody. Perhaps now is the time that the powers that be start changing for him.

By Sam Bennett






Cee Major – 10,000 Hours (Review)

Cee Major, Reviews

Cee Major has been developing his brand and building his fanbase over the past few years, and ‘10,000 Hours’ is his latest release. With attitude, intelligence and lyrical finesse in equal measure the London rapper is hotly tipped as one to keep tabs on as his steady rise shows no sign of stopping, and this latest project serves as more evidence that this is a wise choice to bet on.


The mixtape opens with ‘No Feature Film’ and the crisp mixing, the anthemic production and the precise, professional lyrical display from Cee results in a memorable opener, packed with intelligent writing and hard-hitting punchlines. The London MC describes his journey, achievements and the obstacles he’s experienced on the excellent track ‘It’s Over’; Major has a polished sound that puts him in an incredibly promising position, and with the quality of this mixtape I wouldn’t be surprised to see his buzz rise dramatically over the next twelve months.

‘Icon’ is an energetic, trapped out banger; Cee does a great job of keeping up with the sonic landscape of the rap game, keeping himself relevant and entertaining without sacrificing any of his skill or integrity. Across the ‘10,000 Hours’ project we are also treated to some great melodic performances; whether it’s a hook or used subtly on adlibs Cee is definitely a talented singer, and what an important aspect of your skill-set to excel at in today’s market.

The in your face, bouncy beat to ’27’ is aggressive and pounds from start to finish. Cee’s flow is invigorated and his delivery is wholly confident, and any MC making Jeremy Corbyn references gets a thumbs up from me. ‘Destination’ is on some smooth, chilled-out vibes, and the content gives us an open look into Cee’s life and outlook, and the project closes out on the excellent ‘Do It For The Man’.

‘10,000 Hours’ is another dope release to add to Cee’s impressive catalogue. This is his third project and he’s not disappointed once yet. The age-old preconception that battle rappers can’t make music is looking more and more incorrect; artists like Lunar C and Cee Major are showing that the transition is well and truly possible, although both aforementioned artists were making music before stepping foot in the lyrical arena (cringe). Any self-respecting hip-hop head should check this out, you’re bound to be impressed.

By Sam Bennett






Dabbla – Year Of The Monkey (Review)

Dabbla, Reviews

Dabbla is one of the most formidable rappers on the circuit. He’s been a staple figure in our homegrown scene for years and represents a number of crews (LDZ, Problem Child and Dead Players), but 2016 is finally the year that he stands on his own two feet for an entire project. ‘Year Of The Monkey’ is released through High Focus Records, and features appearances from Dirty Dike, Cobes, Jam Baxter and more, as well as production from Ghosttown, Sumgii and Naive.


The LP opens with ‘Everything’, and from the moment the jazzy keys and Dabbla’s tight, precise flow and witty content kick in it’s clear that this is going to be one very impressive project. Tom Caruana produces the following tune, entitled ‘Supermodified’, and Dabbs delivers his lyricism with his signature bounce; the multisyllabics, humourous content and sheer speed of his MCing is wildly entertaining. ‘PterdactILL’ is an undisputable banger, and Ghosttown exploits his penchant for off-kilter eastern samples for the fantastic production.

‘Cheers’ is preempted by some guy telling Dabbla that ‘it’s all about dubstep’, and the track itself is uptempo, bouncy and ferociously energetic with a deep, hard-hitting bass. By now you’ve all seen the excellent visuals for ‘Randeer’ and the quirky cut is still a great addition to the tracklist here. ‘Incomparable’ features flawless rhymes and great production, as well some pretty weird imagery being conjoured up by Dabbla’s writing; he spits “2Pac isn’t dead you mug and Biggie’s on the moon/they got Jimi Hendrix on the decks and Whitney on the spoon”, and who else could drop that on a track and make it sound as good as it does here.

‘Penis For The Day’ features Dirty Dike and Dubbledge, and it’s a dope mix of styles and flavours over a slow-moving, groovy beat contributed by Naive. ‘Stupid’ is another well-received single from the LP and the skippy flows and percussive delivery from Dabbla makes for a really strong cut. ‘Spin’ is a nice collaboration with fellow LDZ representative Cobes, and the tongue-twisting patterns and unorthodox rhythms are expertly executed over a glitchy instrumental. These two spitter’s sound perfect on a track together, and if this solo album isn’t enough to satisfy your fiend for Dabbla material, a new LDZ project is also rumoured to be on the way.

I’m not going to go into any detail about ‘Get It’ which features Ocean Wisdom but to say both MC’s performances are outstanding, and if you weren’t impressed with Ocean’s impeccable rapid-fire lyricism before, there’s no doubt  that you will be after hearing this. Jam Baxter appears on ‘Vomit’, which is produced by Ghosttown; what is so good about this cut is that it doesn’t sound like a Dead Players leftover as the trio deliver an upfront and in your face stomper with this one. ‘Butterfly’ is a little more restrained than the majority of tracks on here, but not too many MC’s can pull off a 6/8 time-signature with the ease that Dabbla does here. The LP closes out with the amazing ‘Life Line’ which takes us on a journey from Dabbla’s birth to the present day and beyond in an amusing and impressive fashion.

‘Year Of The Monkey’ is fantastic. There’s not a weak track, weak verse, weak beat or anything at all weak on this LP. The rhymes are on-point, and the vibe of the beats create a cohesive vibe for the LP; with a variety of producers (some of which take the production in some pretty weird directions) Dabbla ties these tracks together with his unique and memorable style. The LP drops tomorrow, so get up early and go and get it.

By Sam Bennett






Joe Snow – I Know You Know Me You (Review)

Joe Snow, Reviews

Joe Snow, representing Leeds crew Defenders of Style, returns with his latest solo effort, entitled ‘I Know You Know Me You’. The EP features appearances from York MC Lego, Split Prophets and Prys, as well as production from an international selection of heads including Hashfinger and Able 8.


With twinkling keys, punchy drums and Joe’s signature tongue-twisting and witty lyricism, the opening track ‘Clownin’ is an early highlight and serves as a welcome reminder of the Leeds MC’s entertaining style. The gritty production on ‘As Usual’ instantly sets your head nodding, and the melodic, animated delivery and unorthodox flows make the track memorable and full of replay-value. The well-executed hook and crisp mix (which is the case for the entire project) gives the ‘I Know You Know Me You’ EP a really professional feel; Joe’s debut solo album ‘Sense Outer Madness’ had a rawer vibe, and this one definitely shows some notable growth, even though the aforementioned LP was only released two years ago.

DatKid and Res One from the Bristol based collective Split Prophets both make an appearance on ‘She Wish’; the track is one of the strongest from the EP, with a tarantino-esque beat and witty, concept-driven bars from each top class lyricist. The gloomy, gritty closing cut ‘If By Chance’ is my favourite from ‘I Know You Know Me You’; Joe Snow is joined by fellow Defenders of Style MC Prys, and the chemistry between the two, as well as the signature dark sound heavily exploited by the DoS crew, is on full display on the EP’s finale.

This is a great project; at seven tracks it’s concise, but Joe Snow keeps the sound diverse, with his unique delivery and refined flow making this an energetic and entertaining ride from front to back. With Jack Danz delivering last year on his ‘Ouija Slang’ full length release, it’s great to see that the Defenders crew aren’t halting the productivity. With a project from Upper Echelon (Danz and Disgust) rumoured to be in the works, the premier Leeds hip-hop crew are on an impressive upwards trajectory, and it’s well and truly deserved.

By Sam Bennett






Starrlight & Flo – Spiritually Connected (Review)

Flo, Reviews, Starrlight

Prolific singer-songwriter Flo partners with Dutch MC Starrlight for this EP entitled ‘Spiritually Connected’. The vibe is unique, engaging and perfect for a chilled summers day (how many of those we have left however I don’t know), and the concise five-track effort is packed with traditional hip-hop production with entertaining vocal performances from both rapper and singer.


The EP kicks off with the title track, and the smooth, subtle and soulful production backs charismatic, prolific lyricism from Starrlight and characteristically sweet vocals from Flo; the two artists’ styles work very well together, and the combination of dope rapping and accessible, catchy hooks is something that is fully exploited across the five track EP. The calm and sophisticated ‘Own Two Feet’ is a definite highlight with crisp, piano-laced production backing Starr and Flo as they deliver their vocals, both of which sound effortlessly cool over the laid-back instrumental. ‘Unity’ closes out the short and sweet project, and this track features Dotz and PSL over a catchy, soulful instrumental.

Flo has given us a lot of material over the past few years, and with every EP release she delivers top quality tracks, showing maturity along with having a really accessible sound that remains unique and quirky. Starrlight is dope too, and I will definitely be checking out more of her work. Stop reading, get downloading.

By Sam Bennett






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