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.

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






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