Copywrite & Planet Asia – Unfinished & Untitled (Review)

Copywrite, Planet Asia, Reviews

Legendary battle-ready Ohio MC Copywrite and legendary Fresno rapper Planet Asia join forces for this surprise release ‘Unfinished & Untitled’. The tight-knit eleven track LP is a brilliant example of the quality hip-hop on offer if you take a minute to look below the surface level tripe that is pushed on commercial radio, and these two artists have been grinding independently for years, each gaining their respective dedicated followings. Their dexterity and penmanship means that this collaboration was a match made in heaven, and the project is a blatant testament to that fact.

Following a witty intro (using an interview of how Copy and Asia first met; apparently it was while collecting food stamps), the project gets underway with ‘Big Business’. The simplistic instrumental backs the two authoritative voices as they lace the beat with intricate verses, and the complexity of the two underground stalwart’s writing is instantly evident. ‘Our Everyday’ follows, and the hard-hitting, abrasive synthesizers and guaranteed head-banging kicks snap consistently as the dynamic duo recruit Los Angeles lyricist TriState, who delivers a characteristically tough sixteen. The raw and undisputably banging ‘Up All Night’ is a surefire standout; Asia’s blend of cockiness and substantial content makes him one of the most impressive and criminally under-rated MC’s of all time, and Copywrite’s ability to write battle-ready punchlines with a sharp flow is the stuff of hip-hop legend.

The textured, glitchy ‘Ode To Chuck Berry’ is an angsty, in-your-face cut that showcases the dexterity and eclecticism of the lyricists on display here, and as the ‘Unfinished & Untitled’ project progresses, every track brings another angle and sonic direction. This is more than your cliched, traditional hip-hop; just because the wordsmiths are skilful and talented, the music and attitude is fresh and engaging. Wu-Tang veteran U-God accompanies on the anthemic, soulful cut ‘Crocodile Smile’; the classy horns and intricate percussion makes for a rousing tune with charismatic deliveries and solid, sophisticated flows from the three experienced spitters.

The high caliber of guests continues with the dusty, old-school vibes of ‘The Cypher Of Agartha’, which features renowned South Bronx virtuoso Canibus, who has set the precedent for complexity and layered writing. The diverse selection of vocalists on here makes for a truly exhilerating listen. Underground LA MC and frequent Copywrite collaborator Ill Burns Green appears on the rousing and creatively titled ‘Volume Dial Goes To 11’ before the LP closes out on the energetic ‘End From Scratch/Maggot Brain’.

There’s not much more that needs to be said. If you’re a self-respecting hip-hop fan and you’re unfamiliar with these guys, go and slap yourself in the face and do some research; it’s far more important than most seem to realise these days. If these two insanely talented lyricists are already on your radar, as they should be, then you already know what to expect. ‘Unfinished & Untitled’ delivers on all fronts. The production is relentless and varied, and the bars are top quality throughout the concisely executed album. Stop wasting your time and get this thing downloaded.

By Sam Bennett





Booda French – 6AM Coffee Club (Review)

Booda French, Reviews

Ipswich rapper Booda French has been a familiar face on the UK scene for over a decade. You might recognise him as a much younger man shouting freestyles at the top of his voice when he went by the more basic name of Truth, but in later years he has excelled as Booda, with a string of insanely dope EP releases. 2017 finds him partnering with established label Eatgood Records for his ‘6AM Coffee Club’ LP.

French’s eclectic, unashamedly strange approach is exemplified on the opening cut ‘Astronauts’; the sparse, synthetic instrumental is laced with intricate syllables executed through abstract phrasing and an inventive, melodic delivery, and Booda French’s unique style is instantly compelling. ‘The Feeling’ is beautifully executed over a silky smooth, tasteful beat which is complimented by jazzy keys, and the superb,  emotional vocal from the Ipswich lyricist makes it clear why he’s one of the most creative artists out there right now, and he’s not afraid to lay his heart on his sleeve.

Veteran UK spitter Joker Starr contributes a memorable, catchy chorus on the excellent ‘Forts’; the subtlety and mellow soundscapes found throughout ‘6AM Coffee Club’ a perfect match for Booda French’s vivid imagery and relaxed tone, as he delivers one chilled-out track after another. When an artist focuses their efforts on restrained, thought-provoking music, the result can sometimes be a little stagnant; French’s approach is original, and his tone unashamedly weird, and this keeps you engaged with his every line.

New York producer/rapper J57, a frequent Booda French collaborator, appears on the standout track ‘Kings Elect’; the loud, crunching boom bap drums and reflective, descriptive writing from both MCs make for an exhilarating ride. The sonic direction is consistently surprising and wholly entertaining, and the LP’s cohesion is a huge factor in the success of the project. ‘Young World’, the finale of the ten track album, is a crisp, upbeat song that leaves us on the most hopeful note of the LP, and showcases Booda French’s hip-hop sensibilities and crossover potential in one concise cut.

‘6AM Coffee Club’ is eclectic in it’s direction, taste and execution. This is far from your traditional, stereotypical hip-hop album, and is a dense, complex and ultra-lyrical body of work that exemplifies just how creative and different British rap music can be. Eatgood Records have long been a respected powerhouse, releasing quality music from established artists such as SonnyJim and Percy Filth, and Booda French can now be added to that list with this exciting and impeccably administered project.

By Sam Bennett




Leaf Dog – Dyslexic Disciple (Review)

Leaf Dog, Reviews

As a member of a variety of incredible groups, as well as being one of the most sought after beatmakers in the United Kingdom, not to mention a classic 2011 LP ‘From A Scarecrow’s Perspective’, Leaf Dog is one of the most respected and talented artists out there right now. 2017 finds him standing out on a solo tip once again with ‘Dyslexic Disciple’, released through the UK powerhouse High Focus Records, and featuring appearances from some of the finest vocalists in the country.

When your minute and a half long intro is released as a preview for the LP on YouTube some weeks before the full length drops, and people are as gassed over it as they would be a structured single, you know you’re doing something right. The anticipation for Leaf’s sophomore solo effort has been huge, especially with the abundance of quality material he has given us since 2011s ‘From A Scarecrow’s Perspective’, and the follow-up gets underway with a bang. ‘Big Ego’s’ is a soulfully driven track with melodic keys spliced between the crunchy drums and soaring string samples; Leaf is a superbly skilled beatmaker, but he is no slouch with the pen either, as he delivers raw and honest opinions throughout the ‘Dyslexic Disciple’ album.

The raw, punchy ‘Know Myself’ is an early highlight. The confident delivery, the identifiable lyricism and the smooth, flawlessly executed instrumental are the ingredients of this flavoursome dish that blend together seamlessly, making for a perfect showcase of the signature Leaf Dog sound.  The crisp, soulful and reflective vibe of ‘Today’ is classic, golden era influenced hip-hop at it’s best, and the distinctive style of his subtle production is wonderfully engaging with soaring strings and emotive vocal chops. Joe Corfield contributes an inventive, silky instrumental for the jazzy standout ‘All In One’; the intricate plucked guitar and crisp drums are a perfect backing for Leaf’s energetic, charismatic lyricism.

Fellow RLD representative Smellington Piff appears on the emphatic ‘Pro Cultivation’, and smokers around the country will be keeping this one on repeat for months to come as Leaf and Piff deliver intoxicated verses at an insanely high potency. The rousing call to MC’s around the country on the single ‘My Scene’ is dope too; the anthemic horns and head-banging percussion makes for a definite standout, and the message is sure to inspire upcoming lyricists to continue on their quest to produce quality British hip-hop music. Revered LDZ MC Dabbla accompanies on the lively ‘Good Times’, setting up a strong selection of collaborations to close out the ‘Dyslexic Disciple’ album in stunning fashion.

‘Last Laugh’ features fellow Brother Of The Stone BVA along with the legendary Jazz T, and the stuttering, old-school beat is a fitting backdrop for the authentic, hard-hitting vocals and sublime cuts. The following track ‘The Reminder’ also features BVA; the chemistry the two spitters have is instantly apparent and unrivaled by their peers, and this is a prime example. If that wasn’t enough though Leaf recruits the off-kilter extraordinaire Kool Keith to deliver a characteristically entertaining verse over the raw self-produced instrumental, and surely this is the cherry on the cake. Don’t speak too soon though; the album closes out with the breathtaking cypher entitled ‘The Legacy’. It features a selection of the finest writers in the UK scene, and Leaf can also boast that he had both Phi Life Cypher and Task Force on the same track in 2017, and who ever thought that would be possible.

 Banging beats, a unique voice and clear hip-hop enthusiasm and appreciation runs through the ‘Dyslexic Disciple’ album from beginning to end, and the high standard that the High Focus label holds itself and its artists too continues with this emphatic release. Leaf Dog has produced a quality LP here, and the resources he pools (both in terms of rappers and producers) make for a cohesive album that is sure to satisfy any boom bap aficionado. Stop whatever you’re doing and go and support this release, and please Leaf, let’s not make it another six years before the third one.

By Sam Bennett




NuphZed – Dreebalicious (Review)

NuphZed, Reviews

Brighton has long had a reputation for a thriving hip-hop scene which specialises in crisp, summery vibes and excellent penmanship, and NuphZed delivers on all fronts with his solo EP release ‘Dreebalicious’. The Yogocop Records representative makes his mark with this tight-knit project which showcases his polished flow and eclectic approach that makes him a remarkably entertaining lyricist guaranteed to please fans of chilled, authentic boom-bap.

The Brighton lyricist impresses on the crisp opener ‘Breddaz’, and he drops his vocals seamlessly over a cool, mellow instrumental that walks a fine line between a modern, synthetic vibe and traditional boom bap sensibilities. The subtle production and silkily delivered verses on ‘Forward’ are a winning formula, and NuphZed has carved out a sharp, classy niche for himself. The Yogocop crew are definitely on a promising run, with an abundance of quality material coming out of the collective on a regular basis.

The fresh ‘Laid Back’ features fellow Brighton head Illiterate, and the smooth, jazzy beat and intricate, precise flows are showcased with prowess and confidence; the charisma and chemistry is obvious, and the concise, consistent sound exemplified across the ‘Dreebalicious’ project are guaranteed to solidify NuphZed as one to keep a keen eye on. The restrained, relaxed vibe continues on the excellent ‘Missing’, and the penultimate tune ‘Leave It Out’ is another dope cut, with a glossy, upbeat synthetic beat that provides an opportunity to showcase NuphZed’s diversity.

The concise EP is a surefire example of how Yogocop Records are fast solidifying themselves as a label to watch; they’re pushing quality British hip-hop from the south coast, and the roster is impressively deep. NuphZed’s ‘Dreebalicious’ effort is another dope project to add to their discography, and we can’t wait to hear what the crew gift us with next.

By Sam Bennett




Jam Baxter – Mansion 38 (Review)

Jam Baxter, Reviews

With his fourth full length studio album, revered MC Jam Baxter delivers creative lyricism and imaginative angles in abundance on ‘Mansion 38’, the latest release from the insanely talented High Focus Records. The LP is orchestrated by the versatile producer Chemo, and the pair continue the groundwork they started on Baxter’s last album ‘…So We Ate Them Whole’, but things get a little more gloomy this time round.

Opening with the anthemic and traditionally vivid ‘Down’, the tense, overcast and encapsulating ethos of the album is instantly apparent. Chemo’s synthetic, glitchy production moves seamlessly with Baxter’s unique structure and dense lyricism. ‘Dumb’ features Trellion and Lee Scott, and the combination is as witty as you would imagine. Trellion has been on an incredible run recently, and the slow-moving boom bap is perfect for the cleverest dumb bars you’ve heard since the last Trelli verse you clocked. The double-time flows and sparse beat is a brilliantly successful formula for the cinematic ‘For A Limited Time Only’. The Contact Play MC blends a mixture of weird imagery and complex, layered writing with a cocky, street-smart vibe that makes his material wildly entertaining.

The trapped out ‘Soi 36’ is an absolute banger; the single from the album exemplifies Baxter’s flawless ability to mix an unashamedly leftfield vibe with a current, accessible presentation. Lee Scott appears on the flawless ‘Titanic 2’; the bouncy, pounding instrumental, skippy, imaginative flows and cutting, satirical lyrics make the swagged-out track a standout. The charisma on display here from two of the UK’s leading artists is a testament to the talent on offer from the crop of MC’s active right now, and High Focus is a well oiled platform for these wordsmiths to shine. ‘Just Us’ is a characteristically off-kilter introspective cut, and Jammothy’s rugged lifestyle is described in great detail over a bouncy Chemo soundscape. The use of the word ‘shmerkle’ in a bar also deserves respect in it’s own right.

‘Bulletproof’ is a highlight, and the silky piano-based beat is perfect for Baxter’s smooth flow and eclectic bars; he drifts from topic to topic seamlessly and with an underlying gritty undercurrent to his writing. Fellow CP spitter Dirty Dike accompanies on the crisp ‘Chateaux In Toulouse’ which also finds fellow Dead Player Dabbla killing his verse, as is always the case for the veteran MC. The collaborations sprinkled across ‘Mansion 38’ are utilised excellently, and the album maintains it cohesion throughout, and the gifted Chemo must get a lot of the credit for that. The sophisticated ‘Teeth Marks’ is expertly executed with complex lyrics lacing the sporadic drums and haunting synthwork, filling the space with finesse and masterful precision.

‘Mansion 38’ is a exhilerating album that gives a fascinating insight into one of the most creative and talented lyricists of our generation. Jam Baxter has been quietly growing his stature in the UK scene (possibly the cringiest sentence on this blog yet), with a string of quality releases, and this LP solidifies his place as one that is surely to continue his ascent with future work. As diverse as they come, Baxter is such a clearly gifted lyricist, and Chemo such an amazing producer, it’s really no surprise at all that this is an early contender for album of the year.

By Sam Bennett




Stinkin Slumrok & Morriarchi – Morrstinkin (Review)

Morriarchi, Reviews, Stinkin Slumrok

Blah Records keep on blessing us. ‘Morrstinkin’ is a full length project from London MC Stinkin Slumrok and Sheffield beatmaker Morriarchi, and the creative LP is packed with their signature gritty and gloomy style. Blah had a prolific twelve months in 2016, and it looks as if they’re continuing with that trend with an abundance of quality music already filtering out from the Cult, and this is is a prime selection.

‘Keep It Morrstinkin’ sets the tone of the LP perfectly; the gloomy opener is laced with punchy kicks, off-kilter effects and a deep snare that backs Slumrok has he drops witty bars with charisma and conviction. ‘Madness’ is relentless and a perfect example of the Blah MC’s individual style. His verses aren’t exactly on topic, but he brings consistently high quality bars laced with a sharp sense of humour and a clear nineties influence that is delivered without the slightest hint of forcing it. Slumrok continuously shows himself as a what you see is what you get MC, and it makes him one of the most likeable characters in the scene.

The smoked-out ‘Duh Duh’ is really dope, and the slow-moving, ultra-smooth beat is a work of genius by Sheffield producer Morriarchi; the eclectic selection of instrumentals ranges from hazy rollers to crisp, boom bap. ‘Bugginton Smyth’ is a fine example of the latter, and Blah Records veteran Salar contributes a characteristically cocky verse; the rare verses we’ve heard recently from the original Children Of The Damned spitter has every hip-hop head worth their salt sat fiending for a project for the talented lyricist.

‘F.A.M.M’ is a highlight; Slumrok switches up the flows and drops inventive quotables like “I wanna see you all get funky as my mum, and she be really fucking crazy where you think I got it from”, and it’s memorable lyrics like this that make his work so enjoyable. ‘Early In The Morning’ is wonderfully offensive, and Trellion, Slummy and Flowtecs deliver hard-hitting bars over a haunting Morriarchi soundscape. The looming production and eclectic mix of styles on show are a very formidable formula.

Slumrok has a unique ability to spit some of the most vivid, graphic and dirty bars before switching to a street-smart, raw approach without missing a step. The excellent ‘Pipedreems’ is a case in point, and the hook is masterfully executed; this is classic Stinkin Slumrok, and nobody can do this style quite like him. It’s dope to hear frequent collaborator Bisk slay the microphone of the trippy, leftfield penultimate banger ‘Indacity’; the punchy drums and sparse beat is perfect for Bisk and Slummy’s natural chemistry to shine, and their gritty penmanship is flawlessly constructed.

Blah Records have delivered another banging album that showcases quality material from one of the most creative, unique movements operating at the moment. Slumrok and Morriarchi’s chemistry is evident from the outset, and the boom bap vibe is sprinkled with a healthy dose of characteristic cult sweg from the producer/MC duo. Consistent, cohesive and charismatic, ‘Morrstinkin’ is a wonderfully entertaining project, and it’ll remain on rotation for some time to come.

By Sam Bennett





Nick Grant – Return Of The Cool (Review)

Nick Grant, Reviews

Nick Grant is a name you may not be overly familiar with, but you’re really doing yourself a disservice. This is his first studio album, and the eleven-track LP showcases one of the strongest pen games around, and a delivery that can’t be tested. This guy is going to be a household name soon, and if you don’t know get to know.

Beginning with the refined, sophisticated ‘Sometimes’, Nick Grant’s effortless class and intelligent writing shines through from the outset, over soulful, textured production featuring a brilliant hook from Dominic Gordon. Nick’s skill is that of a man with far more projects than the South Carolina MC actually has, and he’s one of the most exciting lyricists to emerge in recent years. Nick exudes sophistication on ‘Drug Lord Couture’, and the punchline-heavy verses are complimented by an ambitious instrumental and a super-soulful chorus.

‘Bouncin’ sounds incredibly current, and it’s dope to hear the young lyricist demonstrate his versatility and confidence in delivering quality bars over both traditional beats as well as bass-driven synthetic production. He’s remarkable at both too. Rising R&B vocalist BJ The Chicago Kid appears on the excellent ‘Gotta Be More’, and the crisp, jazzy production compliments Nick’s sublimely executed lyricism packed with a humble attitude and an intelligent, socially aware perspective.

‘Get Up’, featuring Ricco Barino and Watch The Duck, is as trendy a song you can get; this one is drenched in crossover material with the creative James Brown sampling giving the production more than a hint of Mark Ronson influence. This is followed by the aptly titled and musically brilliant ‘Get Down’. The upbeat, frantic beat and Nick’s pacey flows are an exhilarating combination, and this is an MC with a masterful command of the microphone as well as an instantly likeable charisma. The LP finishes with the flawless ‘Luxury Vintage Rap’; the funky, boom bap beat is simply amazing and Nick spits with a confidence and skill unlike that of the vast majority of rappers in the game right now.

‘Return Of The Cool’ is a diverse project that solidifies Nick Grant as one of the most talented young lyricists on the circuit. He’s come a long way since last year’s ”88′ mixtape, and that’s not to say it was subpar, it’s just that he’s got everything locked down here. The beats, the bars, the content; it’s all top-drawer stuff. There’s a couple of tracks that are a little too soft for me, it’s more the powerful, punchline-driven material that excites me, but then my first introduction to Nick was his freestyle on Sway In The Morning on Shade 45 (if you’ve not checked that go on YouTube now and find it). This guy is exceptional, and he’s made a real dent with ‘Return Of The Cool’ without a single huge co-sign or expensive feature. Get yourself involved with the Nick Grant story , you’ve really got no excuses.

By Sam Bennett




Wiley – Godfather (Review)

Reviews, Wiley

If ever the phrase ‘he doesn’t need an introduction’ fit an artist, surely that artist is Wiley. The grime scene originator has been grinding for well over a decade, and his versatile, virtuosic touch has taken grime from the pirate radios of the British capital to being heard on Hot 97 and around the world. ‘Godfather’ is his latest project, and it kicks off 2017 with a bang. The feature list is extensive, and the lyricism and production is at an insanely good level on here.

With a huge introduction in the shape of ‘Birds N Bars’, a frantic, authentically grimey tune split into two parts, Wiley is clearly eager to stake his claim in the conversation for one of the most important albums of the year. With 2016 seeing Skepta and Kano achieve new heights, and bringing the grime scene with them, this year is sure to continue the trend. ‘Bring Them All / Holy Grime’ is an energetic, textured banger; Wiley and Movement lyricist Devlin go back to back over pounding drums, anthemic vocal samples and in-your-face synthesizers, and these two veterans show how to excel at 140 BPM. The vintage, glitchy grime sound is executed brilliantly on ‘Name Brand’. JME, Frisco and J2K feature on this one, and it’s a witty, unashamedly braggadocios banger.

The flow, content and delivery is savage throughout, and ‘Speakerbox’ is a surefire standout, accompanied by a memorable, melodic hook from Eskiboy; Wiley’s musical talent is undeniable, and the screwface inducing verses are complex and ferocious from start to finish.The unique flow on ‘Back With A Banger’ is so heavy, and the staccato beat is reminiscent of the sounds of the early-mid 2000s; the ‘Godfather’ album does a great job of being fantastically current whilst remaining true to the original sound of the genre. ‘Joe Bloggs’ is exactly what you want from a 2017 Wiley track; Newham Generals and President T accompany the Bow veteran on the synthetic, pulsating beat, and the diverse styles of the assortment of MC’s makes it a definite highlight.

The originators of the sound of the moment are fully represented on here; Flow Dan and Jamakabi kill their verses on the war-ready ‘Pattern Up Properly’, and Ghetts, one of the most consistent spitters in the game, destroys his segment on the insanely hyped and appropriately titled ‘Bang’. The features keep on coming with Chip, Ice Kid and Little Dee destroying the brutal, incredibly energetic ‘On This’, and the screwface-inducing beat makes this a surefire standout. Longtime collaborator and fellow Roll Deep member Breeze also puts in a heavy appearance on the dope ‘Like It Or Not’, and one of the most respected MCs on the circuit P Money appears on the remix of Wiley’s track name-checking the OG’s lyricist, which serves as ‘Godfather’s finale.

After 2016s second wave of spotlights being placed on grime, Wiley shows that this is by no means a young man’s game. The veterans and originators of the genre are still making some of the most important music being produced from British shores, and the raw energy, undeniable skill and driven, hard-hitting production from front to back make ‘Godfather’ a truly astonishing piece of work.

By Sam Bennett




Rye Shabby – Arthur Lager (Review)

Reviews, Rye Shabby

In The Balance return after a productive 2016 with their latest release. Rye Shabby brings us his concise seven track EP entitled ‘Arthur Lager’, and it’s an entertaining introduction to Rye’s quirky, boom bap style. He brings a great ear for beats, and witty punchlines to match, but it’s the stories and descriptive writing that make him such a captivating MC. Verb T has recruited some very talented artists for the ITB collective, and Rye is another to add to the growing list.


‘Moscow’ is a chilled, sparkling opener with a crisp, relaxed drum-beat backing intertwining lyricism from Rye as he demonstrates his unique style which matches a storytelling aesthetic with vivid, relatable references. “You can see the mess I’m on. Put the kettle on, I’ll dip a biccy then I best be gone”, he begins on the brilliant ‘Kate Moss’; Rye’s charismatic and confident delivery rides a great line between smoked-out, haziness and animated, assured presence.

Rye Shabby namechecks some heavy UK MC’s on ‘Heat’, and it’s clear that he’s a polished, practiced spitter who can definitely carve out his own lane. The sophisticated boom bap influence across the early part of the EP is achieved with conviction, and Rye’s dense, detailed lyricism is very impressive. Verb T features on ‘Trench Coat’ and ‘Black Is The New Black’; you can see his touch across the In The Balance roster, and the melodic, chilled vibes are a winning formula.

With production from Verbs himself, along with Muckaniks, Illinformed and Sloth, the beats on the EP are classy, moody and suitable for Rye’s unique flow. His skill-set is very impressive; entertaining content, technical rhyme patterns and displays clarity and precision in his delivery. This has definitely got us excited about a full length Rye Shabby project, and In The Balance have kicked off 2017 with a project well worth your attention.

By Sam Bennett




Ran Reed – Still Commanding Respect (Review)

Ran Reed, Reviews

New Jersey MC Ran Reed was one of the most prolific spitters in the mid-nineties, with a formidable catalogue and a name that held weight amongst the heavy-hitters active in the east coast scene. 2017 brings a release of new material entitled ‘Still Commanding Respect’, and it’s an effortlessly executed hardcore boom bap album from a lyricist that crafted his skills in the golden era itself. Ran’s lost none of his sharpness, clarity or prowess, and the twenty track LP proves it.


The summery, upbeat opener ‘Timeless’ is a dope throwback to golden era hip-hop; flashy rhymes delivered with clarity and charisma sound silky over a simplistic, soulful instrumental courtesy of veteran New York producer Nick Wiz. The traditional east coast style comes complete with hard-hitting punchlines; Ran begins ‘Hard Rhymes with “Yo it’s the hard rhymer, I swing swords like Conan”, and his concise punchlines are guaranteed to land decisively, executed with a consistent to-the-point formula. U.G. of Brooklyn duo Cella Dwellas appears on ‘The Crew’, and the frantic production compliments the high-octane lyricism from the east coast icons.

 Ran Reed recruits legendary spitter Bump Knuckles for the furious, indisputably banging ‘Pathetic MCs’; the powerful beat and commanding deliveries of both rappers make for an early highlight, and the animated, punchy flows ride the raspy production with confidence and control. The eery ‘Mind Of A Gangster’ is a brilliantly executed cut; the cocky, smooth flows are laced with precision and conviction, and Ran’s production is on display here too. His beatmaking expertise is widely showcased across ‘Still Commanding Respect’, with the MC handling the majority of the production duties across the twenty track LP.

‘Doo Doo’ is a piano-based beat, and the jazzy, staccato vibe is an instant head-nodder; Ran’s combination of simple, effective beats and consistently dope verses make for a winning recipe, and this is masterful chef in the kitchen. Veteran lyricist Shabaam Sahdeeq appears on the dusty, nineties banger ‘The Innovator’, and the stabbed strings back fierce stanzas as the two experienced MCs show their convincing skill-set. Brownsville duo M.O.P. kill ‘The Gun Boy Interlude’; the collaboration is a synth-heavy banger, and the huge drums pound as Ran, Billy Danze and Lil Fame trade verses displaying their accomplished penmanship with powerful deliveries.

Guest appearances, beats, topics and flair; Ran Reed holds it down from every angle on ‘Still Commanding Respect’. Ran kills the production on the majority of the project, with four tracks being handled by longtime collaborator Nick Wiz, and the consistency is to be applauded. The Jersey rapper calls on an extensive list of fellow writers to bless the features on here, and everybody brings their A game, and Ran is most certainly still commanding respect.

By Sam Bennett