High Focus never seem to slow down. This is the latest release from the UK hip hop powerhouse; a full length album from the Croydon duo Cracker Jon and 2Late. ‘You Can Take The Cracker Out Of Croydon’ is a dark, head nodding, funky journey back into a forgotten style of hip hop, reminiscent of Redman in his hey-day. This is a unique UK take on 90s hip hop; this isn’t the same old boom bap revival you’ve heard countless times already this year, this is a smokey ride through some dope beats and breaks, and Cracker’s witty lyrical content and choppy, gritty flow is perfectly suited.
The first time I listened to this album was on a train journey, and as ‘What You Prefer’ started to sound through my headphones the ‘tickets please’ sample was rather disconcerting. ‘I don’t like responsibility when i’m at work/To sit at home and get stoned is what I prefer’ is the bar that Cracker Jon kicks his verse off with, and it’s quotables like this that make him such an interesting and engaging MC to listen to.
‘The Funk Off’ is a dope posse cut, with a sick video to accompany it (check that on youtube). Cracker’s verse is laced with some well written multi syllabics such as ‘Memories glowing/Extendedly flowing/Better be knowing/Any opponent’. The choppy flow is something that has always drawn me to Jon’s music, and is ever-impressive. The ‘stop taking pictures of yourself in stupid poses’ bar is another example of Cracker Jon’s talent for peppering his verses with witty one liners. Smellington Piff drops one of the albums standout verses; ‘The security on the door was more blind than Blunkett’ is one of the best references i’ve heard for a long time. Eric The Red also comes through with a punchline heavy verse, it’s going to be interesting to watch the RLD Records talent grow in the near future if these 2 verses are anything to go by.
Obnoxious is my personal standout track. It sees Cracker Jon & 2Late team up with 2 of the UK’s finest rappers. Dirty Dike opens the track with a perfectly suited bar. ‘I snap a cats leg off and fuck a dog with it’ made me reload the track so many times. Lee Scott also tears the track up, with an expertly delivered verse. It’s always good when an MC on his debut album enlists veterans for a collaboration, and Cracker Jon holds his own amongst 2 of the UK’s most supreme lyricists.
You Can’t Take The Cracker Out Of Croydon is an excellent UK hip hop album. Cracker Jon has a unique flow, with consistently on point content. Going from witty references to weed and booze to scathing social commentary in 2 bars is a common occurrence, and 2Late’s funky baselines and drum loops provide the perfect soundtrack. Fliptrix spits 2 sick verses (his appearance on Think About It is an absolute classic), and this is yet another fantastic slice of UK hip hop to come out of the High Focus camp.
By Sam Bennett