High Focus Records show no sign of slowing down. There have been some quality releases coming out of the UK powerhouse in 2014, and this latest offering see’s 2 of the countries most talented hip hop musicians team up to provide us with a four track EP entitled ‘Fresh Flesh’. Jam Baxter & Jon Phonics first collaborated back in 2010, on the ‘Half Past Calm 2’ album, and 4 years later comes this introspective, ultra-lyrical affair.
Jam Baxter is one of the scenes most respected lyricists; his in depth imagery and wide range of vocabulary combine to create vivid pictures translated expertly through the Contact Play MC’s lyrical prowess. Jon Phonic’s hypnotic instrumentals provide a perfectly suitable partnership with Baxter’s sharp flow and distinctive style.
The title track is a slow paced, hard hitting cut, with Jon Phonics using filters to build the anticipation and tension, and when the rattling hi hats and thumping kick drum kicks back in it’s clear that this forward thinking hip hop matches Baxter’s lyrical dexterity flawlessly. Jam Baxter’s double time flow is also shown to be in great form, slipping into this alternative style effortlessly. ‘She was well and truly looking like she stumbled through a branch of Boots/Absorbing every product like some black hole of darkened youth’ is just one of the standout bars on this track; Baxter’s ability to combine abstract references with everyday life has always been an interesting and unique way of writing.
High Focus uploaded the video for ‘Rush’ last thursday, and the visual consisting purely of shots of a steak in various stages of consumption certainly wet the appetite of UK hip hop fans. The track is a classic example of the vivid imagery and detailed, graphic metaphorical writings that Jam Baxter has been laying down on tracks for years. With cleverly phrased and structured lyrics such as ‘Brains still pissed that I dragged it out the house’, ‘Rush’ is a track that gets better with each listen. The abstract way of writing displayed throughout this EP often conceals the exact meaning of the lyrics, but this spoken word approach, as well as the thunderous instrumentals, makes for an engaging listen, calling for more attention than the average hip hop tune, and it’s great that we have MC’s and producers willing to make this more left-field style of rap music.
This 4 track EP serves as a warm up to Jam Baxter’s upcoming new solo album, and it’s another slice of fantastic hip hop from the High Focus Records camp. A concise, cohesive EP from 2 very skilled musicians, and let’s hope that ‘Fresh Flesh’ isn’t the last collaboration we hear from Jam Baxter & Jon Phonics!
By Sam Bennett