Defenders Of Style, consisting of Prys, Jack Danz, Joe Snow and DJ Sirplus, are leading the way for West Yorkshire hip hop. With their three previous albums they’ve defined a dark, gloomy style with intricate lyricism and unique styles from each MC, and Jack Danz’s production talents speak for themselves. ‘The Death Of Meaning’, their first release as a crew since 2012s ‘Dirty Sterling’ album, is a journey through their signature, characteristic style, without any features. Prys, Jack Danz and Joe Snow are at the best they’ve ever been on this album, delivering an incredible project jam packed with Yorkshire swag and attitude.
From the opening track ‘Mosquito’, the sparse instrumental with haunting sound effects and crunching, crackly drums backs each MC as they tear up the beat. Joe Snow’s savage, cocky tone stands out on this opener, as he spits about the Defenders’ progression with hard punches and memorable flows. The deep bass of ‘Rhyme Or Crime’ is equally as hypnotic. Prys kicks the track off, spitting ‘legs are never closing like my local spar’. These witty lyrics with personal references has always been something I’ve admired about Prys as an MC, and on this album it’s exemplified fantastically. The way Prys, Danz and Joe go back to back on this track makes for a real hip-hop vibe, demonstrating each of their styles to a very high standard.
Joe Snow’s excellent internal rhyme schemes and Prys’ dope wordplay and the fantastic quotable bar ‘turn up stinking of weed and whiskey at the nursery gates’ make ‘Daisy’ another standout. The jazzy cymbals and the intense, punch you in the face like bass of ‘Fit The Mask’ make this beat a hugely enjoyable listen; Danz’s influence behind the boards makes ‘The Death Of Meaning’ a very cohesive project, something that has always impressed on every DS Fam release. His lyrical skills are on point as ever too, dropping imagery laden bars with excellent multisyllabics and True Detective references to boot. Memorable lines such as ‘doing 90 in the hearse, son I’m undertaking’ show Danz’s unique style, not too far removed from the Lee Scott and Jam Baxter school of lyricism.
The pace quickens on ‘Moon Moods’, with a beat laced with what sounds like pots and pans and a grimey bassline with airy synths. Punchlines, wordplay and screwface inducing flows, from Prys in particular, combine in expert manner. ‘Shakedown (419 Part 2)’ is another standout. The sequel to the cut from the Leeds group’s last album, each spitter drops heavy bars about their day to day experiences with attitude and impressive deliveries. The longest track on the album, ‘The Meaning Of Death’ is potentially my favourite. With an intense instrumental and straight up bars packed with punches, introspective lyricism and complex flows from each spitter, this is a strong contender for one of the best UK hip-hop tracks this year.
With the DS members dropping dope verses about today’s society on ‘Burn’, along with a really effective chorus, and the skippy ‘Old’s Cool’, which features one of the best Danz verses on the album, the album’s last third is as strong as the first two. ‘Debbie McGee’ with nice textures and crisp drums, with excellent writing from each member of the group is another heavy cut, before the album closes out with ‘Kaleidoscope Vision’. This is a perfect finisher, with a beat guaranteed to keep your head nodding, and first class spitting as always.
‘The Death Of Meaning’ is an exceptional album front to back, without one weak track on it. These Leeds heads have delivered a consistent, cohesive and truly dope rap album, showcasing what West Yorkshire hip hop is all about. With menacing production with intense atmospheres and fantastic spitting throughout, there’s nothing bad I can say. Get this in your life.
By Sam Bennett