Dead Players, a trio consisting of rappers Jam Baxter and Dabbla, and Ghosttown handling the production, release their second full length album ‘Freshly Skeletal’ through High Focus Records. With their 2013 self-titled debut LP, Dead Players carved their uptempo, no holds barred niche and delivered impressively. This follow-up continues that trend, but with a somewhat darker overall vibe.
Starting the album off is ‘Oh Well’. The track is perhaps a little slower in pace than to be usually expected from the ultra-energetic trio; Dabbla and Baxter announce their return with cocky and confident microphone presence and complexly structured lyricism, and Ghosttown’s haunting, mysterious production is as up to scratch as ever. The Dead Players have such a unique and forward thinking sound, and this is a testament to the depth of High Focus’ versatile roster. ‘Billa’ is more what I expected; the resounding and frantic production and the aggressive in-your-face spitting creates a high octane track.
‘Nah’, the follow-up to ‘Yeah’ from their first album, is a prime example of Ghosttown’s production talents. Flipping abstract samples to create energetic anthems such as this shows his creativity and skill, and Dabbla and Jam Baxter are two of the only MCs on the circuit who could tackle some of the production on this album with such pace and precision. ‘Call Us Now’, the first single from the album, shows the Dead Players’ charisma and humour, as well as the sheer unstoppable force of Dabbla’s percussive flow. His work in LDZ has always impressed, and his clarity and accuracy on a rhythm is second to none.
Jam Baxter’s imagery laden detailed writing is as sharp as ever on ‘Freshly Skeletal’, and the glitchy, intense ‘Ringing’ is a perfect example. Both Baxter and Dabbla’s authoritative presence makes this LP convincing and entertaining from front to back. ‘Infinite Limousine’ is a fantastic posse cut, featuring Sox, Ocean Wisdom, Illaman and Orifice Vulgatron; the line-up is exciting as it is, and the rapid-fire back-to-back exchange of bars is witty, lively and lives up to expectation. ‘Cooked’ has another exceptional beat from Ghosttown; his resources for sampling are unique, and Dabbla and Jam Baxter’s intricate rhyming are in-the-pocket at all times.
‘Freshly Skeletal’ is another energetic showcase from Dead Players. Dabbla’s work in LDZ has made him a longtime favourite of mine, and Baxter’s solo work is incredibly original in its own right, and together they bring an eclectic sound to the Players. Ghosttown’s production is excellent throughout the album; his unique touch makes the album cohesive and exhilarating. High Focus have smashed it out the park, as per usual.
By Sam Bennett
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