Blah Records haven’t stopped working this year; 2016 has been filled with an abundance of dope projects from the independent powerhouse, and Black Josh’s highly anticipated LP ‘Ape Tape’ continues the trend. The Mancunian MC has a diverse style, and has been building his buzz steadily through some successful projects such as the ‘Smoking Kills’ EP, as well his work with 0161 crew Levelz, and this is a concise release to close the year out.
Josh kicks things off with ‘Yung Ratchet’, which is preceeded by a vocal intro from our evening’s host, Manchester legend Chimpo; the trapped out production and cocky vocals are executed with confidence and undeniable energy, and the incredibly simplistic ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah’ chant in the hook is guaranteed to nestle itself in your ears in the days after hearing it. Cult Mountain feature on ‘Gezuntight’, and it’s is an early highlight; with swegged out lyricism, wavey flows and a slow-moving, looming beat this is classic 616 material, and the kids are bound to be hooked on their unique sarcastic take on synthesized ignorance. Milkavelli, Lee Scott, Trellion and Black Josh all come correct on this cut, with far too many quotable lines to count.
‘Lo Fi’ has a clear traditional, nineties influence, and Josh recruits frequent collaborator and fellow Mancunian MC D’Lyfa Reilly for the smooth, laidback Clay-produced track. The raw, energetic follow-up ‘Henne Boize’ is a standout from ‘The Ape Tape’ with crisp drums, funky bassline and an infectious sample-loop; Black Josh’s ability to deliver witty lyricism and flow with precision (bars) over various styles of production is very refreshing, and this makes the project consistently entertaining, and keeps the listener on their toes. The more restrained approach continues on ‘Riches’, before the project closes out on the excellent ‘Late Night Walkin’
‘Ape Tape’ is an eclectic project; it’s polished and enjoyable from front to back, and Chimpo’s hosting is certainly entertaining. No matter your stylistic preference, this release is guaranteed to have something to your taste, and Black Josh’s skill is such that even the most traditionalist boom-bap aficionado will be bouncing to the sounds of tracks like ‘Gezuntight’. Shouts to Blah for delivering the goods once more; we’ve still got a few months left this year, can they fit any more product in before we welcome in 2017? We’ll have to cross our fingers and patiently wait for the Cult’s plans to become apparent.
By Sam Bennett