High Focus are back, and kicking off 2017 is Strange U, one of the most dynamic, exciting and off-the wall weird groups we’ve heard for a long time. Veteran MC Kashmere partners with equally revered producer Dr. Zygote for an album that is wildly entertaining, vividly imaginative and downright banging from front to back.
‘Terminator Funk’ is a bouncy, hard-hitting opener, and Kashmere’s precision and enthusiastic delivery is sublimely delivered over a glitchy, instrumental laced with off-kilter cymbals and textured synthesizers that are as frantic as Kashmere’s perfectly executed flows. Blah Records representative Lee Scott appears on the raw single ‘Bullet Proof Mustache’, which is complete with references that are both insanely amusing and undeniably strange, a theme that is a common characteristic of both Strange U and Dr. Scott’s material, so it’s no surprise this track is as successful as it is.
The outlandish imagery and creative punchlines continue on the brash, relentlessly thumping ‘Shots’; the aggressive, in-your-face tone of the album is matched with plenty of unorthodox, futuristic content. Zygote’s grimey bassline and crunchy drums back King Kash as he drops with effortless authority over a tough instrumental. Leftfield samples and instrumentation continue on the blistering ‘Cimmerin Shade’; Zygote expertly crafts cinematic, electronic production that pounds and pounds with crisp drums and inventive synth-work.
‘Grizzle’ is a potential highlight; the funky production with a deep bassline and brilliantly inserted sound effects create a space-age soundscape and Kashmere’s braggadocio raps and laced with quotables only he can bring; “nephilim brains on large barbecues” is a surefire case in point. The ecologically aware ‘Eden’s Husk’ features a traditionally impeccable verse from legendary UK lyricist Jehst, and the thought-provoking, social commentary is delivered in typically eccentric Strange U fashion. The assault of surreal lyricism continues, and the quirky production and bizarre sci-fi-themed verses of ‘Hank Henshaw’ is another compelling cut from ‘#LP4080′; the LP is inspired, and is further testament to High Focus’ increasingly extensive and always impressive roster.
‘Mumm Ra’ is an enthralling, crisp banger that exudes raw attitude and charisma from both producer and MC. High Focus head-honcho Fliptrix appears on the wonderfully sparse ‘Illuminations’, and the entertaining, energetic flows from both Kashmere and Flipper make it a late highlight. ‘Waste Of Space’ is an instant headbanger, with funky double-bass riffs and powerful drums, and the album closes out in sublime fashion with ‘Zuul’, which also features legendary Nottingham MC Cappo who drops an absolutely huge verse on ‘#LP4080’s finale.
There’s not a moment on here that doesn’t hold your attention, and Kashmere and Zygote’s unashamedly weird and off-kilter creation is one that will have you repeating again and again. There’s a great blend of social commentary and hard-hitting bravado in the lyrical content, and the relentless tone of the production allows ‘#LP4080’ to maintain a very impressive level of cohesion and consistency. High Focus have got off to a fantastic start of the year with this release, and with Jam Baxter’s ‘Mansion 38’ just around the corner, 2017 is going to be a very exciting twelve months for the independent powerhouse.