Blacastan is a familiar name in underground hip-hop circles. The Hanford, Connecticut rapper has gained notoriety with a steady stream of albums that pride themselves on lyrical content, and as a member of the formidable Army Of The Pharoahs collective. ‘The Uncanny Adventures Of Watson & Holmes’ finds him collaborating with respected beatsmith Stu Bangas on the follow up to their 2014 release ‘Watson & Homes’, and it’s another dope one for Blacastan’s ever growing high-calibre catalogue.
The electric guitar laced ‘Lucifer’s Sickle’ is a fitting opener for the LP; the album is stylistically geared towards the grit and as far away from the glamour as possible, and you couldn’t get a duo more apt at delivering that than Blacastan and Stu Bangas. Connecticut lyricist Apathy features on the relentlessly banging ‘Summa Cum Laude’, which also employs DJ Slipwax on the cuts, and the overload of punches is sure to have fans of the ultra-aggressive style smashing rewind. ‘Commando’ finds Stu Bangas contributing a sparse beat with sharp, interjecting stabs that allow Blacastan to showcase his dexterity as he adapts to the leftfield production like only a professional could.
‘Blac-O-Teric’ is a brutal onslaught of bars from Blacastan and Esoteric. The two respected underground spitters demolish an unconventional beat, and Stu once again displays his enthralling versatility with this captivating production. ‘War Crimes’ is a Hanford to Queensbridge connection, as Blac recruits veteran MC Tragedy Khadafi for the upfront, in-your-face bar session. That trend continues with the breathtaking ‘Sin City’. Stu and Blacastan are completely in sync, and the technical skill of both beatmaker and lyricist is tremendous.
It’s a testament to the respect the AOTP representative commands that so many revered writers are featured on the LP. Ill Bill and 7L appear on the brilliant ‘Delete’; Bangas often reaches for electric-guitars to form the basis of his beats on the album, and the spy theme-esque sequences are perfect for the concept of the LP. The haunting, eery sound of ‘Murder Mystery II’ makes this a highlight, and Blacastan displays his storytelling ability, and the scope of his skill-set is exemplified across the album.
This collaboration is an example of when a rapper and producer are on the same page, and the results are unfaltering and stellar. ‘The Uncanny Adventures Of Watson & Holmes’ is a masterclass in unapologetic, hardcore hip-hop, and the unique sonic direction that Stu Bangas showcases here is a perfect partnership for Blacastan’s razor sharp tongue. If you like your raps upfront and in your face, you need look no further than this.
By Sam Bennett