Jam Baxter – Mansion 38 (Review)

Jam Baxter, Reviews

With his fourth full length studio album, revered MC Jam Baxter delivers creative lyricism and imaginative angles in abundance on ‘Mansion 38’, the latest release from the insanely talented High Focus Records. The LP is orchestrated by the versatile producer Chemo, and the pair continue the groundwork they started on Baxter’s last album ‘…So We Ate Them Whole’, but things get a little more gloomy this time round.

Opening with the anthemic and traditionally vivid ‘Down’, the tense, overcast and encapsulating ethos of the album is instantly apparent. Chemo’s synthetic, glitchy production moves seamlessly with Baxter’s unique structure and dense lyricism. ‘Dumb’ features Trellion and Lee Scott, and the combination is as witty as you would imagine. Trellion has been on an incredible run recently, and the slow-moving boom bap is perfect for the cleverest dumb bars you’ve heard since the last Trelli verse you clocked. The double-time flows and sparse beat is a brilliantly successful formula for the cinematic ‘For A Limited Time Only’. The Contact Play MC blends a mixture of weird imagery and complex, layered writing with a cocky, street-smart vibe that makes his material wildly entertaining.

The trapped out ‘Soi 36’ is an absolute banger; the single from the album exemplifies Baxter’s flawless ability to mix an unashamedly leftfield vibe with a current, accessible presentation. Lee Scott appears on the flawless ‘Titanic 2’; the bouncy, pounding instrumental, skippy, imaginative flows and cutting, satirical lyrics make the swagged-out track a standout. The charisma on display here from two of the UK’s leading artists is a testament to the talent on offer from the crop of MC’s active right now, and High Focus is a well oiled platform for these wordsmiths to shine. ‘Just Us’ is a characteristically off-kilter introspective cut, and Jammothy’s rugged lifestyle is described in great detail over a bouncy Chemo soundscape. The use of the word ‘shmerkle’ in a bar also deserves respect in it’s own right.

‘Bulletproof’ is a highlight, and the silky piano-based beat is perfect for Baxter’s smooth flow and eclectic bars; he drifts from topic to topic seamlessly and with an underlying gritty undercurrent to his writing. Fellow CP spitter Dirty Dike accompanies on the crisp ‘Chateaux In Toulouse’ which also finds fellow Dead Player Dabbla killing his verse, as is always the case for the veteran MC. The collaborations sprinkled across ‘Mansion 38’ are utilised excellently, and the album maintains it cohesion throughout, and the gifted Chemo must get a lot of the credit for that. The sophisticated ‘Teeth Marks’ is expertly executed with complex lyrics lacing the sporadic drums and haunting synthwork, filling the space with finesse and masterful precision.

‘Mansion 38’ is a exhilerating album that gives a fascinating insight into one of the most creative and talented lyricists of our generation. Jam Baxter has been quietly growing his stature in the UK scene (possibly the cringiest sentence on this blog yet), with a string of quality releases, and this LP solidifies his place as one that is surely to continue his ascent with future work. As diverse as they come, Baxter is such a clearly gifted lyricist, and Chemo such an amazing producer, it’s really no surprise at all that this is an early contender for album of the year.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@ActualJamBaxter

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com

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Jam Baxter – Live At The HiFi Club – Leeds – 21/06/15 (Live Review)

Jam Baxter, Live Reviews

The Sunday Joint at HiFi is a regular destination for fans of live music, and their consistency in picking acts on the cusp of their relevant scenes is impressive. A hungover Jam Baxter, who is an intense and skilled rapper signed to the powerhouse that is High Focus Records, takes to the stage tonight, with DJ Sammy B-Side accompanying him on the wheels of steel.

Feature-Jam-Baxter

Opening with ‘Incoming’, from his phenomenal recent album ‘…So We Ate Them Whole’, Baxter is a one man tour de force, demonstrating a quality live delivery and imagery laden lyricism, something he has built a stellar reputation for. He takes it back to 2012 with ‘Fine’, from the ‘Gruesome Features’ album, and Baxter’s rhyme schemes and excellent flow impress from start to finish.

Jam Baxter keeps the vibe and party atmosphere up by handing vodka to willing participants in the crowd, and if that wasn’t enough the hard hitting electronic production exemplified and explored on Baxter’s latest album sounds incredibly heavy in a live situation. ‘Fresh Flesh’ also impresses, taken from his EP with fantastic producer Jon Phonics.

As one half of Dead Players (along with LDZ representative Dabbla), Jam Baxter has mastered the art of hyped up, energetic music with rapid flows and confident deliveries. The duo’s debut album is a powerful and cohesive project, and tracks like ‘Winning’, ‘Ever’ and ‘Yeah’ all show just how on point Baxter’s flows and deliveries are. His versatile skill set is something to be applauded.

The Contact Play spitter takes the mood back with the classic cut ‘Brains’. The thought-provoking lyricism and concepts, as well as the head-nodding instrumental make this track a highlight. He finishes his set with ‘Leash’, an uptempo, in your face track from his latest album. The intimate, receptive Leeds crowd have rocked with Baxter solidly, and with good reason. His energy, consistency and performance have all been really enjoyable, with a dope selection of tracks from a range of projects.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@ActualJamBaxter

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com

Jam Baxter – …So We Ate Them Whole (Review)

Jam Baxter, Reviews

Every time a High Focus Records release comes around I struggle to find new words to describe the massive influence they have over, and the fantastic music they contribute to, today’s UK hip hop scene. ‘…So We Ate Them Whole’ is the new record from Jam Baxter, one of the most intricate and descriptive lyricists operating in the game today, and it’s solely produced by the exceptional Chemo. The album features vivid, detailed metaphors in abundance, and Chemo provides consistently hard hitting production, whether it’s on a more hip hop vibe, or on Dead Players esque tracks like the lead single ‘Leash’. 

Cavery_12in_spined

The album starts off with the haunting ‘Wings Cost Extra’, which finds Jammy B weaving intricate bars over minimal keys and jazzy drums. This project instantly seems like a more mature Baxter, with perhaps a more personal approach than his previous work, despite still maintaining the layered and veiled  content that is so effective. The aggressive and convincing delivery on ‘Incoming’ is perfectly matched to the spacey, futuristic instrumental. JB’s choice to work with Chemo was definitely a wise one, as the crunchy, boom bap drums are present throughout the album and, blended with his unique, electronic approach, is so well suited to Baxter’s distinctive style.

When ‘Leash’ hit my YouTube screen a couple of weeks ago, it smacked me in the face with such force I don’t think it came off repeat all night. Jam Baxter’s ability to absolutely kill this amped up style of production has always been apparent, but it was on his collaboration album with Dabbla (as Dead Players) that its full potential became so obvious. This track continues the vibe of that album, and it’s another absolute banger. The glitchy, abstract beat found on ‘Everything’ is definitely a standout, and the haunting left-field instrumental backs Baxter’s intelligently placed multisyllabics and intricate flow. This is definitely an example of Jammothy exploring new avenues and styles, but he always keeps the mood consistent, and the partnership with Chemo has definitely resulted in an exceptionally cohesive album.

The importance of the smart and perceptive production that Chemo contributes cannot be understated, and this is as apparent as ever on ‘Vines’. The atmospheric and spacious beat gives Baxter room to deliver his cleverly crafted lyrics, and the use of smartly placed vocal samples only adds to the tense backdrop. The only guest appearance on the album is on ‘Menu’. This track finds Jam Baxter and Dirty Dike trading verses about their appearances on the road, both approaching the track with an inflammatory and cocky perspective, and it’s definitely a highlight. DJ Sammy B-Side laces the track with his signature cuts, and no High Focus album would be complete without an appearance from the resident turntablist.

‘…So We Ate Them Whole’ is a truly dope album, with cohesive production and intricate lyrics from beginning to end. Jam Baxter and Chemo have created a vivid, haunting project, and the unique approach of both MC and producer combines to result in another hard hitting High Focus project. These boys are constantly releasing quality music, and their reign is only just beginning.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@ActualJamBaxter

@HighFocusUK

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com

Jam Baxter & Jon Phonics – Fresh Flesh (Review)

Jam Baxter, Jon Phonics, Reviews

High Focus Records show no sign of slowing down. There have been some quality releases coming out of the UK powerhouse in 2014, and this latest offering see’s 2 of the countries most talented hip hop musicians team up to provide us with a four track EP entitled ‘Fresh Flesh’. Jam Baxter & Jon Phonics first collaborated back in 2010, on the ‘Half Past Calm 2’ album, and 4 years later comes this introspective, ultra-lyrical affair.

Fresh Flesh EP Front Cover

Jam Baxter is one of the scenes most respected lyricists; his in depth imagery and wide range of vocabulary combine to create vivid pictures translated expertly through the Contact Play MC’s lyrical prowess. Jon Phonic’s hypnotic instrumentals provide a perfectly suitable partnership with Baxter’s sharp flow and distinctive style.

The title track is a slow paced, hard hitting cut, with Jon Phonics using filters to build the anticipation and tension, and when the rattling hi hats and thumping kick drum kicks back in it’s clear that this forward thinking hip hop matches Baxter’s lyrical dexterity flawlessly. Jam Baxter’s double time flow is also shown to be in great form, slipping into this alternative style effortlessly. ‘She was well and truly looking like she stumbled through a branch of Boots/Absorbing every product like some black hole of darkened youth’ is just one of the standout bars on this track; Baxter’s ability to combine abstract references with everyday life has always been an interesting and unique way of writing.

High Focus uploaded the video for ‘Rush’ last thursday, and the visual consisting purely of shots of a steak in various stages of consumption certainly wet the appetite of UK hip hop fans. The track is a classic example of the vivid imagery and detailed, graphic metaphorical writings that Jam Baxter has been laying down on tracks for years. With cleverly phrased and structured lyrics such as ‘Brains still pissed that I dragged it out the house’, ‘Rush’ is a track that gets better with each listen. The abstract way of writing displayed throughout this EP often conceals the exact meaning of the lyrics, but this spoken word approach, as well as the thunderous instrumentals, makes for an engaging listen, calling for more attention than the average hip hop tune, and it’s great that we have MC’s and producers willing to make this more left-field style of rap music.

This 4 track EP serves as a warm up to Jam Baxter’s upcoming new solo album, and it’s another slice of fantastic hip hop from the High Focus Records camp. A concise, cohesive EP from 2 very skilled musicians, and let’s hope that ‘Fresh Flesh’ isn’t the last collaboration we hear from Jam Baxter & Jon Phonics!

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@ActualJamBaxter

@JonPhonics

http://high-focus.com