Heavy Links – Step Up To Get Your Rep (Review)

Heavy Links, Reviews

Lincoln trio Heavy Links deliver the debut album ‘Step Up To Get Your Rep Up’, and it’s a continuation of the sound the collective have developed over the years. They’ve released a wealth of material, but this is the first full length, and Habitat, El Tel The Dopeness and Donnie Propa demonstrate their talent for straight up, no frills, nineties influenced rap music across the LP’s eleven tracks.

‘Mic Check’ is the opening track, following a slick boom bap intro, and the hard-hitting drums and subtle vocal chops are a perfect introduction to the Lincoln crew if you’re unfamiliar with their work. They have a discography that exemplifies their technical lyrical approach; busy bars are crammed full with syllables, and the unique direction has allowed them to carve their own niche, whilst maintaining a strictly traditional hip-hop ethos throughout their career.

The relentless dusty kicks and snares continue throughout; the professional, clear mix is really impressive, and tracks like ‘Rope Chain Hierarchy’ stand out because of it. Reverb-drenched soul samples, punchy drums and polished penmanship combine to make one of the album’s standout songs. The crisp boom bap is effortlessly executed on the excellent ‘On The Real’, and the descriptive, imagery infused bars are delivered with sophistication and clear experience.

The LP is populated by some dope instrumental interludes, and El Tel’s production throughout ‘Step Up To Get Your Rep Up’ is authentic, golden era hip-hop to that very last hi hat. The album is sure to be on any rap connoisseur’s rotation with it’s consistent, cohesive sound. The project is free to download, but there are physicals available too, so make sure you support this one; Heavy Links are representing the East Midlands to the fullest with this one, and their homegrown hip-hop is seamlessly delivered.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@HeavyLinksRap

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://heavylinksrap.com/album/step-up-to-get-your-rep-up

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Chris Rivers – Delorean (Review)

Chris Rivers, Reviews

Bronx lyricist Chris Rivers has developed his reputation as one of the young MCs on the circuit to keep a keen eye on. A string of solid mixtape releases and heavy feature verses has found the East Coast MC steadily building his acclaim and respect amongst peers and listeners alike. Renowned for being the son of legendary rapper Big Pun, ‘Delorean’ is his debut album release, and it finds him carving out his own niche across the lengthy project.

Opening with the textured, energetic title-track, Chris Rivers sets the tone of the uptempo, dense sounds found across this debut project. Intricate writing and precise flows are exhibited over a rowdy, synthetic production that is perfect for Chris’ complex structures. ‘Bag’ finds the east coast wordsmith embracing the current sound for a relentless, banger beat, and Rivers’ confident delivery makes it a definite success. ‘Chris Time Zone’ is the first in a series of short, boom bap cuts that break up the album, and the rapid-fire spitting is solidly in-pocket, and the soulful beat is head-nodding hypnotic hip-hop at it’s best.

The smooth flows of ‘Old Thing Back’ are silkily executed; the radio-friendly cut is still packed with hip-hop sensibilities (just listen to the great hook, performed by vocalist Lydia Ceaser), and it’s a testament to Chris Rivers’ authenticity that this is delivered so impressively. Frequent collaborator Whispers kills his feature on the second in the ‘Time Zone’ series, and the melodic delivery and punchline-laced lyricism makes this a dope, short-knit appearance. Rivers recruits a selection of New York legends for the brilliant ‘Fair One’; Lil Fame, Sheek Louch and Styles P destroy the classic, hard-hitting boom bap beat with a series of forceful verses.

Rising New York spitter Oswin Benjamin features on the third and final installment of the ‘Time Zone’ series; his laidback tone is infused with charisma, whilst maintaining heartfelt emotion in his delivery throughout the two-minute track. Oswin also appears on the following cut, ‘No Gives’. Skippy flows fall over a simplistic, trap-infused beat, and the mixture of traditional influence and modern direction is a fitting vibe for the ‘Delorean’ name. The LP still manages to maintain it’s cohesion, and for a debut project, it was definitely an ambitious undertaking. Decauter rapper Jarren Benton kills his feature on the standout ‘Nothing’; the two lyricists weave seamlessly with frantic bars over an intense production.

Chris Rivers exhibits an eclectic ear on ‘Delorean’, and the varied approach makes the ride far more entertaining than your average trip. The LP is populated by one or two many interludes, but the dense lyrical approach, classy production and consistent quality makes this an impressive first outing for the Bronx MC.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@OnlyChrisRivers

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.itunes.apple.com/us/album/delorean/id1251204391

Bugzy Malone – King Of The North (Review)

Bugzy Malone, Reviews

Bugzy Malone has built a dedicated fanbase with a number of hughly viewed videos and a series of dope EP’s. He’s been grinding for years, with mixtapes dating back to the beginning of the decade, but it’s in recent hears that he’s catapaulted to the forefront of the scene. ‘King Of The North’ finds him sending shots at his rivals over dense, stylish beats with his signature swagger on full display.

Bugzy demonstrates his acclaimed energy on the relentless ‘Aggy Wid It’. Connor McGregor punchlines, technical lyricism and confidence in abundance is a perfect partner for the raw, rowdy production on this early highlight. It’s easy to see why the Mancunian MC is so revered by fans around the country. Legendary garage duo DJ Luck and MC Neat appear on the uptempo ‘Through The Night’. Bugzy’s ability to blend authentic, aggressive bars with catchy hooks has taken him to stratospheric levels, and his execution on this banger is a shining example.

‘Bruce Wayne’ is classic Malone. The intense, gritty verses are delivered at high speed with a formidable presence and precise flow. The simplistic chorus is flawless, and the track doesn’t let the energy slip for a second; if you’ve not seen the brilliant visuals for this single you need to get that YouTube tab open right now. The EP closes out with the swelling synths and rattling hi-hats of ‘Sniper’. Bugzy ends with a quality track that finds him declaring himself the sickest spitter out here with distinctive flows that switch-up at a moment’s notice.

‘King Of The North’ is a bold claim; there’s a huge number of talented MC’s in the various cities around the top half of the country, but Bugzy Malone is most definitely in the conversation. The eight-track EP is a reminder of his formidable flow, unmistakable voice and passionate presence, and he delivers a very entertaining project with this consistently lively selection.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@TheBugzyMalone

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.thebugzymaloneshow.co.uk

El Prez & Coopatroop – Labtrappincalifornia (Review)

Coopatroop, El Prez, Reviews

Inglewood rapper El Prez links up with Coopatroop for his latest release entitled ‘Labtrappincalifornia’. The MC & producer partnership results in stellar music here, and Prez’s distinct west-coast style is perfectly complimented by the New Jersey beatsmith’s eclectic techniques behind the boards.

The LP opens with ‘Highs + Lows’; the jazzy keys are spliced with swelling synthesizers as El Prez showcases his hazy, chilled-delivery and smooth flow over Coopatroop’s bouncy, trap-infused flavours. The duo blend traditional boom bap with an up-to-date twist, and the mellow highlight ’20 Karats On The Wrist’ impresses with a simplistic, catchy hook, subtle vocal presence and crisp, groovy beat. The chemistry on display here is quite clear, and the cohesive, under-stated hip-hop is executed with exhilerating sophistication.

C Plus features on the uptempo title-track, and the melodic, skippy flows are backed by a cool, wavy instrumental, with the expert chops of Coopatoop on full display once again. ‘The Winners Is…’ finds Queens spitter Koncept appearing with a dope, charismatic verse, and the raw, glitchy production mixed with the cocky deliveries of both talented MCs makes the hard-hitting track one of the best tracks of the album. The soulful ‘Hall Of Fame’ is a stylish closer. The eclectic styles on display across the project is a testament to the prowess of the two musicians, and it all just sounds so effortless.

El Prez has a discography packed with solid releases, and after a couple of years without a project dropping, ‘Labtrappincalifornia’ is welcome return for the California lyricist. Coopatroop puts in the work here too, and the collaboration between rapper and producer results in a consistent and polished sound that makes this LP a definite underground sleeper.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@ElPrezdeLA

@Coopatroop

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.elprez.bandcamp.com/album/labtrappincalifornia

 

Agallah – Agnum Opus (Review)

Agallah, Reviews

Agallah is one of the most respected spitters in the game; the east coast wordsmith has been representing New York across all corners of the globe, and his formidable lyricism commands both the respect and attention of those in his presence. ‘Agnum Opus’ is a short, cohesive project. At an eleven-track runtime, The Don Bishop weaves his way through the self-produced soundscape with insightful verses laced with his ever-sharp knack for grimey punchlines.

Ag opens the project with his traditional raw, hard-hitting demeanour; the intense, spacious instrumental of ‘Finito’ allows The Don Bishop to convey his rhymes with intent and an impactful delivery, and the gritty specialist is still as compelling as ever. The soulful, punchy production of ‘Top Of The Food Chain’ makes it an early highlight, and the veteran Brooklyn spitter exhudes confidence. His longevity has been characterised by his gravelly tone, polished flow and battle-ready punchlines, and in later years he has matched this with an accomplished maturity in both production and lyrical ability.

The dramatic production and slow-moving, savage writing from the established East Coast artist are a winning formula on the dense, textured banger ‘Blood On The Grams’. Ag’s distinct New York flavours make his verses relentlessly energetic across the duration of the LP, and the consistently pounding drums hold the combination together unfalteringly. The jazzy keys on ‘Metaphorically’ are matched with chopped vocal samples and a frantic, in-your-face drum break. Agallah demonstrates his precise flow, intellectual writing and rhythmic agility with a masterful touch. The LP finishes with ‘Act Accordingly’, and it closes out another seamless project to add to the catalogue.

Versatility, showmanship and an effortless presence, Agallah delivers top quality material throughout ‘Agnum Opus’. His gritty, street-smart lyricism and expert production touches are a testament to his all round skill-set. Ag is hip-hop through and through; he’s been grinding for years, and is still releasing exhilerating, high-brow rap music for the underground connoisseur decades after first entering the game.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@AgallahFaro

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.itunes.apple.com/us/album/agnum-opus/id1247682089

Von Poe VII – The Hype (Review)

Reviews, Von Poe VII

Von Poe VII is a representative of the Riverside collective Organized Threat, and he has been slowly building a following with the release of some quality, well-received albums over the past two years, and ‘The Hype’ completes a trilogy of LP’s with resounding success. Poe has released music under some different aliases (you may have heard of him as Poetic Death), but this latest project finds him delivering on all fronts, with an engaging maturity and undeniable skill.

Opening with ‘Voicemails From Joogy’ is a melodic introduction, and the twinkling, jazzy piano keys find Von Poe demonstrating a sophistication and effortless precision that instantly sets you down and prepares you for the next fifty minutes of stylish lyricism. The maturity in the Riverside spitter’s content is executed beautifully on ‘Youth & Adolesence’; the reflective verses are masterfully composed, and the captivating vocal performance and soulful production make this track a remarkably absorbing experience.

The slow-moving subtlety of ‘Vices’ makes it a highlight from ‘The Hype’. The eclectic flows, retrospective writing and strong melodies make the LP accessible for the casual listener and substantial for those that want to divulge the content explored and lessons taught through Von Poe VII’s expert craftsmanship. The soulful, upbeat funk influence of ‘Self Love’ is reminiscent of recent Anderson. Paak and Kendrick Lamar material, and with the intelligent lyricism and discerning musicality displayed throughout the LP, Von Poe VII should be well on his way to being mentioned amongst such respected company.

‘Iscariot’ is a raw and gritty banger, and the moody piano sample creates a hazed out, intense mood for the savage west coast wordsmith to paint street-smart pictures with a confidence and swagger that rides the line perfectly between distinct Californian inflections and east coast inspired boom bap beats. Von Poe VII’s intricate rhymes and provocative lyrics on ‘Staccato’ make it one of the LP’s most cuts. The crisp, reverb-drenched snares keep the charismatic, free-flowing delivery perfectly in the pocket, and the hypnotic, dreamy guitar samples are another example of the consistently accomplished production-value found on ‘The Hype’.

With sparkling keys once again lacing the track, the instrumental of the title-track exemplifies the uplifting, jazzy direction of the album. The unorthodox flows and quality melodic undertones explored across the release make Von Poe’s ability and depth as an artist clear to see, and the talented musician exhibits an experienced and accomplished presence whenever he graces the microphone. The LP finishes on the fantastic ‘Closure (No Apologies)’, and the modern, summery vibe is accompanied with characteristically humble, insightful writing from the Riverside rapper, whose bars, melodies and choruses are faultless from start to finish.

‘The Hype’ is an incredible piece of music, and hopefully the title is a nod to things to come for the insanely talented Von Poe VII. Some well chosen guest appearances and a consistent, cohesive backdrop to his technically gifted, eclectic lyricism. There’s not a weak track to be found here, and upon reaching the closing stages you’ll be astonished at how this guy is still bubbling below the radar. Be a part of the movement before it’s common knowledge.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@VONPOEVII

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.vonpoevii.com

 

Bisk – Yasuke (Review)

Bisk, Reviews

Bisk returns with yet another project for fans of the underground lyricist to fiend over; the brilliantly consistent and dedicated wordsmith drops ‘Yasuke’, a six-track EP produced entirely by veteran rapper and producer Lee Scott. The subtle, lofi production is matched with smoked out, gritty verses from Bisk throughout this succinct project.

Blah Records veteran Salar accompanies on early highlight ‘Nina’; the slow-moving, dark flavours of the instrumental are perfect for Bisk’s hushed, menacing tones. Salar’s cocky delivery and hard-hitting quotables are on full display too, and the collaboration is a testament to the longstanding quality of the Cult’s material. The Blah camp has been ahead of the curve since it’s inception, and it’s great that those so important to it’s early success are still putting in the work. ‘The Art Of War’ is a crisp, jazzy cut and Bisk’s intricate writing, creative references and raw vocal are endlessly entertaining. It’s no surprise he’s one of the most hotly tipped MC’s on the circuit right now.

The stuttered snare drums and complex lyricism of ‘Ronin’ make it a memorable track; the building intensity and aggression are enthralling, and Bisk sounds so comfortable as he laces the off-kilter beat with his precise, recognisable flow. Salar appears once again on the dusty banger ‘Tzunami’. The simple loop allows the Liverpool and London spitters to weave seamlessly across the chopped samples, and the attitude and confidence on show make for one of the best tracks from the ‘Yasuke’ EP. Precise internal rhymes and hard-hitting punchlines of ‘Ravioli’ make it an energetic closer, and the concise project is masterfully executed and undeniably entertaining from start to finish.

Serving as a prelude to a full length Bisk project with Lee Scott as the sole producer, ‘Yasuke’ is another dope release to add to the growing catalogue. Bisk’s versatility and creative style makes him a truly distinctive artist, and the sheer abundance of quality material the London MC is bringing to the table makes him one of the most interesting characters in the scene. Blah Records already carries a formidable reputation, but with releases and artists of this stature on it’s roster, the collective is only going to continue grow.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@BlahRecords

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.blahrecords.com

 

Jehst – Billy Green Is Dead (Review)

Jehst, Reviews

Every few years the UK scene is refreshed by the return of one it’s greats. Jehst is one of the most respected, influential and consistently brilliant rappers on the circuit, and in his later years he has grown much beyond the traditional hip-hop sensibilities he made his name with. ‘Billy Green Is Dead’ sees the legendary MC explore off-kilter beats and complex themes throughout this release, and Jehst’s penmanship is still as smooth as it was in the late nineties.

The album gets underway with ‘Billy’s Green Theme’; Jehst has developed such a stellar reputation due to his identifiable, incredibly relatable lyricism and sophisticated, ultra-calm delivery, and this opener puts Billy Brimstone’s skill-set in full display. Jehst fully embraces the futuristic, leftfield sound of the experimental on this release. Tracks like the intense, glitchy ‘Kennedy’, which features fellow YNR head Confucius MC, are hugely captivating; both the production and the lyricism shows such depth, and Jehst’s years of experience in making boundary-pushing, mature hip-hop make the quirky sound of this release another effortless achievement.

The synthetic, sparse ‘Household Name’ features Jyager, and the eighties-influenced production with it’s groovy bassline and swelling synths, is a great backdrop for the two lyricists to ask a number of questions to both themselves and the listener. They describe the mundane, celebrity-obsessed culture of our times with cutting detail and witty observations. ’44th Flour’ is a raw, lofi banger, and the muffled drums and distorted synth-lines allow Jehst’s complex writing take centre stage. The single has already had a hugely positive reception online, and deservedly so; the track still stands strong in the context of the album though, and the unashamedly weird sonic-direction of the album is endlessly entertaining.

The jazzy ‘Smoke Screen’, which finds Ennio Lion and Mr. Thing accompanying (alongside an uncredited Rag N Bone Man), is a return to the familiar smoky boom bap that Jehst is so formidable at. There’s a reason he has inspired a generation of British MC’s, and it’s the tasteful execution showcased on this cut that is so important in his reputation being so revered. The intricate, subtle ‘Eulogy’ is a definite highlight from ‘Billy Green Is Dead’; Jehst’s lyrical prowess is on full display as he drops witty punchlines with an impeccable flow and experienced delivery. He’s one of the most consistent MC’s in the game, and he’s as strong in 2017 as when he first burst onto the scene.

Another year, another quality album boxed off from Jehst. The catalogue is increasingly impressive, and ‘Billy Green Is Dead’ finds Jehst sounding more mature, diverse and thought-provoking than ever. The LP is sonically challenging, but it’s well worth the effort to fully appreciate the talent on display here. The loose-narrative is enthralling, but the story told through Jehst’s channeling of Billy Green is one we can relate to, and it’s this characteristic that makes the YNR founder one of the finest lyricists around.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@JehstOfficial

@YNRProductions

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.ynr-productions.co.uk

Blacastan & Stu Bangas – The Uncanny Adventures Of Watson & Holmes (Review)

Blacastan, Reviews, Stu Bangas

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

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@Blacastan

@Stu_Bangas

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-uncanny-adventures-of-watson-holmes/id1230271712

Ramson Badbonez & DJ Fingerfood – Hypnodic (Review)

DJ Fingerfood, Ramson Badbonez

Revered MC Ramson Badbonez partners with producer and turntablist DJ Fingerfood for the wildly entertaining ‘Hypnodic’. The concise thirteen track album features a selection of heavy lyricists and production that will have those necks snapping in that familiar rhythm from front to back.

The title track is an early reminder of Ramson’s savage flow and charismatic style. His tone is perfectly balanced between aggressive energy and experienced clarity, and the raw production is the perfect backdrop. ‘Stir Fried’ is a quirky boom bap banger, and Badbonez drops descriptive punchlines with his characteristic hard-hitting delivery. ‘Hypnodic’ has a fantastic run of tracks to get underway; the crisp, jazzy samples of ‘Find Me’ are beautifully executed, and Fingerfood’s cuts are a welcome addition.

Frequent collaborator M.A.B. blesses the punchy, bouncing beat of ‘Anti Convo’, and the chemistry between the two gritty lyricists is blindingly apparent as they trade battle-ready stanzas over the rough and rugged instrumental. The legendary MC and producer Leaf Dog accompanies Ramson on ‘Mental Clix’, and both artists deliver unorthodox flows over the traditional production, which employs dramatic samples to build the intensity until the track comes to it’s conclusion.

Split Prophets representative Res One features on the amazingly titled and blistering banging ‘Komodo Saliva’. The boom bap afficionados display their technical writing and twisting, turning flows delivered with an impressive precision. Ramson recruits some excellent guests on this project, and it’s dope to see him collaborate with artists outside of the High Focus pool of talent. For instance, Deeflux’s appearance on ‘Solitude’ is flawless. It’s one of the standout cuts from the release, and it’s great to hear the prolific Farnborough MC get some exposure to dedicated HF heads.

‘Hypnodic’ is certain to be a fan favourite, and deservedly so. Ramson Badbonez and DJ Fingerfood deliver track after track of raw, high-octane lyricism and cohesive, crunchy production that results in a consistently entertaining release. 2017 has been another year of solid releases from the High Focus camp, and we’ve still got plenty of months left.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@RamsonBadbonez

@HighFocusUK

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com