Leaf Dog – Dyslexic Disciple (Review)

Leaf Dog, Reviews

As a member of a variety of incredible groups, as well as being one of the most sought after beatmakers in the United Kingdom, not to mention a classic 2011 LP ‘From A Scarecrow’s Perspective’, Leaf Dog is one of the most respected and talented artists out there right now. 2017 finds him standing out on a solo tip once again with ‘Dyslexic Disciple’, released through the UK powerhouse High Focus Records, and featuring appearances from some of the finest vocalists in the country.

When your minute and a half long intro is released as a preview for the LP on YouTube some weeks before the full length drops, and people are as gassed over it as they would be a structured single, you know you’re doing something right. The anticipation for Leaf’s sophomore solo effort has been huge, especially with the abundance of quality material he has given us since 2011s ‘From A Scarecrow’s Perspective’, and the follow-up gets underway with a bang. ‘Big Ego’s’ is a soulfully driven track with melodic keys spliced between the crunchy drums and soaring string samples; Leaf is a superbly skilled beatmaker, but he is no slouch with the pen either, as he delivers raw and honest opinions throughout the ‘Dyslexic Disciple’ album.

The raw, punchy ‘Know Myself’ is an early highlight. The confident delivery, the identifiable lyricism and the smooth, flawlessly executed instrumental are the ingredients of this flavoursome dish that blend together seamlessly, making for a perfect showcase of the signature Leaf Dog sound.  The crisp, soulful and reflective vibe of ‘Today’ is classic, golden era influenced hip-hop at it’s best, and the distinctive style of his subtle production is wonderfully engaging with soaring strings and emotive vocal chops. Joe Corfield contributes an inventive, silky instrumental for the jazzy standout ‘All In One’; the intricate plucked guitar and crisp drums are a perfect backing for Leaf’s energetic, charismatic lyricism.

Fellow RLD representative Smellington Piff appears on the emphatic ‘Pro Cultivation’, and smokers around the country will be keeping this one on repeat for months to come as Leaf and Piff deliver intoxicated verses at an insanely high potency. The rousing call to MC’s around the country on the single ‘My Scene’ is dope too; the anthemic horns and head-banging percussion makes for a definite standout, and the message is sure to inspire upcoming lyricists to continue on their quest to produce quality British hip-hop music. Revered LDZ MC Dabbla accompanies on the lively ‘Good Times’, setting up a strong selection of collaborations to close out the ‘Dyslexic Disciple’ album in stunning fashion.

‘Last Laugh’ features fellow Brother Of The Stone BVA along with the legendary Jazz T, and the stuttering, old-school beat is a fitting backdrop for the authentic, hard-hitting vocals and sublime cuts. The following track ‘The Reminder’ also features BVA; the chemistry the two spitters have is instantly apparent and unrivaled by their peers, and this is a prime example. If that wasn’t enough though Leaf recruits the off-kilter extraordinaire Kool Keith to deliver a characteristically entertaining verse over the raw self-produced instrumental, and surely this is the cherry on the cake. Don’t speak too soon though; the album closes out with the breathtaking cypher entitled ‘The Legacy’. It features a selection of the finest writers in the UK scene, and Leaf can also boast that he had both Phi Life Cypher and Task Force on the same track in 2017, and who ever thought that would be possible.

 Banging beats, a unique voice and clear hip-hop enthusiasm and appreciation runs through the ‘Dyslexic Disciple’ album from beginning to end, and the high standard that the High Focus label holds itself and its artists too continues with this emphatic release. Leaf Dog has produced a quality LP here, and the resources he pools (both in terms of rappers and producers) make for a cohesive album that is sure to satisfy any boom bap aficionado. Stop whatever you’re doing and go and support this release, and please Leaf, let’s not make it another six years before the third one.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@MCLeafDog

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com

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Morriarchi – Buggzville Sessions (Review)

Morriarchi, Reviews

Blah Records continue their insanely productive 2016 with the release of ‘Buggzville Sessions’, the full length LP from longstanding and respected producer Morriarchi, with features from a who’s who of the best in hip-hop from the British Isles, as well as Canadian MC Danny Lover also making an appearance.

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The menacing ‘Hush Ya Beak’, with it’s glitchy drums and screeching samples, is a perfect opener; it serves both as a reminder or as an introduction (depending upon your familiarity with Morri’s work) to his distinctively gloomy, hard-hitting sound. The shrouded-in-mystery MC Rox Slicken appears on this first cut, and he absolutely destroys the unorthodox beat.

‘Campbell & Algar’ is a slow-moving, swegged out banger from two of the UK’s finest lyricists. Jehst and Lee Scott collaborate on what is a long anticipated pairing for rap fans the underground over, and it doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. This is witty, sarcastic hip-hop at it’s genius best; Lee’s savage bar claiming just how much of the pie is his is a standout, and Billy Brimstone’s ‘Why everybody wanna rap hella fast? I’m in the bath with a copy of The Telegraph’ lyric is simply incredible. Only Jehst could make such a simplistic segment of writing sound so poignant.

Welsh Collective Squid Ninjaz are represented by MC’s Hekla and Joe Dirt who appear on ‘Roach Lyfe’. The gritty, grimey and smoked out production, which comes complete with hazy switch-up’s that compliment the lyrics as they hammer through the system, is absolutely fire, and the hard-hitting lyricism is silkily executed. Morri’s remix of Bisk’s tune ‘Pimpfunk’, which was originally produced by Lee Scott and was released on Bisk’s ‘Raw Shit’ EP, is up next. The smooth, cinematic, Tarantino-esque production takes Bisk’s raw, passionate vocal to an entirely different place from the upfront, hard-hitting original version.

Sheffield veterans Trellion and Sniff appear on ‘Buggzville’ and the leftfield, tripped out beat is perfect for both Northern lyricists’ cocky, laidback styles. Trellion’s verse shines, with some characteristic quotables; ‘I’m way iller anyday/but I don’t know shit about shit, who the fuck’s J Dilla anyway’ is just one of many. The Danny Lover solo track ‘Kapcha’ is the highlight of the LP, with the phased, affected bluesy guitar samples perfectly combining with Danny’s lazy flow and infectious delivery.

The album closes out with a Bisk solo track, entitled ‘No Phone Calls’; the simplistic, subtle production backs the Blah MC’s savage tongue as he delivers relentless screwface-inducing bars with a mixture of passionate realness and comedic flourishes.

‘Buggzville Sessions’ is quality through and through; the dark soundscape created takes a few listens to properly comprehend, but the vibe Morriarchi creates is thoroughly original and leaves a lasting impression long after Lee Scott’s adlibs on the final song have faded from the speakers. Blah Records’ talented roster is represented heavily on this release, and with Sleazy F Baby’s solo project due for release very soon they show no sign of slowing down.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@Morriarchi

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://blahrecords.com

Cult Of The Damned – Cult Of The Damned (Review)

Cult Of The Damned, Reviews

Longstanding fans of Blah Records will remember the Children Of The Damned clique, and 2015 brings the reincarnation of the legendary posse. Cult Of The Damned features a mixture of old school and new school Blah heads, and their first release is this four track EP.

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The self-titled opening track, and first single, is the perfect way to introduce the crew. It’s a back to back onslaught of bars over a gritty instrumental, and is a throwback to the cypher’s found throughout albums like ‘Tourette’s Camp’ and ‘Brick Pelican’.

‘Sugar Water’ features jazzy samples and crisp production; the vibe of the music is a perfect bridge between the original Children Of The Damned material, and the gloomier sound exploited in recent years.

MCs like Black Josh, Bisk and Stinkin Slumrok fall in line next to veterans such as Tony Broke, Bill Shakes and Lee Scott. ‘Stinky Posse’ is a crunchy, murky closer; the diverse range of MCs in the Cult line-up is consistently entertaining across the four tracks.

I have a feeling this is just a glimpse of what’s to come from Cult Of The Damned. It’s definitely an exciting prospect for any longtime follower of the Blah movement, and this EP is a must for any hip-hop head.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@BlahRecords

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.blahrecords.com

Illinformed – The Mould Tape (Review)

Illinformed, Reviews

RLD Records, the label headed up by BVA and Leaf Dog, add to their growing list of quality hip-hop releases with ‘The Mould Tape’. The album comes from Illinformed, a producer who specialises in funky boom bap, who also happens to be Leaf Dog’s brother. The album features appearances from a vast array of the finest UK wordsmiths, including Jam Baxter, Fliptrix, Jack Jetson, Split Prophets and Eric The Red (the third brother; that’s one of the rawest families in hip-hop), amongst many many others.

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BVA’s solo cut ‘Still Slippin’ is an early highlight. With an intense instrumental, and a decisive delivery from BVA; the production is memorable and the writing intelligent. The album is packed with hard hitting posse cuts, and ‘War Drum’ is one of the sickest. Index and Smellington Piff have perhaps the verses with the most impact, but the line-up of six MCs is versatile and interesting. The tight flows and effective rhyme schemes demonstrated by BVA, and the charismatic, punchline heavy showing from Leaf Dog on the simple, gritty production makes ‘Back Down’ another great track.

‘My life’s a dish best served steaming’ says Jam Baxter on ‘Half Dead’. The gloomy instrumental is suited as Baxter, Lee Scott and Bill Shakes drop verses with vivid imagery and humourous references, Lee for example spits ‘chonging a cig like Dot Cotton’, and later requests that the other rappers he’s just ‘sonned’ refer to him as ‘Dad’. Manchester rapper Cheech and Blah Records spitter Stinkin Slumrok join for ‘Blunt Rock’. The jazzy sample work and crisp drums back the melodic flows of Cheech, and the grittily charismatic delivery of Slumrok perfectly.

‘The Platoon’, an uptempo cut that features Bristol collective Split Prophets, is another standout. Each MC represents to the fullest. The SP crew have a wealth of talented lyricists, and they each deliver on this track. ‘Smokey’ is a jazzy affair, and Cracker Jon, Verb T and Life MC trade off each other with three absolute killer verses. The album closes out with a solo track from J-Man; ‘Gettin Mouldy’ is a tune with a nice concept, and J-Man’s versatility is ever impressive, and here he displays his skill for dope hip-hop.

‘The Mould Tape’ is a really great project. Illinformed has a really cohesive sound, with a diverse array of collaborators, and that is a winning formula. Some albums from producers sound forced, or sound confused, but that isn’t the case here. There’s not a track that needs skipping, and a listen from start to finish is enjoyable. RLD have impressed again with this.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@IllinformedProd

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://http://www.rldrecords.co.uk

Smellington Piff – Notice Of Eviction (Review)

Reviews, Smellington Piff

Smellington Piff has been surrounded by a fair amount of hype for a while now, and it’s understandable when you’re running with two of the UK scene’s heavy hitters, BVA and Leaf Dog, and you’re signed to their talented and impressive RLD Records, not to mention dropping a consistent output of quality music in the run up to this debut solo album. ‘Notice Of Eviction’ is produced in its entirety by Leaf Dog, and Smellington Piff’s original, unique, cutting and sharp flow is completely at home. 

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‘Notice Of Eviction’ gets underway with the hard hitting boom bap of ‘Opposites Attract’. The piano based beat, complete with funky guitar samples and crunching kick and snare backs Piff as he drops bars with his signature intricate writing style. Leaf Dog provides a characteristically dope, soul sampling backdrop on ‘End Of Discussion’, and the RLD MC raps with confidence and energy, with too many resonating bars to count, spitting ‘I hold no wonga/This time next year I’ll still be a plonker’. ‘Gorilla Growers’ is the next cut, and the stoner anthem finds Piff alongside Son Doobie of the LA based Funkdoobiest, as well as BVA and Leaf Dog, who contributes slick horn samples and banging drums as well as a nice verse.

The frantic instrumental for ‘Site’ is suited perfectly to Smellington as he delivers bars about his way of life and upbringing, with scathing analysis along with dope lyricism and consistently good writing; a standout for me is ‘Passing through your town like a stream/If home’s where the heart is, I live on my sleeve’. ‘Notice Of Eviction’ has one of the best starts to an album I’ve heard for a while, every track is heavy, and there’s definitely variation here too. ‘The Base’ is a highlight, with Piff joined by Cracker Jon, Jack Jetson, Eric The Red, Leaf Dog and BVA on a smooth and jazzy beat. Each MC delivers a nice verse, and it’s always great to hear some of the UK’s sickest spitters going back to back.

‘Authentic Fakes’ is another instant head-nodder. Rag N Bone Man provides yet another incredible hook, he always delivers when recruited to drop a chorus. Smellington brutally delivers his bars, and they are always excellently structured, such as when he drops ‘Fuck your hollow lies, just apologise, act like you mean it/Or burn like a phoenix, I mean this’. ‘Food Chain’ demonstrates once again Piff’s relatable bars with a storytelling vibe, and his concept works very well. ‘Real Life’s Happening’ finds Smellington dropping a horde of heavy similes, summing the scheme up with ‘I say like a lot coz I like it a lot/And I don’t care if you like it a lot’ . Another highlight is ‘Ununited Kingdom’; something that impresses throughout ‘Notice Of Eviction’ is the fact that Smellington Piff always has real content in his tracks, and this is key to the effectiveness of his music.

Smellington Piff and Leaf Dog have made a fantastically cohesive album, filled with absolutely banging UK hip hop. The collaborations are well chosen; Verb T and Fliptrix appear on ’80 Degrees’, Piff drops socially conscious bars with LIFE on ‘After The Storm’, Bill Shakes delivers a dope verse with his Northern swagger on ‘Mad Man’s Anthem’, alongside another impressive Leaf Dog appearance, and Lee Scott kills the chilled and soulful ‘Riddle Me This’ with a characteristically cocky verse. Smellington Piff’s writing is impressive throughout, and he suits Leaf Dog’s golden era, instant classic production style perfectly. And this is his debut album? Watch out for this one.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@SmellingtonPiff

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.rldrecords.co.uk

Black Josh – #BlahBlahBlackJosh (Review)

Black Josh, Reviews

 

I’ve said before that there is a huge amount of undeniable talent coming out of Manchester at the moment, and one of the MCs making a real impact is Black Josh. He’s signed to Lee Scott’s Blah Records imprint, and is certainly surrounded by some of the countries best and most talented rappers. #BlahBlahBlackJosh is a 16 track mixtape showcasing Josh’s diversity and unique flow; he has the ability to kill a track no matter whether it’s on a smoke-infused chilled out flex, or if it’s on a more aggressive steez. Black Josh has been pushing tracks from the mixtape out for the last couple of months, along with some quality music videos, and this is definitely a very solid collection of songs.

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The mixtape kicks off with a track that reminds me somewhat of Souls of Mischief’s ’93 til Infinity’. ‘Paul Scholes’ is one of the dopest UK hip hop tunes I’ve heard for a long time. A perfectly paced instrumental with chilled out layered samples backs up Josh’s tongue twisting flow. This track is packed with on point references, and the subject matter definitely makes this track relatable and identifiable. It’s a well chosen concept, and it’s successfully done; any rap fan, or as a matter of fact any football fan will immediately be drawn into the project with this opening gambit, and it’s one of my highlights from #BlahBlahBlackJosh. 

‘Eczema’ is another track in a similar style. Jazzy piano samples lace a golden era inspired beat, and Josh’s consistent flow and well structured lyrics hold the track together perfectly. The Mancunian MC has a really good ear for beats that suit his laid-back flow and delivery, and when the instrumental and rapping style match up like they do on this track, the result is always going to be a good one. 

Black Josh has certainly made use of the talent that surrounds him, both in his city and as a result of being a part of the Blah Records powerhouse. Bill Shakes makes an appearance on ‘Ignants My Instinct’, and as a fan of the artists who have been on the Blah roster for a while, it’s sick to hear what is produced when combining the old with the new. Wordz, from Manchester, makes his first appearance on ‘Serious’. This is a trap influenced track, and hearing Josh’s rapid fire flow over a quality instrumental contributed by BeatsByO instantly proves just how many various styles he can turn his hand to. Wordz also appears on ‘Cosmic’; the opening 4 bars of this track features some really inventive and witty phrasing, making for an engaging listen.

One of the biggest treats buried in this mixtape is the undeniable head nodder ‘Cult Sag 616’ featuring the Mcabre Brothers. Don Silk, Lee Scott & Black Josh teaming up on the same track was always going to produce an absolute banger, and the haunting vibe, fantastic multi’s and sheer swag level on this track make it an instantaneous classic. Lee Scott’s verse is one of the standouts of the entire mixtape for me, with abstract references, skilful multi’s and pitch alteration to boot. ‘Killacop’ finds Josh teaming up with The Green Pooki & Salar, and this is a really dope cut on the mixtape; the slow paced instrumental is in signature Blah style, and Josh adapts perfectly. ‘Student Parties’ is another standout, with a surprising catchy hook considering the songs topic. Josh’s flow weaves over the bars, seamlessly switching into a double time style. MC Jon also appears on this track, dropping a heavy verse. The final track on #BlahBlahBlackJosh is ‘BedTimerz’, which features Truthos Mufasa & Dyslexis, and the jazzy instrumental is laced with a really chilled saxophone line. Josh, Truthos & Dyslexis are all part of Ape Cult, another Manchester based collective of hip hop musicians, and it’s another verification of the vast array of talent coming out of the city!

#BlahBlahBlackJosh is a really solid collection of tracks, spanning a wide range of styles. Black Josh consistently kills it, his flawless flow, good diction and ability to switch up his style to perfectly match whatever beat he’s rocking come together to create some really dope music. Blah Records have been storming the scene lately with proper hip hop coming out the label, whether it’s at the hands of Lee Scott, or the witty output of Tommy Dockerz, or whether it’s the ferocious flow of Black Josh, you most certainly need to pay attention.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@BlahJoshAPE

http://www.blackjosh.bandcamp.com

http://www.blahrecords.com

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Broke – Money In The Bag (Review)

Reviews, Tony Broke

Tony Broke is just one of the many talented rappers coming out of Liverpool. It’s amazing to see just how much talent there is in the North of the UK, with cities such as Leeds, Manchester and the Merseyside all producing some incredible lyricists. Money In The Bag is the latest EP from Tony, released through Blah Records. 

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The album kicks off with the title track, Money In The Bag, featuring fellow Liverpudlian Bang On! and the absolute legend that is Ras Kass. It’s great to hear two MCs from England trading verses with such a respected lyricist, and all 3 rappers impress on this track. The gritty beat provides the perfect backdrop for Tony & Mr. Bang On to spit on; both have a quick paced flow, packing the bars with syllables. Bang On slips into double time effortlessly, then in the next bar returning to a regular speed, and it’s this control that makes his verse so memorable.

Fast For Cash features Black Josh, from Manchester and RLD Records’ own Smellington Piff. This ode to being poor is UK hip hop at its absolute best. Reklews’ smooth, piano laced beat allows all 3 MCs to do what they do, and the chorus is very infectious. Black Josh’s flow is so on point, every track I hear his ability to drop an incredible verse astounds me. With excellent control, timing and diction he is bound to become one of the leading members of the scene. Smellington Piff’s verse hits extremely hard as well, with incredible multi’s and quotable’s such as ‘foraging for half bitten Bourbons and blue Gorgonzola’. 68 Sag is another dope track from the EP, and any hip hop fan will love this posse cut. With King Grubb, Bill Shakes & Lee Scott all dropping very tight verses, anybody who likes Children of the Damned will bug out at this joint. Tommy Dockerz drops another Scrumpy Jack inspired verse, the vibe Tommy brings to a track is something I’m excited to hear a lot more of. Black Josh also drops his second verse of the EP, killing the beat once more, as does Bang On.

Production duties for Money In The Bag are handled by Reklews. His dark, boom bap beats suit a Blah Records release like no other, and this is no exception. Providing a fantastic batch of instrumentals for some dope lyricists to drop knowledge on, this is an EP for the real hip hop fans.

Blah Records are coming out with some great projects, with Lee Scott & Tommy Dockerz recently releasing full length projects, and this 4 track EP from Tony Broke is yet another great piece of the catalogue. Gritty and real, this is a pure hip hop offering, and I for one am excited to hear what’s coming next.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@BlahRecords

http://www.blahrecords.com