Mothership Connection – This Train Goes To Junkleberry Junction

Mothership Connection, Reviews

Manchester collective Mothership Connection come together to release their highly anticipated EP entitled ‘This Train Goes To Junkleberry Junction’. They dropped the five track project back in April and the raw bangers on here haven’t left the rotation since.

The opening track ‘Mo Town’ is an energetic, dusty boom bap banger laced with seamless lyricism, witty bars and a quirky beat. Off-kilter instruments are audible behind the eclectic mix of spitters, and the funky double-bass and crisp drums keep the head nodding from start to finish. ‘Salute’ is a grittier cut, and the raw instrumental features an intermittent lead guitar, tight rhythm and smooth, silkily executed showmanship. The hook is great too; you can hear the different members in the background, and it makes the track feel so fun and organic.

The beats are varied, and the EP works so much better because of the mixture of styles on display. There’s an upbeat, funky undertone, but there’s a clear distinction between the four songs here. ‘Million Wattz’ takes a jazzier turn, and the intricate syllables and melodic flows make it a standout from the project. The unashamedly weird, left-field production on the appropriately titled ‘Space Junkin’ closes the EP out by sticking to the aforementioned melting pot of stylistic leanings. The Mancunian crew are also adept at switching their patterns and approaches to fit the vibe they’re partnering with, and it makes this concise EP an impressive little release.

Manchester’s thriving, energetic scene just keeps on delivering the goods, and Mothership Connection are a really dope group of spitters. Cheech, Dubbul O, Goshin and Legion bring quality verses over some first-class production from talented beatsmith Mankub, and lets hope ‘This Train Goes To Junkleberry Junction’ is only the start of the Mothership’s journey.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.mothershipconnection.bandcamp.com

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Cheech & Pro P – Diá Des Muertos (Review)

Cheech, Reviews

Cheech is a Manchester based rapper who has built a cult following as part of the group The Bluntskins. He partners with fellow skinner Pro P for this LP entitled ‘Diá Des Muertos’, and it’s a unique, charismatic and diverse release with a variety of moods and topics across thirteen enjoyable tracks.

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The glitchy, synth-driven opener ‘Get The Fuck Up’ is a prime example of Cheech’s sharp writing, and Pro P displays his incredible versatility with a sinister, bouncy instrumental that backs silky flows and intricate rhymes. ‘Love Money’ is a highlight, and Cheech spits politically-infused bars with intelligence and dexterity. The track features Martin Connor on guest vocals, and the unique, soulful vocal is a great touch. In addition to this, following yesterday’s events in the States, any Donald Trump call-out is very welcome. ‘S’word Play’ is a crisp, smooth boom-bap banger and the traditional vibe puts both MC and producer in their comfort zone, and they excel with a raw, memorable head-nodder.

‘Session Dwellers’ again features Martin Connor, and the melodic performances of both Martin and Cheech are catchy, and well-executed; the mellow style is fresh and exciting, and it sets Cheech apart from his contemporaries with an instantly recognisable approach to nineties-influenced boom bap. The chilled direction continues with the dope ‘Time To Smoke’ which features a simple jazz-sample and subtle drums; Pro P has been delivering the goods the entire way through ‘Diá Des Muertos’. Pro P contributes another hard-hitting, gritty beat on the excellent ‘Fire’, as well as showing his versatility once more on the closing cut ‘Pass Away’.

‘Diá Des Muertos’ is thoroughly enjoyable, and Cheech and Pro P deliver a unique spin on the traditional boom bap style with this project. The chemistry between MC and producer is clear, and the successful execution of the tracks on here are a testament to how well suited they are to each other. Cheech might have undeservedly slipped under the radar with the wealth of talent coming out of Manchester, and if you are currently unfamiliar with his work this is a great place to get acquainted.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@OldManReefer

http://www.thebluntskins.bandcamp.com

Pro P & Northern Structure – Tunnel Vision (Review)

Northern Structure, Pro P, Reviews

Northern Structure (comprised of Amos, Spider Jaroo and Evileyz) collaborate with established UK producer Pro P on ‘Tunnel Vision’, a new 14 track project that showcases their nineties golden era influenced sound. The three MCs make up a diverse line-up; their styles and voices provide a dope contrast, and the witty lyricism as well as an abundance of punchlines make Northern Structure an exciting and original crew.

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The crisp ‘I’ve Arrived’ is a great opener, with the three spitters dropping with staccato, quick-paced flows over a simplistic, precise boom bap beat. ‘Bar For Bar’ continues the hard-hitting drums, as does ‘Neck Twist’; the stripped back, brass-laced beat allows the Northern Structure MCs to drop their intricate writing with forceful deliveries, and it’s executed successfully. Jaroo brings a raw energy to the microphone, Amos’ witty and relatable lyrics are class and Evileyz’s tone is one of the most unique voices in the UK scene.

‘Drifting’ is a mellow track, with subtle guitar chords and rough, dusty percussion keeping my head nodding back and forth. ‘Tunnel Vision’ showcases a variety of styles during its first few tracks, and both the writing and the production is at a high standard. Pro P’s excellent sample-flips are perhaps best exemplified on ‘Jimmy Snuka’, which features a guest appearance from Cheech (of The Bluntskins). The soulful sample and the crunchy snare backs the Northern twangs of Evileyz and Cheech superbly.

‘Heavy Duty’ is an anthemic, rugged boom bap banger. The decisive MCing from the NSR spitters is full of charisma and quotable lyrics. This continues on ‘Verbal Assault’, featuring Bill Sykes. The funky, catchy riff that holds the beat together provides the backdrop for percussive deliveries and organic writing. Amos spits ‘sleep on Pro P and I’ll force feed you Pro Plus’, and the chemistry between the vocals and the beatmaking across ‘Tunnel Vision’ is well executed and consistently impressive. The sinister ‘Light That’ is a highlight. The chopped piano samples, aggressive lyricism and head-nodding instrumental make for an infectiously gritty cut.

Northern Structure have been around for a while, with some nice group projects and some decent solo LPs too. ‘Tunnel Vision’ is the most cohesive and enjoyable project from the lads I’ve heard; the production is thoroughly on point and the writing, flows and deliveries tighter than ever. If you like your hip-hop raw, rough and rugged with content to boot, this is one to check.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@NSRAllDay

@BeatsByProP

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.northernstructure.bandcamp.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

Twisted Pennys – Black Blankets (Review)

Reviews, Twisted Pennys

Leicester MC Twisted Pennys kicks off 2015 in style with his new 8 track EP, entitled ‘Black Blankets’. Pennys has been making impact as of late with some impressive performances on the Don’t Flop battle league, but it’s on record where he really shines. With a unique, instantly recognisable rhyming style, excellent breath control and intricately structured lyricism, the up and coming spitter showcases his forceful, relatable approach throughout this project.

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Instantaneously Pennys makes it clear that he’s not playing. The minimal production of ‘So Much Evil’ is a perfect backing for Twisted’s consistent delivery and tight flow. The content is deep, intelligent and fantastically structured; few hold as good a command of multisyllabics as Twisted Pennys, and his knack for blending this technique with meaningful subject matter makes for an impressive listen, and an opener that really sets the tone for the rest of the project.

The gritty boom bap of ‘Astral Harness’ is dope. Haunting keys and crisp, punchy drums pound relentlessly as Pennys’ metaphors and skunked out references engage you as he spits with sharp verbal precision. ‘Evergreen’, a collaboration with Manchester spitter Cheech, who has always impressed me with his work as part of The Bluntskins, is another nice track. With battle rap references, captivating rhyme schemes and excellent flows for Pennys, and laid-back weeded out rhyming from Cheech, this is a well chosen collaboration that works on every level.

‘Fuck’ is another standout. With a brutal boom bap beat and a confident, clear performance from Pennys; this combination is where the Leicester MC really shines. As he goes on a tirade against the people he’s dissatisfied with, all the while showing his witty, personal musings with energy and character, it becomes clear that Twisted Pennys is a very talented writer with a truly unique style.

Black Blankets is a solid project with a lot of positive features. There is a real cohesiveness and theme to the project, which isn’t shoved in your face, but adds to the feel of the EP as a whole. I kind of wish it had a more professional sound in terms of vocal production, but Twisted Pennys isn’t signed, and that hunger and rawness can be felt throughout ‘Black Blankets’. With complexity, realness and relatable content, Twisted Pennys offers something new and authentic with this EP.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@TwistedPennys

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://twistedpennys.bandcamp.com

Black Josh – The Blosh EP

Black Josh, Reviews

Black Josh has had quite a year. The Manchester MC initially started to make a real impact with his appearances on The Mouse Outfit’s ‘Escape Music’, and continued his tremendous work ethic throughout 2014, with a number of excellent appearances on Blah Records projects, as well as releasing his ‘#BlahBlahBlackJosh’ mixtape through the label. He closes the year out with ‘The Blosh EP’, which is a collection of raw, boom bap beats being rocked by Black Josh’s signature rapid flow and witty stoner bars. 

Black Josh The Blosh EP

Josh begins with ‘Booker T’, featuring Cheech from The Bluntskins, another tight Manchester MC. The lazy instrumental backs both rappers who each impress with witty, well structured verses, each with nice flows. ‘Mark Dice’ is definitely a highlight, with Lee Scott and Danny Lover joining Black Josh on a swegged out anthem from the Blah cult.

Both ‘Gotta Get It’, which features frequent collaborator Wordz, and ‘Remain Raw’ show Josh at his best, with uptempo boom bap instrumentals perfectly matched to his percussive, rapid delivery. ‘The Reminder’ is a chilled vibe and is a dope track to close the project out, with its relaxed beat being laced with Josh’s confident spitting.

‘The Blosh EP’ is another nice project to add to Josh’s ever expanding discography, demonstrating consistently impressive flows and intricate writing over perfectly suited instrumentals, contributed by some of the nicest producers in the scene, including 2Late, Reklews and Illinformed, amongst others. This is definitely one to check out.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@BlackJoshAPE

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

https://blahrecords.bandcamp.com

The Bluntskins – Cali Ku$h (Review)

Reviews, The Bluntskins

The Bluntskins are a Manchester based 3 piece hip hop outfit who produce some high grade music. Cali Ku$h, their second album, is packed with bangers, and features some of the best rappers in the country right now. 

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Bill Sykes & Cheech hold down the bars, while Pro P holds down the beats. This trio gels so well, with Pro P’s instantly recognisable production providing a perfect backdrop for Bill & Cheech to trade their weed infused bars over.

Tracks like Joints are where The Bluntskins excel. The anthemic beat as well as many quotable lyrics instantly win you over, and you can’t help but get on board with the music. Everybody is another track which continues this theme; Cheech & Sykes are outstanding when spitting over these uptempo, brass heavy beats. Rappers who dedicate so much of their subject matter to the reefer usually fall into a trap of spitting over only the most relaxed and chilled instrumentals, The Bluntskins however show their versatility with this beat selection, and Pro P’s production has pushed this album way past a lot of UK hip hop LPs.

The track list of Cali Ku$h reads like a who’s who of UK lyricists. Spider Jaroo, of Northern Structure Records drops a heavy verse on Hell Yeah. His intricate flow can’t help but make you sway from side to side; it’s amazing to see the huge array of talent the North possesses. Green Grass is a huge track as well, with Dubbul O and Skittles dropping incredible verses; Skittles is one of my favourite rappers from Manchester, and it’s great to hear DnB MCs like him trading verses with Cheech & Bill Sykes. Tommy Dockerz also delivers a killer verse on Blaze the Endo. Every time he steps on a track he kills it, with an incredibly tight flow he once again drops a verse packed with cheeky references and slang never heard outside of Kettering.

The Bluntskins have made a very good album here, your head can’t fail but keep nodding for the entire duration. It shows that Cheech & Bill Sykes are very good writers, since although the subject matter doesn’t really stray too far away from a certain herb, it doesn’t make a difference. 14 dope tracks with dope beats and dope rhymes.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@TheBluntskins

http://www.thebluntskins.com