Booda French – 6AM Coffee Club (Review)

Booda French, Reviews

Ipswich rapper Booda French has been a familiar face on the UK scene for over a decade. You might recognise him as a much younger man shouting freestyles at the top of his voice when he went by the more basic name of Truth, but in later years he has excelled as Booda, with a string of insanely dope EP releases. 2017 finds him partnering with established label Eatgood Records for his ‘6AM Coffee Club’ LP.

French’s eclectic, unashamedly strange approach is exemplified on the opening cut ‘Astronauts’; the sparse, synthetic instrumental is laced with intricate syllables executed through abstract phrasing and an inventive, melodic delivery, and Booda French’s unique style is instantly compelling. ‘The Feeling’ is beautifully executed over a silky smooth, tasteful beat which is complimented by jazzy keys, and the superb,  emotional vocal from the Ipswich lyricist makes it clear why he’s one of the most creative artists out there right now, and he’s not afraid to lay his heart on his sleeve.

Veteran UK spitter Joker Starr contributes a memorable, catchy chorus on the excellent ‘Forts’; the subtlety and mellow soundscapes found throughout ‘6AM Coffee Club’ a perfect match for Booda French’s vivid imagery and relaxed tone, as he delivers one chilled-out track after another. When an artist focuses their efforts on restrained, thought-provoking music, the result can sometimes be a little stagnant; French’s approach is original, and his tone unashamedly weird, and this keeps you engaged with his every line.

New York producer/rapper J57, a frequent Booda French collaborator, appears on the standout track ‘Kings Elect’; the loud, crunching boom bap drums and reflective, descriptive writing from both MCs make for an exhilarating ride. The sonic direction is consistently surprising and wholly entertaining, and the LP’s cohesion is a huge factor in the success of the project. ‘Young World’, the finale of the ten track album, is a crisp, upbeat song that leaves us on the most hopeful note of the LP, and showcases Booda French’s hip-hop sensibilities and crossover potential in one concise cut.

‘6AM Coffee Club’ is eclectic in it’s direction, taste and execution. This is far from your traditional, stereotypical hip-hop album, and is a dense, complex and ultra-lyrical body of work that exemplifies just how creative and different British rap music can be. Eatgood Records have long been a respected powerhouse, releasing quality music from established artists such as SonnyJim and Percy Filth, and Booda French can now be added to that list with this exciting and impeccably administered project.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@BoodaFrench

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.eatgoodrecords.bandcamp.com

Cee Major – 10,000 Hours (Review)

Cee Major, Reviews

Cee Major has been developing his brand and building his fanbase over the past few years, and ‘10,000 Hours’ is his latest release. With attitude, intelligence and lyrical finesse in equal measure the London rapper is hotly tipped as one to keep tabs on as his steady rise shows no sign of stopping, and this latest project serves as more evidence that this is a wise choice to bet on.

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The mixtape opens with ‘No Feature Film’ and the crisp mixing, the anthemic production and the precise, professional lyrical display from Cee results in a memorable opener, packed with intelligent writing and hard-hitting punchlines. The London MC describes his journey, achievements and the obstacles he’s experienced on the excellent track ‘It’s Over’; Major has a polished sound that puts him in an incredibly promising position, and with the quality of this mixtape I wouldn’t be surprised to see his buzz rise dramatically over the next twelve months.

‘Icon’ is an energetic, trapped out banger; Cee does a great job of keeping up with the sonic landscape of the rap game, keeping himself relevant and entertaining without sacrificing any of his skill or integrity. Across the ‘10,000 Hours’ project we are also treated to some great melodic performances; whether it’s a hook or used subtly on adlibs Cee is definitely a talented singer, and what an important aspect of your skill-set to excel at in today’s market.

The in your face, bouncy beat to ’27’ is aggressive and pounds from start to finish. Cee’s flow is invigorated and his delivery is wholly confident, and any MC making Jeremy Corbyn references gets a thumbs up from me. ‘Destination’ is on some smooth, chilled-out vibes, and the content gives us an open look into Cee’s life and outlook, and the project closes out on the excellent ‘Do It For The Man’.

‘10,000 Hours’ is another dope release to add to Cee’s impressive catalogue. This is his third project and he’s not disappointed once yet. The age-old preconception that battle rappers can’t make music is looking more and more incorrect; artists like Lunar C and Cee Major are showing that the transition is well and truly possible, although both aforementioned artists were making music before stepping foot in the lyrical arena (cringe). Any self-respecting hip-hop head should check this out, you’re bound to be impressed.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@CeeMajor

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.ceemajorofficial.bandcamp.com

Chris Leese & Oli Frost – Big Shots (Review)

Chris Leese, Oli Frost, Reviews

Chris Leese and Oli Frost release their (loosely) football themed LP entitled ‘Big Shots’. The album was released back in June, and the Euro’s have been and gone, but the concept is still pretty original. Chris is perhaps best known for his appearances on the Don’t Flop battle league, but he’s got a fair few musical releases under his belt, and this latest LP is distributed through his longtime home of Innit Records.

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‘Kick Off’ is a decent opener; the beat is a banger and it’s a good introduction to the rapper/singer partnership. Chris’ tongue-twisting flow comes out towards the end of the track, and Oli’s hooks and harmonies are a great addition; the chemistry the duo possess is clear from the outset. ‘The Landline’ is one of Chris’ best performances, displaying honest and introspective writing. ‘Moan’ is a highlight; a catchy chorus, bouncy, crisp production and a witty perspective make for an entertaining and captivating track. The distinctly British character portrayed by Chris and Oli is executed with frantic flows and accessible production.

The excellent ‘Can You’ might piss off the feminists, but Chris delivers a scathingly accurate of Made In Chelsea types and the like, and he displays complex rhyme schemes and hilarious content. The aggressive delivery and hyped production of ‘Tattoos & Trainers’ is well-executed, and it’s nice to hear the LP laced with a wide sonic variety. Chris Leese’s percussive, rapid-fire flow is wildly energetic, and he’s perfectly in-pocket throughout. The album’s closer ‘Full Time’ is an an example of the main flaw though; when the production is on the level of Chris’ animated delivery the results are great, but the beats found on ‘Big Shots’ have a tendency to be overly-dramatic, instead of sticking to the punchier, rawer vibes found on the LP’s more successful tracks.

If you like your hip-hop distinctly British with a sharp injection of humour, Chris Leese and Oli Frost are sure to deliver some material that is to your liking. Chris’ ferocity on the microphone is displayed consistently through the album, and although some of the production is a little overcooked, the overall sound found on ‘Big Shots’ is a cohesive one.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@ChrissyLeese

@LYTEWORK

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.pissyleese.bandcamp.com

Isaiah Dreads – Lights Turn Green (Review)

Isaiah Dreads, Reviews

Dorset MC Isaiah Dreads finishes a productive year with the release of ‘Lights Turn Green’, the follow-up to ‘Nothin But A Mixtape’, which dropped at the start of 2015. The twelve track project showcases a diverse range of styles; Dreads can flow on classic, hip-hop production as well as coming with energetic, hard-hitting bangers too.

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The title track, which features legendary MC Saskilla, is an early highlight; the catchy hook and trap production thumps as Dreads and Sas drop with precision and intensity. The ‘Hell On Earth’ remix, featuring Agent (the underrated South West spitter has previously impressed on the Don’t Flop battle circuit), follows; the two MCs drop passionate, personal lyricism over the classic Mobb Deep instrumental, and the eclectic sonics displayed across the early section of the mixtape is impressive and engaging. ‘Fall Back’ is another favourite, and Dreads’ witty writing is on top form, as he drops in a dope Sway reference and a bunch of nice punchlines with his distinctive Dorset twang.

‘Your Love’ is a tightly executed soulful cut; the chopped vocal samples and Dreads’ charismatic delivery combine to make the track a cool and classy standout. The energetic ‘Work’, a switched up refix of A$AP Ferg’s 2013 banger, is another impressive song and once again confirms the diversity in Isaiah’s skill-set. ‘Lights Turn Green’ finishes with ‘How About Now’, a smooth jazzy track which is an absolutely perfect closer; Dreads’ uptempo, percussive delivery and the spacious production are both professionally and flawlessly executed.

Isaiah Dreads has definitely proven why he’s one of the ones to keep a very keen eye on over the course of the last year. ‘Lights Turn Green’ is his second mixtape, and at just eighteen, his experience and success-rate will definitely stand him in good stead going into 2016. Over the twelve tracks on this project Dreads showcases his intelligent lyricism over varied styles of production, and not once does he fail to impress.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@IsaiahDreads

http:/www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

Gemini & Shinobii – Suspects Unknown EP (Review)

Gemini, Reviews, Shinobii

West London rapper Gemini, who has gained recognition through a series of impressive and savage battle rap clashes on the Don’t Flop league, teams up with Shinobii, a producer who also hails from the capital to bring us the ‘Suspects Unknown EP’. Gemini has an upfront tone and delivery, and Shinobii’s textured and powerful instrumentals are a perfect match.

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The EP gets underway with the Intro, and the swelling synths, deep bass and snappy drums back a rapid fire flow from Gemini. The aggressive and confident nature of the West London spitter’s delivery make the opener convincing, and sets the tone for the rest of the ‘Suspects Unknown EP’. The hyped, energetic ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’ follows, and it continues the trend of impressive MCing from Gemini and undeniably top class production from Shinobii.

The infectious vocal samples and the pounding drums and bassline of ‘Fuckeries’ make for a fast-paced track, and Gemini’s consistent flow and cocky lyrics result in a successful tune. The EP reaches its finale with ‘What’s Real’, and the powerful instrumental and high intensity of Gemini’s vocals create a menacing vibe. The synth lines and the crisp percussion are excellently orchestrated, and Gemini’s enthusiastic and passionate delivery make it a standout.

The ‘Suspects Unknown EP’ is a solid project. With consistently energetic performances from Gemini, and bassy, textured production from Shinobii, the chemistry this rapper/producer partnership possess make the EP cohesive and professional.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@Gemini_LDN

@ShinobiiMusic

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.geminiwldn.bandcamp.com/

Filthy Funk – Funkin Hell (Review)

Dotz, Filthy Funk, Peterz, Reviews

Bedford MC’s Dotz and Peterz join forces on ‘Funkin Hell’, as Filthy Funk. Their debut album is jam packed with multisyllabics, head nodding boom bap beats and dope features, including Natrill and Wordsmiff. Dotz has been making noise as of late, with a series of heavy battles, showing why he’s one of the best freestylers in the country, and this raw energy translates onto record easily, and Peterz’ style gels well as part of the duo.

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Whether its on a straight up aggy vibe, such as on ‘Long Time Coming’, or whether Filthy Funk take on a more introspective, conceptual spin, as found on the Si Philli collaboration ‘Nobodies Fault’, they always hold it down on the mic. The subtle instrumental of ‘We Seem Fine’, which finds the two MC’s spitting about the struggle everyday people go through on a daily basis at the fault of the system, is well suited, and even in the early stages of the ‘Funkin Hell’ LP, Dotz and Peterz show their versatility.

The reflective ‘Back When I Was Young’, which has a video out on SBTV is a cool track with summer vibes. The soulful samples and crisp, 90’s drums match the fast paced, tight flows of both Filthy Funk spitters. ‘Thinking Again’ is one of  the standouts of the album, with a memorable, soulful beat, punchy kick drum and sick rhyme schemes. Natural joins Dotz and Peterz, and all three MC’s leave a lasting impression with their passionate deliveries and well structured lyricism.

The witty ‘Don’t Talk To Me’ is a nice addition, with a funny, storytelling feel, and the scathing ‘Clown Syndrome’ over a jovial D.Seize instrumental and featuring Wordsmiff follows in a series of strong cuts. ‘Pot Luck’ is a back and forth, uptempo track over a funky instrumental. Dotz and Peterz rap about a pretty hectic journey in the car with skill and descriptive, complex rhyming. The album closes out with solid, more chilled out cuts, and although these don’t catch my attention as much as the earlier bulk of the album, Dotz and Peterz are still dropping nice bars consistently, over well produced beats.

‘Funkin Hell’ is a dope album. Both Dotz and Peterz impress with their range of topics, and their flows and deliveries are always energetic and forceful. The features are spread out well, and they all perform well, and the range of producers, from Pete Cannon to Pro P to Phocus, all make for a cohesive, well balanced album. This is one that I’ll be keeping in rotation for a while.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@FilthyFunkUK

@OfficialDotz

@OfficialPeterz

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.filthyfunkuk.bandcamp.com

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

Cee Major – The Format (Review)

Cee Major, Reviews

Cee Major has gained a fantastic reputation in the world of battle rap, representing for Don’t Flop against some of the most formidable opponents on the circuit, recently putting in a slick, intelligent and impressive performance against Chilla Jones at the league’s 6th Birthday event. His first EP, entitled ‘Humble Beginnings’ was a solid introduction on the musical side of things, and ‘The Format’ is his second release, and it continues Cee’s formula of honest and clever writing over well suited and excellently selected instrumentals, all courtesy of Phocus Beats on this outing. 

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‘The Format’ begins with ‘I’m Home’, a resounding first track which features Cee dropping personal and intelligent lyrics. The soulful sample works well as Major announces his arrival with a forceful impact, spitting slick, intricate and insightful bars such as ‘Word of advice; don’t mistake my immaturity for wisdom/Second thoughts, fuck advice you seen how poorly that I’m living?’, dropping knowledge about his musical come up thus far. The punchy production of the EP’s title track backs Cee as he spits with clarity, demonstrating strong multi-syllabics and confidence. You know that old saying that battle rappers can’t make music? Well scratch that, as you simply cannot deny Cee Major’s hip hop sensibilities and sheer skill on the mic.

The jovial instrumental and punchy drums of ‘Bandcamp’ back Cee as he drops witty punchlines with a precise flow. Something that is clear as daylight on ‘The Format’ is the East London MC’s ability to craft songs to a high standard. The hooks are catchy, relevant and professionally delivered, and the verses are intricate, relevant and impeccably structured. ‘O.M.W.F.’ finds Cee rapping about the effort he’s put into the game thus far, and about the sly movements of lesser spitters. The second verse is a standout of the whole EP for me, with Cee switching up the flow, and delivering his bars with real force. The EP finishes with ‘Fools In Love’, and this is a more commercial cut, showing Cee’s diverse range of skills, demonstrating his storytelling skills as well as a touching honesty.

‘The Format’ is a very strong offering from Cee Major. The East London MC is a technical spitter for sure, but further than that he possesses the ability to create well structured songs; he’s not just churning out a couple of 16’s on this project, it definitely goes much further than that. 2015 is sure to be a big year for him, and this EP is available for a free download, so what are you waiting for?

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@CeeMajor

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://ceemajorofficial.bandcamp.com

Lefty – Libertà (Review)

Lefty, Reviews

 

Lefty has earned himself quite a reputation as a witty battle rapper with a chilled out style through his appearances on the Don’t Flop channel, but don’t think his music is simply a jovial affair; this EP contains some serious bangers. Libertà is an 8 track EP featuring appearances from some of the UK’s dopest rhymers, including Dotz, Tenchoo & Luca Brazi. 

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Libertà kicks off with ‘Roberto Baggio’. This track features an aggressive, piano laced hardcore hip hop beat, with Lefty spitting confidently, with a fierce flow and delivery. Rappers often don’t use their vocal range to its full potential, with many monotonous voices blasting through our speakers nowadays. Granted, this can sound heavy when done correctly, but Lefty’s animated style of MCing on this track really makes it a heavy listen, and instantly gains your attention. This approach is something that is apparent throughout the EP, and it’s a dope part of Lefty’s style.

The diversity of the London MC is clear to see on Libertà. ‘ALL’ features a spacey instrumental, with Lefty displaying a skippy flow, riding the uptempo beat with sheer precision and skill. The Legionnaires representative sounds at home on these more synth heavy beats, just as he does on the more sample based boom bap production found throughout this EP.

Lefty has selected some fantastic UK rappers to join him on Libertà. Tenchoo drops a characteristically savage verse on ‘OWB’. The Portsmouth MC displays his wide vocabulary and complex schemes. AnyWay also drops a sick verse on this track, with a unique flow and a multi-heavy stanza. Terror Bliss, ShoXstar and Dotz appear on ‘War Merchant’. Dotz is as impressive as ever, his style is heavily reliant on multisyllabic rhymes, and these are delivered ferociously, along with his hard hitting punchlines always finding their desired impact. Luca Brazi, whose ‘Dying Proof’ album has been in regular rotation on my iPod also appears on the EP, on the fantastic ‘Who’s Gonna Save My Soul’.

Libertà is a dope project from Lefty. He’s got all the ingredients of a proper MC;  good diction, a compelling flow, rhyme schemes and a charismatic voice that sounds sick whether it’s on a boom bap beat or more up to date production. I’m looking forward to hearing more music, as well as seeing the upcoming clash against Cee Major, another very skilled MC. This will be an on beat battle, the perfect environment for 2 MC’s of this calibre. Make sure you check this project for tight flows, hard beats and dope rhymes.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@LeftyLGN

https://legionnaires.bandcamp.com/

Bamalam – Chest Of Draws (Review)

Bamalam, Reviews

 

If you’re a fan of the battle rap side of the UK hip hop scene you’ll already be well aware of the work Bamalam has put in. Consistently turning in flawless performances for Don’t Flop, he’s proved himself to be an excellent lyricist and writer, with well thought out schemes and punchlines. Bam has put out some music previously, as part of Divine Rights, but ‘Chest Of Draws’ is his solo EP, with production duties handled completely by Cystic, the other half of Divine Rights. 

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It’s clear from the opening track, ‘One Of Them Days’, that Bamalam’s well structured multi’s are just as on point over a beat as in an acapella clash. He flows over a chilled out, soulful instrumental, rapping about his love for a certain herb and the art of spitting bars, and although this might not be the most original concept for a track, it’s a dope start to the EP.

‘Damned Road’ follows, and features fellow E&Daniels members Tony D, Mr. 13 & Josiah Matrix. This is a deeper track, focussing on the struggles of growing up in London, and each MC on the track delivers an excellent verse. Tony D never fails to completely tear a track apart, and this is no exception; ‘Damned Road’ sees the current Don’t Flop champion deliver a gritty 16 packed with punches and a tight flow.

‘Years Written’ is another standout from the EP. The multisyllabic rhymes in this are definitely on point. It can sometimes be difficult to make bars like this really sit well as a complete song, but Bam keeps on topic and this makes for an engaging listen. The same can be said for ‘Last Draw’, which features Bamalam delivering lyrics with some well thought out social commentary, as well as speaking about his own troubles and ways of dealing with life’s hurdles.

‘Chest Of Draws’ is a dope EP from one of the UK’s most consistent and prolific battle rappers, and is yet another counter to the common argument that battle rappers can’t make good music. Well picked beats make for a diverse listen; the EP features some relaxed, soulful instrumentals as well as more hard hitting boom bap beats, and Bamalam’s flow and lyrics are precise and impactful throughout.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@JoelWattz

http://www.brightsiders.com