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
High Focus never seem to slow down. This is the latest release from the UK hip hop powerhouse; a full length album from the Croydon duo Cracker Jon and 2Late. ‘You Can Take The Cracker Out Of Croydon’ is a dark, head nodding, funky journey back into a forgotten style of hip hop, reminiscent of Redman in his hey-day. This is a unique UK take on 90s hip hop; this isn’t the same old boom bap revival you’ve heard countless times already this year, this is a smokey ride through some dope beats and breaks, and Cracker’s witty lyrical content and choppy, gritty flow is perfectly suited.
The first time I listened to this album was on a train journey, and as ‘What You Prefer’ started to sound through my headphones the ‘tickets please’ sample was rather disconcerting. ‘I don’t like responsibility when i’m at work/To sit at home and get stoned is what I prefer’ is the bar that Cracker Jon kicks his verse off with, and it’s quotables like this that make him such an interesting and engaging MC to listen to.
‘The Funk Off’ is a dope posse cut, with a sick video to accompany it (check that on youtube). Cracker’s verse is laced with some well written multi syllabics such as ‘Memories glowing/Extendedly flowing/Better be knowing/Any opponent’. The choppy flow is something that has always drawn me to Jon’s music, and is ever-impressive. The ‘stop taking pictures of yourself in stupid poses’ bar is another example of Cracker Jon’s talent for peppering his verses with witty one liners. Smellington Piff drops one of the albums standout verses; ‘The security on the door was more blind than Blunkett’ is one of the best references i’ve heard for a long time. Eric The Red also comes through with a punchline heavy verse, it’s going to be interesting to watch the RLD Records talent grow in the near future if these 2 verses are anything to go by.
Obnoxious is my personal standout track. It sees Cracker Jon & 2Late team up with 2 of the UK’s finest rappers. Dirty Dike opens the track with a perfectly suited bar. ‘I snap a cats leg off and fuck a dog with it’ made me reload the track so many times. Lee Scott also tears the track up, with an expertly delivered verse. It’s always good when an MC on his debut album enlists veterans for a collaboration, and Cracker Jon holds his own amongst 2 of the UK’s most supreme lyricists.
You Can’t Take The Cracker Out Of Croydon is an excellent UK hip hop album. Cracker Jon has a unique flow, with consistently on point content. Going from witty references to weed and booze to scathing social commentary in 2 bars is a common occurrence, and 2Late’s funky baselines and drum loops provide the perfect soundtrack. Fliptrix spits 2 sick verses (his appearance on Think About It is an absolute classic), and this is yet another fantastic slice of UK hip hop to come out of the High Focus camp.
By Sam Bennett
I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, Manchester is a breeding ground for some exceptionally talented MCs. It’s always had its fair share of sick rhymers, but over the past couple of years we’ve seen more and more talented rappers start to come out of this hotbed of northern hip hop. Ellis Meade is certainly one of these. He’s a member of Voodoo Black, a 3 man squad, along with Sparkz & Dubbul O, and High & Wired is a 6 track EP which really shows off Ellis’ ability and prowess on a microphone.
The EP kicks off with the title track. This is a perfect example of Ellis’ rapid and frantic flow gelling exceptionally well with chilled out, spacey instrumentals. The jazzy samples, and sparkling keys provide a perfect backing for Ellis to lay down his tight flow. The production on this EP is handled by Kydro, and this combination works very well. It’s always important on joint projects such as this EP, that the rapper/producer partnership is one that suits each others styles, and this is definitely the case on High & Wired.
Workin is another great track. An interesting sample flip, with Ellis Meade again displaying his impressive lyrical dexterity. It’s refreshing to hear an MC who spits consistently fast paced rhymes, while still keeping the chilled out, stoner vibe of a lot of UK hip hop. Workin sees Meade rapping about his work ethic, and his career as an MC thus far. It’s a relatable track with a sick vibe.
Ellis Meade is definitely one to watch, and High & Wired is a great EP to introduce his ability to fans of UK hip hop. There is a consistency to the EP, and it feels very cohesive. Across 6 tracks, Ellis Meade & Kydro carry a chilled vibe throughout, and this is another dope project to come out of the city of Manchester. Make sure you check this out!
By Sam Bennett
The Bluntskins are a Manchester based 3 piece hip hop outfit who produce some high grade music. Cali Ku$h, their second album, is packed with bangers, and features some of the best rappers in the country right now.
Bill Sykes & Cheech hold down the bars, while Pro P holds down the beats. This trio gels so well, with Pro P’s instantly recognisable production providing a perfect backdrop for Bill & Cheech to trade their weed infused bars over.
Tracks like Joints are where The Bluntskins excel. The anthemic beat as well as many quotable lyrics instantly win you over, and you can’t help but get on board with the music. Everybody is another track which continues this theme; Cheech & Sykes are outstanding when spitting over these uptempo, brass heavy beats. Rappers who dedicate so much of their subject matter to the reefer usually fall into a trap of spitting over only the most relaxed and chilled instrumentals, The Bluntskins however show their versatility with this beat selection, and Pro P’s production has pushed this album way past a lot of UK hip hop LPs.
The track list of Cali Ku$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