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

Jam Baxter – Mansion 38 (Review)

Jam Baxter, Reviews

With his fourth full length studio album, revered MC Jam Baxter delivers creative lyricism and imaginative angles in abundance on ‘Mansion 38’, the latest release from the insanely talented High Focus Records. The LP is orchestrated by the versatile producer Chemo, and the pair continue the groundwork they started on Baxter’s last album ‘…So We Ate Them Whole’, but things get a little more gloomy this time round.

Opening with the anthemic and traditionally vivid ‘Down’, the tense, overcast and encapsulating ethos of the album is instantly apparent. Chemo’s synthetic, glitchy production moves seamlessly with Baxter’s unique structure and dense lyricism. ‘Dumb’ features Trellion and Lee Scott, and the combination is as witty as you would imagine. Trellion has been on an incredible run recently, and the slow-moving boom bap is perfect for the cleverest dumb bars you’ve heard since the last Trelli verse you clocked. The double-time flows and sparse beat is a brilliantly successful formula for the cinematic ‘For A Limited Time Only’. The Contact Play MC blends a mixture of weird imagery and complex, layered writing with a cocky, street-smart vibe that makes his material wildly entertaining.

The trapped out ‘Soi 36’ is an absolute banger; the single from the album exemplifies Baxter’s flawless ability to mix an unashamedly leftfield vibe with a current, accessible presentation. Lee Scott appears on the flawless ‘Titanic 2’; the bouncy, pounding instrumental, skippy, imaginative flows and cutting, satirical lyrics make the swagged-out track a standout. The charisma on display here from two of the UK’s leading artists is a testament to the talent on offer from the crop of MC’s active right now, and High Focus is a well oiled platform for these wordsmiths to shine. ‘Just Us’ is a characteristically off-kilter introspective cut, and Jammothy’s rugged lifestyle is described in great detail over a bouncy Chemo soundscape. The use of the word ‘shmerkle’ in a bar also deserves respect in it’s own right.

‘Bulletproof’ is a highlight, and the silky piano-based beat is perfect for Baxter’s smooth flow and eclectic bars; he drifts from topic to topic seamlessly and with an underlying gritty undercurrent to his writing. Fellow CP spitter Dirty Dike accompanies on the crisp ‘Chateaux In Toulouse’ which also finds fellow Dead Player Dabbla killing his verse, as is always the case for the veteran MC. The collaborations sprinkled across ‘Mansion 38’ are utilised excellently, and the album maintains it cohesion throughout, and the gifted Chemo must get a lot of the credit for that. The sophisticated ‘Teeth Marks’ is expertly executed with complex lyrics lacing the sporadic drums and haunting synthwork, filling the space with finesse and masterful precision.

‘Mansion 38’ is a exhilerating album that gives a fascinating insight into one of the most creative and talented lyricists of our generation. Jam Baxter has been quietly growing his stature in the UK scene (possibly the cringiest sentence on this blog yet), with a string of quality releases, and this LP solidifies his place as one that is surely to continue his ascent with future work. As diverse as they come, Baxter is such a clearly gifted lyricist, and Chemo such an amazing producer, it’s really no surprise at all that this is an early contender for album of the year.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@ActualJamBaxter

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com

Fliptrix – Patterns Of Escapism (Review)

Fliptrix, Reviews

‘Patterns Of Escapism’ is Fliptrix’s sixth solo LP, and it finds him partnering with RLD beatsmith Illinformed for the entire project. The mature, intellectual lyrical style is perfectly suited to the raw, soulful production style, and this is an album that stays true to the ethos of real hip-hop from the moment you press play on the first track. The High Focus founder rounds off a very productive year for the independent giant with his own project, and it once again proves why HF is one of the most revered and respected labels in the country.

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The album gets underway with ‘Astral Paining’; the beat kicks in with a smooth, classy loop and crisp, jazzy drums and Fliptrix sounds mature, experienced and powerful with a commanding delivery and intricate writing. Imagery, metaphors and a reflective outlook are some of the main ingredients in Big Flipper’s style, and they are exemplified brilliantly on this opening track. The title-track follows and it’s another resounding beat with skilfully executed bars; Fliptrix opens the tune with “I stay spitting ’cause i’m outspoken/I’m at the pub outside in the rain smoking/Mans are on the inside clucking getting coke in/It’s been a long fucking day like the summer solstice”. Illinformed is a wizard on the buttons too, with effective, emotive samples and hard-hitting percussion providing an exhilarating backdrop for the ferocious bars.

Veteran UK hip-hop artist Kashmere accompanies Flips and Illinformed on the banging ‘Smoke Lingers Away’. With an authentic nineties influenced beat infused with chopped vocal samples and one of the punchiest kicks you’ll hear all year Fliptrix and King Kash go to work on this one, resulting in one of the LP’s standouts. The raw ‘The Lion’s Den’, with it’s groovy bass and interplaying samples, is another highlight, and ‘Thunder Clouds’ too is a flawless, tasteful cut that pays it’s due respect and homage to the classic music that has so clearly influenced both rhymer and producer. Respected rhymer Life MC accompanies on ‘Diamond Tone’, and it also features DJ Sammy B-Side on the cuts, but it’s Illinformed that shines on this one with a beautifully orchestrated instrumental that draws on a simplistic vocal loop and mellow piano keys; subtlety is a key tool in the RLD beatsmith’s arsenal, and it’s used perfectly here.

The upbeat, anthemic ‘One Time’ is a huge track; with it’s screwface-inducing sample chops and intricate lyricism the partnership and chemistry that Illinformed and Fliptrix draw from is energetic and enthralling. Ocean Wisdom appears on the fantastic ‘Burn It’, with it’s hard-hitting, simplistic bassline and jazzy piano keys which are silkily sprinkled across the crisp boom bap banger, complimented by uptempo, energetic lyricism from both the High Focus veteran and the hugely exciting newer addition to the label. Smoked out single ‘The Chronic’ is a classic Fliptrix banger, and Verb T, Leaf Dog and BVA join on The Four Owls standout ‘That’s You’. The star-studded feature list continues on ‘High Focus’ as Verb T and Dabbla accompany Flips on a track that represents the independent label to the absolute maximum.

The album’s intensity and cohesive vibe continues with the oustandingly raw ‘Disorientated’, which is laced with expertly chopped brass samples and thumping percussion; Illinformed proves himself as one of the best producers in the country with his work on this release. The rapid-fire, intricate schemes of ‘The Poltergeist’ make for an exhilerating listen, and Fliptrix’s savage, commanding delivery makes the track a late highlight. ‘Spread Peace Around’ is a fitting album closer; the soulful beat and positive message fit with the running theme of the LP, and serves as one last piece of evidence for the collaboration between Big Flipper and Illinformed being one of the most successful partnerships of the year.

There’s very little left to be said; pretty much every track on here is a straight up banger, and the rhymes and beats are on point from front to back. The album is cohesive and consistent with a variety of themes and topics, always delivered masterfully by one of the most skilled writers in the scene. As we reach the end of the year, we can look back on a number of fantastically dope High Focus releases, and 2017 is sure to bring us more of the same.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@MrFliptrix

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com

Ed Scissor & Lamplighter – Tell Them It’s Winter (Review)

Edward Scissortongue, Lamplighter, Reviews

Ed Scissortongue and Lamplighter bring us their sophomore LP, entitled ‘Tell Them It’s Winter’ (did anybody tell them it was July?), released once again through High Focus Records, who have been setting the hip-hop scene alight with every project they add to their growing catalogue. The duo, comprised of the Cambridge lyricist and the Edinburgh-born producer, are one of the most forward-thinking acts operating in our incredibly diverse scene, and this release continues the mature, provocative sound introduced on their debut record ‘Better. Luck. Next. Life’, but with a more uplifting undercurrent than it’s predecessor.

TTIW - Front Cover

Opening with the cinematic ‘Grandzeen’, the glitchy, off-kilter soundscape builds in intensity before Scissor’s vocal completes the scene as the track draws to it’s close; it’s clear that the maturity this duo showed on their debut LP hasn’t gone anywhere. The subtlety and intelligent nature of their output is perhaps best exhibited on the following track; the sublime ‘TTIW’ is an early highlight, with Lamplighter’s textured production and Scissor’s vivid writing combining to result in a true work of art. The sparse production of ‘Week’ and the poetic lyricism that falls sharply over the thumping, intermittent percussion and heavenly synthesizers makes this track another excellent cut. The addition of the violin towards the end of the track is a tasteful and memorable production choice, with the emotional tale reaching an intense finale.

The album’s impeccable opening run continues with ‘The Dust Don’t Lay’; the imagery conjured by Ed’s metaphorical musings is fantastic, with a wide, emotive vocabulary complimented by expertly handled production from Lamplighter, which mirrors the feelings stirred by the vocal perfectly. The eery ‘Hyperballad’ is great too, and the beat changes and switch-up’s unfalteringly sustain the mesmerising vibe until Ed’s final “summer in a hyperballad” rings out for the final time. The back end of ‘Tell Them It’s Winter’ finds Scissor and Lamplighter experimenting with ambitious tracks such as ‘Light Round Here’, ‘AFK’ and ‘Detours’; the sonic, structural and compositional elements of these songs go far beyond your traditional hip-hop music, and it’s a testament to the versatility of the High Focus crew that this left-field side of the spectrum is showcased in such glory.

‘Tell Them It’s Winter’ is a memorable project that requires some work from the listener to be properly appreciated. The grandiose instrumentals and the layered lyricism take some time to be digested, but as is so often the case with stellar music, this is in no means created on solely a surface level. Ed Scissor and Lamplighter have just released one of the most intelligent and rewarding projects in recent memory, and you need to check it out.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@Ed_Scissor

@LamplighterAKA

http://www.high-focus.com

Onoe Caponoe – Spells From The Cyclops (Review)

Onoe Caponoe, Reviews

2015 saw the release of ‘Voices From Planet Cattele’, Onoe Caponoe’s debut project through High Focus Records, which was produced entirely by the legendary Chemo. A year on comes his next release, ‘Spells From The Cyclops’ which finds Onoe experimenting with a variety of influences, genres and sounds, and it’s a trip that should be taken by all.

Onoe Caponoe - Spells From The Cyclops - FRONT COVER

From the word go with the two short skits that introduce ‘Spells From The Cyclops’ it’s clear the Onoe’s weirded out, trippy vibe is still as strong as it ever was. The slow-paced ‘Cyclops From The Forest’ is a spaced out journey that encapsulates the vibe of the project perfectly, and it certainly prepares you for the next hour or so of leftfield hip-hop at it’s finest. The following track ‘Side Effects Of Star Controlling’ is equally cool, with it’s jazzy keys and drum loops backing Caponoe’s unique, individual lyrical approach, as he drops a smooth, unorthodox flow with winning results. ‘Ghost Surf’ is another excellent cut, and the bassy, hard-hitting trap influenced tracks are just as successful as the more experimental tunes found across this latest release. Onoe moves across the normal lines of beat and bar divisions with ease, constantly demonstrating a calculated but unashamedly abstract perspective on the microphone. Bisk and Stinkin Slumrok appear on the gritty, grimey ‘Money To Live In The Swamp’, and the glitchy, harsh production makes for a forward-thinking banger with three very talented UK vocalists doing their thing.

‘Jellyfish Gurl Part 2’ is a definite highlight, with manipulated vocals, mellow synths and crashing drums combining for an odd but entirely enjoyable four minutes. The smoked out ‘Love From A Ghost’ is intoxicating, with it’s haunting, slow-moving production and calmly delivered lyricism from Caponoe; it’s a welcome break from some of the more experimental tracks on ‘Spells From The Cyclops’, Onoe is still far from your cliché hip-hop artist on this song, but if the more extremely unconventional material isn’t entirely your thing this one is sure to be a favourite. The lo-fi ‘Ghosts In Ma Hallway Part 2’ is also another cool trap influenced joint, but it’s the following cut ‘On The Run In Tokyo’ that steals the show, and is perhaps the most polished cut in this style on the whole album.

With a host of other projects in the pipeline, Onoe Caponoe is continuing to carve his own niche in the hip-hop scene, which is so often stagnant and unimaginative. ‘Spells From The Cyclops’ is very strange, there’s really no getting around that, but Onoe grabs you and pulls you into his own dimension, not letting go until the final seconds of ‘Blaze My Zoot’. Go and cop this, get immersed in the world of the 169, and keep your eyes glued to http://www.high-focus.com for all the latest.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@OnoeCaponoe169

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com

Ocean Wisdom – Chaos 93′ (Review)

Dirty Dike, Ocean Wisdom, Reviews

Brighton MC Ocean Wisdom first catapulted to the forefront of any hip-hop head’s mind with the release of ‘Walkin’ back in 2014. The grimey, snarling Dirty Dike production and the ferociously fast flow were an instantly winning combination, and anxiously rap fans the world over waited patiently for news of a full project. Signing with High Focus Records last year is a logical choice, and the independent powerhouse starts off 2016 with Wisdom’s debut solo record ‘Chaos 93’, entirely produced by Dirty Dike and featuring appearances from Klashnekoff, Lunar C, Foreign Beggars and more.

Ocean Wisdom - Chaos 93' - Album Cover

Opening with ‘Walkin’, if you’ve been living under a rock for the past year and a half or so, this is the perfect introduction to Ocean’s high-standard of lyricism and his undeniably incredibly flow, and he matches a decisive delivery with crystal clear diction. ‘Splittin’ The Racket’, the first official single from the album, keeps the pace at a blistering high, and Wisdom displays witty bars over a crisp, hard-hitting Dike instrumental. ‘High Street’ is an intense, rapid-fire onslaught of tongue twisting lyrics and flows; Ocean Wisdom switches it up effortlessly and without warning, demonstrating integrity, honesty and screw-face inducing skill.

Lunar C’s appearance on ‘Gone’ is a great addition (“I’m squeezing titties like I’m holding stress balls/She’s pussy popping like a blow up ex doll”); wordplay, charisma and punchlines are displayed by both MCs, and the hook is a work of genius. Klashnekoff features on the following cut ‘Devilish’, and the menacing, subtle production with deep bass and percussive flows is a superb backdrop for the two gritty vocalists. ‘Doolally’ features another legendary UK name; Foreign Beggars join Ocean on a hyped, up-tempo track. Dike’s production across ‘Chaos 93’ is versatile and consistently impressive, the thumping kicks and sparse instrumentation works brilliantly with the energetic, percussive flows from Wisdom, Vulgatron and Metropolis.

Man, ‘Oh Kiddi K’. What a tune. Remus’ opening verse is aggressive, intelligent and entirely convincing; the building anticipation for his debut LP is starting to become too much to handle. The in-your-face, pedal to the metal flows that Ocean has developed a reputation for are showcased all over ‘Chaos 93’. He slows the pace down a little on ‘Heskey’, and Dike matches the vibe with a sinister production. ‘Real Smooth’, the highly anticipated collaborations with The Four Owls, is a certified banger. Every verse is a smash; Fliptrix spits “I hit the bong today, never on a long delay/Shouting at these motherfuckers ándale, ándale” and BVA’s savage appearance is one of the standout moments on the entire LP. ‘W.A.Y.D’ again shows the diversity Ocean and Dike have mastered on the album, with a soulful instrumental and introspective lyricism.

‘Chaos 93’ definitely lives up to the hype; when ‘Walkin’ is your introduction to the industry, you’re certainly setting the bar high, but Ocean Wisdom’s ferocious pen-game, diverse flows and pure ability sounds flawless over Dirty Dike’s expertly handled production. Over an eclectic seventeen tracks, the musical ability of both rapper and producer is shown to be at the highest level, and High Focus have knocked it out of the park with this one. What a start to 2016.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@Ocean_Wisdom

@DirtyDikeSMB

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com

Chairman Maf – Soup (Review)

Chairman Maf, Reviews

Cambridge producer Chairman Maf releases his third LP ‘Soup’. The album showcases Maf’s ingenious sample-work, his versatile influences and chilled vibe that is guaranteed to keep your head nodding for the full 43 minute journey. 

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The album kicks off with ‘Mambo’, and the weird mesh of samba, jazz and hip-hop works so so well. It’s a quirky, slightly off-kilter jam that opens the album with freshness, individuality and pure dopeness. The crisp ‘Danger’ is an oddly sinister boom-bap number; the vinyl crackle, vocal samples and unexpected sample choices combine to make a hypnotic and thoroughly enjoyable soundscape.

The soulful ‘Sincere Soup’ is another highlight; Chairman Maf’s production is always vividly textured and layered. The dense instrumentals are constantly interesting and exciting to take in, with sound effects and faultless sample manipulation and choice underpinned by tight drum grooves and percussion.

The somber mood of the clean, silky piano on ‘Blue Soup’ is backed by a subtle electronic kick drum and snare; Maf’s resources never get boring, there’s always something new and different on each track. In fact, there’s often many segments that make up a whole beat; the instrumentals on ‘Soup’ go far beyond just a nice sample and a couple of 16 bar loops, there’s variety, thought and clear skill on show here.

‘Liar’ does kind of take that shape though; it’s a pretty simple formula, but it works so well. The vocal samples mix with the chopped samples, and the crisp drum beat holds it together nicely. The mellow ‘Booze’ rounds off the standard edition of the album. If you get the deluxe version however, you’re treated to two more beats. ‘Special Soup’ is another soulful boom-bap cut, and ‘Prawn Soup’ is the instrumental to ‘Prawns’ from Dirty Dike’s recently released ‘Sucking On Prawns In The Moonlight’ album, which dropped a few months back through High Focus Records.

Chairman Maf shows why he’s one of the most consistent and intelligent producers in the hip-hop scene on our shores. ‘Soup’ is musical, it’s soulful, it’s eclectic and it sounds damn good. The album’s bandcamp page states that this is possibly his last release, but please Maf, if the projects are this good (and his 2014 release ‘Paint’ was quality too), don’t stop just yet.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@ChairmanMaf

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.chairmanmaf.bandcamp.com

Dead Players – Freshly Skeletal (Review)

Dead Players, Reviews

Dead Players, a trio consisting of rappers Jam Baxter and Dabbla, and Ghosttown handling the production, release their second full length album ‘Freshly Skeletal’ through High Focus Records. With their 2013 self-titled debut LP, Dead Players carved their uptempo, no holds barred niche and delivered impressively. This follow-up continues that trend, but with a somewhat darker overall vibe.

Dead Players - Freshly Skeletal Front Cover

Starting the album off is ‘Oh Well’. The track is perhaps a little slower in pace than to be usually expected from the ultra-energetic trio; Dabbla and Baxter announce their return with cocky and confident microphone presence and complexly structured lyricism, and Ghosttown’s haunting, mysterious production is as up to scratch as ever. The Dead Players have such a unique and forward thinking sound, and this is a testament to the depth of High Focus’ versatile roster. ‘Billa’ is more what I expected; the resounding and frantic production and the aggressive in-your-face spitting creates a high octane track.

‘Nah’, the follow-up to ‘Yeah’ from their first album, is a prime example of Ghosttown’s production talents. Flipping abstract samples to create energetic anthems such as this shows his creativity and skill, and Dabbla and Jam Baxter are two of the only MCs on the circuit who could tackle some of the production on this album with such pace and precision. ‘Call Us Now’, the first single from the album, shows the Dead Players’ charisma and humour, as well as the sheer unstoppable force of Dabbla’s percussive flow. His work in LDZ has always impressed, and his clarity and accuracy on a rhythm is second to none.

Jam Baxter’s imagery laden detailed writing is as sharp as ever on ‘Freshly Skeletal’, and the glitchy, intense ‘Ringing’ is a perfect example. Both Baxter and Dabbla’s authoritative presence makes this LP convincing and entertaining from front to back. ‘Infinite Limousine’ is a fantastic posse cut, featuring Sox, Ocean Wisdom, Illaman and Orifice Vulgatron; the line-up is exciting as it is, and the rapid-fire back-to-back exchange of bars is witty, lively and lives up to expectation. ‘Cooked’ has another exceptional beat from Ghosttown; his resources for sampling are unique, and Dabbla and Jam Baxter’s intricate rhyming are in-the-pocket at all times.

‘Freshly Skeletal’ is another energetic showcase from Dead Players. Dabbla’s work in LDZ has made him a longtime favourite of mine, and Baxter’s solo work is incredibly original in its own right, and together they bring an eclectic sound to the Players. Ghosttown’s production is excellent throughout the album; his unique touch makes the album cohesive and exhilarating. High Focus have smashed it out the park, as per usual.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@DeadPlayers_UK

@ActualJamBaxter

@BigDabbla

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

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Dirty Dike – Sucking On Prawns In The Moonlight (Review)

Dirty Dike, Reviews

First off, what a title. Dirty Dike’s fourth album, his third on High Focus Records (every review I try to find a new way to big them up but you must get the picture by now), is the latest installment in a productive year for the Cambridge rapper. Well, Cambridge musician. With recent projects with Rag N Bone Man and Lee Scott highlighting his talents in the production sphere, and an album with Ocean Wisdom set to be the next in the list later this year, Dike has been expanding his arsenal. This album features a maturer outlook, still with his trademark brand of lyricism, and a couple of production credits too.

Dirty Dike - SOPITM - Front Cover

The opener, ‘Great Attempt’, is a storming start to the album. With a dark, restrained beat backing complex rhyme schemes from Dike, who both exhibits the familiar character traits we’ve come to associate synonymously, as well as a more serious side in a reflective, self-referencing verse. His flow is melodic and musical, and Fliptrix takes the track on a story-telling tangent, using great imagery in his writing. The depth to both MC’s verses is perfectly suited to the cinematic piano based instrumental, produced by Sam Zircon and Naive, and when the drums finally kick in after both Dike and Fliptrix have finished their verses the impact is big. Dike marks his return to the microphone with a bang.

‘Alcoholic Tosser’, produced by fellow Cambridge musician Chairman Maf, who released the quality instrumental album ‘Paint’ last year, is the second tune. The infectious, almost spooky beat, complete with the sound of a creaking door, is really memorable and the crisp drums back Dike’s cocky delivery emphatically. ‘Ain’t Got A Clue’, the first single from the album, marks a return to Dike’s signature lyrical style; aggressive and witty with a healthy serving of attitude. The production on this track, handled by Joe Corfield, is a turn away from his past work though, with a clear electronic influence that helps take the track to the next level.

‘Isleham Swamp’, the second single from the album, is also produced by Joe Corfield. The subtle instrumental backs pensive and retrospective musings from Dike. It’s a world away from ‘Return Of The Twat’, and Dike shows this different perspective and style across ‘Sucking On Prawns In The Moonlight’. The Remus collaboration, entitled ‘Take Over’, is a definite highlight; with an Eastern influence in the Sitar laced beat, as well as incredibly punchy drums, this track marks the first in four adjacent tracks showcasing Dike’s production talents.

‘Me & You’, featuring Jam Baxter, is my favourite track on the album. The beat is catchy and classy, and the theme of comparison is executed in a witty manner by both Contact Play MCs, with melodic deliveries and genuinely funny lyrics. ‘Crystal Cindy’ and ‘Feast’ are both insightful songs, each dealt with skilfully, honestly and passionately. This openness continues on the penultimate track. ‘Hold My Hands’ is slow-paced, with great sample work and production from Klagen. Dike’s electronic influence and direction on this album is refreshing, and it’s a stylistic change that works brilliantly. ‘Remus, Ocean Wisdom, Jam Baxter, Lee Scott and Dabbla join Dike on ‘Posse Gang Eight Million’. Both the previous cypher cuts on Dike’s last two albums have been quality, and the grimy beat and up-tempo verses make the album close out with an absolute bang. I said that at the beginning right?

‘Sucking On Prawns In The Moonlight’ is a fantastic release. It marks a new chapter in Dike’s sound and direction. The album is a lot more personal than his previous work (Sloshpot EP aside), and the change in emphasis is one that is successfully executed, and it remains interesting from start to finish. The style of the album musically is exciting too, with textured instrumentals, with a variety of moods and vibes explored. Dike’s writing is sharper than ever. I could go on but I reckon that’s probably enough compliments for one day.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@DirtyDikeSMB

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com

Verb T & Illinformed – The Man With The Foggy Eyes (Review)

Illinformed, Reviews, Verb T

High Focus Records continue their busy year with a new project from veteran head Verb T and Illinformed, one of the scene’s most impressive production talents of recent years. ‘The Man With The Foggy Eyes’ takes us on a dreamy, classy journey with personality and relatable lyricism from T, and jazzy sample based production from Illinformed.

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‘Rolex Dreams’, featuring Leaf Dog, is an early highlight; the juxtaposition between Verb’s calm delivery and humble style and the concept is entertaining, and Leaf’s verse is passionate and effective. The smooth, jazz-club vibe provided by Illinformed on ‘Somebody Has To Pay’ is matched with a cool and collected flow from Verb T, and this is followed with the raw, uptempo ‘Fuck It Up’. Verb T’s versatility and consistency has always impressed me, and this album continues the trend.

The gritty ‘First Stone’ is another heavy track, with Verbs providing vivid imagery and detailed metaphors with a precise flow. The Hammond organ used on ‘Forgiveness’ is an ingenious addition from Illinformed, and Verb T, Smellington Piff and Moreone all match the soulful beat with their introspective lyricism. The infectious and sharp trumpet on ‘Say It Again’ is an effective production choice; Illinformed is equally as key to the cohesive and tasteful album as Verb T, who shows that his witty writing on this track is as sharp as ever.

The brief but entertaining ‘High Street’ is a nice cut to add to the tracklist, and it’s followed by ‘Pain Avenue’. The personal aspect to Verb T’s music is what is so enticing; the concepts and topics feel real and authentic. The subtle ‘Fade Away’ continues the strong end run of the album, with punchy drums and silky piano samples. ‘Trickery’, the penultimate track, features BVA; the dope brass lines and lazy drum pattern back the two High Focus MC’s as they drop their verses with convincing deliveries. This is followed by ‘I Can’t Stop’. Verbs is joined by Joker Starr, Micall Parknsun and Fliptrix on this joint, and the line-up speaks for itself.

‘The Man With The Fogy Eyes’ is an album that matches talented and intelligent writing with authentic and consistent production. Verb T and Illinformed have great chemistry, with styles that lend themselves perfectly to one another. This is another album to add to the list of quality releases from High Focus; cohesive, relatable and polished.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@RealVerbT

@IlinformedProd

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com