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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Creatures Of Habit – Test Subjects (Review)

Creatures Of Habit, Eric The Red, Illinformed, Reviews, Sean Peng

Creatures Of Habit, comprised of MC’s Eric The Red and Sean Peng along with beatsmith Illinformed, release their full length studio album entitled ‘Test Subjects’ after anticipation for the LP had been growing with the release of some well received singles. Each member of the crew has been putting in the work in their own right, and coming together as a unit has huge potential to result in some certified head-nodding classics being delivered.

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The LP’s opener is ‘The Itch’, and Illinformed crisp drums and signature chopped samples is laced with energetic, charismatic lyricism from Eric The Red, followed by Sean Peng’s hard-hitting style. The combination of rappers is dynamic; Eric’s high-pitched tone and off-kilter flows and Sean’s more traditional approach is really effective and keeps the sound interesting and unpredictable. ‘Roll At Dawn’ is a heavy cypher featuring the Real Life Drama roster, and if you weren’t already familiar with the label (headed by Leaf Dog and BVA), you need to step out from underneath that rock. ‘Hacked Gack’ is a silkily executed jazzy number, and Illinformed works magic with the crisp drums and brass-riff that is an instant earworm.

‘Self Portrait’ is a mellow standout, performed with confidence and sophistication from the Creatures Of Habit representative; the writing is refreshing due to it’s vivid, imaginative and concept-driven content, and Illinformed’s production is absolutely flawless. The excellent run of tracks at the beginning of the ‘Test Subjects’ LP continues with ‘Mucky Mouth’, which features Gee Bag and Leaf Dog, and the raw, energetic cut is sure to be kept in heavy rotation. The upbeat, soulful ‘The Corrupt’ is punchy, decisive and relatable, and the following cut ‘Adventures Of Shroomlock & Dropsome’ is wildly entertaining. The eclectic mix of styles makes the album full of twists and turns; from animated, funky rhythms to slow-moving, smokey jazz-flavours such as the superb ‘Too Stoned’.

‘Test Subjects’ is an album full of charm; the combination of Eric The Red, Sean Peng and Illinformed is fantastic, and the authentic hip-hop is packed with likeable charisma from every member of the Creatures Of Habit crew. With labels such as Blah Records and High Focus going from strength to strength, it’s well-worth reminding yourself that there’s a host of other record labels producing top-draw music, and Real Life Drama have certainly delivered the goods with this one.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@EricTheRedRLD

@SeanPengRLD

@IllinformedProd

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.rldrecords.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

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

Jack Jetson – The Adventures of Johnny Strange (Review)

Jack Jetson, Reviews

Hip Hop in the UK is in one of its healthier periods since its inception, and Jack Jetson is another of the MCs making real waves in the scene. With classic, weed infused verses displaying real skill and passion, this debut album is set to be one of the best releases of 2014. 

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It’s great to see that the talented members of the High Focus roster aren’t content to sit back and ride the wave. BVA & Leaf Dog’s RLD Records is sure to be very important in bringing through more and more lyrical MCs staying true to what hip hop is all about. Jack Jetson’s The Adventures of Johnny Strange album is the first release on RLD, and it’s an example of just how good rap music from Great Britain can be. With all of the production duties handled by Leaf Dog himself, Jack flawlessly flows around the expert sampling and classic 90s drums.

The opening track is Wonderberry, which was released a few weeks back with an accompanying video. As soon as the track starts you can’t help but bounce your head along to it, and Jetson sets the album off with brilliantly structured multi’s and rhyme schemes. Strange Ways is another dope track, with sick quotable’s and internal rhymes. It was certainly a wise choice for Jack Jetson to sign under BVA & Leaf Dog’s new outfit of great UK talent; Jack’s tone of voice and way of writing lends itself completely to Leaf Dog’s gritty yet soulful production, and the vibe of the project makes it able to slot straight amongst albums such as ‘Brothers of the Stone’ and ‘From A Scarecrows Perspective’.

The album features only 3 guest verses. BVA kicks it on Vitamins, with his old school flow delivered with precision. It’s great to hear that a guy with a very unique style and way of delivering his bars is still respected as much as BVA is. Leaf Dog and Jack hook up to trade bars on Stay True. This ode to raw hip hop is perfect for a lazy summer day. Dirty Dike also lends a verse on Mushroom Clouds. This is one of the standout tracks, with one of the UK’s most prolific lyricists proving exactly why he’s so respected; Dike’s humorous bars such as ‘I’ll sellotape her face to the fridge and fucking break her ribs’ instantly making you perk up and pay attention. Jetson’s verses don’t fall short of the mark either.

This is a very solid album, and is an incredibly strong debut. This has only made it more exciting to hear from RLD’s roster of artists who are bubbling just under the surface. Leaf Dog’s beats are on top form throughout the project, with 13 tracks of classic, 90s influenced instrumentals providing the perfect backing for Jack Jetson to take us through the adventures of Johnny Strange.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@JackJetson

http://www.rldrecords.co.uk