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

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Dabbla – Year Of The Monkey (Review)

Dabbla, Reviews

Dabbla is one of the most formidable rappers on the circuit. He’s been a staple figure in our homegrown scene for years and represents a number of crews (LDZ, Problem Child and Dead Players), but 2016 is finally the year that he stands on his own two feet for an entire project. ‘Year Of The Monkey’ is released through High Focus Records, and features appearances from Dirty Dike, Cobes, Jam Baxter and more, as well as production from Ghosttown, Sumgii and Naive.

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The LP opens with ‘Everything’, and from the moment the jazzy keys and Dabbla’s tight, precise flow and witty content kick in it’s clear that this is going to be one very impressive project. Tom Caruana produces the following tune, entitled ‘Supermodified’, and Dabbs delivers his lyricism with his signature bounce; the multisyllabics, humourous content and sheer speed of his MCing is wildly entertaining. ‘PterdactILL’ is an undisputable banger, and Ghosttown exploits his penchant for off-kilter eastern samples for the fantastic production.

‘Cheers’ is preempted by some guy telling Dabbla that ‘it’s all about dubstep’, and the track itself is uptempo, bouncy and ferociously energetic with a deep, hard-hitting bass. By now you’ve all seen the excellent visuals for ‘Randeer’ and the quirky cut is still a great addition to the tracklist here. ‘Incomparable’ features flawless rhymes and great production, as well some pretty weird imagery being conjoured up by Dabbla’s writing; he spits “2Pac isn’t dead you mug and Biggie’s on the moon/they got Jimi Hendrix on the decks and Whitney on the spoon”, and who else could drop that on a track and make it sound as good as it does here.

‘Penis For The Day’ features Dirty Dike and Dubbledge, and it’s a dope mix of styles and flavours over a slow-moving, groovy beat contributed by Naive. ‘Stupid’ is another well-received single from the LP and the skippy flows and percussive delivery from Dabbla makes for a really strong cut. ‘Spin’ is a nice collaboration with fellow LDZ representative Cobes, and the tongue-twisting patterns and unorthodox rhythms are expertly executed over a glitchy instrumental. These two spitter’s sound perfect on a track together, and if this solo album isn’t enough to satisfy your fiend for Dabbla material, a new LDZ project is also rumoured to be on the way.

I’m not going to go into any detail about ‘Get It’ which features Ocean Wisdom but to say both MC’s performances are outstanding, and if you weren’t impressed with Ocean’s impeccable rapid-fire lyricism before, there’s no doubt  that you will be after hearing this. Jam Baxter appears on ‘Vomit’, which is produced by Ghosttown; what is so good about this cut is that it doesn’t sound like a Dead Players leftover as the trio deliver an upfront and in your face stomper with this one. ‘Butterfly’ is a little more restrained than the majority of tracks on here, but not too many MC’s can pull off a 6/8 time-signature with the ease that Dabbla does here. The LP closes out with the amazing ‘Life Line’ which takes us on a journey from Dabbla’s birth to the present day and beyond in an amusing and impressive fashion.

‘Year Of The Monkey’ is fantastic. There’s not a weak track, weak verse, weak beat or anything at all weak on this LP. The rhymes are on-point, and the vibe of the beats create a cohesive vibe for the LP; with a variety of producers (some of which take the production in some pretty weird directions) Dabbla ties these tracks together with his unique and memorable style. The LP drops tomorrow, so get up early and go and get it.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@BigDabbla

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

Philly B – Let It Play (Review)

Philly B, Reviews

Producer Philly B releases his new album ‘Let It Play’, which features Jam Baxter, Dirty Dike, Dubbledge and Dabbla, amongst many more. The album showcases Philly’s versatile production style, which draws from a range of influences to create a diverse and interesting soundscape.

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The uptempo frantic drums and soulful vocal samples of the opening title track are a perfect match for the percussive deliveries and tight flows from Dabbla, Son Of Light and Dubbledge. Each MC compliments the production with their fast-paced and complex verses. ‘You Suck’ follows, and Dabbla kills it on this solo track; his witty, tongue twisting style sounds excellent over the quirky sample, and the LDZ MC’s clarity is always impressive.

‘Belonging’ is a highlight from the album; the posse cut features Dabbla, Stig Of The Dump, King Kaiow and Jam Baxter, and the simplistic instrumental and hard hitting snare back confidently delivered lyrics from each rapper. The restrained and subtle production on ‘Never’, which features Contact Play representatives Jam Baxter and Dirty Dike, make for another standout. The vivid verses are well structured by both MCs, backed by reserved drums and cool sample work.

‘Love’, which features Mikey D.O.N. of Krispy 3, is dope. The summery vibe and crisp drums show Philly B’s skilfully versatile talent behind the boards, complimented brilliantly by Mikey’s vocal. The final track is ‘Money 2 Da Rescue’, and this is my favourite track by far, not only of the album but of the year as a whole. The electronically driven production is a perfect match for Dubbledge and Dabbla’s relatable lyrics (Dabbla’s verse will ring true with a huge amount of heads), which paint a scathing view of our society with wit and passion.

‘Let It Play’ is an excellent project from Philly B. The scope of the production is wide-ranging, and the lost of features extensive and well selected. With a variety of styles explored in terms of vocalists and instrumentals, Philly has dropped an exhilarating project in ‘Let It Play’, and play it you certainly should.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@PhillyBDriven

http:/www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.phillydriven.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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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

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

Jam Baxter – Live At The HiFi Club – Leeds – 21/06/15 (Live Review)

Jam Baxter, Live Reviews

The Sunday Joint at HiFi is a regular destination for fans of live music, and their consistency in picking acts on the cusp of their relevant scenes is impressive. A hungover Jam Baxter, who is an intense and skilled rapper signed to the powerhouse that is High Focus Records, takes to the stage tonight, with DJ Sammy B-Side accompanying him on the wheels of steel.

Feature-Jam-Baxter

Opening with ‘Incoming’, from his phenomenal recent album ‘…So We Ate Them Whole’, Baxter is a one man tour de force, demonstrating a quality live delivery and imagery laden lyricism, something he has built a stellar reputation for. He takes it back to 2012 with ‘Fine’, from the ‘Gruesome Features’ album, and Baxter’s rhyme schemes and excellent flow impress from start to finish.

Jam Baxter keeps the vibe and party atmosphere up by handing vodka to willing participants in the crowd, and if that wasn’t enough the hard hitting electronic production exemplified and explored on Baxter’s latest album sounds incredibly heavy in a live situation. ‘Fresh Flesh’ also impresses, taken from his EP with fantastic producer Jon Phonics.

As one half of Dead Players (along with LDZ representative Dabbla), Jam Baxter has mastered the art of hyped up, energetic music with rapid flows and confident deliveries. The duo’s debut album is a powerful and cohesive project, and tracks like ‘Winning’, ‘Ever’ and ‘Yeah’ all show just how on point Baxter’s flows and deliveries are. His versatile skill set is something to be applauded.

The Contact Play spitter takes the mood back with the classic cut ‘Brains’. The thought-provoking lyricism and concepts, as well as the head-nodding instrumental make this track a highlight. He finishes his set with ‘Leash’, an uptempo, in your face track from his latest album. The intimate, receptive Leeds crowd have rocked with Baxter solidly, and with good reason. His energy, consistency and performance have all been really enjoyable, with a dope selection of tracks from a range of projects.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@ActualJamBaxter

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com

Mr. Key & Greenwood Sharps – Yesterday’s Futures (Review)

Greenwood Sharps, Mr. Key, Reviews

High Focus continue their dominance with the hugely anticipated debut project from Contact Play member Mr. Key, entitled ‘Yesterday’s Futures’, which is produced in its entirety by Greenwood Sharps. Key’s personal, introspective and captivating writing style is showcased throughout, with various electronic soundscapes backing the intricate writing with wonderful synthesized textures and thumping percussion. Anyone in the UK hip-hop following will have been anticipating and waiting patiently for the debut solo project from Mr. Key, and ‘Yesterday’s Futures’ will more than satisfy their appetites.

Mr Key & Greenwood Sharps - Album Cover

The opening track, ‘Rituals’ features fellow Contact Play and High Focus rapper Jam Baxter. From the album’s outset it’s clear that Mr. Key’s intelligence and personal life experiences will be the focus for the album, with interesting and varied rhyme schemes from both Key and Baxter making for an enthralling opener. ‘Exact Costs Pt. 1 – All Rise’, which features an appearance from a different CP member, Edward Scissortongue, follows. The layered, down-tempo feel of the production is suited to the complex lyricism on display. ‘Missing You’ is potentially my favourite track from the album, although it’s a closely fought battle. The heartfelt subject matter and fantastic chorus make for a stunning song. The Mount Kimbie esque synthesizers, evident on tracks like ‘Millions’, which features memorably haunting vocal samples and a melodic performance from Key. The subjects tackled throughout ‘Yesterday’s Futures’ really allow you to get a look inside his head, as his writing is incredibly personal. Greenwood Sharps’ production talents also shine, with a hypnotically good beat, and a truly great outro.

‘Funny Valentine’, a story about a past relationship again sees Mr. Key demonstrating a stunning narrative, and the glitchy yet soulful beat is also a winning factor. The intense production on ‘Kids Story’ makes for one of my favourite beats on the album. Sharps is just as much of a star on ‘Yesterday’s Futures’ as Key, evident on ‘Solstice’ for instance, where the electronic, chilled soundscape and spoken word style from Key combine to make for an utterly brilliant cut. ‘Faust Hype’, although brief at only one minute and fifty seconds, is another of my favourite songs here, with spacey synthesizers and dope percussion, as well as another intricate and fascinating performance from Key.

‘Yesterday’s Futures’ is a stunning album. Mr. Key and Greenwood Sharps’ collaboration is fantastically cohesive, and makes for a repeatedly entertaining listen, with depth and honesty from Key, and remarkable production from Sharps. This doesn’t sound like anything else released on High Focus Records, which yet again proves their versatility and talent isn’t waning in any shape or form. ‘Yesterday’s Futures’ was most certainly worth the wait, and then some.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@GreenwoodSharps

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com

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Jam Baxter – …So We Ate Them Whole (Review)

Jam Baxter, Reviews

Every time a High Focus Records release comes around I struggle to find new words to describe the massive influence they have over, and the fantastic music they contribute to, today’s UK hip hop scene. ‘…So We Ate Them Whole’ is the new record from Jam Baxter, one of the most intricate and descriptive lyricists operating in the game today, and it’s solely produced by the exceptional Chemo. The album features vivid, detailed metaphors in abundance, and Chemo provides consistently hard hitting production, whether it’s on a more hip hop vibe, or on Dead Players esque tracks like the lead single ‘Leash’. 

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The album starts off with the haunting ‘Wings Cost Extra’, which finds Jammy B weaving intricate bars over minimal keys and jazzy drums. This project instantly seems like a more mature Baxter, with perhaps a more personal approach than his previous work, despite still maintaining the layered and veiled  content that is so effective. The aggressive and convincing delivery on ‘Incoming’ is perfectly matched to the spacey, futuristic instrumental. JB’s choice to work with Chemo was definitely a wise one, as the crunchy, boom bap drums are present throughout the album and, blended with his unique, electronic approach, is so well suited to Baxter’s distinctive style.

When ‘Leash’ hit my YouTube screen a couple of weeks ago, it smacked me in the face with such force I don’t think it came off repeat all night. Jam Baxter’s ability to absolutely kill this amped up style of production has always been apparent, but it was on his collaboration album with Dabbla (as Dead Players) that its full potential became so obvious. This track continues the vibe of that album, and it’s another absolute banger. The glitchy, abstract beat found on ‘Everything’ is definitely a standout, and the haunting left-field instrumental backs Baxter’s intelligently placed multisyllabics and intricate flow. This is definitely an example of Jammothy exploring new avenues and styles, but he always keeps the mood consistent, and the partnership with Chemo has definitely resulted in an exceptionally cohesive album.

The importance of the smart and perceptive production that Chemo contributes cannot be understated, and this is as apparent as ever on ‘Vines’. The atmospheric and spacious beat gives Baxter room to deliver his cleverly crafted lyrics, and the use of smartly placed vocal samples only adds to the tense backdrop. The only guest appearance on the album is on ‘Menu’. This track finds Jam Baxter and Dirty Dike trading verses about their appearances on the road, both approaching the track with an inflammatory and cocky perspective, and it’s definitely a highlight. DJ Sammy B-Side laces the track with his signature cuts, and no High Focus album would be complete without an appearance from the resident turntablist.

‘…So We Ate Them Whole’ is a truly dope album, with cohesive production and intricate lyrics from beginning to end. Jam Baxter and Chemo have created a vivid, haunting project, and the unique approach of both MC and producer combines to result in another hard hitting High Focus project. These boys are constantly releasing quality music, and their reign is only just beginning.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@LYTEWORK

@ActualJamBaxter

@HighFocusUK

http://www.facebook.com/LYTEWORK

http://www.high-focus.com