Jehst – Billy Green Is Dead (Review)

Jehst, Reviews

Every few years the UK scene is refreshed by the return of one it’s greats. Jehst is one of the most respected, influential and consistently brilliant rappers on the circuit, and in his later years he has grown much beyond the traditional hip-hop sensibilities he made his name with. ‘Billy Green Is Dead’ sees the legendary MC explore off-kilter beats and complex themes throughout this release, and Jehst’s penmanship is still as smooth as it was in the late nineties.

The album gets underway with ‘Billy’s Green Theme’; Jehst has developed such a stellar reputation due to his identifiable, incredibly relatable lyricism and sophisticated, ultra-calm delivery, and this opener puts Billy Brimstone’s skill-set in full display. Jehst fully embraces the futuristic, leftfield sound of the experimental on this release. Tracks like the intense, glitchy ‘Kennedy’, which features fellow YNR head Confucius MC, are hugely captivating; both the production and the lyricism shows such depth, and Jehst’s years of experience in making boundary-pushing, mature hip-hop make the quirky sound of this release another effortless achievement.

The synthetic, sparse ‘Household Name’ features Jyager, and the eighties-influenced production with it’s groovy bassline and swelling synths, is a great backdrop for the two lyricists to ask a number of questions to both themselves and the listener. They describe the mundane, celebrity-obsessed culture of our times with cutting detail and witty observations. ’44th Flour’ is a raw, lofi banger, and the muffled drums and distorted synth-lines allow Jehst’s complex writing take centre stage. The single has already had a hugely positive reception online, and deservedly so; the track still stands strong in the context of the album though, and the unashamedly weird sonic-direction of the album is endlessly entertaining.

The jazzy ‘Smoke Screen’, which finds Ennio Lion and Mr. Thing accompanying (alongside an uncredited Rag N Bone Man), is a return to the familiar smoky boom bap that Jehst is so formidable at. There’s a reason he has inspired a generation of British MC’s, and it’s the tasteful execution showcased on this cut that is so important in his reputation being so revered. The intricate, subtle ‘Eulogy’ is a definite highlight from ‘Billy Green Is Dead’; Jehst’s lyrical prowess is on full display as he drops witty punchlines with an impeccable flow and experienced delivery. He’s one of the most consistent MC’s in the game, and he’s as strong in 2017 as when he first burst onto the scene.

Another year, another quality album boxed off from Jehst. The catalogue is increasingly impressive, and ‘Billy Green Is Dead’ finds Jehst sounding more mature, diverse and thought-provoking than ever. The LP is sonically challenging, but it’s well worth the effort to fully appreciate the talent on display here. The loose-narrative is enthralling, but the story told through Jehst’s channeling of Billy Green is one we can relate to, and it’s this characteristic that makes the YNR founder one of the finest lyricists around.

By Sam Bennett






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




Morriarchi – Buggzville Sessions (Review)

Morriarchi, Reviews

Blah Records continue their insanely productive 2016 with the release of ‘Buggzville Sessions’, the full length LP from longstanding and respected producer Morriarchi, with features from a who’s who of the best in hip-hop from the British Isles, as well as Canadian MC Danny Lover also making an appearance.


The menacing ‘Hush Ya Beak’, with it’s glitchy drums and screeching samples, is a perfect opener; it serves both as a reminder or as an introduction (depending upon your familiarity with Morri’s work) to his distinctively gloomy, hard-hitting sound. The shrouded-in-mystery MC Rox Slicken appears on this first cut, and he absolutely destroys the unorthodox beat.

‘Campbell & Algar’ is a slow-moving, swegged out banger from two of the UK’s finest lyricists. Jehst and Lee Scott collaborate on what is a long anticipated pairing for rap fans the underground over, and it doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. This is witty, sarcastic hip-hop at it’s genius best; Lee’s savage bar claiming just how much of the pie is his is a standout, and Billy Brimstone’s ‘Why everybody wanna rap hella fast? I’m in the bath with a copy of The Telegraph’ lyric is simply incredible. Only Jehst could make such a simplistic segment of writing sound so poignant.

Welsh Collective Squid Ninjaz are represented by MC’s Hekla and Joe Dirt who appear on ‘Roach Lyfe’. The gritty, grimey and smoked out production, which comes complete with hazy switch-up’s that compliment the lyrics as they hammer through the system, is absolutely fire, and the hard-hitting lyricism is silkily executed. Morri’s remix of Bisk’s tune ‘Pimpfunk’, which was originally produced by Lee Scott and was released on Bisk’s ‘Raw Shit’ EP, is up next. The smooth, cinematic, Tarantino-esque production takes Bisk’s raw, passionate vocal to an entirely different place from the upfront, hard-hitting original version.

Sheffield veterans Trellion and Sniff appear on ‘Buggzville’ and the leftfield, tripped out beat is perfect for both Northern lyricists’ cocky, laidback styles. Trellion’s verse shines, with some characteristic quotables; ‘I’m way iller anyday/but I don’t know shit about shit, who the fuck’s J Dilla anyway’ is just one of many. The Danny Lover solo track ‘Kapcha’ is the highlight of the LP, with the phased, affected bluesy guitar samples perfectly combining with Danny’s lazy flow and infectious delivery.

The album closes out with a Bisk solo track, entitled ‘No Phone Calls’; the simplistic, subtle production backs the Blah MC’s savage tongue as he delivers relentless screwface-inducing bars with a mixture of passionate realness and comedic flourishes.

‘Buggzville Sessions’ is quality through and through; the dark soundscape created takes a few listens to properly comprehend, but the vibe Morriarchi creates is thoroughly original and leaves a lasting impression long after Lee Scott’s adlibs on the final song have faded from the speakers. Blah Records’ talented roster is represented heavily on this release, and with Sleazy F Baby’s solo project due for release very soon they show no sign of slowing down.

By Sam Bennett




Onoe Caponoe – Voices From Planet Cattele (Review)

Onoe Caponoe, Reviews

High Focus kick off 2015 with Onoe Caponoe’s first release on the UK powerhouse label, an album produced entirely by Chemo entitled ‘Voices From Planet Cattele’. Onoe’s style is immediately interesting; he’s one of the most distinctive voices in the scene, with his unique brand of psychedelic tales and consistent flows. 

Onoe Caponoe - Voices From Planet Cattele - Front Cover

From the filtered voices that welcome you to the world in which the planet Cattele resides, it’s clear that this isn’t going to be your standard rap album. Caponoe absolutely kills the opening track; ‘Space Bitches’ features punchy boom bap production, with haunting keys topped off with weird, electronic high frequencies. It’s production choices and lyrical concepts like the ones displayed on the track that give this album such a distinctive character.

Chemo’s production talents are showcased incredibly on ‘Voices From Planet Cattele’. The partnership is one that works in sublime fashion, with many of the albums tracks having room for Chemo to add his own trippy electronica in instrumental sections. Songs like ‘Moon – Galactico’, which features short bursts of Onoe spitting and consists mainly of Chemo’s fantastically layered atmospheric synths and frantic, hard hitting drums, are prime examples of this.

‘Disappearing Jakob’ is another highlight, with Onoe Caponoe’s consistently tight flow laced over a slow paced, hazy beat. ‘Space Jungles Of Cattele’ features left-field instrumentation and vocal processing, with the pitch shifting and filters adding to the psychedelic feel and inventive nature of the soundscape found across the album. Another highlight is the only track with a guest verse, provided by the legend that is Jehst. Billy Brimstone delivers a characteristically intricate, fierce verse on ‘Goth Bitches’, displaying exactly why he’s viewed as one of the top lyricists to ever come from these shores. Onoe Caponoe impresses as well on the track; their chemistry is definitely effective.

‘Voices From Planet Cattele’ is one of those albums you can listen to front to back and feel it’s really taken you on a journey. This is something more abstract than your typical UK hip hop release, and it’s a departure from much of the more traditional, boom bap influenced High Focus material, but slots in nicely amongst the Jam Baxter’s and Edward Scissortongue’s as a prime example of the excellent and experimental hip hop that is being produced in this country.

By Sam Bennett





Confucius MC – The Highest Order (Review)

Confucius MC, Reviews

YNR are one of the most respected record labels putting out consistently dope UK hip hop. Their latest release is The Highest Order, the debut album from Confucius MC. This is straight up boom bap hip hop, and it’s expertly done. 


Confucius MC made his name as part of =CoN+KwAkE=, a live duo made up of one MC and one drummer, and has supported talented artists such as Slum Village and Mos Def as part of the aforementioned group. This album sees him stand out on his own, spitting bars that show his prowess on the mic. The album has a maturity about it, and Con’s rhymes fit perfectly with the beats, provided by Parisian producer Keor Meteor.

This album features some great Jazzy drum breaks, and the whole vibe of the album means that it could slot into any hip hop friendly jazz club and go down a storm. The Highest Order is a great track, with a fantastically dusty feel. With intricate flows, Confucius has a great tone for this 90s style production, and the more relaxed sound to the beats means this album stands out from a lot of the more hardcore and aggressive hip hop coming out of the UK.

The Highest Order also features some dope soulful tracks. One of these is Eyes To The Sky. With some great multi’s and a very chilled vibe, this is exactly the kind of hip hop YNR has specialised in for years. With artists like Jehst and Kashmere signed to the label, it’s impressive to see Confucius drop a debut album that stands aside the work of these veteran rappers, and I’m looking forward to hearing future projects from him. If The Highest Order is anything to go by, Confucius is set to be a prolific artist within the scene.

This is a great album, and with no guest appearances on any of the 14 tracks, it really gives you a chance to appreciate Confucius’ ability and sound. Any fan of boom bap, golden era hip hop as well as fans of jazz influenced rap music will definitely enjoy this album

By Sam Bennett