Chris Rivers – Delorean (Review)

Chris Rivers, Reviews

Bronx lyricist Chris Rivers has developed his reputation as one of the young MCs on the circuit to keep a keen eye on. A string of solid mixtape releases and heavy feature verses has found the East Coast MC steadily building his acclaim and respect amongst peers and listeners alike. Renowned for being the son of legendary rapper Big Pun, ‘Delorean’ is his debut album release, and it finds him carving out his own niche across the lengthy project.

Opening with the textured, energetic title-track, Chris Rivers sets the tone of the uptempo, dense sounds found across this debut project. Intricate writing and precise flows are exhibited over a rowdy, synthetic production that is perfect for Chris’ complex structures. ‘Bag’ finds the east coast wordsmith embracing the current sound for a relentless, banger beat, and Rivers’ confident delivery makes it a definite success. ‘Chris Time Zone’ is the first in a series of short, boom bap cuts that break up the album, and the rapid-fire spitting is solidly in-pocket, and the soulful beat is head-nodding hypnotic hip-hop at it’s best.

The smooth flows of ‘Old Thing Back’ are silkily executed; the radio-friendly cut is still packed with hip-hop sensibilities (just listen to the great hook, performed by vocalist Lydia Ceaser), and it’s a testament to Chris Rivers’ authenticity that this is delivered so impressively. Frequent collaborator Whispers kills his feature on the second in the ‘Time Zone’ series, and the melodic delivery and punchline-laced lyricism makes this a dope, short-knit appearance. Rivers recruits a selection of New York legends for the brilliant ‘Fair One’; Lil Fame, Sheek Louch and Styles P destroy the classic, hard-hitting boom bap beat with a series of forceful verses.

Rising New York spitter Oswin Benjamin features on the third and final installment of the ‘Time Zone’ series; his laidback tone is infused with charisma, whilst maintaining heartfelt emotion in his delivery throughout the two-minute track. Oswin also appears on the following cut, ‘No Gives’. Skippy flows fall over a simplistic, trap-infused beat, and the mixture of traditional influence and modern direction is a fitting vibe for the ‘Delorean’ name. The LP still manages to maintain it’s cohesion, and for a debut project, it was definitely an ambitious undertaking. Decauter rapper Jarren Benton kills his feature on the standout ‘Nothing’; the two lyricists weave seamlessly with frantic bars over an intense production.

Chris Rivers exhibits an eclectic ear on ‘Delorean’, and the varied approach makes the ride far more entertaining than your average trip. The LP is populated by one or two many interludes, but the dense lyrical approach, classy production and consistent quality makes this an impressive first outing for the Bronx MC.

By Sam Bennett





Ran Reed – Still Commanding Respect (Review)

Ran Reed, Reviews

New Jersey MC Ran Reed was one of the most prolific spitters in the mid-nineties, with a formidable catalogue and a name that held weight amongst the heavy-hitters active in the east coast scene. 2017 brings a release of new material entitled ‘Still Commanding Respect’, and it’s an effortlessly executed hardcore boom bap album from a lyricist that crafted his skills in the golden era itself. Ran’s lost none of his sharpness, clarity or prowess, and the twenty track LP proves it.


The summery, upbeat opener ‘Timeless’ is a dope throwback to golden era hip-hop; flashy rhymes delivered with clarity and charisma sound silky over a simplistic, soulful instrumental courtesy of veteran New York producer Nick Wiz. The traditional east coast style comes complete with hard-hitting punchlines; Ran begins ‘Hard Rhymes with “Yo it’s the hard rhymer, I swing swords like Conan”, and his concise punchlines are guaranteed to land decisively, executed with a consistent to-the-point formula. U.G. of Brooklyn duo Cella Dwellas appears on ‘The Crew’, and the frantic production compliments the high-octane lyricism from the east coast icons.

 Ran Reed recruits legendary spitter Bump Knuckles for the furious, indisputably banging ‘Pathetic MCs’; the powerful beat and commanding deliveries of both rappers make for an early highlight, and the animated, punchy flows ride the raspy production with confidence and control. The eery ‘Mind Of A Gangster’ is a brilliantly executed cut; the cocky, smooth flows are laced with precision and conviction, and Ran’s production is on display here too. His beatmaking expertise is widely showcased across ‘Still Commanding Respect’, with the MC handling the majority of the production duties across the twenty track LP.

‘Doo Doo’ is a piano-based beat, and the jazzy, staccato vibe is an instant head-nodder; Ran’s combination of simple, effective beats and consistently dope verses make for a winning recipe, and this is masterful chef in the kitchen. Veteran lyricist Shabaam Sahdeeq appears on the dusty, nineties banger ‘The Innovator’, and the stabbed strings back fierce stanzas as the two experienced MCs show their convincing skill-set. Brownsville duo M.O.P. kill ‘The Gun Boy Interlude’; the collaboration is a synth-heavy banger, and the huge drums pound as Ran, Billy Danze and Lil Fame trade verses displaying their accomplished penmanship with powerful deliveries.

Guest appearances, beats, topics and flair; Ran Reed holds it down from every angle on ‘Still Commanding Respect’. Ran kills the production on the majority of the project, with four tracks being handled by longtime collaborator Nick Wiz, and the consistency is to be applauded. The Jersey rapper calls on an extensive list of fellow writers to bless the features on here, and everybody brings their A game, and Ran is most certainly still commanding respect.

By Sam Bennett




DJ Brans – Endless (Review)

DJ Brans, Reviews

Parisian beatmaker DJ Brans starts his year off with the release of his sophomore album ‘Endless’. It follows his 2012 effort ‘The Branstorm’, and the new LP boasts appearances from M.O.P., Guilty Simpson and Dirt Platoon amongst a host of other respected underground stalwarts.


Opening with Thundervolts, Brans recruits west coast veteran Planet Asia to kick a verse over a dark, gloomy boom bap beat with crunchy drums and tense string parts. It’s the perfect introduction to Brans’ hardcore production style, and Asia’s pen-game has always been faultless. Longstanding San Francisco MC Rasco accompanies production from Brans and cuts from DJ Djaz on the hard hitting brass sample flip on ‘Adrenaline Rush’; the mood of the early tracks excellently sets the scene for the remainder of the twelve track LP.

New Jersey MC Fel Sweetenberg is one of the most exciting members of the raw, independent hip-hop scene, with a discography filled with excellent nineties inspired cuts. His appearance on the blistering ‘Make My Mark’ is characteristically impressive, and the soulful, crisp production is perfect for his gritty delivery. ‘Craziest Motherfucker’ features Queensbridge MC Blaq Poet, who has long held a stellar reputation, consistently killing his guest appearances; the simplistic, menacing production smacks you in the face, and the rhymes are expertly handled.

Prolific New York wordsmith Nutso joins on the chilled, passionate ‘Let’s Make A Toast’, and the tasteful piano-laced beat is a testament to Brans’ versatile style; he draws from a range of influences and creates vibes that range from unadulterated hardcore hip-hop bangers to more restrained cuts such as the aforementioned track. Underground MC Starvin B impresses on ‘War At Your Door’, with gritty, simplistic production and smoothly delivered lyricism from the Queens rapper. ‘Powerful’ closes ‘Endless’, with appearances from Fel Sweetenberg and Dirt Platoon (a duo comprised of Raf Almighty and Snook Da Crook), and it’s clear that this is raw, street music at it’s best.

If you like your rap music hard hitting and lyrical, and if you like your production banging and drums pounding, DJ Brans has curated a twelve track ride of near perfection. He’s not reinvented the wheel, but every beat is dope, and every MC on the project comes through with their a-game. ‘Endless’ is an impressive collection of tracks, and it’s a must have for any self-respecting underground head.

By Sam Bennett