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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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

Upfront MC – Upfront & Personal (Review)

Reviews, Split Prophets, Upfront MC

Split Prophets are a driving force in UK hip hop. A very skilled collective of lyricists and beatmakers, based in Bristol. This is a solo project from Upfront MC, and it’s packed to the brim with tight, complex flows and multi syllabics as well as some first rate instrumentals guaranteed to keep that neck moving backwards and forwards. 

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‘Where’s The Love’ is a scathing message to rappers who have been completely consumed by the motivation to make money, and no longer rap for the love of the music. The SP crew have many tracks on a similar subject, but the fact that the track doesn’t lose any of its desired impact certainly shows just how consistent the Bristol representatives are. This track also features another Bristolian MC, Mistafire, and both he and Upfront MC combine to create a very sick track.

‘Not All Bad’ is a certified banger. Smooth piano and brass samples sit well over a hypnotic boom bap drum loop. Upfront drops some sick punchlines, such as ‘your music’s been watered down like a high juice’, but it’s his flow that really impressed me. The stripped back beat really allows his consistently on point flow to shine through. The internal rhyme schemes and multi’s on this track will instantly appeal to any hip hop head.

Croydon based producer 2Late contributes a dope funky beat for ‘Coming Thru Your Speakers’, and Upfront kicks some sick rhymes, proving his lyrical ability  is of a very high standard. 2Late’s beat is a nice variation for inclusion on the album, with the producers signature sound clear to hear. This track also shows the Split Prophet MC’s versatility, Upfront sounds just at home on this style of instrumental as he does the more in your face aggressive boom bap sound of a lot of Split Prophets material.

‘People Say’ featuring fellow Prophet, Res, along with vocalist Chikaya, is a great positive cut. This has an accompanying video on YouTube, so check that if you’ve not already peeped it. Res spits some great bars, with some excellently delivered patterns and schemes landing with strong impact. This is a more introspective track than the other songs on Upfront & Personal, and it certainly stands out from the crowd.

Upfront & Personal is packed with killer flows and well structured lyrics, and Upfront certainly pulls of a project on his own. There’s some great tracks on here, in a variety of styles. Production is excellently handled by a variety of beatmakers, including Blanka, Badhabitz, Leaf Dog and also Majesta who contributes a heavy beat for the obligatory posse cut, ‘Prophets Get Personal’. The hype around Split Prophets is building, and it’s only going to grow if they keep putting out projects of this quality!

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

http://splitprophets.bandcamp.com

Phili ‘N’ Dotz – Phili N The Dotz (Review)

Dotz, Phili 'N' Dotz, Reviews, Si Phili

Si Phili and Dotz are two prolific spitters with great reputations individually. This album sees them team up to provide some real, authentic UK hip hop. 

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Phil N The Dotz is an album from respected freestyler and battler Dotz, and Si Phili, a member of the legendary Phi Life Cypher crew. The albums beats bang throughout, and the blistering lyricism and relentless flows from both rappers mean that this album is an absolute barfest.

Tracks like We Stay, over an instrumental immediately identifiable as a Leaf Dog production, find Dotz and Phili trading verses back and forth packed with multi syllabics and hard hitting punchlines. Tracks like this come across so well when you have two rappers going all out on a beat, and it’s great to hear a veteran of the scene and a younger MC standing side by side, both displaying a fantastic ability for writing rhymes.

Phili N Dotz lace the album with some well placed guest appearances. Lyrical Gun Slingers finds Dotz and Si spitting alongside Blak Twang and Phoenix Da Icefire over an anthemic beat. Blak Twang is someone i’m a big fan of, and his back catalogue is one of the strongest in UK hip hop, so it’s great to hear him drop yet another sick verse. Let Ya Mind Breathe sees the two MCs again drop verses over a Leaf Dog instrumental, and this time the High Focus artist drops a tight verse. Leaf appears again on the fantastic Illest Rocks, along with Klashnekoff, Wordsmiff & Verb T. This is the standout track for me, the vibe that’s created from a well structured posse cut is one that sums up the essence of hip hop music.

Phili N The Dotz features some really well crafted instrumentals, produced by the cream of the crop of UK hip hop. Pete Cannon contributes two beats; The War Dance is a track with a hypnotic loop perfect for Dotz & Si Phili to drop their lyrics on. Leaf Dog produced 5 tracks, and his soulful, boom bap hip hop lends itself perfectly to Dotz’s style, and Si Phili’s tone and charisma really make his verses stand out. Training For Battle Rap is a perfect example, with the aggression in both MCs flows making it impossible to not nod your head along with the hard hitting drums.

This is a really dope album. It’s always exciting to hear the result of two MCs coming together for a project, and Si Phili and Dotz have made an album that is quite clearly pure hip hop in its rawest form. With fantastically executed rhymes delivered over blistering instrumentals, this is 16 tracks of straight up bars.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@PhiliNDotz

@OfficialDotz

@SiPhili

http://www.philindotz.com

Dotz & Flo – The Flotz EP (Review)

Dotz, Flo, Reviews

Dotz is an MC from Bedford who has proven himself as a prolific freestyler, and a great writer of punchlines. His upcoming album with UK hip hop legend Si Phili is sure to make major waves in the scene, but first comes this 5 track EP with Flo, a very talented vocalist.

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Dotz has been a very active MC lately, with some great videos coming out from his highly anticipated album with Si Phili of Phi Life Cypher fame. He’s clearly a specialist in multi-syllabics, and has a blistering delivery. This EP is another example of his ability, teaming up with a very talented vocalist named Flo.

The beats hit hard on this, In Time is a classic UK hip hop banger, with well sampled horns and a tight drum beat. Dotz ferociously spits his lyrics, and Flo shows off her Lily Allen esque ability. This combination of rapper and singer translates very well in this record.

Burning Over A New Leaf is another great track, with Dotz spitting about his love for skinning up. The multi’s in this are incredible, allowing Dotz to really let loose on a lyrical exercise vibe.

This EP is a dope project, and at 5 tracks is short and sweet. This is one for any fan of rappers who specialise in complex rhyme schemes, and the addition of Flo on the vocals makes this EP stand out.

By Sam Bennett

@TheRealPP

@OfficialDotz

http://dotzilla.bandcamp.com/