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






Strange U – #LP4080 (Review)

Reviews, Strange U

High Focus are back, and kicking off 2017 is Strange U, one of the most dynamic, exciting and off-the wall weird groups we’ve heard for a long time. Veteran MC Kashmere partners with equally revered producer Dr. Zygote for an album that is wildly entertaining, vividly imaginative and downright banging from front to back.


‘Terminator Funk’ is a bouncy, hard-hitting opener, and Kashmere’s precision and enthusiastic delivery is sublimely delivered over a glitchy, instrumental laced with off-kilter cymbals and textured synthesizers that are as frantic as Kashmere’s perfectly executed flows. Blah Records representative Lee Scott appears on the raw single ‘Bullet Proof Mustache’, which is complete with references that are both insanely amusing and undeniably strange, a theme that is a common characteristic of both Strange U and Dr. Scott’s material, so it’s no surprise this track is as successful as it is.

The outlandish imagery and creative punchlines continue on the brash, relentlessly thumping ‘Shots’; the aggressive, in-your-face tone of the album is matched with plenty of unorthodox, futuristic content. Zygote’s grimey bassline and crunchy drums back King Kash as he drops with effortless authority over a tough instrumental. Leftfield samples and instrumentation continue on the blistering ‘Cimmerin Shade’; Zygote expertly crafts cinematic, electronic production that pounds and pounds with crisp drums and inventive synth-work.

‘Grizzle’ is a potential highlight; the funky production with a deep bassline and brilliantly inserted sound effects create a space-age soundscape and Kashmere’s braggadocio raps and laced with quotables only he can bring; “nephilim brains on large barbecues” is a surefire case in point. The ecologically aware ‘Eden’s Husk’ features a traditionally impeccable verse from legendary UK lyricist Jehst, and the thought-provoking, social commentary is delivered in typically eccentric Strange U fashion. The assault of surreal lyricism continues, and the quirky production and bizarre sci-fi-themed verses of ‘Hank Henshaw’ is another compelling cut from ‘#LP4080′; the LP is inspired, and is further testament to High Focus’ increasingly extensive and always impressive roster.

‘Mumm Ra’ is an enthralling, crisp banger that exudes raw attitude and charisma from both producer and MC. High Focus head-honcho Fliptrix appears on the wonderfully sparse ‘Illuminations’, and the entertaining, energetic flows from both Kashmere and Flipper make it a late highlight. ‘Waste Of Space’ is an instant headbanger, with funky double-bass riffs and powerful drums, and the album closes out in sublime fashion with ‘Zuul’, which also features legendary Nottingham MC Cappo who drops an absolutely huge verse on ‘#LP4080’s finale.

There’s not a moment on here that doesn’t hold your attention, and Kashmere and Zygote’s unashamedly weird and off-kilter creation is one that will have you repeating again and again. There’s a great blend of social commentary and hard-hitting bravado in the lyrical content, and the relentless tone of the production allows ‘#LP4080’ to maintain a very impressive level of cohesion and consistency. High Focus have got off to a fantastic start of the year with this release, and with Jam Baxter’s ‘Mansion 38’ just around the corner, 2017 is going to be a very exciting twelve months for the independent powerhouse.

Fliptrix – Patterns Of Escapism (Review)

Fliptrix, Reviews

‘Patterns Of Escapism’ is Fliptrix’s sixth solo LP, and it finds him partnering with RLD beatsmith Illinformed for the entire project. The mature, intellectual lyrical style is perfectly suited to the raw, soulful production style, and this is an album that stays true to the ethos of real hip-hop from the moment you press play on the first track. The High Focus founder rounds off a very productive year for the independent giant with his own project, and it once again proves why HF is one of the most revered and respected labels in the country.


The album gets underway with ‘Astral Paining’; the beat kicks in with a smooth, classy loop and crisp, jazzy drums and Fliptrix sounds mature, experienced and powerful with a commanding delivery and intricate writing. Imagery, metaphors and a reflective outlook are some of the main ingredients in Big Flipper’s style, and they are exemplified brilliantly on this opening track. The title-track follows and it’s another resounding beat with skilfully executed bars; Fliptrix opens the tune with “I stay spitting ’cause i’m outspoken/I’m at the pub outside in the rain smoking/Mans are on the inside clucking getting coke in/It’s been a long fucking day like the summer solstice”. Illinformed is a wizard on the buttons too, with effective, emotive samples and hard-hitting percussion providing an exhilarating backdrop for the ferocious bars.

Veteran UK hip-hop artist Kashmere accompanies Flips and Illinformed on the banging ‘Smoke Lingers Away’. With an authentic nineties influenced beat infused with chopped vocal samples and one of the punchiest kicks you’ll hear all year Fliptrix and King Kash go to work on this one, resulting in one of the LP’s standouts. The raw ‘The Lion’s Den’, with it’s groovy bass and interplaying samples, is another highlight, and ‘Thunder Clouds’ too is a flawless, tasteful cut that pays it’s due respect and homage to the classic music that has so clearly influenced both rhymer and producer. Respected rhymer Life MC accompanies on ‘Diamond Tone’, and it also features DJ Sammy B-Side on the cuts, but it’s Illinformed that shines on this one with a beautifully orchestrated instrumental that draws on a simplistic vocal loop and mellow piano keys; subtlety is a key tool in the RLD beatsmith’s arsenal, and it’s used perfectly here.

The upbeat, anthemic ‘One Time’ is a huge track; with it’s screwface-inducing sample chops and intricate lyricism the partnership and chemistry that Illinformed and Fliptrix draw from is energetic and enthralling. Ocean Wisdom appears on the fantastic ‘Burn It’, with it’s hard-hitting, simplistic bassline and jazzy piano keys which are silkily sprinkled across the crisp boom bap banger, complimented by uptempo, energetic lyricism from both the High Focus veteran and the hugely exciting newer addition to the label. Smoked out single ‘The Chronic’ is a classic Fliptrix banger, and Verb T, Leaf Dog and BVA join on The Four Owls standout ‘That’s You’. The star-studded feature list continues on ‘High Focus’ as Verb T and Dabbla accompany Flips on a track that represents the independent label to the absolute maximum.

The album’s intensity and cohesive vibe continues with the oustandingly raw ‘Disorientated’, which is laced with expertly chopped brass samples and thumping percussion; Illinformed proves himself as one of the best producers in the country with his work on this release. The rapid-fire, intricate schemes of ‘The Poltergeist’ make for an exhilerating listen, and Fliptrix’s savage, commanding delivery makes the track a late highlight. ‘Spread Peace Around’ is a fitting album closer; the soulful beat and positive message fit with the running theme of the LP, and serves as one last piece of evidence for the collaboration between Big Flipper and Illinformed being one of the most successful partnerships of the year.

There’s very little left to be said; pretty much every track on here is a straight up banger, and the rhymes and beats are on point from front to back. The album is cohesive and consistent with a variety of themes and topics, always delivered masterfully by one of the most skilled writers in the scene. As we reach the end of the year, we can look back on a number of fantastically dope High Focus releases, and 2017 is sure to bring us more of the same.

By Sam Bennett