So after a couple of days contemplation, I thought I’d post my hip-hop LPs of the year. These aren’t the ONLY LPs I’ve been feeling this year, just the ones I’ve enjoyed the most. Plus, if something isn’t in here, it might just be because I haven’t actually checked it yet, or I have checked …
Since he released his first Instrumental EP’s as free drops on Sinoptic Music, Bradford based HashFinger has been constantly evolving. Those earlier EPs were released as monthly drops, sometimes remixes with a seasonal theme, but mostly HF’s own work: A mix of dusty drums, craftsman level scratching and cuts and sampled melodies. Since the untimely demise of Sinoptic HashFinger’s been working on longer form material. Last years “Coriolis Effect” was an exploration into the depths of space, whilst “The Dreams” – released around the same time – was a much darker journey.
Anyone with an interest in UKHH will be familiar with Dabbla, whether it be with his own trailblazing crew LDZ or alongside Illaman & Dubbledge as part of the Problem Child collective, his unique brand of rapid fire insanely literate flows are instantly recognizable and have inspired what seems to be an endless list of imitators. Jam Baxter has developed as a distinctly off kilter solo artist since he emerged from the creative stew of Contact Play. His first solo debut, the hugely ambitious double LP “Rinse Out Friday/ Spack Out Monday” was a welcome addition to the scene, showcasing his eclecticism and intricacy of lyrics. Frankie Teardrop AKA GhostTown has been twisting the boundaries of Bass music in all directions over the last few years, so it made perfect sense for the three of them to attempt a joint project and Dead Players is the result.
Chemo has been an essential part of the fabric of UK Hip Hop for the greater part of the last decade. His rightly legendary Kilimanjaro Studios has been the creative hub for some of the most important work done in the genre in that whole time. Whether he’s utilizing his skills producing for the biggest and most skilled Emcees in the UK scene or flexing his creative muscles turning out beautiful instrumental work under his Telemachus AKA or even working as a hidden but vital part of an LPs mixing process for another artist, Chemo is seemingly a very busy guy indeed.
Hip Hop music made with live musicians, as well as the more typical elements has always been a well loved part of the genre. From the Pop friendly sounds of The Fugees to more underground ruggedness like The Roots, the introduction of a live element to the proceedings has always added an extra vibrancy to records, as well as an element of the more spectacular to a live performance.
The Mouse Outfit have become comfortably the best example of this from the UK. The Manchester 9 piece conglomorate of musicians and more typical Hip Hop Beatmakers have been tearing up live venues since their formation. Employing both a wide range of influences as well as a large roster of rotating Emcees, most regularly local up and comer Sparkz and the legendary Dr Syntax, this is the first time the public has been able to hear a long form project from them. Manchester has emerged as a new bastion of UK Hip Hop in the last few years, with a huge amount of talent seemingly bursting onto the scene in a short amount of time. Crews like Potent and Ape Cult are adding another strong voice to the vibrancy that is UKHH.
Since Elbow Room dropped Percy’s taken a slight step back from music, relocating from Birmingham to Bristol and taking in the vibrancy of the burgeoning Hip Hop scene in his new home town. This has led to the fruition of a long planned collaboration with Bristol raggamuffin Mylo Stone.
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This is the first review I’ve done for Think Zebra that’s not for a strictly Hip Hop release. The High Focus musical juggernaut are expanding their sound as a label outside the boundaries of what you’d expect from such a scene stalwart and this EP is the first release from the fruits of that labour. The name Leaf Dog is as synonymous with the label as it’s founder Fliptrix, one of the UK’s premier Producers and one quarter of HF’s Hip Hop Super Group The Four Owls. Leaf is in an envious position as a UK based producer in that he can pick and choose his projects and the artists that he works with. All of which leads us to Leafs co-conspirator on this project. Rag & Bone man first made his mark on the UKHH scene working with Brighton beasts Rum Committee. He may not look it in the flesh, but listening to him sing you’d think Rags was the reincarnation of a 1930s Blues Singer from Americas Deep South. His soaring range and bittersweet lyrics transport the mind of the listener to the smoke filled clubs and bars of Mississipi, in short the boy’s got soul.
I first heard More One back in about 2011 when I found his channel on a random trawl through YouTube one day. His ability on the Mic, as well as his obvious enthusiasm for UKHH as a whole really impressed me. Over the last couple of years he’s been making extremely positive moves in the scene, from performing live alongside the legendary Mystro to hitting the stage at last years Boom Bap festival More One seems on an unstoppable rise. What’s even more encouraging is he seemed as interested in getting other rappers out to a wider audience as he did pushing his own sound, More’s desire to push his contemporaries into focus as much as himself is rare in a guy as young as he is. Since then, I’ve followed with interest both More and his brother Denziller, so my interest was raised when I heard he was dropping a debut LP this year. “MorbidDenziller” will be dropping late May and to build up a little hype for the project More is dropping this Single “Number One Fan”.