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”.
I think I first heard Cyrus Malachi back around 07/08, first with the original Triple Darkness, then on the blisteringly superb “White Noize” by the Orphans Of Cush. Probably because of this, much like with many members of other collectives such as Wu Tang, he’s always come across to me as a team player. Part of a tight circle of other very talented wordsmiths, guys like M9 and Black Prophet set the bar extremely high in their field, meaning you had to have some serious ability to shine, which Cyrus very much did. Since that time, Cyrus has proved that he’s a more than capable solo artist as well, with his critically acclaimed debut LP followed by the equally well received Isis Papers Mixtape. With the release of Black Athena, his second full length Solo effort, Cyrus once again shows himself as a force to be reckoned with in UKHH.
Andover isn’t a place you’d immediately think of as a hotbed of Hip Hop talent. Nestled in the Hampshire countryside just up the road from Southampton as it is, you’d expect the Andover to be overshadowed in terms of musical prominence by its more prominent neighbors. With nearby Brighton being the place which so many well known acts down the years have found their feet. People like Dr Syntax, Elemental, Koaste and more recently Rag n Bone man have rightly grabbed the headlines and the Hip Hop scenes attention along with it.
The Good, the Bad & the ugly is the first full length collaboration between Badbonez and Twizzy and it’s a combination that works superbly. As the name would imply this LP is themed heavily around the movie of the same name, complete with Eli Wallach vocal samples and the instantly recognizable iconic music that were as much an integral part of the classic Western as Clint Eastwoods Poncho.