(LATE STRAGGLERS FROM 2011 & WHAT I'VE BEEN LISTENING TO THIS YEAR)
GENUINELY gonna keep this quick, and brief. Before Spring happens just need to wrap up the last two months. Hip-hop, perhaps more than any other genre of music, reflects the seasons in a direct and clear way. Roundabout now, you’ll start finding rap tracks beginning to feel sunlit again, emerge from the darkness and cold of the last few months and start drowsily hinting at summer, the freshly hibernated wide-eyedness of what you’ll hear giving way to a sun struck delirium come June. Before that starts happening let’s grab these last few moments of ice and dread 2012 will give us. As usual, this list is entirely unfashionable and for the first time in my life I’m gonna use age as an excuse. I’m an old man and it shows in the simplicity of my needs. All I care about is bass, something fat and rubbery and warm to snuggle up to. Which I’ve mainly been getting from the USA in 2012.
Firstly though, one last thing from 2011– a late-breaking contender for verse (Edan) & production (Madlib) of last year, a fantastic track that veers tween smoky drone-funk and radiophonic wibble, now and then grinding to shattering halts populated purely by the sheer hippytripped heat of Edan's rampaging rhymes. Superstoopid fresh for 2012, even if it is three months old. HEAR THIS NOW.
And dig this similarly Edan-blessed highlight from the spankin' new Format album too.
And dig this similarly Edan-blessed highlight from the spankin' new Format album too.
(Also in dated-producers-I-cant-stop-loving news - enjoying the new Premo shit massively)
(and Large Pro still on form here)
And ALSO whilst we’re on a Madlib fest can't hear him getting any less compelling on this either - a track without a drum-beat, or at least a track wherein the bass becomes the beat to a point wherein Freddie Gibbs' typically compelling street-visions seem to be floating in an oceanic vista of low-end bliss. "Feels so good, feels so right" - damn straight. Ease yourself into the last year of planet Earth with this doozie.
With a production credit list that includes Madlib, Alchemist, Oh No and Jake One, Roc C's forthcoming long player 'Stoned Genius' promises to be one of 2012's juiciest Spring blooms: this track has a wickedly oozy febrile feel, DANK as y’like, scratches and vocals seemingly touched by a contact-high smooch from Satan himself. If you can find the Alchemist-produced 'Starchild' track as well, you'll be a happy super-baked bunny.
More bass. Schoolboy Q. Arctic harshness with the music, straight-twisted derangement on the mic, either a genius or a flash in the pan, but either way utterly compelling.
MORE BASS. One of Nottz' most addictive productions ever, emerging from strange waves of ambient synth, propelled on with tight hard, loose-abstract music, piano ringing into yr skull,nagging Oriental guitar, Nefew's lines a beautifully composed look at the mix of anger, ambition and hyper-critical knowledge that being a hip-hop fan is in 2012. Excellent, and the album 'Man Vs Many' should be one to drop a few dimes on.
[I’M REMINDED OF EVEN MORE BASS. Something else I didn’t mention in 2011 - Get as pally as you can with the bass on this — hardly there at all but when it is, right up in your skull-space rattling your fillings. "Strange voices/get the fuck out my head" is about as close to lucidity as Madchild gets here, but his mind-detritus scatters and skitters perfectly over the unholy bedlam of the undertow, needling blues guitar and Arabic vocals only amplifying the derangement. Great to hear that Swollen Members' potential hasn't been entirely squandered - check out 'Shittalker' as well.]
MORE BASS THAN IS STRICTLY NECESSSARY. Fucking LOVE the bass on this. Burrows into your consciousness like a Tremors worm. Addictive as baklava garnished with crack. ESSENTIAL.
And whilst we’re on MORE BASS THAN IS STRICTLY NECESSARY & mainstream things you can’t resist (Ke$ha) this remix is the best Wiz & Wayne have done for ages. Great drag-queen video as well. Nigh-on irresistible
Last gasps, flails, the schmindustry still shooting out sparks: ignore the admittedly dazzling visuals and you've still got a great track, certainly the best thing The Game's given us for a while, good-to-great cameos from Tyler & Lil Wayne, a nicely downered bass-heavy riff ready to roll forth on Lollapalooza circa 1994. Doesn't mean I've opened the gates for these clowns, but credit where credit's due - this be a monster.
Gonna have to do some catching up cos never heard this guy before but if this - a massive Scientist-style dubbed-out soundscape riding frenetic jazzed out beats - and the rhymes that seal it (beautifully suggestive poetic imagery about survival on the streets), are anything to go by Ka's a voice to get locked in on for 2012. Trust in me.
Same with these guys, great slow-burning track here, based on the kind of crackly simmering old 50s vocal sample that Portishead used to mash-up so effectively. The crackly vibe lunges into a repetitive, hypnotic aggravation part-aquatic part-liquid-nitrogen. And it ends and the rewind is instant. Fantastic.
"God Save the King" (the album this is from) is just about the only royalist shit I wanna hear this year - great INCORRECT production, sudden detonations of drums & scratches caving out holes in your headspace you never knew could open up, fantastically off-colour verbals from Copywrite. Play this loud and try not to be constantly shocked even once you've figured out what the hell's coming round the corner. Sue Poib.
Dunc & Toine Makin' Dollas are DTMD and their debut album "Makin' Dollas" is now on my must-have list. Sublime folds of reverse-guitar and just exactly the right beats and loops - great cameos from Godly MC & Kev Brown as well. Dispels winter on contact, brings summer ever closer, you NEED this in your life.
The new Raekwon single is so lush it's like wearing silk swimming trunks and drowning in a truffle-lined vat of chocolate champagne: great saving cameo from JD Era, customarily unforgettable rhymes from Rae, the whole track held at a peaking-moment of super-lushness and bristling fatness akin to Camp Lo at their most sumptuous. Suck it up people.
Also on the sumptuous & searing tip comes Blacastan with a sample you know but lines you don't, and a beautiful preview of the could-be-essential "Master Builder Pt.2" album. 2 minutes of mighty magic.
Just too late last year to make the last update. Do not proceed with your existence on planet earth without being aware of Roc Marciano’s ‘Emeralds’
After the amazing amounts of Brits nominations UK rap music, and indeed UK black music fullstop received this year (Adele & Jessie J & Ed Sheeran speaking strong for diverse UK communities yeah – especially the community of stage-familiar cunts who all went to school together & the community of roadies for equally shit singer-fkn-songwriters) I want only one thing from this winters UK rap music. More noise than requirements dictate. The ever-essential Iron Braydz hooks up with Kyza to drop this monster on 2012.
Brilliant groggy production from Apatight frames this beautiful track about the struggle of being a lone musician, and the joys the new lack-of-structure in the music biz can bring. Forward-looking but beautifully elegiac in tone and sound, suffused with a deeply smoky stoned vibe that's damn irresistible. Keep an eye on this Joker.
Woozy, waked-and-baked vocals from Fliptrix, FANTASTIC production from Leaf Dog, armed with a bassline so damn wrong you KNOW it's gonna be one of your major addictions of this spring. Nags at your head, blasts through the speakers like a tap on the skull from a sledgehammer. Marvellous mentalism.
Oh man - RIGHTEOUS TINGS BEING SAID HERE by Dubbledge about the sifting sands of prejudice and hatred in the UK, the battles of identity that fight and struggle against the orthodoxies and categories of modern 'race' talk. Fantastic concept, beautifully executed, and Metabeats creates a wonderfully thoughtful musical backdrop, never overpowering the words, only giving them extra addictive reach and suggestiveness. Fantastic work all round.
Fkn WEIRD: jazzy '80s synth line, simple phat beat, and then Milestone starts that motormouth of his and all sense drops out of proceedings, lunatic gospel, occassionally brutally sharp, filling in the massive holes of silence and sweet swathes of Casio strings that swim by. Produced by Btilla The Cunt, possibly the best name I've seen all week. Explore.
A sound from producer Cyber Ninja that's pure '80s/'90s hardcore, like some offcut from Show & AG's 'Goodfellas' retooled for hard Yorkshire streets. Love the sudden hits of bass, the sudden hits of strings, the way the beat won't let up, the doom and horror building under Nayben's verbal terror-tactics. Forthcoming album 'Killer Iller' should be one to let into your home under cover of darkness.
Just in case you were under the impression that 2011 had given us enough new UK genii to follow fret not and start stalking Max Obnoxshus soon as you can. Taken From " Abnoxshuz From The U.K To The U.S Vol.2 " free to dl from Bandcamp (http://abnoxshuz.bandcamp.com/album/abnoxshuz-from-u-k-to-u-s-vol-2) and also featuring the mighty Ramson Badbonez - this track's fucken' sweet, tight-assed beats that clamp shut like diamond dentures, nice loops that push the words forward, and great propulsive rhymes from the man Abnoxshuz himself.
Great noisy-assed production on this Rewd Adams/Last Skeptik collabo- reminiscent if anything of some straight up Funkdoobiest/Urban Dance Squad rock/rap chaos but with stupendous bass-tectonics and a rampaging groove that destroys any categories you might be dumb enough to try and throw down around it. Typically great rhymes from Rewd - a Spring essential to put that rocket-fuel in yr step - free dl from Soundcloud (http://soundcloud.com/hntmal), new LP 'How Not To Make A Living' should be one of 2012's finest.
GENESIS ELIJAH, one of 2011's most intriguing & commanding voices builds the already-substantial buzz for his 'I Ain't Even Started Bruv' LP (coming April) with this storming five-track ‘Painkillers & Pilkington’ EP (including the stunning 'Huey' which is worth the price (FREE! http://www.mediafire.com/?74e801r49o4uusq) on its own. Great rhymes you have to rewind to rationalise and great production throughout from the mighty Pastor Dutchie. Set to go stellar this year, be in early.
Love the lurid strings and Bosworth-archive luridness of the music here, like a particularly funky, particularly lush soundtrack to the closing carnage in a particularly gruesome episode of Hammer House Of Horror. Fantastic, off-the-cuff rhymes from Upfront proving that last year's Split Prophets EPs & LPs were no accident, beats and loops equal parts Grantsby & Nottz. Essential.
Fantastically bleak last blast of winter before the heat sets in, Defenders Of Style blew me away last year with 'Fish In A Barrel' - great to hear so much great music coming out of this multi-talented Leeds crew. Highlights here 'Brainchild', 'Foxtrot Oscar' and 'Static Pirate' are funny, frantic, freaky space music for dub fans and Viz readers. FREE. No excuses. Hear this.
SPIDER JAROO’s 'Writing For Commission' EP is available for free dl at the Northern Structure bandcamp page (http://northernstructure.bandcamp.com/ ) and yes I'm getting it right now cos this track's incredibly promising: deeply conscious, brain-jangling rhymes over mournful piano riffs and smoky beats, jazz with the cool sucked out until all that's left is an abstract heat. Sad and shocking that the political bite of this is so rare these days - looks like it's down to UK rap to be the only UK music actually talking about life as we fkn know it. Apart from Ed Cunting Sheeran of course. All hail.
From the corking 'Urban Kaos' UK Runnings mixtape (http://www.sendspace.com/pro/dl/60p5uu) comes this gem from Phoenix Da Icefire & Cyrus Malachi, two of last year's most thrilling names in UK rap music. 'Walking With Angels' treads a divinely subtle line between grit and grace, scratchy beats slathered with all kinds of delicious detail, sweet vocals and fragile soundtrack lushness. Great verbals as you'd expect from these two heavy hitters, looks like last year's explosion of great UK talent is gonna show no signs of letting up in 2012. Hallelujah.
Don’t drift off. You want zombies with your noise don’t you. Here, have some zombies, much zombies. Beat Butcha in control - beautifully weighted dub-heavy bass riding a wide-open blast of slo-mo funk, KRAZY, NOODLEZ & DRILLZ dropping some genuinely sick derangement on your noggins, suffused with a Bristolian belligerence harsh as Mark Stewart. Pals with Split Prophets and by the sounds of this & SP the West will rise again. On the great Sumo Records http://soundcloud.com/sumo-records
POTENT WHISPER http://potentwhisper.com/ has already impressed with his debut EP 'Meta Phor Play' — this new collection combines music of an intriguingly unique feel with carefully considered conscious rhymes. Cystic's production on 'L.I.I.D.I.I' is raw yet lush, almost a mix of drone and folk and funk, if that didn't sound too stitched-up: throughout the EP, there's a weird mix between pristine modernity and haunted vintage loops, great production jobs also from Dirty Stanz & Monster Playground. Free to download and at those prices you'd be daft not to dig in.
More noise. LDZ (London Zoo) spent much of 2011 being awesome and looks like that’s the plan in 2012 too: one of the highlights from the FREE new spankin' London Zoo LP 'Catfood' (http://ldzmusic.bandcamp.com/releases) , a haunted-dancehall vibe in the uber-minimal beat, the percussive detail engrossing but keeping you guessing, wondering what periphery it's gonna pop off in next. Great cameos from Stig & Verbal as well - perfect mental armoury to face 2012 down with. Big things deserved by LDZ this year, hope it happens for 'em.
As ever yr own recommendations welcome in the comments. Especially if they’re one-upman recommendations from harder-core hip-hop fans than me about where I can take my shit, when I should’ve stopped, where I can stick my head. The sun don’t shine. Just the way I like it.