Monday 30 October 2017

Album (Mixtape) Review - Explicit: Without Time

Without Time (Vintage Footage Edition) by Explicit
By S. Rider

This review has been a long time coming. I found this album whilst looking through Bandcamp for stuff to stream or buy. It said free streaming, Downloads and CD! All you had to do was pay for shipping? So, I thought ok that’s cool let’s give it a go.
Explicit hails from South Central LA in the US. I paid up for what Bandcamp says the postage should be. I also posted a crafty message asking for a signed copy if possible. I ended up exchanging a few emails with Explicit as he was having troubles posting the CD as UPS wanted extortionate amounts to get it here. Anyway I told him that regardless of what happened and his efforts, I would post a review anyway. So, following all the issues I have had recently and some last minute promo reviews, I am now going to make good on my promise.

This mixtape is 20 tracks deep so I am going to limit exactly what I say about each one but, here is my track by track run down....

The Intro is produced by BrassKnuckles and is Explicit just telling us who he and where he’s at and that place is real Hip Hop.
Won’t Understand prod By Easy Mo Bee, A nice chilled beat with Explicit hitting a nice flow with a raw sound and telling us he is Hip Hop and that’s what some won’t Understand.
Exactly, prod by Juno Adonis, A short track with a simple beat and Explicit telling what life is like.
Get Down, prod by Oddisee, has a nice beat with Explicit bringing it harder with the lyrics and giving us the lowdown on his style.
I Could Tell, Prod by DJ Desue, Explicit tells us Illmatic is his bible and that No weapon is needed... Nuff said, South Central Hip Hop without the guns...Damn...
Bombs, Prod by Khronos Beats, Explicit dropping bombs and referencing a life like Boyz in the Hood But, Where’s Bruno Mars when you need him.....???
Strong, Prod by Khronos Beats, Nice beat with Explicit explaining that no one can compare.
Actually, Prod by Be Frankly, Funky track with some name drops and nice lyrical flows.
They Just, Prod by Havoc, Bit of a head nodder this one with a theme of how people wanna be negative and knock you down.
Where We Are, Prod by Khronos Beats, Bit more laid back on this track but, don’t mean the lyrics are any less hard when focusing on life’s experiences.
Just Pretend, Prod by 9th Wonder, Dope beat here providing the right platform for Explicit’s stories of life’s up’s and down’s.
Sniff, Prod by Dela, The light hearted feel of this beat provides a Yin-Yang kind feel with Explicit making the dope you should be sniffing.
What Now/Now What, Prod by Khronos Beats, Chilled out beat with a bit more of that classic South Central feel?
Behind Bars (ft Kulture) 2 Emcees spittin’ over a beat
Out of This World, Prod by Khronos Beats, Coming out the underground it don’t make money, even if you consider your flow is Out of this world. Explicit tells it how it is...
Regulated, Prod by Be Frankly, First track I’ve heard to mention fidget spinners....
Watch Yo Back, Prod by DJ Premier, you can tell this is a premier track and Explicit does a decent job on this.
Time After Time, Prod by Kan Kick, this has that record crackle and I like the feel of that. Explicit again handles his lyrical flow well.
It Ain’t Hard To Tell, Prod by Large Professor, Dopeness from the Large Pro gives Explicit a decent springboard to launch himself into this one.
Rest In Peace, Prod by Terror Beats, Hard beat and hard lyrics. This sounds very much like a posse cut but, no mention of who is on this track alongside Explicit.

So, overall what did I think of this?

Essentially this is the standard mixtape scenario. An underground Emcee looking to prove his skills by rapping over some beats. Yes, there is absolutely nothing new there, apart from a new name and a new face.
So, is there anything here that sets this apart from other releases of this genre of Hip Hop? Well, for me, a huge plus here is we have a young emcee from South Central LA, and we all know that’s where the Crips and the Bloods play. What is refreshing here is that this is not another Ganster Rap themed offering with guns, weed and ho’s. Explicit takes a more Hip Hop oriented look at life around him.
There times when you think well, that sounds just like the same old shit but, in the next sentence, you are thinking, you know actually this guy is sounding different. What also helps is the fact there are some good beats here from top Hip Hop producers. 
From a UK perspective, you might simply say this is US Rap and it’s nothing new and while I would not dis you for thinking that, I would add that a huge part of Hip Hop is from the US as is a huge part of Rap. Sometimes you have to set that aside and not allow it to colour your thinking of what you are hearing.
I will say that listening to this did not exactly set me on fire and thinking this is the next big thing and there are some tracks where I felt the beats were a little lacking 
But, overall I do think that Explicit's style is refreshing coming from South Central. He shows life in a gritty realism and lyrically he is pretty solid. 
As he progresses and hones his style and lyrical dexterity there is a chance he could break out to a wider audience. Especially so, as he has enough conscious thought to bring a new and wider viewpoint to us from an all too familiar setting! 

But, as always, don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

Sadly I don’t have my CD yet but, whatever happens, I thank Explicit for getting in touch and going out of his way to get a copy of the CD to me. For that he gets props and Huge Respect from me.

Without Time (Vintage Footage Edition) is available from Bandcamp. Check the link.

I’m Out, Peace
Steve – Infinite Sounds UK

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Graphic Bars Album Review - Infinite Sounds Exclusive

It Wasn’t Love....It Was Sport Rapping
By Graphic Bars
Exclusive Pre-release Review

Not too long ago, I was given the pleasure of an exclusive review of the Planet of the Fakes Album. Now I am again honoured to bring you another exclusive.

This time I have bragging rights again as only the second person, other than Graphic Bars himself, to hear his album in its final form. Am I humbled or what.....

I interviewed Graphic Bars a little while back and you can find that here on the blog. Graphic Bars hails from Brighton on the South Coast of the UK. Brighton has a long history within UK Hip Hop and is the place I attended my first every Hip Hop Gig, The 87 Def Jam Tour. So, for me it is not surprising that this guy connected with the whole Hip Hop culture.

I have been impressed by the first three singles that he has put out and have been eager to hear his first full length excursion into the Hip Hop world. With those first singles featuring Remark, DJ Tones and Merlin from Hamburg you just get the feel that this first release is gonna be well worth a listen...

So, let’s see what Graphic Bars has to offer:

First up is Deep Waters featuring Production by Merlin and Cuts by Remark. The track hits you square between the eyes and makes’ you realise what you are letting yourself in for. Graphic Bars rough and gritty delivery fits perfectly with the banging beat sprinkled with orchestral samples that, for some reason, made me more aware of being close to the south coast and the sea. Graphic Bars also shows he is willing to give singing a shot and to be honest it works well on the track, good to see a different vocal range.

Up next Is There Enough? A track all about feelin’ good and at peace But, also about what would it be like if this feeling could be harnessed? Would the powers that be try and profit from it? Production again comes from Merlin and this track was last single release put out by Graphic Bars before the album.

Graphic Bars first single is up next, Now Let’s See How They Run. A dope beat laced with violin and a drizzle of cuts galore. This track is all about the shit that goes on around us and how life just seems to suck you dry. But, you can turn it around. Reflect it back at those who would see you down and see how they run. Production comes from Merlin, Cuts by DJ Tones and guest vocals from Remark.

Train up a Boy like Wood to a Fire, A track rooted in how the powers that be are selective in what they tell us, how they tell us and when. Tell someone enough bullshit and eventually they will believe it. It’s happening, everyday, we are told what’s right and what’s wrong because what they say makes them richer and keeps us as sheeple. Well, we are waking up and we know the truth! Production is from Merlin with Remark on the cuts this time around.

Scenic Route, Graphic Bars takes us on a poetic journey of how he got from there to where he is now and how he came to be Graphic Bars. Again the beat is banging with Merlin’s production and Remark crafts the cuts for your listening pleasure.

What They Did, A bit more laid back but, no less hard hitting. Real life is hard hitting and you have to ask yourself who are the mindless Zombies, when you look around you each day? Production is by Merlin with cuts by Remark.

Like Swords in Water, Has one simple message, don’t sit still and think its all fine. Keep yourself fluid, question what you know, what you have learnt. Keep your mind active and don’t think for a minute that everything you have been told is the truth... This message was brought to you by Graphic Bars & Merlin with Merlin’s production and Remark’s cuts.

Seen Through Fog, all about the 80’s, this track capture’s those times in a way I’ve never heard before. If, like me, you remember those times, then you will feel this track for sure. Production is handled by Merlin.

The penultimate track on the Album is Graphic Bars second single Behind the Blind’s. A track that is all about what goes on inside ourselves and turmoil we hide. We all pull the blinds so that others don’t see in, to what is really going on... DJ Tones provides the cuts and Merlin, the Production.

Last track is Sport Rapping. A light hearted track that is all about Graphic Bars flow and lyrical dexterity, Just for fun, Just for the love of it or should that be the just for the Sport of it? Fuck knows, I liked it anyway.... Getting funky on the production was Merlin.

There are times when reviewing is fun and times when it’s frustrating as fuck. Doing this review had both. I must have listened to this album ten or twelve times in the last week or so and when I came to write up how each track made me feel or what I was getting from it, I found it very frustrating at times to find the right words. Each track just seemed to speak for itself without any help from me. Now that’s well cool as it shows a maturity and skill from Graphic Bars words. However, it’s hell when you want the reader to feel what you are feeling. After all, my words might be the difference between you buying or not buying this album....

If my track by track rundown has not given you enough, let give you some more observations.
Graphic Bars has his own style a rough and rugged hard hitting wordsmith who takes his lyrical story telling straight from life, from what he has and continues to see happening in day to day life. He handles the Mic exceptionally well and craft’s the type of message that we all know only too well. For me, this is the mark of fine Emcee. Someone who has taken time to hone his skills and deliver a style that is Hard but, also true to life and inspiring.

I agree that it also help’s when you collaborate with the likes of Remark (who has put more into this album than you know), DJ Tones (with the dope touch) and Merlin (Who’s production is seriously on point here) but, make no mistake, as awesome as their input is into this release, their quality takes nothing away from Graphic Bars himself who has fired a well aimed warning shot across the bow of UK Hip Hop.

With other projects in the pipeline, this is not the first and last time you have heard the name Graphic Bars.

Don’t just take my word for it though?

The Album is independently released on 27th October and you can pre-order from the Graphic Bars website on the link below.

I want to give a huge thank you to Graphic Bars for allowing me to have the promo so, that you all can get my thoughts.

Enjoy listening,
I’m outta here,

Steve Rider
Infinite Sounds UK

Thursday 5 October 2017

Cognitive DISS by Carpetface - Pre-Vinyl Album Release Review

Cognitive DISS by Carpetface
A Review
By Steve Rider

I will be honest right here, right now! Prior to 2016 Carpetface was a name that was on the fringe of my UK Hip Hop knowledge. He first released The Friday Night Sniper EP back in 2002 at a time when my focus was not as deep into Hip Hop as it had been or is today.
So, as I began to hear his name more, I did what I could to get acquainted with some of his music. What I heard was someone who, to me anyway, has a voice is as instantly recognisable as, say, Chali2na of J5.
Then on 29th July this year I was at B-Line’s Rope-a-Dope in Bristol. Carpetface is instantly recognisable, with his Tattoo’s but, seeing the Flower of Life tattoo on the right side of his head, gave me this feeling this guy is deep. When I heard his set that evening, I was blown away and knew I wanted the album. My son, who was with me that day, kindly, ordered the vinyl for my birthday. So, with the vinyl release now immanent, I have been waiting a couple of months since my birthday for this, I mentioned on Facebook that I would like to review it and the man himself contacted me and kindly sent me a Digital Promo pack.

So, let’s get into a track by track breakdown, followed by my overall thoughts.

Kicking off with the short Intro-Note to self, only a few seconds long but, says a great deal “How can you be an Artist and not reflect the times.....”
Then we’re straight into banging track to make your head nod. I’m Fine, is a track that on the surface may appear to be a wicked flowing stream of lyrical nonsense? But, the more you listen, the more it says. Not just that but, it takes you back, way back, to Hip Hop club bangers and you’re just like, ‘I fucking love this...  Cuts on the track are by Djar One, who also co-produces the track with Carpetface.

Make it Right is next up and another club banger style track. Well that’s how I was feeling it anyway! This track, again for me, speaks from the very essence of what Hip Hop is about, Unity, Being one with everyone. The track also features nice backing vocals from Lucy Rice and cuts by Djar One, with production from Carpetface and Yuniq.

Looking out for the World takes us on a funky trip, looking at what’s going around us and to look deep inside ourselves because it’s there we will find what’s needed to make tomorrow a little better. Lucy Rice brings us a sung chorus that fits the track perfectly. The beat here is provided by Ugly Duckling’s Young Einstein and production is by Carpetface.

Next we are into a B-Boy party vibe with title track The Cognitive Diss. But, this is not just a dope track to get down to? It’s a track asking you to wake you the fuck up, open your mind and look deep inside. Are you being your authentic self? Lucy Rice again features on backing vocals, along with J. Russell and production comes from Carpetface and Nonstop.

The Hip Hop legend that is Donald-D, begins Painstaking Arranger, by giving a shout out to the Harlem Jazz clubs from back in the day. A wicked jazzy track which keeps you rocking the whole way through, and how can you not vibe to Carpetface and Don-D, word! Awesome horns come from Carl Woodison, Backing vocals from Lucy Rice with production and live instrumentation by Carpetface...

Mud Sticks is nice little interlude again with a message you really need to listen to. Again this track has live instruments and production by the man himself.

Time to slow it down a bit with Highs and Lows but, still hit you with a banging beat (from Djar One). Another deep message here about the ups and downs of life, something that we can all associate with. Again we hear Carpetface’s versatility as he plays the live instruments. Cuts come from Incredeeple.

The realness keeps coming as You Are Each (Br)other hits us with a nice, up tempo mix. What more do you need, listen to the man and be nice to each other. After all we are all one..... The beat, cuts and co-production comes from Djar One.

One Small Light is a track that takes you back to the RUN DMC sound of Hip Hop beats and rock guitar breaks. I love this track, a hardcore banger with Carpetface reminding us that it only takes one small light to eradicate the darkness around us.... Beat and co-production comes from DJ Moneyshot, with backing vocals by J. Russell.

Time to school those fake gangster rappers out there! Take it Back is a straight up banger that reminds us that Gangster rap has its place and that place is not glorifying violence or making yourself out to be something you ain’t! All you do is give yourself and Hip Hop a bad name. You gotta keep the Hip Hop feel and keep it real. The track features co-production from Djar One.

Carpetface flips the script on the next track and brings it Ragga style with Work it out Now. For a second you might be thinking what the.... But, it just shows that Carpetface is multi-talented and this track is no less relevant that the others and grows on you the more you hear it. Backing vocals come from Lucy Rice, Horns by Carl Woodison and everything else by Carpetface.

 Kicking it back on the last track, Old as Hip Hop! A nice chilled out track that has a simple message, Have no regrets.... Do what you gotta do day to day but, at the end of the day don’t regret anything... Beat and co-production from Djar One.

Damn, I must have played this album umpteen times over the past few days and it just never gets old. It is also not what I was expecting? From his performance at Rope-a-Dope, I was expecting something kinda with a Hardcore edge But, I was surprised when I listened to this for the first time because Carpetface is taking it back to the essence. Every track has a message, a deep message, even if you’re not immediately aware of it. The vibe of this album speaks to your very soul in places and it does feel to me that Carpetface brings the energy of the spiritual warrior to his music.
On the face of it this may seem like an above average Hip Hop album but, in truth it is a very cleaver Hip Hop album brimming with consciousness and drawing on what is going on here and now in this moment. Hip Hop music is energy and the energy of music can change your mood and speak to others in a way that is universally understood no matter your culture or beliefs, you can understand music.

 Photo Copyright S.Rider-Infinite Realities Images 2017

I’m not saying that this sound or vibe is for everyone. I am sure there will be those who don’t quite vibe with it. But, it is a solid album for sure and one I can see standing the test of time.
I don’t think I can say much more than that. Three years in the making this Album is intelligent and bold. It boasts superb production all round and shows an amazing versatility from Carpetface. You can feel how he has channelled his energy into a project that reflects everyday life but, also shows there is hope.

With the up and coming projects and a remix album following, I am looking forward to the future of Carpetface and his label New Bias Recordings.
Cognitive Diss was put out in association with the one and only B-Line recordings. A label that, I feel, is becoming the UK’s premier underground Hip Hop Label.
Carpetface and New Bias recordings are also supported by THTC – The Hemp Trading Company.

As an exclusive for you lucky peeps out there, the re-worked album art that you can see as part of this review, is its first viewing by anyone... Yep, no shit, you heard me right! Re-worked by the tallented Mr.Tibbz from Carpetface's original concept artwork for the digital release. There will also be an album insert but, you will have to get your hands on the product to check that out. So, what are ya waiting for, go order it.....Do it!... Do it Now!....

I give huge thanks to the man Specifik and Mr.Tibbz for allowing me the honour of bringing this exclusive to you.
Massive thanks, of course, goes out to Carpetface for sending me such a wicked promo pack and giving me this chance to bring you this review.

Pre-orders on the link below and Specifik has informed me that orders start shipping on 14th October.

Check the links below for more from Carpetface.

One Love...
Infinite Sounds UK

Pre-Order from B-Line Recordings - Click Here

Carpetface official Website

Carpetface/New Bias Industries - Official YouTube Channel

Carpetface on Mixcloud

Carpetface on Soundcloud

Remember, Check out Carpetface on all the usual Social Media Platforms and stay informed...

Sunday 24 September 2017


Steve Rider

I will completely honest here and say that it is only recently that FRSHRZ came on to my radar. But, I am so glad they did.
I began to see pictures popping up on Facebook and Instagram of people holding the FRSHRZ CD and I started to check em out. Watching video’s of live appearances and so on. I then took the step to contact them find out if I was able to get hold of a copy of the CD EP so I could do a review.
Well, the guys were nice enough to send me a copy and I have been playing it off and on for a week or so now. Before I get into what I thought of it over all, I’ll give you a quick track by track rundown.

So, here we go:

The EP kicks off with a remix of their track LDN Posse. A Hip Hop banger that features the UK legend that is Rodney P. There is some dope name drops on this track that gives the listener an introduction to what inspired the guys to do what they do.

Next up is the N_WRD, a fresh little track to make ya head nod and open ya ears. The track has more N words that you can shake a stick at but, you won’t the N Word here.

Blxck Pride is the next offering and here we have the guys joined by Daak Martin, Si Philli and Logic. This track has a bit of a raga vibe with the emcees giving us some words of wisdom about heritage and the pride of being who they are. A lesson that many could learn from me thinks...
Mas Law joins the guys next for EA Sports and this is not the ‘It’s in the Game’ kinda thing but, ‘I’m in the Game’ with a track that is all about being in the Game but, it’s as far from game as you can get and yet still called a game...

What’s Love is a chilled out vibe with an edge. Exploring what the word love means from different perspectives. The guys keep the message real with a nice beat that keeps a hard edge.

Mental Health is a track that speaks to me on a personal level. Having not just suffered Depression myself, I have also seen others go through several different mental health issues. This is the second single I have really felt recently and it is good to hear these issues being tackled in ways that the youth will associate with and listen to. Again the track has chilled but, hard edged vibe to it whilst the angelic voice of Keesha Simpson echoes many voices.

The tempo is up a few notches for Letter to the Youths. But, don’t think the message in this one is any less powerful. The track simply puts the lesson into a vibe and message that the youth out there will listen to and feel. 

What I really liked about the EP was the fact that FRSHRZ have put together a solid offering that tackles some real deep issues. They have put their own stamp on the game here putting across the messages in way that everyone can vibe to, from the old skool Hip Hop heads to the younger generation and it is the lessons these messages address that the younger generation really need to be aware of.
This self produced EP is definitely one I recommend to everyone out there. It is kinda laid back but, there is still a definite hard edge to it that obviously comes from the true life issues being tackled.
It might not be the kinda vibe that just makes you wanna pound it out ya speakers and bounce around a nutta with ya teeth gritted! But, the messages here need to be heard and sometimes the chilled out deep hitting vibe is just what ya need.

Production is all top notch here: LDN Posse RMX by Kensaye, N_WRD by Earth2Tom, BLAXCK PRIDE by Nutty P, EA SPORTS by Mas Law, What’s Love by Juke84, Mental Health by Mas Law and Letter to the Youths by DJ Supreme. The whole thing is Executively Produced by C Maturine.
Design for the EP is handled by Nicola Gypsicola at WIS:Design.

All this shows that self produced releases can stand side by side with the best of them and give you the pleasure of knowing that all that hard work was well worth it.
I know that CD's are the most cost effective way of producing a physical release but, I would like to see a vinyl release, even a limited one would be awesome.

One last comment, I am looking forward to more from FRSHRZ and hopefully some live gigs to, preferably in an area I can get to.

The FRSHRZ EP is out now. Check the links below.

Steve Rider
Infinite Sounds UK 

Don't forget to follow FRSHRZ on all the usual social media platforms....