Sunday 23 December 2018

Return to Stoney Island by Brothers of the Stone - Album Review

Return to Stoney Island
Brothers of the Stone

Return to Stoney Island is the follow up to the 2013 self titled album from Brothers of the Stone, otherwise known as Leafdog, BVA and Illinformed.

The Album has a whole host of guest appearances from some of the biggest names in Hip Hop and Rap from the USA & UK including Smellington Piff, Inspectah Deck, Jazz T, MOP, Eric the Red and more. With a line up like this you’d be forgiven for having some level of anticipation for this album.

So, let’s give it a track by track breakdown:

A storm brings us to the first track Smokey Smokey, a nice banging track that is all about what is negative in our society. This track also contains the line ‘Keeping you depressed and obsessed with what your earning’ a line, which for me, is the most hard hitting and poignant line I have heard in a long while. A Storm is brewing indeed.
Can’t touch the Flow finds the Brothers joined by Jazz T on a track, which as the title says is all about the flow. There is no trap here and no Ghost writing this is all bomb bap peeps.
Up next is the horn laden Duckits featuring the one and only MOP. You know how this one is gonna go. This is some Dope shit which the radio might not play but, hey Fuck Airplay. This is what its all about right here US to the UK.
No letting up with the boom bap as Everything hits with a track about how everything effects you day to day as we walk our life path.
Up next is Fanning the flames which features Smellington Piff. A heavy but, laid back track which has you remembering the crazy shit you’ve done and how you learnt the hard way. Yeah, we all been there.
Reverse Forecast is a track you can vibe to, about looking back and seeing everything in reverse.
It;s back to the Boombap with Overseers which features Inspectah Deck. This is one of those tracks which, when it comes on in the car, you gotta turn volume up and put the windows down, Cos everyone needs to hear this and feel the energy.
Capital I retains that heavy feel. Here the Brothers let you know it’s all about being Independent in the Rap Game and the hard work it takes. It’s the only way for people to really hear the real music and the real messages.
The title track, Return to Stoney Island has that deep feel, while also having a smoked out feeling. The track features Jazz T and Young Zee. Really liked how the guitar and keys worked on the track. I’ll be honest and say I don’t recognise the name Young Zee but, he handles himself well on his verse even if he does appear to come up a couple of bars short and just slap his name on the end, thats just my take on it.
Feed for the Greed keeps the heavy vibe going. Telling it how it is about those greedy people who like to use you for what they can get then disappear.
The Desert is a good track to vibe to and is a reminder that is tough out there but, the more you keep going and pushing forward you will make it in the end.
The accordion on On A Roam almost gives this track a sea shanty feel, albeit a heavy one that is funked out and skunked out.
Hitting you up with the Keys and violin style beat, The Ending grabs you and makes you pay attention. The Brothers and Rome Streetz hit you with smooth flows and on point rhyme styles to keep you hanging.
That ain’t the ending cos there is more to come. Taking you on a chilled out vibe with Can’t See Me. This one for me has a kind of Blues vibe to it which works so well.
The album ends with Stone of the Brothers featuring Eric the Red, and what a way to end the album. Heavy on the horns which have a real 1930’s, 1940’s feel. Light hearted and smoked out for sure, this one with have your mouth forced into a grin.

Released independently by Real Life Drama Records, which was founded by Leafdog and BVA just down the road from me in Glastonbury, Return to Stoney Island is a perfect example of what RLD was set up to do, and that was to Preserve real Hip Hop.

Everything about this album is top notch. The production is everything you what from a Hip Hop album. It does have that smoked out, high on life vibe but, at the same time keeps you grounded firmly in the reality of the society we live in. Lyrically, there is very little not to like here as the verses are all well crafted and delivered with lyrical dexterity. The vibes, from track to track, do not take you to one level and leave you there. Every track and verse takes you on a different journey with a different vibe and musical feel to match. 

Giving this album a number of listens over the last week or so, I truly feel that this is one of those that will stand the test of time and will be at home in the car or anywhere for that matter.

In the past I have not been a huge fan of the smoked out feel of some UK Hip Hop but, This album just goes to show that as UK Hip Hop matures it is becoming more and more a force to be reckoned with. It is the good work of the Independent labels, such as RLD, which is paving the way for Hip Hop in the UK to be the cutting edge of the modern Hip Hop Movement.

I would say you need this one in your collection but, seriously don’t take my word for it. Buy it and try it out, you will not be disappointed. 

Check the links below.

Till next time, I’m Outta here..

Official Video for Overseers ft Inspectah Deck

 The Ending ft Rome Streetz

Ballad of Snakes by Silas - Single review

Ballad of Snakes

The Latest track from the very talented Silas from Solothurn, Switzerland, features Graphic Bars, from Brighton UK and DJ Skeptic, of Freezes Deyna, who also hails from Solothurn.
This is one of those International Hip Hop tracks that proves the movement is very much alive and kicking throughout Europe and the whole world. It also proves that within Hip Hop we stand united as one through the ups and downs of society today.

Ballad of Snakes is a dark heart pounding track that focuses on those who pretend to be your friend and, face to face, act like you are ‘thick as thieves’. But, behind your back they only seek to make you look bad for their own selfish reasons. Let’s be honest we have all been in that position one time or another. Hence the saying ‘Keep your Friends close but, your enemies closer’.

Silas raps in his native tongue and you might think that would be an issue. Although you might not understand his actual words, if you don’t speak Swiss, you will feel the emotion and the energy in his delivery. The fact that we have all shared this experience at one time or another will bridge that gap in the understanding.
Joining Silas is the superb Brighton emcee, Graphic Bars. Who is one of the up and coming UK Hip Hop artist’s. Here his verse stands shoulder to shoulder with Silas and brings his own style of lyricism which helps you paint a vivid picture in your mind of those back stabbers who are often only snapping at you because of something within themselves that is eating away at them.

The production and DJ Skeptic’s Cut’s fit the subject matter perfectly creating a dark vision in your mind as the track permeates your consciousness and you find yourself nodding to the vibe and perhaps casting a brief glance over your shoulder just to make sure there are no Snakes slithering there.

Silas is one of those independent artist to watch out for and if you have not checked out his previous releases, then Do it, Do it now...

On that note, I’m outta here,

Catch ya next time.

Sunday 2 December 2018

Dopamine Hit - Chrome Pre-Release Review

Dopamine Hit by Chrome
Pre-Release Review

Chrome has been prominent on the UK scene since back in the mid-eighties when he was part of Def Tex. In 2010 he had his first release with Ill Inspired and they would eventually go on to release the classic The All CnI in 2015 on B-Line Recordings. Since then Chrome has had a number of features for other artists.

Many of you will have been among those who have eagerly awaited a new release by Chrome. Earlier this year you were rewarded with the release of Shockwave, B Side Cookin’ up parts 1 & 2, on Naked Ape. This heralded news he was working on a new LP, Dopamine Hit, to be released at the end of the year. This new album would feature both tracks from the new single.

It was a huge surprise, even though I had put the request out there, when the man himself asked me to review the Album prior to release. So, for the last two weeks or so, I have put the album to the test.
Dopamine Hit is 14 tracks deep and is to be released on B-Line Recordings and the end of December. So, let me give you my track by track thoughts:

The Album kicks off with DOPAMINE IN, an intro that pulls no punches in showing the direction the album will be taking with lines regarding Social Media addiction and its relationship to the human need for that pleasure hit and Dopamine is the chemical that helps us reach that pleasure hit as it directs our behaviour to reach the desired outcome.
Just as we are digesting that thought and feeling our own little dopamine hit, a familiar voice counts us down into NO IDOL featuring Uncle Mic Nitro. The familiar voice is that of Blade taking us into the track and the tempo has you instantly nodding your head. The basic message delivered here is that none of us need an Idol or a hero. We are our own Idols and our own Heroes and no one is above anyone else. Chrome provides production and cuts for this one and he is joined by Southampton native Uncle Mic Nitro (Why do I find myself saying his name in the style of Specifik from the Cold Krush radio show?) who provides ample assistance, in his instantly recognisable style, to Chromes energetic rhyme style.
Up next is OLD MAN SPORT, which features Bristol’s own KELZ and Sir Beans OBE on the cuts. Just because he has been doing this since 1985, does that mean this is an Old Man’s Sport with Old Man’s Music? Does it mean adjusting things to fit with the up to date view of things? I dunno about you but, I gotta say a huge NO. Chrome and Kelz skilfully take us through the track keeping the energy up and flow tight. Again Chrome provides the production and I love that little Ennio Morricone sample in there.
Fourth track in and the energy is not letting up as Chrome sends a SHOCKWAVE through you. The track features Andy Cooper of Ugly Duckling fame who co-produces with Chrome. This is just one of those tracks that has you nodding your head no matter where you are, in your car, in the bath or walking down the high street. The infectious tempo of the beat, Chrome’s high tempo style and Andy C’s skilful word play just have you buzzin’ from start to finish, electrifying for sure.
Just because the tempo of DOPAMINE HIT is not as high energy, the key here is the message and Chrome’s story telling. The track is all about society’s addiction to social media and how it has become our drug of choice in the modern age. Tell me i’m wrong? Chrome provides all production, cuts and rhyming and really delivers a serious message in a format we can all relate to while keeping some fun in there which keeps us buzzin’ along.  
The tempo is back up as Chrome is COOKIN’ UP a proper feast for us. Taking us on journey through how he prepares, cooks and delivers the goodness. Another solo effort from Chrome this track demonstrates his versatility in all areas. Providing another infectious beat with flawless verbal delivery and expert cut’s, it also had me reminiscing, for some reason, back to a time when these kind of feel good tracks were more common.
Side A finishes on a slower more serious note with THE PRODUCT (sure D Remix), where Chrome provides co-production to SURE D (DJ Sure Delight from Def Tex). I found myself feeling several things from this track but, it really spoke to me about the things we often buy into in our lives and the fact that sometimes we have to walk away from that product we have brought into for the greater good. Just because this track is a drop in tempo and on the more serious note it is still in keeping with the albums vibe and good to see Chrome working with Sure D again. 

Just as you are digesting everything from Side A, you flip the record and Side B opens with a DOPAMINE EXTRA reminding you that you might need a bit of hit as you might have come down a bit by flipping the record over but, your hit is right here.
There is no messing about here either as Chrome now takes you TO THE MAXIMUM with partner Illinspired. This track appears to pick up where The All CnI left off with Chrome and Illa dropping lines and bouncing off each other with skill and perfect timing. The chemistry these two display is truly phenomenal with every beat and rhyme. Chrome’s cuts and production is again on point and this track catapults you back to dizzying, pleasurable heights.
There is no break here as you are straight in to LESS IS MORE, which features the talented Stepasaur on the mic alongside Chrome. This track demonstrates exactly what the title suggests. Here less is more with simplistic and raw production but, giving you no less of a hit. This raw hit is the perfect stage for both Emcee’s to display their skills.
The heavy bass of PUSHING BUTTONS kick’s in next with Chrome back on the serious tip. Here the lesson is all about how there is too much negativity in the world around us and how we need to crush that negativity and live life with a more positive direction. Ricky Lix and Buckers the Realist provide back up for Chrome on this track and prove more than able to step up and perform over his heavy beat.
A REINTRODUCTION TO CUTTIN’ is next to drop with a more light hearted feel good energy as Chrome introduces us to his Dj, Super JB and celebrates his skills and his role. This is one of those tracks that takes you back to days when every Hip Hop album that came out had the obligatory DJ track. The DJ is such a huge part of Hip Hop is refreshing to get that feel again and something mainstream Rap has forgotten. Having seen Chrome and Super JB at Rope-a-Dope 4 this year, I can vouch to the fact he has the skills on the 1’s and 2’s no doubt and of course he provides all the Cuttin’ and Scratchin’ on the track...
The penultimate track on the album is TEACH ME. Another solo Chrome track with a high energy rapid fire delivery that doesn’t let up from beginning to end and delivers an audible view of those who seek to be in control or prey on others but, do not take the time to consider their actions.
Finally DOPAMINE OUT slowly brings us down from the high we have been on since the start of the album but, it also reminds us that when we need our next fix, we can put down our phones and pick up Dopamine Hit instead...

With Dopamine Hit, Chrome has crafted a winner on many levels. Not just hitting us with his verbal and writing skill’s But, demonstrating his production and DJ skills into the bargain for our listening pleasure. He proves that if you have the skill’s and the drive, then anything is possible.

In fact Dopamine Hit is as polished and relevant as anything you will find on the mainstream market today. Everything works with this album from the diverse verbal skills and top notch production to the choice of guest artists and the deft skill in keeping the listener focused from beginning to end and leaving them feeling breathless with a feeling they have just been schooled on a whole new level.

It is obvious from this album that Chrome truly loves and enjoys what he does. I honestly believe you will not be disappointed here. Dopamine Hit has two huge things going for it. It is an album you can easily listen from start to finish without skipping a track and it also stands the test of time. I have listened to this nearly every day for the past couple of weeks and it just never gets old. I will also be honest and say that it has been hard to do this album justice in words alone.

My whole review could be summed up in this one line...
Do yourself a favour and order a copy now. Don’t take my word for it, listen to it and take a Hit.

Dopamine Hit is released on B-Line recordings and comes with some awesome art design from James Dawe and layout by MrTibbz, another good reason to pick up a copy as it will look as good as it sounds. 

Keep watch in all the usual places for the release date.

On that Note, Enjoy.
I’m Out...