Sunday 22 December 2019

Comin Thru EP by Steven Wallace

Comin’ Thru EP
By Stephen Wallace
A Review

Comin Thru was originally released back in March this year and has been on my list to review for some time.

Something that gives music a true edge is when artists draw on their own life’s experiences to add that extra dimension to their music. That really shows through in this EP from Stephen Wallace. Originally born in Reading and now residing in Newbury, Stephen is relatively new to the UK Hip Hop scene. 

His journey began after losing his mother to a brutal murder by his stepfather. Such a life changing event can have a huge impact on a person. Stephen, now a father of five, took his anger and pain and started emceeing. An 80’s - 90’s American hip hop head, he also loves the UK hip hop scene and the likes of Gunshot, Demon Boyz, Hijack, Overlord X and Blade rate amongst his favourites.
It is hard for us to really understand the depth of the feelings Stephen has experienced. How do you take such a level of anger and pain and channel it into a positive expression through Hip Hop...

Let me take you though the EP track by track:

The EP kicks off with the title track Comin Thru. The Track features Menace Mendoza and Deeq alongside Stephen on this heavy banging track which sees each emcee dropping a verse and displaying their individual lyrical skills. The title of the track is exactly what this track is all about, three emcees with hardcore vicious styles detailing exactly why they are Comin Thru.

Up next is Brain’s Numb. Dark and twisted this track hits you like the teeth of Nosferatu. The lyrics bite deep into your soul and detail the dark places a tortured mind can go.

What would happen if you crossed a battle rap with the Night of the Living Dead? You would get the track Lyrical Onslaught. This hard unrelenting track grabs those wack emcees by the throat and doesn’t let go until they are beating a hasty retreat in order to lock themselves away to understand what just happened.

From taking out the suckers the darkness continues to envelop you. No Choice features a guest appearance from Dotz. The dark twisted hypnotic vibe of the track keeps you focused on one thing, the message delivered which is that you only have one choice here and that one choice is No Choice...

The final track of the EP hits with the familiar vocal tones of the Predator. Dark Dayz features D-Lynch and is deep message of the dark places we can all go to in our minds during the darkest moments of our lives. 

You might be thinking that the apparent dark tones of the tracks of this EP might be just a UK Horrorcore style Hip Hop vibe. But, when you take into account Stephen’s life experiences it really gives his music a deeper tone. The use of all the horror references really just highlight what a dark place the world can be and sometimes you have to draw on that darkness to show people the talent that exists deep inside.

As a debut release this EP really stands out. The production is really on point here and keeps the dark hardcore style throughout the entire EP. Diamond Sire provides the production for Comin Thru, Brains Numb, No Choice and Dark Dayz with Manage producing Lyrical Onslaught. Diamond Sire also provides all cuts for the EP.

This EP is deep and hits harder than a baseball bat to the head and, in places, it’s just as brutal.

Stephen has been an emcee for the last year and a half and has really given his future a huge boost with this EP. He credits the help and encouragement from Diamond Sire, Menace and Deeq for helping get to where he is now. It has not been an easy journey and has taken a lot for him to keep it all together but, now with this EP and his talent as an Emcee, the future is very bright. 

For me this defiantly one you need in your collection. Physical copies are all sold out but, the digital download is still out there so, go grab a copy and check this for yourself and definitely keep your eyes out for future releases from Stephen. He is working on new material and I, for one, am excited to hear it.

Till next time, Peace out

Sunday 15 December 2019

BLADE - Dark Friends/Make it Connect Single review

Dark Friends / Make it Connect
The Review

It always creates a huge amount of anticipation when an artist releases something from their back catalogue that has been revisited and deemed worthy of bringing to the fans.
It was no different when it was announced that UK Hip Hop legend, Blade, was to release two unreleased demos as a limited sdition 7” single thorough Boot Recordings with the help of his good friend, another legendary figure in the scene, DJ Jazz T.
The excitement within the UK Hip Hop community and anyone around the world, who knows the UK scene, was intense.

I had been lucky enough to have been listening to these tracks for months before their release. It was only some unforeseen circumstances in my own life that have delayed the review until now.

It was the early 90’s, between 92 and 93, that I met Blade following a show at the legendary Southampton music venue, the Joiners. He was touring with the recently released Mini LP ‘Survival of the Hardest Working’. We kept in touch over the years and became more than just friends. So, when he told me this release was on the cards, I was excited to say the least.
So, I contacted Jazz T and asked if I could review the single and the rest is history.

So, let’s get into this:

The singles A-Side is Dark Friends, a track originally recorded back in 2003 and is written by Blade with production coming from his good friends The Manoz, who would also produce the track Soldiers which was the B-Side to Reflection in 2004. As can happen, life’s unpredictable journey would see this track shelved at the time as an uncompleted demo.
Six years later and the track, in a slightly different mix, would see an underground release on Jazz T and Miracles – Who Got the Beats from 2009. It was this release where I first heard the track when given a copy of the CD by Mr Miracle himself at Rope-a-Dope 4 in Bristol in 2018 (How did I miss this one?).
So, ten years on from that original release and Jazz T has added some cuts and finally given this track the release it deserves.
A deep brooding track see’s Blade in fine form taking the fight to those with huge egos who think they are more than they really are. Lyrically Blade is on that other level intellectually with a verbal arsenal others only dream about. Many can rhyme, it’s true. But, to really say something you have to deliver from the soul and that is where Blade delivers from I’m sure.
The production from the Manoz is heavy and dark the perfect platform for Blade’s delivery and with Jazz T’s Def cuts bringing all the elements together, Dark Friends is a brutal cerebral attack. 

Filliping to the B-Side is Make it Connect. Taking us back to 1997, shortly after the release of the ‘Planned and Executed’ EP, this track was recorded when times were rough for Blade. But, his dedication to music and getting the bills paid, saw him back in the Lion’s Den producing, writing and just ‘Throwing it all together in about an hour, Just to pass the time’. Although being a personal favourite, this track look destined to stay hidden away and sat on an old cassette tape.
22 years later this track, now tired and the quality eroded from years of being played over and over, was taken by Blade’s good friend Jazz T and given a new lease of life. Revived and given some fresh new cuts, this upbeat track, with its funky horn, is just what you need to give you injection of a feel good factor.
Huge respect has to go to Jazz T for making this track sound as amazing as it does.

Overall and after listening to these tracks for many months, more times than I can remember, what I can honestly say is that they give you a huge insight into Blade and a sense of the dedication he had for his music. 
But, not just that you can really feel the energy, the emotion and the Blood, Sweat and tears of his life experiences coming through, something that could be said for everything he has put out over the years.

This release is definitely one not to be missed. The digital download comes with an instrumental of Make it connect and the whole thing is all finished off by some awesome artwork from Stilts.

But one Question remains...
Is Blade truly done? Retired for good? 

Who knows? But, with his management of new urban group 05:21 and a new visibility, through social media, perhaps there is more to come. Could there be more from the vault of the Lion’s Den or something new? 
I can’t say for sure but, there are two things I can say...
If you have his respect and you can deliver something that moves him in new and exciting ways, then perhaps, just perhaps, the Lion Will roar again.

Till next time,

I’m out, One Love,

Sunday 29 September 2019

Ready for the Show - 05:21 - Debut Single review

Debut Single Review

In 2017 I was lucky enough to be invited, by Blade himself, to see him Support Kool G Rap. During his set he brought T1 Vega on stage to drop a track for the crowd. This was my first introduction to one half of what would become 05:21 and it was an impressive introduction for someone only just starting out and although his style was more on the Grime side of rap, we were all impressed by the quality of his rap style and flow.

Fast forward a bit and Blade asked me to check out a few snippets of tracks by a new group, 05:21 (Five Twenty One) the duo of Koba Kane and T1 Vega. Although their style was not my usual vibe, It was obvious these guys were skilled and had a range of styles that have the potential to take them a long way.

So, fast forward to earlier this year and 05:21 are getting ready to drop some serious shit. With YouTube only video’s being released and a mixtape titled “Student versus Teacher – Lyrical Kung-Fu Training Volume 1”, the next step was to release a debut single to the world. That single is ‘Ready for the Show’.

Ready for the Show is produced by Koba Kane and also features vocals from S. J. Martin alongside Koba Kane and T1 Vega. Koba's production is heavy But, keeping it on a level that has that mass appeal with it's grime/trap kinda feel. It is the perfect platform for Koba and T1 to trade verses back and forth with skill and lyrical dexterity of seasoned veterans of the game. This track is a statement of intent to everyone out there. These guys are serious about their music, their direction and giving their listeners a complete package both musically and visually (Don’t forget to peep the video for this one when it drops).

A debut release has to be something that will leave the listener with a desire to buy the track and also wait, in anticipation, for the next release. This track does exactly what it needs to do. Not only that but, it will undoubtedly appeal to a wide range of people. The masses out there will love it as this the kinda vibe which is very big right now and getting huge radio play but, this is also gonna be big with those who have love and respect for the underground vibe in Rap, regardless of the genre. 

There is no doubt in my mind that 05:21 will be huge in this country, if not the world, and Ready for the show is a stunning Debut release that will have people bouncing along on dance floors and in their cars for a long time.

 (Credit to John Dyer for this awesome artwork)

05:21 definitely have the world at their feet and this comes entirely from their own prowess, Lyrical skills and the diverse range of styles they can apply themselves to. For me this versatility is what will set them apart from and give them the edge over, many of the artists out there at the moment.
It is also a huge plus that they are managed UK Hip Hop legend, Blade. With his insights behind the scenes, 05:21 have a valuable asset when it comes to how they approach the music scene and this can only serve them well. This is shown perfectly in the huge promotional drive that has surrounded this release on the streets and social media.

The official video for the single goes live tomorrow, 30th September, with the full digital release following shortly after. So, keep watch on the website and Social Media links (See Below) for more details.

So, if you think you are ready for the show, go download the mixtape and get hooked up on social media for more 05:21. Because then and only then will you be Ready for the Show.

Till next time,
I’m outta here,


The awesome new 05:21 artwork, above, was provided by John Dyer. Check out his website below:

Sunday 8 September 2019

Dope Beat Biz Vol. 1 by Haynesy - Album Review

Dope Beat Biz Vol. 1
By Haynesy
Album Review

When it comes to Hip Hop in the UK and the history of it, many names come to mind for those of us who have grown up with culture over the past 30 years or so.

One of those names would be DJ Cue Tips. Many consider DJ Cue Tips to be one of pioneers of Hip Hop in the UK. Back in 86 he was working with MC Dashy D and dropped the seminal on ‘Hard Core Vol 1’ and from there went on to work with the South London SLR Crew as their primary producer and DJ.

As with many of us, life got in the way, and it would be 2018 before he would dust the cobwebs off and get back in the game. Haynsey, as is now know, would drop a few releases via spotify and the awesome 7” dub plate release of Big Daddy Kane’s ‘Set it off’, The Bottom Up Remix.
The concept for Dope Beat Biz Vol 1 was simple. To have a real Hip Hop album with real beats, real MC’ing, real cuts & real graffiti on the cover, basically everything real hip hop should be.

So, let’s get into this as I take through the album, track by track, and finish off with a few questions dropped Haynsey’s way...

There is no easing you into this as the album kicks off with Put Me On. This is track takes Hip Hop from across the pond, courtesy of Neek the Exotic, and weaves it with the UK essence, from Gee Bag. This is the kind of beat and vibe that instantly takes you back, way back, to the days when Hip Hop was all about the party vibe and feeling good. Not just that but, you could not pick two better Emcee’s to rhyme over such a fresh beat. What a start to an album.

Keeping the dopeness flowing as Trained Assassins drops, a proper banger of a track. This is the first on the album to feature legendary UK Emcee, Scorzayzee on lyrical duties with his instantly recognisable voice and flow, showing why he is so good at this. This one will have you moving and grooving all the way. But, don’t sit back and rest because up next we have Suspekt, one of the UK’s premier Hip Hop crews, dropping the dope verses on an absolutely killa beat, Back in the Day. Taking you back to the 90’s with venom and leaving you there like some wicked Hip Hop trip. Do I detect a little bit of Sucker MC’s in there, damn this one is off the hook.

That 90’s vibe is kept well and truly alive as Haynsey’s reworking of Use your Head hits, and this hits hard. Originally released on the Hitmen For Hire EP by Mark B (R.I.P) & Blade from 1998, this one gives a renewed life to a dope classic track. Not only that but, for those of us who know and love the Blade sound, this one is a fitting tribute to everything Blade was and is.

How do you follow that? Well you take a funky Hip Hop beat and a talented UK Emcee, in this case Dweller, and let nature take its course. The outcome, another banger Jungle, laced with a funky guitar hook, Dweller just gives the lowdown on himself and life out there. The goodness just keeps on coming. Which is so true as Scorzayzee is back on the hard and heavy Pioneerz. This one grabs you by the ears and doesn’t let go but, you wouldn’t have it any other way. Dope beatz and the kind of lyrics that have the corners of your mouth curling upwards.

Pick it Up hits featuring DDouble Impactt flippin’ their verbal skills on a proper boom bap vibe track. Before you know it you are now half way through this album and the energy just keeps you bouncing along and shows no sign of letting up any time soon. The beat kicks in for Tri Polar, which has Scorzayzee dropping his hat-trick with some more comical rhymes over a banging beat which has a nice jazzy vibe to the chorus.

Next up we have the return of Dweller kicking it on These Days. This one has you bopping and moving to a funky ass vibe that you just wanna keep feeling all day long, and that vibe keeps going with heavy banging old skool vibe of Now and Then. Featuring south coast Emcee Whirlwind D, this one takes you from the days of old to the days of now and back again. Up next is Whirlwind D’s B-Line stable mate Chrome on Start the Panic. This one ups the energy levels with a frantic style from both Chrome’s lyrical delivery and Haynesy’s banging beat that will have you breathless in a good way.

Before you know it we down to the penultimate track, Evolution. Back one last time is scorzayzee. This one has a jazzy style, still with a kicking beat, that might take you back to the days of Gang Starr. Taking you on a trip though how artists have used the technology available to them to get their message out there and create their masterpieces.

The album finishes off with funkiest track you have heard in a while, W-E-G, with WEG taking you on a journey through a vision of his own life. Easing off the pace a little but, not enough for you to lose focus. This is the perfect way to finish of this album, in my opinion anyway. 

First, I gotta say Wow... 

Even though I knew who was on this album and the pedigree of the producer I have to say I entered into this, as I always do, with little expectation.

The vibe of the whole album is such that it gives you an awesome feel good feeling from start to finish. I would say that would be the same for us old skool heads, right up to those who might only just be getting into Hip Hop.

Haynesy’s concept, production, music and Cut’s arrangement is flawless from start to finish. Bringing you vibes that are proper Hip Hop at its essence and it is that connection to rawest element of what Hip Hop is that gives this album such an enjoyable feel. The guest Emcees are all on top form and bring their individual styles and energy to each track. I don’t think that Haynesy could have got a better group of guest together for this one. The album is polished off the expert turntable skills of one Jabbathakut who provides all the cuts for the album.

This album is a package and that package includes the artwork. This was provided by one Chris Archer AKA Drop Dead Fresh.

Mixing was done by Haynesy and Leo Kin and Mastered by Leo Kin.

If you bring all elements of this package together does it truly do what it has set out to do, to create an album of Pure Hip Hop in all its elements and down to its true essence. With all honesty I would have to say that it not only achieves what it set out to do but, it takes that Bar to a whole new level and does what other producers have done this year like Specifik and DJ Pandamonium have done and craft something that says, here is my experience of Hip Hop and what Hip Hop means to means to me, and puts that into audible form for everyone to listen to and enjoy.

This is probably a good time to hear from the man himself. So, what did I ask him...?

So, firstly I asked him why he dropped the album now and if there was any driving force behind it?
Haynesy: I’ve always had an itch over the years to self produce an album to my taste basically, & the fact the tech has advanced enough that this is capable with laptop was the green light really. I’ve been making mash ups on my iPhone with various apps for years but was always acutely aware that I was using 1% of my creativity by being limited to literally apps.

Next I asked him if there was any plan behind the guest MC’s. I wanted to know if he had specific people in mind as he worked.
Haynesy: It just snowballed really. To get my ear back in I released straight to streaming sites an album of vocal stem remixes featuring Scorzayzee & Dweller, old acappellas of theirs basically...I contacted Scorz & asked out of professional courtesy whether he’d like to hear them & he really liked them so I pitched the idea of doing an album with various MC’s & he said he’d be up for it.....then what I was totally unprepared for was the reaction to my back catalogue from the 80’s, once people knew I was DJ Cue Tips who did Control etc then the pieces just started falling in place with the MC’s.

So, how does he feel about being looked on as a pioneer or even founder of what a lot of people now call Britcore?  
Haynesy:  I was told recently by a few people that Control was the first ever Britcore track which is something I’d never considered, we just thought at the time “what’s not been done & how can we be different” so we banged the tempo up & made it 130bpm(!)’s very flattering but not something I’ve ever really thought about, there were a few of us from ‘86 trying to fight the ‘novelty of uk hip hop’ factor  which is why we made Control different, we all played our part I like to think.

For me this album feels like a master class in bringing together every element that Hip hop is, was and could be. It just has that feel good vibe that is the essence of hip hop. Do you see it that way or does it have a different vibe for you?
 Haynesy: I tried to make 13 tracks all as good as each other & all you’d want to hear over & over. Problem for me is I have ADHD so I hyper focus & have a psychotic attention to detail, so I’ve had every track on an operating table so to speak 1000 times to get them just right to me, so I’ve heard them all as many different version with 100’s of little edits, but now yes, I can play from start to finish with a smile, Job done.

I asked how the Blade came about. As with this track being the only one on the album being a remix of a track already out there?
Haynesy:  I just asked him if he’d do a track & played him the other tracks on the album, he said then I panicked as he’s so busy with 05:21 so rather than chase him to record a new track I asked him if I could redo an old track of the bottom up, from the bare acca & that he owes me a new track however at some point in the future, to which he agreed.

With this album being Vol 1, I wondered if Vol 2 was already in the works.
Haynesy: Well I’ve left nothing on the table with this one, & now it’s done I have a decision to make, my 2 options are the easier route i.e. releasing a string of singles with various MC’s, or having a month or 2 out & starting volume 2.

Finally I asked if there is anything else in the works, aside from the prospect of Vol 2.
Haynesy: I get up at 5am every day purely so I can have 90mins outside a coffee shop near my work with the cans on. I have so many beats/ideas/random tracks on the laptop that I don’t know what I’m going to do next, my project management without a goal is bloody awful so that’s why I need to make a call soon.

OK people, so there you have it, A little insight into Haynesy and how everything came about on this project.

I found it very interesting that he has ADHD, as I was diagnosed with ADD a few years back and the way I approach what I do for these reviews. I don’t start to write until I have listened to the music enough times to really feel it inside.  

So, there is little left for me to say except I can see this becoming an instant classic. The blending of beats, lyrical flows, music and cuts is everything Hip Hop is to its very core. This is the definition of Hip Hop music.

So, go out there and get your copy, you will not be disappointed.

Huge thanks to Haynesy for giving me the opportunity to review the album.

Till next time, I’m outta here,