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,

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Underground Kingpin by Gambit - Album Review

Underground Kingpin
Album Review

Gambit, Originally from Poland and now residing in Switzerland, has been three years making this new project and it is released through Spitslam Records, owned by Hip Hop Legend and Public Enemy front man Chuck D. Chuck also provides the Intro and serves as one executive producer for the album alongside Gambit.

Now, some of you may be familiar with Gambit and some not so, as I often do, I dropped some questions to Gambit as this was the perfect chance to give you all that extra little insight into the album and Gambit (Gambit’s comments feature in italics). So, what am I waiting for, let’s get into this:

The albums Intro is delivered by Chuck D. I say delivered because this is very much Chuck dropping his knowledge to a background of a heavy pounding beat of Gambit’s production and, as Gambit says, this is Chuck talking about me and having the right attitude within the world of hip hop. This is so true if you really listen to what Chuck has to say and when you consider the new directions Hip Hop is being taken in by many artists these days.

The Album’s title track drops with middle-eastern feel, provided by Mahmoud Ragab Omar, before a heavy beat kicks in and you get your first taste of Gambit’s distinctive rapid pace rhyme style. Underground Kingpin is basically a comeback tune where I underline my position as underground kingpin. For those who like it and for those who don't! 

 Montana Syndrome is proper boom bap style track with production from C-DOC (DefBeat Posse Productions) and some wicked cuts from DJ Roy. On this track Gambit drops his view on a certain gangster movie glorified by so many stateside. I never understood why so some people glorify that Scarface Movie, I mean he takes a lot of cokes then loses everything. In Montana Syndrome I'm telling you what really can happen to naive people who enter the world of crime.

Contra, which features Jahi with Production by DJ Roy & Gambit, is not as frantic as many of the tracks but, keeps the heavy pounding bass, frantic raw cuts and dope rhyme flows. We're contra but against what? Against all that shit that happens within the music industry. Serious shots fired.

Spit has elements of Drum N Bass and maybe a hint of Dancehall mixed in, all produced by Gambit himself. Still hitting you full on with rapid rhyme flows Gambit lets you know what he is all about on this one. This track underlines my skills and attitude, cause no matter what I spit, you won't forget my name. Interesting Fact, I made this beat on 105bpm with drum n bass elements only.

Firestorm features Tak and is a track that takes the lyrical vibes back to old skool with a battle rap style track. Production again comes from C-DOC and is one of those beats you can’t help but nod ya head to. All capped off by DJ Roy’s turntable skills. Going back to the Old Skool with Tak, spittin like back in the day where trends and hypes weren't that relevant. It's a competitive tune with loads of comic/anime/game references; some of it is quite insider material haha.

Ironfist features Firebird and this track is banging track, produced by Gambit, which takes a shot at all those who might seek to mess with the culture that is Hip Hop. Rough bars against all the suckers who try to destroy the culture of hip hop.

Another Sphere is described as the anthem of the album. Gambit’s production is on point here with a track which gives you the lowdown on his attitude and what is his own style of Hip Hop. This track underlines my attitude as artist, it reflects what I stand for and what I’m against...And it's called Another Sphere cause I got my own sound and style, that's why I’m saying in the chorus "I give you some you can't compare".

A Better Place features Junior Lawless on track which has a nice dancehall vibe running through it. Production again comes from Gambit and is a bit more laid back but, dropping a message all about the greed of those in certain positions of power. A smooth tune about the greed of certain people from politics and other moguls.

Drugs is a track that reflects its title. Drugs can be messy and much of what is out there is on the streets is of a quality that can be dangerous and fatal. Production is by Gambit who had this to say My Anti Drug Track. A lot of rappers glorify drugs these days. I don't.

Supersonic is produced by Kerwin Young and DJ Cool. This track has an upbeat vibe and is best described by Gambit himself, A vibrant tune about Spencer Haywood, ABA and NBA legend who changed the rules of the NBA forever. Look it up!

Fists of the Cyrax opens with Jack Nicholson’s line from Batman. Featuring UK Emcee Iceski, this track is produced by Gambit and has two perfectly matched lyrical flows from two emcees who just bounce perfectly off each other. That's how it sounds when you come correct and show how veterans defend that thing we call real hip hop. I could not have put it better myself.

Titanhunters features Kid Lyrical and an intro by Gambit’s son. Gambit’s production on this hectic and is probably something many would not even describe as Hip Hop but, more of a Dub/DnB fusion perhaps. However you describe this does not really matter because the impact is made. An Anti Major Label Tune full of statements and nimble flows. My Son did the intro here, he's 5, I’m very proud of him.

Iceflame, Gambit’s production here is like an aural rollercoaster. In fact the whole track is tacking you on ride though exactly why he is doing this and why is that? Declaring that I'm not on the Mic cause I want the champagne, the coke or the fame. I'm doing this cause I grew up with hip hop which is the most relevant reason.

Outro, Gambit’s outro is a shout out to all those who deserve it. Delivered in his own no nonsense style with production to reflect that. Thanks to my fam and all the people who are part of the project. Vocals and cuts by myself.

Overall this album is Hip Hop from the viewpoint of one man, One MC. Gambit has much to say about life around him, the state of the world and the culture he loves and grew up with. What he has done here to bring his message to the masses is to fuse Hip Hop music with many other vibes and musical styles.

Now, this approach might not be to the liking of everyone and let’s face it, you are never going to please everyone but, one thing I have learnt across my years of listening to many genres of music, is that you have to keep an open mind and every now and again someone will deliver something that surprises you and this is one of those moments. The Album flows perfectly from track to track. Giving you constant and consistent hardcore Hip Hop music at a frantic pace and not just that but, one thing you will find is that this album sounds awesome the higher the volume. So, please feel free to play this at volume’s way past 10...

Everything about this album is pure class. Production is all of the highest order from all those involved. DJ Roy, who provides all the cuts for the album, gives us frantic and unrelenting turntable dexterity. The album was mixed by Gambit and mastered by Earle Holder at HDQTRZ Mastering Studios. Artwork is by Gambit with additional layout by DC Snyder.

Before I wrap this up, there are a few questions I dropped to Gambit. Here is what he had to say:

Firstly, aside from asking him to give me his view of each track from the album, I asked him if he could give me a brief history of Gambit:

Gambit: I started rapping when I was 14, my first influences were Ice T, Public Enemy, Paris and Old Skool Ragamuffin artists like Daddy Freddy, Asher D and Tenor Fly. Years later I formed a Group called Last Resort with DJ Taste, probably Switzerland's first turntablist, after like 10 years with Taste I went solo and did my own thing. Here you can read more

Next I asked how he came to meet Chuck D and sign to Spitslam and what input Chuck had into the album:
Gambit: My first contact was Studdah Man, a producer of Public Enemy; we used to communicate on social media. I showed him a few tracks that I had in the pipeline and he liked it a lot and said I can send my material to Janol "Mecca" Holmes, the CEO at Slamjamz. He liked it a lot and that's basically how it started. I met Chuck for the first time in Switzerland when Public Enemy was touring with the Prodigy. My new Album is my 4th release on Chuck's Label (I’m on Spitslam now, which is basically the same camp) and he wanted to do the Album intro. I was like yea of course and the rest was fully up to me how it's going to sound like. Chuck fully trusts in my craft so I was fully free.

The album has a unique sound that appears to be drawn from many genres. How do your tracks evolve, do you have the beats first or do you write first then utilise the production.

Gambit: Well, I usually got the lyrics first, or at least a verse or two, then I produce something for it. I started making beats in 2001 simply cause nobody had the beats I wanted...regarding the various genres, I don't even feel like this, to me it's all hip hop no matter what direction you go, as long as you rap to its rap you know...

Chuck D aside, who else have been/are your major influences...

Gambit: My early influences are as earlier mentioned Ice T, Run DMC, Beastie Boys, UK Hip Hop like Gunshot, Killa Instinct, Blade, Old Skool Ragamuffin by Daddy Freddy, Tenor Fly. I'm also deeply into Jungle/DNB, DJ Zink, Shy FX, Panacea just to name a few. So basically the good hip hop and the good dnb...

Following on from this release, what have you got coming up, is there anything you can tell us about and is there anyone you would really like to work with...

Gambit: Yes there's something in the making but it's too early to talk about it yet. I'm collaborating with a good friend of mine and he's one of my all time favourite mc's...who I'd like to work dan would be dope but it don't look like he's into music these days from what I see unfortunately, man's a great mc no doubt. 

Shout outs to Chuck D, C-Doc, Janol Mecca Holmes, Studdah Man.

So there you have it. Now you know a bit more about Gambit and you have everything you need to make an informed choice on this album. Don’t just take my word for it. This is an album that needs to be heard.

For me, Gambit has one of those instantly recognisable voices in Hip Hop and Rap. Not just that but, he has a style that makes him a perfect fit for those hardcore/Britcore style vibes as well as what he is doing best himself.

I suggest you check the video’s below and if you like it go grab a copy and then keep your eyes and mind open because you have not heard the last of Gambit. There is more in the pipeline from him and I, for one, will be waiting eagerly for the next release to drop.

I would like to give huge respect and thanks to Gambit for giving me the opportunity to review the album. 

On that note,

I’m out, Peace.

 Another Sphere official Video