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,