Sunday 26 January 2020

Record of Achievement by Dweller - Album Review

Record of Achievement
By Dweller
Album Review

Bolton born, Manchester emcee, Producer & DJ, Dweller has, over the last 13 years or so, released a whole host of albums, singles, EPs and Mixtapes and has collaborated with the likes of UK legends Chrome and Scorzayzee among others. Crafting an honest look at life and at times with a satirical twist, Dweller is about to drop his latest album Record of Achievement.

I can’t introduce this album any better than to give you Dwellers own words:

“I Consider (this Album) to be my most articulate venture to date. Why may you ask? I believe it can take a very long time to find your groove and this process of refinement can take many years of trial and error. This was the case for me and fluttered in and out of different corners of the musical map like a brain-damaged moth trying to find the light. Eventually I realised that I got it right first time”.
“I tried to make this album resonate one clear message: Never give up on your dreams. I had to shelve my need for creativity and expression while spending many years working a job that wasn’t right for me in order to pay bills, put food on the table & support my wife in her studies to be a nurse. (Now fully qualified and I am immensely proud)”.

“It's been a tough journey for sure but not one I intend to put on a pedestal for any sort of sympathy. This album is dedicated to the regular working Joe (or Josephine). The parent who is forced to miss precious time with their children to make ends meet, the worker who has no choice but to sacrifice their passion for pounds…”

When you take this all into account before you even listen to the album you get a real sense of what he is putting across in his music and makes you understand that this guy is coming from the same place as you and me and you a glimpse at life as he sees it.

So let’s get into this album track by track as I give you my insights:

How an album kicks off says a lot about the experience you about to have and Ave It, is about as heavy an introduction as you can get. Production comes from Pro P with a raw and banging beat which is a proper backdrop for Dweller to drop an overview of life in general with a flow and skill that makes you realise that something wicked is about hit your senses. The album continues with the jazzy laid back vibe of Jonny Capicola’s production on World on my Shoulders, where Dweller deftly takes us through the stresses and strains of life, something we can all relate to, and that it is important to really relax and enjoy life. Continuing that laid back vibe but, with a more modern lyrical twist, on Rats we are taken on a ride through the dark places we can all go to at times during the regularity of daily toil and fact that we do our best to break free of the hold that we can often feel under as we indulge in the weekend. Production comes from Dweller, Dan Lever (Harmonica) & Richard Rollinson (Bass) and really brings some nice elements with the Bass and Harmonica vibes mixed in along with Emily Cooke’s serene vocal providing the contrast.

We have all experienced that same shit different day vibe and Groundhog Day, which features Lomax on the guest vocals, really takes you to that place. The beat is back to that bomb bap vibe and is provided here by Pro P. Keeping the vibe heavy but, laid back with it, Another World takes us on a trip to the world behind your closed eyes where you be whoever you wanna be, wherever you wanna be, a place to chill and take time out from life. Production comes from Mastarblastar with cuts from Simon Cannon. Taking us to the halfway point is Breadwinner, which is a digital bonus track. Detailing the life of all those of us who are the breadwinners for our families and all the responsibilities and struggles that can come with it. The track features Boston USA emcee Batfunk, who gives us the lowdown of struggles from his point of view and experiences. The vibe here is really chilled out on the production and comes from Jonny Capicola.

It is Jonny Capicola’s dope, head nod production on Matter of Time, where we take a short break from reality with a tale of two guys from different sides of law. It’s always good to have a break from reality and who doesn’t like cops and robber stories and this one is crafted perfectly. Queen of English continues Jonny Capicloa’s production with chilled vibe that you can still nod along to as Dweller provides a homage to his better half. If you have a queen in your life, this track shows the perfect way to show you appreciation for everything she does. Dweller’s own production on Irons in the Fire, keeps that head nodding with a laid back jazzy vibe. This track takes us into the mind of the entrepreneur who always has many irons in the fire to bring their vision to fruition. 

Someone else’s Dream brings back that Bomb bap vibe with production from Jonny Capicola. Here Dweller tells us that in life we work the 9-5 building the dreams of other but, one day you gotta take that chance and chose to build your own and not someone else’s dream. The penultimate track is Smoke Rings. You can’t get more relaxed than his own production on this one. A track that grew from Dweller sitting back a few summers ago whittling away at some wood under the sun. This track feels like the definition of relaxation and, for me anyway, shows how mixing other forms of music with Hip Hop can really help create the vibe you are looking for. So, into the final track of the album with Familiar Ground, a jazzy soulful groove that reminded me of tracks by MC Buzz B back in the day. Dwellers production alongside the soulful trumpet of Andrew Lofthouse really takes you to a special place where you can take a minute or two just to remember who you are in the grand scheme of things.

I have to say that this album really took me to many different places. Although it was a rollercoaster of vibes and themes, it was properly rooted in reality, except for that one excursion. It was also a nice change to round of the album with a vibe which really put you into a nice positive frame of mind and huge respect to Dweller for expertly crafting that.

This is definitely one of those albums that you will not want to skip a track on. The vibe of the whole album and the way the tracks have been arranged keeps the flow perfectly in the groove from start to finish. There is so much here that each and every one of us can relate to that it easy to see this album as a soundtrack to your own life, it really is that relatable for you from day to day. That was such a huge plus for me as I listened to album and made me really feel the dedication, the emotion and everything that went into crafting the album.

I really can’t pick out anything I didn’t enjoy and that really is a testament to Dwellers talent as an emcee, producer and DJ (Yes, apart from one track Dweller provided all the cuts himself).
This is defiantly an album I recommend that you grab a copy of. You can wait for the digital only release or you can jump on the crowd funding link below and grab your physical copy of the vinyl. Whatever, you do grab it as this is going to be a future classic in my book. The production values are all totally on point and the guest emcees and musicians add that extra depth and polish to the album.

Huge thanks and respect to Dweller for asking me to review this album. 2020 is shaping up nicely for UK Hip Hop.

Till next time, One Love people.


Sunday 19 January 2020

Concrete Pad by Choco Doobs - Album Review

Concrete Pad
By Choco Doobs
Album Review

Originally released at the tail end of October 2019, Concrete Pad was dropped by Chess Move Universal and is the debut release by Choco Doobs.
As we all love a good slice of underground Hip Hop let’s get neck deep in this album and see what it has to offer.

Kicking off with Beast is Snarling, this track definitely sets the tone for the album and is a raw and unrelenting tail of being on the run from the old bill. The journey through life’s experiences continues as the heavy beat drops for Cork You, this one will get the blood pumping as we are taken on a no holds barred trip that leaves you thinking “Damn I don’t want cross this dude”. Neck Stretch hits next which really has that battle rhyme vibe to it, nuff said you know...

A third of the way through and it’s time to get funky with Looks Like a Boy. A tongue in cheek track that takes a look at the ladies that look, well you get it right...  Ding Ding Move just takes you back to the nineties. Giving you a light hearted story vibe with the kinda beat that grabs ya ears and don’t let go. Talking about taking it back, the beat for Slosh Pit will definitely do that. As for the vibe to this one, well let’s just say it has sexual tone that turns a mosh pit to a slosh pit, you get the picture.

Moving into the last third of the album with Burst Through, the gritty beat hits and the tracks takes us through more of Choco Doobs view of getting out there and doing what he does. The penultimate track is Over The Pipe. A track all about the dark life those who suck on the crack pipe, which might have a laid back vibe but, still hits as hard as running full pelt into a brick wall. A track about such a subject can’t fail to do much else. The final track is Voices, a full on heavy hitting track which details the crazy ways the mind works. The beat and vibe of the track work well here but, ultimately as Doobs says, He can’t blame the voices, He’s just awkward...

What I liked about this album is the fact that it is unapologetically an emcee saying the things that are on his mind. From everyday experiences to personal views and just having a laugh, it’s all here. Now, let’s get it straight there are views here that will not be to everyone’s taste and you really have to take some of it with a pinch of salt. Hip Hop and Rap has always been about getting a point across. Now that point might be just a story, it might be a powerful personal experience or point of view but, regardless of what it is ultimately how it comes out from the emcee, will be heavily weighed down by the way they have grown up and seen life. That is something you just have to bear in mind.

This album also took me back to the late 80’s and early 90’s vibe of the UK scene; with its rawness and often gritty way the tracks have been produced. I think this will really appeal to many and will be the type of album you put on when you are busy doing something and you just want that energy to keep you focused but, that’s not to say it is equally not at home just being played while you’re sitting chilling with a pint, cuppa or whatever.

Production comes from Andrew Turner of Chess Moves, except for Looks Like a Boy which was produced by UK Hip Hop legend Chrome. You have to admit there is not faulting the production which fits perfectly with everything Choco Doobs writes. You just can’t ask for much more from an underground Hip Hop album.

If you have not copped this one already, then you know what to do...

Huge props to Doobs and Chess Moves for dropping this my way.

Till next time, I’m Out Peace...


Over The Pipe

Monday 6 January 2020



When you think of UK Hip Hop that represents the essence of what true Hip Hop is to the core, you can’t get more Hip Hop than Red Venom. The man who represents the Rhyme Syndicate in the UK and mixes the UK Vibe with an added essence straight from the Emerald Isle and delivers his music from the heart in that true skool Hip Hop element.

It’s been six years since Red Venom dropped the stunning Redhouse, which featured a host of guest features including DJ Pressure, Donald D, Lord Jazz, Craig G, Man Parrish and Freakin’ Inglish amoung others. If you thought this one was hard to top, don’t think that the Manchester Emcee has been resting. Performing at Gigs in the UK, Ireland and Europe with the likes of Donald D and Carpetface, Red Venom is back with the debut album Whataboutcha!

So, let’s get straight into this Album and get the lowdown track by track from the Official CD release:

 The album kick’s off with Because I’m Ill Like That (Remix). The track features Lord Jazz and Dren and, the original, was featured on the Redhouse EP. What a funky powerhouse of a track to start the album. I have always enjoyed what can be achieved with a remix and this one definitely does not disappoint. From that funky laid back vibe the pace turns up a few notches with the album’s title track, Whataboutcha. Here Red Venom skilfully drops what is akin to a battle rhyme over a dope old skool beat whilst featuring a chorus, taken from the song The Wild Rover, to give it that celtic twist. Staying with that celtic vibe, it’s time to take a chill pill with Homeward Bound. This might be a chilled out vibe but, the message here is still powerful as Red Venom drops a lot of knowledge focusing on the trials of modern life. Up next is Ya Know Who, which features MC Shine and Oddball. As this one drops you might think you are in for an acid groove but, nah, the beat kicks in and this one is a straight banger to get you bouncing.

Whisky Bar (Drunk Anthem) is a heavy track with a pounding vibe. This one focuses on having a drink and the things that we can all get up to when we had just a little too much of the sauce. From drinking to an element of Hip Hop so underused in this day as Pressure Drop (Beatbox) gives us a dope Beatbox interlude. B Boy Blues drops next and is probably one of the funkiest tracks you’ll hear this year. This one takes stories of all the ups and downs of life and delivers it as only Red can, and damn that shits dope. The rollercoaster ride continues as Red takes us on a trip through his own life in Sad Song. Now it might be a sad song but, you can’t help but vibe to this with its fresh beat and jazzy horns. Get your heads ready to nod to the next track as Digging in the Crates takes you on trip through some of those musical inspirations that influenced Red Venom and indeed Hip Hop at large. Music is capable of some much for each of us and all of us and that shows through here.
OK, so we are half way done with this album. What can Red possibly have in store for us...

Rainy City is one of those tracks taking us on a ride through the daily ups and downs of city life and when you live in Manchester England there are plenty of those stories to tell. Listening to those stories is more enjoyable when they are told over a dope beat with beautifully sung chorus. It’s time to up the pace with the Hip Hop and Rock vibe of Shamrock and Soul. If you are still not sure what Red Venom is all about, then this track will definitely leave you in no doubt, Red Venom is dope emcee with the knowledge and the skills to rock the whole Hip Hop scene. The next track, Alcohell (Darkside Blues), is a track that details the dark side of drinking too much and all over a heavy track that is almost as crazy as the feeling of having drunk too much. But, this track follows the drinker to the bitter end...

Up next is one of my personal favourite tracks and first on the album to feature the Syndicate Sniper, Donald D. Is The Mic On is a banger in every sense of the word as Red and D display their lyrical skills over a wicked beat with some dope cuts. This one is one of those tracks that is never out of place, no matter where you play it. Just remember to play it loud because this is the Rhyme Syndicate in effect. Red Venom has many stories to tell and Searching Heaven is no different. On this laid back track Red talks all about those loved ones who have left this earthly existence and wait for us to cross over one day but, this is not a sad track, it’s a celebration. From those we have lost to food for thought on Seconds Out Return To (Redshouse) as Red takes us back to verses and displays his skill in the rap game, if you can call it a game that is. 

It’s time to mix it up on this next track with a Hip Hop / Jamaican Dance vibe as Red Venom teams up with Bigger Ranks on Hands High. A real floor filler, it really shows the versatility of Red Venom. Talking of versatility Red Venom now teams with UK music greats The Cure on Up To No Good, the albums penultimate track, which is like a reworking of the Cure’s, The Lovecats, which Red Venom has taken to the streets and given it that Hip Hop storytelling vibe. Another stand out track, that is not just a floor filler but, also one for the car, BBQ or anywhere you want to bump it. Finally we have reached the albums final track, what a track this is. The second track on the album to feature the legendary Donald D is Stop Actin’. This one is a laid back funky track that gives you some skilled story telling all about those who think they are something more than they really are. If you wanna be true to yourself and those around you, Stop Actin’...

Overall, what does this album say to me? Well, that’s easy. This is a debut album from an emcee that displays an incredible lyrical skill, a knack for storytelling and a diverse range of styles. Not just that but, Red Venom’s link with Ice T’s Rhyme Syndicate shows that this emcee has a huge amount of respect from his peers and a reputation which precedes him in whatever he does. 

Whataboutcha! Might be a rollercoaster ride of styles, moods and vibes but, in truth it does not really have a low moment. It can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of them and displays just enough diversity to keep you listening and then, at the end, to make you wonder what is next for Red Venom? Personally I feel he has the talent to succeed in whatever he puts his mind to and the future is definitely bright But, it’s not Orange, Its most definitely RED.

I always like to give credit where credit is due. There are very often others involved in crafting an album of this nature. The production is all top notch and it is important to give credit to Nobby Neary Pressure for providing all the beats for the album and DJ Pressure who provided all the Cuts. Their input along with Red Venoms skill in writing the lyrics really puts Whataboutcha up there with some of the best debut albums and one I am honoured to have been able to review.

The album is definitely one for you collections. It is not just a big album for the UK Hip Hop scene but, for Hip Hop in general. Currently available in Digital and CD format, the Album will see a vinyl release early in 2020. Not just that But, Red Venom will be playing some selected tour dates next year along side Donald D and other special guests. So, keep your eye peeled for more information of those dates to come.

So, grab yourself a copy of this album. You will not regret it.

I’m out, till next time, Peace Out

For Info on the 2020 Tour with Donald D and other special guests, check the link here for OSR Events and Promotions:


Is The Mic On ft Donald D

Homeward Bound

Stop Actin ft Donald D