Friday 14 February 2020

Burn Cycle by Gunshot - Single Review

Burn Cycle
Single Review

Gunshot, a crew from East London, initially reigned strong in the UK Hip Hop scene between 1990 and 2000. Their initial explosion on to the scene in 1990 with Battle Creek Brawl was to see them credited as one of the founding acts of Hardcore Hip Hop in the UK (This would later come to be termed Britcore on the continent).
Their early singles were fast paced, political and unrelenting and I remember discovering Battle Creek Brawl and being blown away by just how insane it sounded and the name totally encapsulated that sound because it was like listening to multiple musical gunshots in your ears.

I will not go into the history of the crew here but, I will drop a link below where you can read a retrospective on Gunshot by Boris at Underground United which details their history more in-depth. Please check is out as it is well worth a read.

We last heard, or what we thought was the last time, from the Gunshot crew way back in 2000 with the release of the album International Rescue, although their sound had changed and was a little less hectic, the album was still Gunshot and it deserved far more exposure, at the time, than it did.
So, fast forward to 2018 and we saw the return of Gunshot, It was not the crew we all knew and saw Mercury handling vocal duties with production coming Bulldog in France. I remember, before hearing it, being sceptical that it could still hold that Gunshot torch. However, on hearing it, the powerful lyrics, the heavy production was all there. This was a new and more mature Gunshot and the single, which was extremely well received, even got a remix from Benito Loco.

However, was this a one off? Would we ever see more from Gunshot?

It’s nearly two years later and the hype is already out there for the new single Burn Cycle.

So, what can you expect from this single...

Mercury again goes solo on this one with production from OG Bulldog and cuts from DJ Woody.
You won’t be disappointed as the beat hits hard once again immediately has your adrenaline pumping furiously. Mercury doesn’t fail to deliver with lyrics either. His instantly recognisable voice crafts a deep dark vision and, if you really listen, to the lyrics then you can feel the message held within can relate to different subjects each time you listen. One day you might feel it relate to the cancer that eats up a person’s body, the next day it could be troubles that eat your mind and still further it could be the cancer that is eating up our society. For me, in this moment, Burn Cycle directly relates to the situation happening right now in the UK. I don’t want to get political here but, I do want give credit to Mercury’s writing skill’s here as the ability drop a such a lyrical masterpiece that keeps its connection fresh to you current experiences and feelings is not something many out there display.

Credit also needs to go to OG Bulldog for getting the vibe on point, Dj Woody for the dope cuts and Artwork from Benito Loco. It is also worth mentioning here that the single was engineered by the one and only Prime Cuts, what more do you want...

So, my recommendation here is simple, don’t sleep on this one. Grab it, listen and listen again cos I guarantee that you will get a different experience each time. Burn Cycle delivers maximum impact for the next decade of Hardcore Hip Hop.

Burn Cycle is released by Underground United as a White Vinyl 7” Single and Digital. 

Pre-orders are live today 14th February with the Audio and video to be trailers released on 21st and Audio and Video from the 28th.




Tuesday 11 February 2020

Age Appropriate by Oxygen - Album Review

Age Appropriate
Album Review

Long Island based emcee and DJ Oxygen (aka Ox The Architect) has been a part of Hip Hop for years. Going under various names including MC Just Divine, Jonzhaft the Psychopath and also a part of the crew Sputnik Brown, You will also know him for his work, more recently, with Soundsci, SPOX PhD (with DJ Spinna) and The Rampagers (alongside Phill Most Chill, Emskee and Jorun Bombay).

Since 2015 he has been collaborating with AE Productions here in the UK and first appeared on the outstanding self-titled album by The Fabreeze Brothers. Since then he has appeared on AE releases from the Cut Beetlez (appearing as part of Sounsci on Droppin’ Needles) and his single release Body Language (produced by Paul Nice and which does not appear on this album). 

This eagerly anticipated album marks his return to AE Productions and is the perfect platform for such a seasoned Hip Hop emcee to display his experience in Hip Hop and the world at large. Covering topics from verbal dexterity to more personal issues, the album is very much looking to be a showcase for one for the finest, and possibly underrated, emcees out there.

Produced entirely by Tea Sea Records owner and Multi-talented producer/MC Tom Caruana, Age Appropriate features some tracks that some of you will already be familiar with such as 33.3, The Process and Guillotine 16’s, all previously released as singles they now appear on the album as all brand new versions that had a better fit with the overall soundscape co-ordinated by Tom Caruana so every track on the album is new material.

As with my recent review of AE’s release of the album from Truck, this is another release that is a full package. 
As they explain here:
We’re also treated to some help from Emskee, Dr Becket, Jesus Mason, BusCrates, Apani, Jack Jones and U-George plus some turntable duties covered by DJ Presyce and Jazz Spastiks. The timeless design by artwork supremo Mr Krum perfectly encapsulates the contents of the album.
With all this said, I have hyped you enough. Let’s get into the album track by track as I give you my thoughts and feelings:

Kicking it all off is Victory at Last, right out of the gate you get a feel for the vibe of this album with Ox displaying his verbal skills for wordplay and storytelling right and kind of beat that instantly gets the head nodding, whilst still be chilled and that vibe has you floating into Actual fact, featuring the silky voice of Apani as Ox takes us back in the days with audible visions of some of his personal experiences in Hip Hop. Guillotine 16s drops with that proper boom bap beat and posse cut vibe with the emcee’s wordplay displayed to the highest, featuring Emskee, Dr Becket and Jesus Mason alongside Ox.

Let’s kick it back a bit on the laid back vibe of 7 Year Itch as Ox takes us through his experiences with a certain woman, the kind of story some us can associate with. Good and bad, those experiences in life are all out there for us to live and learn from. So, from on lady to another on Do Your Homework as Ox spins a light-hearted tale, over a light-hearted beat, of getting involved with the wrong one. If you like a bit of funk in your life, and let’s be honest who doesn’t, then the beat on Angles is about as funky as you can get. Featuring Jesus Mason and Jack Jones, this track again sees some proper dope wordplay being spun seamlessly by all involved.

Picking up the pace a bit and the beat pounds along as Ox schools us to the ups, downs and the work you gotta put in on the Daily Grind. We all see some of those around getting stuck in the same old ways and Ox is no different with the people he meets along the way and Circles is a bit of an insight into some of those experiences, all over a jazzy laid back beat that will have you grinning, it did me anyway. Some things have a bigger impact on us than others and For U, featuring UGeorge, is all about being an artist and the things you are part of and also the things you miss watching his daughter grow up and you can’t get much more personal and bigger in life than this and any one with children can feel this. 

It’s back to the boom bap with The Process. This one is proper heavy track and features Emskee and Dr Becket. The process of life is one we all live and that process has a wealth of experiences that shape us into who we are and this track gives that to you straight. From Boom bap to Jazz influences on 33.3 as the track takes through influences and the evolution of Oxygen. Keeping that jazz influence going on Code Red, as Ox takes us through some of the ups and downs he has seen in Hip Hop stateside. We are in to the last track of the album, Seven Windows, which features BusCrates, is a chilled out laid back vibe with Ox taking us inside his mind, what he sees and what it means to him as he travels, day to day, through life and the current society.

This is a proper powerhouse of an album, end of story, from exactly how the music flows from beginning to end, to how Oxygen crafts his lyrical delivery to perfection on each track. Also, the selection of the guest artist fits exactly with whole vibe of the album.

For me this album displayed an almost perfect balance both musically and lyrically. Musically, it flowed so well as the vibe of each track didn’t detract from the previous or following track and you could say exactly the same for the flow of the lyrics across the tracks. It is like a person paddling on a river. The river is the music flowing across differing terrains, it speeds up, slows down and changes direction to suit and Oxygen and the guest artists are like the canoeists, who have to match the flow of the river. That’s what came to me as I listened to this album, I’m not feeling individual tracks but, a vision which everything is crafted around, be it visions of life’s experiences or anecdotal stories to dexterous manipulation of word flows, it’s all here and it all works.

Credit goes to Tom Caruana for creating that whole musical vibe and direction for the album and must have been a pleasure craft this on a musical level. Oxygen, of course, has brought the whole thing to life with his vivid storytelling and articulate word flows which bled perfectly to allow us really feel what he putting across and credit also goes to the guest artists and the DJ’s who also perfectly fit with the vision for the album, if they had not got it right then the whole thing would be lacking something but, it isn’t. What it is is pure listening pleasure. I would like to give a mention to the DJ’s who provided the cuts. For me a Hip Hop album is lacking without cuts and DJ Presyce and the Jazz Spastiks really polished it all off.

It was such a pleasure to review Age Appropriate, which really does give the listener a little of everything they want to hear from a Hip Hop album and is definitely one for your collection.
Huge respect to AE Productions for asking me to review this album, make you head over to their website and check out the album and everything else they have, including those featuring Oxygen of course.

Till next time,

I’m outta here...


Monday 10 February 2020

Food for Thought by TRUCK - Album Review

Food for Thought
Album Review

Food for Thought is the debut solo album by Bristol Emcee, former Journeyman and co-founder of AE Productions Truck. Despite being a former member of Bristol Crew The Journeymen and often featuring on guest vocals for the likes of Mr Fantastic, S.O.E and Beat Route 38, among others, Truck’s only solo projects to date are a couple of self produced CD only projects and the AE Production released singles Able to Stable and 3,665 (ft Phill Most Chill).  

Often using his unique vocal skills to talk about food, it is not before time that Truck finally gets the opportunity to drop an album and to fully display his talent. The eagerly awaited album also features a host of guest artists and an international line up of producers.

Also unique to this album is the artwork by Mr Krum:
Taking the album title ‘Food For Thought’ quite literally the sleeve is made up from alphabet spaghetti which is actually a word search including Artist, Title and Label on the front and then guest features on the reverse panel. All track information is supplied on an insert to keep the sleeve design clean.

I have been privileged to see Truck perform live in Bristol, both solo and with the Journeymen, at the Rope-a-Dope events staged by B-Line Recordings at the Rope Walk. I have to say I was excited to review this one.

So, with all that said, let’s get into the track by track look at this album:

 Kicking off Side A is Right or Wrong?, which sees Truck on production along with Mr Fantastic, who also provides his turntable skills to the track. This is one of those tracks that has you moving along to the beat from the word go. It’s just one of those tracks with plenty of dope cuts all polished off with Truck displaying his verbal skills and showing exactly what he is all about and why he is where he is. This track, in a slightly different version, appeared as the B side to the 3,665 single. Kicking up the BPM is Manic Anti-Mannequin. Produced by Truck and featuring the legendary Rola, who also mixed the album, this is a frantic boom bap track with plenty, as you’d expect, food related references and a nice side dish of Mr Fantastic’s cut’s. Up next is the main version of 3,665 (the single release featured a radio version). The track has production from, another legend, Sir Beans OBE and features Phill Most Chill with Mr Fantastic providing the cuts. A proper banger of a track and you can’t go wrong with these two emcee’s rocking the mic. Side A of the album rounds off with Elevator, a funky dope track with Truck’s observations on modern life. This one again is produced by Truck and Mr Fantastic (who is back on the cuts as well).

Flipping to the B Side, first up is a track of truly epic proportions, Serve a Sukka. Truck is joined on the mic by fellow Journeyman, Gee Swift and the late Paten Locke (R.I.P.). Not only that but, Mr Fantastic provides the cut’s with Paten Locke providing the cut’s for his verse, production comes from the legendary Kutmasta Kurt (this is the first time Kurt has worked with a UK emcee on a track). That said, this is a proper golden era style boom bap track that will have the crowd rocking and the speakers bumping for as long as you want it to. Hitting the beat heavy with deep guitar is Cook ‘em, where we find Truck and Mr Fantastic on production duties on a proper heavy track which has Truck explaining exactly what he is capable of doing to all those suckers out there, yeah, Cook ‘em. Mr Fantastic is back on the solo turntable duties. So, we at the penultimate track of the album, Solice, here Truck is joined by another Journeyman, Coherent, and Whirlwind D. Production comes Sir Beans OBE and there is a funky bass from Guy Fowler. A real funk laden track where we find the fact there is a lot of fakes and puppets out there and the only way to be honest, be yourself and don’t be taken in by outside influences, there is a deep message here take note. So, on to the final track of the album and this one is another international vibe with Tha Cheese, Canadian born now living in Japan, and Japan’s own Taka Highsnow joining Truck on Morph. This one is wicked funky track with each emcee displaying their individual skills. I was not familiar with the other two artists prior to this track but, I have to say I’m impressed for sure. The track is produced by Truck with Tha Cheese also providing the cuts.

All told this album is not only a stunning debut but, it displays the talent and respect the UK has within the international Hip Hop community. Bristol itself has a long Hip Hop history in the UK and Truck, Mr Fantastic, Rola and others have all been a huge part of that scene. Not just that but, AE Productions is among the best independent record labels in the UK, in my opinion, providing an outlet for some amazing home-grown talent as well as international artists as well.

Food for Thought is one of those albums that shows what you can achieve when you take a talented emcee, superb production and all the other elements from artwork to guest appearances and so on and package it all up into something that is pretty much a masterclass of an album. Truck has one of those instantly recognisable voices and styles, he also has a good ear considering the production work he has put in on this album. Working with Mr Fantastic at AE Productions they have pretty much got it all right on this album. I can’t think of anything I don’t like about it, Production, cuts, lyrically it’s all damn near Hip Hop perfection but, I do have one little gripe, I wanted more. Yep, I would have loved ten tracks but, then you have to consider the quality here and when you have the quality do you need the Quantity? Perhaps sometimes less is definitely more.

This is definitely one for your collection, no doubts at all. If you are not familiar with Truck or AE Productions, head over the link below and check out the other Truck and AE releases. You most certainly will not be disappointed.

                                              Truck Live @ Rope-a-Dope 4 Aug 2018
                                                                 ©S.Rider 2018

If you want the chance to see Truck keep an eye out for the next Rope-a-Dope in Bristol, you never know you might just be able to catch him performing live...

On that note, I’m outta here,


Tuesday 4 February 2020

Def Valley by Junior Disprol - Album Review

Def Valley
By Junior Disprol
Album Review

I’ve been looking forward to this one for some time. In fact I was asked to review this debut album some time before its release by the Dead Resident and ex Fleapit Emcee himself, something that is always an honour in my book.

This is not going to be your bulk standard, run of the mill Hip Hop or Rap album. Anyone who knows the afore mentioned material by Dead Residents and Fleapit will know and if you’re not aware, then you’re in for something outside the Hip Hop box but, still inherently Hip Hop at the core.
So, before I start waffling on, let’s just hit the ground running and get into the track by track lowdown on Def Valley:

 The album kicks off with Who’s The Man. A classic titled usually set aside for emcee’s to brag about how badass they are but, here Junior Disprol flips the script by listing some of those names who have inspired him over the years, more famous names that you can shake a stick at. All that over a track that has an almost 80’s synth pop vibe to it, it all just works, masterful. Just as you are sinking into this vibe the album then catches you off guard and you’re hit with Chateaubriand. Described by Junior Disprol, and I can’t say it any better, as a “Hip Hop Shitkicking Joint, Top Rocking, references. Fly Shit”. The lyrical flow is intense and flows over a beat that, and I’ll give you my original feelings here, sounds like they took all the leftover samples from the cutting room floor and spliced them together to make a jazzy influenced vibe from something most might have given up on, just inspired and features cuts from DJ Jaffa. Switch from that to a bass so heavy, you’d think it was made from lead, and you get hit with Bananas. This one gives us Junior Disprol dropping “Twisted rhyme schemes for the sake of it” and who are we to argue with that. The track again features DJ Jaffa on the cuts.

Junior Disprol hails from the Def Valley in his home country of Wales and the next track is dedicated to that area. Def Valley is simply “The story of a provincial Hip Hop head growing up in the Def Valley of South Wales”. Continuing to take us musically to new levels, this track mixes elements of an orchestral soundtrack style feel, with a Jazz vibe. There is no let up on this album as Elohim Team explodes like hits from a sonic weapon, with Junior Disprol providing a lyrical ride that has a battle rap or almost gangsta rap style, hard in ya face and unrelenting and featuring savage cuts from DJ Killer Tom. As we hit the halfway point of the album, and perhaps your ears are feeling fit to burst then Its Awwwn. Your about to be hit by track loosely based around “my teenage years in Hip Hop”, with more chilled beat mixed with a funky horn, this one is about to slap the taste out ya mouth.

The second half of the album does not ease you in by any stretch of the imagination, with its freakish organ sample; The Rapture is still heavy even though it feels more laid back. If you were ever wondering what the world could be like in a post apocalyptic existence then welcome to the rapture Junior Disprol style, your time is up toys. Continuing to keep you on your toes, musically, Big Toe drops with an Electro Punk style vibe. “Big toes kicking” Junior Disprol just has the right voice, heavy and gritty, for this track. Stripping the things back to a more simplistic vibe musically, Black Summer still hits no less complex in its lyrical content with “some avant garde word shit”.

Taking us to a more soulful vibe on this track, Single Malt is one on reminiscing tip as Junior Disprol takes on a “True story about one that got away”. The albums penultimate track is Rum Shots and has that kind of Hendrix vibe about it and sees us taken on a ride with Junior Disprol on a “Train of thought philosophising ramble”. Into the final track of the album and there is nothing like going out on Chilled out vibe to bring you back to reality and Zen W.A. does that perfectly with a funky dope vibe and Junior Disprol dropping the kind of knowledge that comes with experience as he says “this is my older grown rapper self talking to the young, hungry M.C. I was and the balance between super ego and ID”. What a way to go out...

The first listen you give this album might make you wonder if you are really listening to a Hip Hop album, because it will take you to places you might not have been or even thought of going! But, make no mistake about it, that is exactly what this is. Hip Hop is about taking the music you enjoy, no matter the genre, and creating your own sound and that is exactly what Junior Disprol has done on this superb debut. The more you take this album in, the more you will get a feeling for what has been created and the more you will simply enjoy it.

This album might seem ahead of its years to some and to others it will be doing just what Emcees and producers have been doing for years. This is experimental Hip Hop of the highest order but, still relevant and banging regardless of where you play it. 

This album brings a multitude of influences, experiences and desires together as one in a melting pot of ideas and then delivers a crafted and polished product that you will enjoy in a timeless fashion. Not just that but, way this has been crafted will inspire so many to go out there and craft their own works of art. This is not just a Hip Hop album, this is a benchmark, a bar setter and a reference point. If you have ever thought about making your own music, and I have for thirty plus years, then you must have this album in your collection as it shows exactly what can be accomplished when you have the heart and desire to just go out there and do it.

For an album these days to have no guests on it, this album easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of them. Junior Disprol proves that he is a force to be reckoned with in a crew or solo. Production wise CHUD Jackson has done an amazing job here. This is not a rollercoaster of an album that takes you up and down from track to track, Def Valley just drops vibe after vibe on your senses and leaves you to process it all at the end. No album would be complete without the artwork and here that comes from Junior Disprol himself and Scott Free. All released through the PLAGUE label, which is another you need to watch for future releases from.

On that note,

Till next time, I’m out...


Def Valley Video

It's Awwn Video