Monday 27 November 2023

Album Review: Steadfast by Imprint






It is always good to feature something different on the Blog and, as we know, Hip Hop is an all-encompassing culture. Hip Hop music has spawned many sub-genres of its sound and one of those is Gospel Hip Hop. I hope that you will stay with me here because music has a lot to say, even if that music has a more religious foundation, and you might be surprised by what it says to you even if you are not a religious person.

Steadfast is the debut album by the group Imprint, who are composed of, and there are a couple of names you might be familiar with here, Karlow AKA Areli, Reken AKA Eitan and Bruva Smokes AKA Boaz. Now you will obviously recognize Karlow and Bruva Smokes from their former group T.H.E.M but, since leaving Northentic Records they have gone on to new horizons and one of those is Imprint, which is released through Tree of Life, a Lancashire based Gospel Hip Hop platform.

There promises to be a good mixture of musical vibes across the album including Hip Hop, Trap and House style beats. The album is produced by Karlow, except the track ‘Shine on’ which is produced by Ruben Sanchez. There are also appearances from Theo Matrix and MVRVIN ADHAMA, with STU C on the cuts, so please keep an open mind as we take a walk alongside Imprint through the album Steadfast


The album begins with Emergence, an aptly named track as the group emerge on to the scene. The sound has this heavy boom bap beat backed by this music box melody, which brings an almost eerie quality to the sound. This one really sets the stage for what Imprint are all about, a positive voice of faith in a world where our faith is tested on a daily basis. Imprints faith is the word of Jesus and tools are their beats, rhymes, and wordplay, delivered in a way that shows their unshaken faith in a higher power. Next up is Remedy which has a trap sound to it but, the sparce drums organ and piano notes, alongside the soulful sung element does give this one a vibe which borders on etheric, in a way. The message in this one is how having faith in something can be the remedy to so many ills. It really is that simple and it is the personal experiences of how faith has saved them that speak volumes here. A head nod beat, and keys lay the foundation for the sound of Look At Me Now, which brings an uplifting vibe which fits so well with the focus of the track; again we see personal experience taking centre stage as the guys show what salvation has done for them, taking them from depths of despair to being lifted up to place of strength and a knowing that their faith has given them a new life and new way to look upon the challenges of life, from where they were to where they are now.

No Other Way features MVRVIN ADHAMA and takes the sound to a more house vibe that has an infectious edge to it. Here the guys open up about the power in the name of Jesus and how that power is something that can save you, if you choose to believe, then there is only this way, and that way is now your way. Shine On, produced by Ruben Sanchez, takes us back down the Head nod route with keys and the sort of beat that just gets you moving, with some sampled vocals that keep the positive vibes flowing. This one concerns the power and strength of the Christ light to shine upon you and to transform the very essence of who you are. Break The Bind keeps the head nod vibe going as the drums, bass and keys unite for a sound that has calming vibe to it. Now whether you have the same beliefs as Imprint or not there are some powerful words in this track if you choose to listen. There are many external influences that bind us to a more fear-based way of living and if we allow these and believe in those more than the power of what is inside us, we will always be bound to that way of being. Also, the power of the spoken word is not given as much credit as it deserves, what you say has a direct influence on your life, just as the track says. So, regardless of your beliefs try changing the way you speak and see what it does, it’s not easy but, you can do it. These are the things that can help us break what binds us.

J.E.S.U.S. strings and drums form the boom bap back drop for the opening to the track as Karlow speaks on the relationship with Jesus. Then the beat switches to a more easy going sound, backed by organ notes give this a gospel vibe. That opening really sets the stage for the track which see’s the guys open up on their relationship with Jesus. Eternal Life brings a solid Hip Hop sound over which we find STU C on the cut. Here it really seems to be about the eternal battle of good verses evil and of the believer and non-believer; it’s about the right way to live your life and always being careful at what and who you choose to let into your life. Living your life, the right way can bring you so many rewards in so many ways, while living your life in a negative way may only lead to you never realising your true potential. A pounding drum beat, and sampled flute sound are the basis of To The Abyss, giving a sound that has a head nod element but, also seems tweak your nerves at the same time. The message here concerns the power of Jesus name and how there is only one place for you go if you follow a negative path, and that place is the abyss.

Keys and drums, with a sampled sped up vocal on the bridge, bring an upbeat sound for Need You. This one speaks on the need for the love of God in life. That love brings a different outlook on life that has the power to uplift and keep you on the right path. Next up is the albums title track, Steadfast, a huge sound with keys and drums that will have your head nodding for sure. It’s all about remaining steadfast in the face of the challenges that that are put before you. It is an unwavering belief in God is what keeps your faith strong on the path of life. Not My King features Theo Matrix and keeps the solid Hip Hop vibe going with heavy beats, bass, and horns, alongside some slick cuts. Here we find the guys opening up about who is their true king, and it’s not Charles but, this is not just about the monarchy, this track is literally about all that is contrary to their beliefs and there is only one true belief to get you closer to God.

As we move into the final tracks of the album, the penultimate track is Take Me, the sound is more chilled here with a melodic beat and organ notes, giving a sound that invites you to focus on the words. Here Imprint speak more on their faith, Jesus, God and just what it means to them to have a strength that comes from a belief in that higher power. The final track is Never Leave, with drums and keys, this one has a far more gospel feel to it, especially with the sampled vocals, it all combines to bring an uplifting sound. This one is a heart felt track that sees the guys explaining why they will never leave the protective love of Jesus and God.


Now, reviewing can often be a challenging thing, especially the way in which I approach things but, summing up this album is quite a challenge in itself!

Looking at this from a strictly musical point of view, Steadfast is a solid album, with most it focused on a Hip Hop vibe, alongside a little dash of Trap and House, to mix things up a little, and all that really does make this a highly enjoyable and very well produced album. Lyrically, Imprint show some great wordplay skills that are delivered with desire to deliver a message of just what it means to find God when coming from a dark place, and those deeply personal stories bring an emotive edge that you can only have when you are the one who has lived it. The message that the guys bring across these fourteen tracks is delivered with a heartfelt and unwavering knowing that it will be heard by those who chose to listen because their own faith will align with those same beliefs.

After fifty-three years of life experience, I understand there is a lot to take away from this album, whether your faith is the same as Imprint or not. That said, there will be those out there who will find this a little to religious and that the guys are trying to preach to the listener. This is definitely an album for the true believer and if that is not you then you have two choices, to listen with an open mind or to give it a miss, the choice is yours.

As a child I was baptised as Church of England but, I never went to church, it just seemed to be a thing people did back then because my family were not religious at all. I have attended Christian, catholic and more weddings and funerals in my time and I have walked many paths; what I found in a search for spiritual enlightenment was that, regardless of my beliefs, I would never judge another person for their own beliefs. I respect everyone for their own beliefs, faith, spirituality, and that is how I approached this review, with a respect for these guys who have all found a mutual faith, a knowing in a higher power that saved them from a life on a downward spiral. Yes, my own personal beliefs do differ from Imprint’s but, that is not a discussion for today, and it is OK to have these differing beliefs because whatever, you believe, if it brings you peace, love, and happiness then it is right for you.

Overall, Steadfast is a cracking release that will appeal to some and not others. If you can listen with an open heart and mind then give it a listen and see what it says to you, because you might be surprised.

Steadfast is out now on Tree Of Life Music with limited CD's available as well.

On that note,

I’m out.



Listen and grab your copy here:

Friday 24 November 2023

Album Review: Concerned Citizen by TJ Chill


Concerned Citizen


TJ Chill


Concerned Citizen is the new album by TJ Chill (KAOS Crew), it is his third studio album and the follow up to 2021’s Changing The Narrative. This album is also the second of the ‘Changing The Narrative’ trilogy and was originally released back at the end of October.

As a former member of the KAOS Crew (1985-1999), TJ Chill is no stranger to the scene. Standing true to who he is, TJ Chill weaves inspirations of faith, London heritage, West Indian culture, storytelling, fun and games into the project alongside some great Hip Hop production by K9, Self-Taught Beats, 6th Floor, Mr Synback, Smooflow from FERO Media, DJ Murzi and Rich Mitch. There is also an appearance or two from one Jabbathakut, doing his thing too.

So, this promises to be a banger of an album and if you have not heard this one already then join me for the ride as I give you my impressions on this Ten track album that is released through Black Pyramid Records.


We kick off with Funky Church Time, produced by TJ Chill himself, this is live funky drum solo sound that is the backdrop to an intro that is like a proper gospel preacher dropping some knowledge before the album kicks off for real with Rooster-Man; Produced my Rich Mitch this track has keys, bass and drums which combine to big a reggae flavour to the sound, that has a real infectious vibe. Listening intently to this one there really seemed to be a nod to the roots of culture here and just the Jamaican roots but, Also the roots of the UK Hip Hop scene too as TJ shouts out some of the big names from the UK scene. Next is Lifting, produced by K9, the keys and drums combine once more, with some strings and horns, on what is a more head nod sound. Elements of his faith come through here as TJ uses intricate wordplay to bring us, not only, what is lifting him up but, also in bringing that forward in the track, it also serves to uplift the listener. There is no preaching here, just a desire to bring a focus to what can take you to a higher level of understanding and living.

Street School is produced by 6th Floor and brings a slightly darker edge to the sound. Once more the main elements are drums, keys, and bass, which produce a more serious air to the sound. TJ looks at the harsh reality of a life where the streets are the school corridors and there is no playground. His cleaver wordplay creates stark visions of a hard life, where calling on a higher power is the only way to find the peace of sleep. Next up is Let It Be, produced by Self-Taught Beats, brings an upbeat sound with drums, keys, bells, and horns, which seems to reflect the sun breaking through the clouds on dull day. This is a big tune that brings encouragement to keep pushing forward in all you do and keeping a positive focus; there is also a knowing within this one that it is peace, love and unity that will win the day and when that day comes, we just need to let it be. As we see-saw into the second have of the album Smooflow brings the production on Screaming At The TV, the drums and bass with sampled vocals sounds brings an almost juxtaposed sound that one hand seems more chilled but, also has element that feels like it is brewing in the background ready to explode. Here we find TJ looking at something that so many people do, far too often, getting lost and enraged by the constant bombardment of negative media coverage. Every night people watch the TV screens with the news and its negative coverage of world events, reality TV that seems to breed so much negativity and confrontation and even sporting events seem to have a more negative impact; so, people sit and soak up this stuff screaming at what they see as wrong and never even considering they might be being controlled.

Don’t Forget What The Good Book Said sees TJ Chill back on the production with a funk fuelled vibe full of drums, keys and bass, alongside some vocal samples bringing a soulful element. The uplifting air of this track is immediately apparent, and it fuels the positive energy throughout your body as you listen. There is a real feel that this track sees TJ speaking on living with integrity and always being truthful in all you do. Shine a light on truth behind everything you see because this is how we need to live and not spinning or hiding things for our own ends. Let your light shine because when you do, no one can extinguish that flame. Graft is produced by Mr Synback and has a big boom bap feel with pounding beats, cuts, and an eerie synth sound, all mixed together it brings an adrenaline fuelling sound with a slightly dark edge. This one is all about working hard and playing hard to get where you want to be in life. If you don’t put the work in, don’t expect the results to be what you want. This goes for all aspects of your life, work at it and see it come to fruition. The penultimate track of the album is Come What May, produced by Rich Mitch and TJ Chill, there is heavy beat and cuts, that mixes with a reggae sound that gives this one a slightly light-hearted flow and makes you wanna move. TJ Chill is in full story-telling mode here as he spins tales of people creating good, fun times; the kind of memories that you can look back on and that bring back those experiences as life goes on, bringing a warm heart and warm smile.

The album ends with an extended track that clocks in at just over eight and a half minutes. Roxanne Roxanne Vs Sparky Lovebug is produced by DJ Murzi and see’s TJ Chill drop in battle mode but, just for fun. The heavy beat and cuts, allows your mind to drift back to the early days of Hip Hop and those emcee battles like Roxanne Roxanne and The Real Roxanne. This is some classic emcee rhyming that minds you what Hip Hop is all about in its 50th years. Once TJ is finished having some fun, the beats keep you rocking so he can drop more shoutout’s than you can shake a stick at, what a classic way end the album on…


First up, lets give credit where credit is due, TJ Chill shows that regardless of flow, style, or subject matter, he has the ability to apply an intricate wordplay with knowledge, skill and authenticity that brings all his life’s experiences to bear. He is one of those rap artists that has the ability to speak on current events, in story mode or simply for fun and have everything he says seemingly seep into you consciousness without even realising it, and Concerned Citizen brings a rollercoaster of different subjects into your awareness; subjects that are everyday things, some of which you might not give a second thought to but, they are there none the less and TJ Chill brings them into the open giving you a chance to actually think and question the world around you.

Concerned Citizen also uses a wealth of production talent to bring a wealth of Hip Hop and Reggae infused sounds that are the perfect stage for TJ’s vocals, they also complement each other as well. As diverse as the producers are in their styles, with the roots of the music in Hip Hop, there is nothing out of place here, nothing that upsets the flow of the album; and more of that classic Hip Hop vibe comes in the form of Jabbathakut who brings that incredible turntable trickery that makes him one of the UKs finest.

Overall, sometimes less is more and I don’t need to over do the words here because the music speaks for itself. Concerned Citizen is a solid Hip Hop album with little twists and turns that keeps it fresh and engaging throughout its forty plus minute runtime. It is an enjoyable album with a good balance of real-life subject matter, story based and just for fun styles.

If you enjoy this one, then you will be waiting in anticipation for the third in the trilogy and playing catch up if you’ve not heard the first.

My thanks to 4Dee for putting my name out there and to TJ Chill for giving me the chance to put his album under my microscope.

I’m out,

See Ya.



Stream on Spotify Here:

Concerned Citizen YouTube Playlist:

TJ Chill on Facebook:

TJ Chill Mixcloud:







Saturday 18 November 2023

EP Review: The Chronicles Of Nefaeria Volume 1 by Ill Sykes


The Chronicles of Nefaeria Volume 1


Ill Sykes


Released at the end of October this year The Chronicles of Nefaeria Vol 1 is latest EP release from UK emcee Ill Sykes. The EP is produced by Relense and is released through Weaponize Records.

Described as a dark journey through the Land of Nefaeria - a fantastical urban sprawl juxtaposed with modern-day London, it features a host of features from fellow underground UK rappers Bxrbarian, Con-Vers, Jibbarish, King Kakarot, Lomax, Charles Sagan and Tesla’s Ghost. This pretty much tells us all we need to know before going into the EP, so I’m not going to keep you hanging around and do just that…

The EP kicks off with The Dark Sentencer where the beat hits heavy alongside some piano notes and an almost eerie sounding electronic vibe, giving this a dark sound that hits hard. The first two thirds of this track serve as an introduction to this nefarious personality that Sykes displays as he gives us a brief glimpse into Nefaeria. A dark evil place where everything is the dark opposite of current city life but, is it really the opposite or could it be what our current society really is when seen through the right filter? Just as you are contemplating these ideas the beat and Sykes flow switches, the beat becomes more head nod and loses the electronic vibe, sykes sound changes to a rawer edge, almost as if the narrative changes from the external to an internal monologue of his own thoughts speaking out loud. Strings, keys and what is almost a music box melody guide us into Spare A Penny, which features Bxrbarian, before the heavy beat drops in, pounding every aspect of your awareness and bringing a more boom bap sound but, with that dark edge. Here we begin to see more and more that Nefaeria is just a reflection of our current society. Sykes and Bxrbarian show us a dark place where the people exist and give themselves to the service of the ruling elite, working and suffering in service to the same, giving up everything just to be of service. With little brightness shining through the dark times, too tired and beaten down to awaken to the true nature of the world they live in. The final third of the track shows the nature, the dark side of our current prime minister showing his nefarious nature as he takes office, undoing the help of those who need it most.

Ghosts of Nafaeria hits with sound of bass and electric guitar at the forefront of the beat. This gives a vibe that stirs the adrenaline at the very core, just as if there is an expectation of something coming, immanently. Here we note that Sykes is not necessarily speaking of etheric ghosts haunting the streets of Nafaeria but, the ghostly nature of those whose home is the shadows, living just outside the reach of the people who walk the streets every day, preying on those who stray too far into the darkness. Then the beat switches, giving it a more eerie nature making you question the nature of those who live in Nefaeria’s shadows and here they seem to speak from the beyond, giving a small look into their world, the world of Nefaeria’s ghosts. A far easter vibe accompanies the heavy beat of Orwellian Nemesis, featuring Tesla’s Ghost, this is a look at the nature of the streets of Nefaeria after the sun goes down. A place where it’s not safe to walk and where confrontation and violence rule. Those streets are not the place to be even if you are going somewhere for pleasure, this is a place where pain is the order of business and even the simplest of tasks is taking your own life into your hands. This is something that seems to be echoed more and more on the streets of our cities, here in the now, they are not places where you want to be after dark.

Predators / The G Process has a pounding beat with a sound that has strings and tambourine which brings this ominous soundtrack vibe. As you can guess this track is split into two parts; the first explores the dread on the streets of Nefaeria where we explore just who are the predators that prowl the streets of the city, a city under siege from pain, suffering and death but, here there are no monsters or dangerous beasts, here it is those who control the city that cause all the pain and suffering of those who live, walk and work within its boundaries. The second part seems the sound become more sparce but, equally more sinister as The G Process is revealed by a voice from beyond the streets and beyond the darkness. This is a voice of those who create that darkness and control everything within Nefaeria. A jazzy sound draws us into The Shadow Realm and that jazzy sound serves as a brief moment of relief from the heavy drums and keys that create a cautious vibe as we walk the shadows of Nefaeria. The shadow realm of Nefaeria is a place inhabited by the ghosts but, beyond that it is a place where those who chose to step become one in the same with those ghosts. This is a place where the sun never shines and only dirt and grime cover the floors; it is a place where pain and suffering are the only way to live, a place love has abandoned, and despair is second nature. This is a bleak outlook but, is it any different from the way of own society is headed…

The EP ends with Giant’s / The Faces of Nefaeria, a posse cut style track which sees Ill Sykes joined by C.O.N-vers, Jibbarish, King Kakarot, Lomax, Charles Sagan and Bxrbarian. The drum beat takes the forefront here backed by keys, strings and more, creating a solid head nod sound. Here we find the Giants are the faces of Nefaeria, thse who choose to stand up and put everything on the line in order to try and free the city from grasp of those who control it but, the Dark Sentencer will not give up and Volume 1 of the Chronicles of Nefaeria ends with, what appears to be, a prelude to an epic battle between the forces of light and darkness. This is another paralellel to what we see happening around us now as we see more and more people standing up in support of the injustice they see around them, more and more voices standing together as one…

For a seven track EP, The Chronicles of Nefaeria Volume 1, elicits the kind of response and thought processes as an entire album of focused conscious Hip Hop. But then this is not a seven track EP of to minute tracks that are there for the enjoyment of the listener, no this EP is a deep twisting and turning look at a dark society that seems to have no hope save for a few brave souls prepared to stand up for what is right.

Nefaeria might be just an imaginary place that is juxtaposed to the vision of modern day London, here in the UK but, the nature of what Ill Sykes has created with some incredibly intricate storytelling, littered with intelligent similes and metaphoric views of such a dark dystopian place, where life is not that much different from the experiences we are all facing in light the on-going challenges constantly placed on our shoulders, where footing the bill for governing mismanagement of services and costs rise disproportionately against wages and benefits, is bringing the everyday person to their knees and seeing rises in the numbers of suicides and so on…

Some top-notch guest artists really bring some depth to the EP too, adding that extra dimension to those tracks. Exactly what you need on a release like this, and the choice of guest artists is inspired here.

Ill Sykes and Relense have put together a very competent release that brings together dark and imposing soundscapes with intricate and equally dark storytelling that does not just entertain but also gives much food for thought. There is also this desire to see what might come with Volume 2. Will see the story play out from where this EP leaves off or could there be even more twists and turns before we see a culmination to The Chronicles of Nefaeria. 

If you have not heard this one yet, then it is well worth you time to check out as it is taking the art of Hip Hop storytelling to new hights. There is also a limited-edition vinyl version too for those of you who love the classic sound.

The Chronicles of Nefaeria Volume 1 is out now on Weaponize Records.


On that note,

Time for me to be out.

See Ya,



Grab you copy of the EP on Bandcamp Here:

Links for Ill Sykes:

Weaponize Records socials Links:


Ghosts of Nefaeria





Friday 17 November 2023

Album Review: Belterz by Conscious Route




Conscious Route


It’s good to finally be able to bring you another release from one of Scotland’s premier Hip Hop artists, Conscious Route, with his new album Belterz.

I want the man himself to give you the lowdown on this new project before I delve any further into it:

Belterz, the new album project by Conscious Route is a social exploration of his personal experience of a changing society and culture, highlighting the insights of an ageing person living life and being an artist in the music Industry.

Conscious Route draws upon years of experience in the music industry as he casts an eye over the state of hip-hop culture and the trials of getting noticed as an underground artist. His vocals mesh perfectly with those of his guests, bringing an array of vocal styles and accents as the music flips from hip-hop head-nodders to a UK Garage throwback, some soul-tinted melodies, dub, and beyond. 

The feature-heavy project boasts guest appearances from some of Scotland's finest, with tunes featuring Empress, YBxgtown, Kryptik, Lynzie Dray, Milles Better, Gluco, Jennifer Anne Todd, One Oz, Mistah Bohze, MacKenzie, JabbaThaKut, Wends, Becci Wallace, Solareye, Queen of Harps and Pro Focus.

The album musically and lyrically navigates a range of sounds and social topics, uniting the introspective with social observation, as we have come to expect from Conscious Route. Most of the production is handled battle rapper/ producer MacKenzie, with just two tracks (‘2 Guys’ produced by Tzusan and ‘Essence’ produced by Vagrant Real Estate) produced by others. Guest musicians, Chris Greive & Scott Bathgate also appear across 5 songs. With Scott Bathgate adding subtlety to ‘Ducks in a Row’ and an eerie edge to ‘Underground’, while Chris Greive brings extra trombone to the subtle style of ‘Late’, nuance to ‘Heart on Sleeves’ and a mix of Jazz influenced keys and trombone with the track ‘2 Guys’. 


With all that said, it is also worth noting that the album also features the talents of John Dyer for the artwork. Now, there is probably enough info there to get your pulse racing with anticipation, so join me know on a journey through the album and what it brings to mind…


The thirteen-track album kicks off with Amorphous Shape, which features Empress, the melodic beat is backed by keys and guitar vibes, this gives the sound a deep reflective air. There is a distinct difference between the vocals of Conscious Route and Empress, where Route brings a more relaxed flow while Empress has far more pace to her flow. This track really seems to speak on reflecting on their careers to date and how there is this amorphous nature to being an artist, allowing you to mould yourself to whatever sound comes your way and still being able to be 100% you and 100% authentic in the delivery. Next is Pretentious, featuring YBxGtown, this one has a head nod quality from the heavy beat, while it is backed by some guitar and keys that also bring a slightly chilled edge to things which allows the sound to guide you along to the words. This one focuses on the desire to bring more of the roots and the authentic nature of Hip Hop back to sound. A lot of the rappers and ‘so-called’ Hip Hop acts that are promoted in the industry are so far from the roots of the culture. There is that pretentious air to these acts, trying to be more than they are, whereas the true nature of the Hip Hop sound is to be yourself, be authentic and reflect what you see around you in your lyrics. Kryptik now joins Conscious Route on Carry On, this one has a more modern feel to it with some nerve tingling electronic notes helping to mix things up. This track deals with how artists perform live and the fact that there are a lot of those artists who perform their music over the original track and not to an instrumental version. Hip Hop was always about performing live music to the fans and delivering that music with energy and a pure love of what you do, without that does it really show a love for the music or simply a desire to make money?


Ducks In A Row, features Lynzie Dray and Milles better alongside Scott Bathgate on guitar, The deep drum beat with bass and live guitar gives this a heavy, emotive vibe, and your only kept from sliding in too deep by that trap style ticking. The soulful chorus adds more to the emotive nature of the track which brings focus to the diverse nature of the world around us, the challenges and nature of the stigma and discrimination this brings. In a society where there is such a diverse range of people on so many levels, it is important to remember to move with the times and always be aware of the changes around you and how you approach situations, even in your music. Sugar Coated, features Gluco and has a soulful air about it with the guitar and strings that provide a background to the drum beat and bass. Here we find that a sugar coating is one thing that you can’t do with the authentic underground scene. When you do something for the love of the culture and the music, it is difficult to get you name known, especially because this is where the artist speak on what matters, there is no sugar coating the words they say in delivering the stark realities of live through music. Essence is the first track that is not produced by Mackenzie, being produced by Vagrant Real Estate, and featuring Jennifer Anne Todd. This one has a definite Garage feel to it with the up-tempo drum beat, keys and bass. The message in this one is all about staying true to the roots of any genre, as the essence of what you do. There are so many differing sounds these days that it is often hard to know what you are hearing (as a reviewer that is definitely something I can struggle with). There are so many modern sounds that use rap but, are not Hip Hop in there essence, and sometimes those modern sounds can be very alike that it is hard define them.


Day Ones has features from One OZ, Mistah Bohze and Mackenzie alongside Jabbathakut on the cuts. With a lineup like this you just know it’s gonna be pure head nod Hip Hop, and you won’t be disappointed as the beat hits with bass and guitar vibes. This one has that posse cut vibe about it as each emcee goes in big time, dropping the kind of verses that show exactly why each one of them stands out as some of the best to pick up the mic. Late finds conscious Route joined by Wends on vocals and Chris Greive on trombone, for a reggae dub vibe and soulful chorus. Now, I might be wrong here but, this one seems to speak on the pressures of being an artist, writing, recording, and getting your music out into the public domain where it can be heard by as many people as possible. It's not an easy task but, the rewards of hearing it on the radio and knowing how many people are listening are priceless. Underground features Becci Wallace on vocals and Scott Bathgate on Guitar and Keyboards, the beat is heavy with an eerie, melodic edge. This one speaks to me of the nature of relationships; they are part of everything we do in life and extend from personal relationships and into professional ones. How we see and manage those relationships is often key to some of the most important decisions in our life but, they are also key to who we are and how we are able to develop as a person. Positive relationships can life us up and help us move in the right direction, while negative ones can bring us down and set back our life’s journey.


Original features Solareye and brings up-tempo sound that mixes electronic 8-bit style sounds with a heavy beat and rapid trap music style ticking sounds, this creates a weird balance between the old and new, the fast and slow, finishing with a change of style as a heavy bass vibe carries us out of the track. The title of the track speaks volumes here, this sound might not be for everyone but, the message here is that there are times when you have to bring a style that is ‘original’, just to keep the listener buzzing. This one does just that drawing on many influences to bring an original sound to might no be expecting. Hearts On Sleaves sees Queen Of Harps and Lynzie Dray feature on vocals with Chris Greive on Trombone. The sound mixes melodic guitar, a heavy drum beat and bass, with an almost reggae trombone and that more modern Trap style ticking sound, it all comes together to create this deep multi-layered vibe. There is a deeper aspect to this track as you get the idea that this one speaks on emotions, especially those brought up as you move through life and look back on the choices you made in the past and the regrets often attached to them But, at the same time there is an air of learning from those mistakes and moving forward regardless. It is ok to have regrets as long as we learn from them and not wallow in them. The penultimate track is Two Guys and features Pro Focus on vocals, Chris Greive on trombone and keyboards, and is produced by Tzusan. Here xylophone notes mix with piano, over which is a drum beat and this multi-layered sound of horns and electronic elements. This creates this sound that seems to combine grime, hip hop, and soundtrack vibes, it’s hard to pin this one down really. Conscious Route and Pro Focus bounce off each other spinning stories of two guys living in the rap dimension. It’s all about cleaver wordplay and weaving stories that may have their basis in fact and may not, does that really matter when it’s that enjoyable. The album ends with a bonus Day Ones (Remix), the remix turns the head nod vibe of the original into an out and out boom bap banger, with an infectious beat and some recognizable guitar samples thrown in for good measure. This one should have the clubs and airwaves bouncing for sure, so turn it up…



Belterz is some ride, that’s for sure. It is a genre breaking album that doesn’t pin itself down to one genre, except that the one thing linking all the tracks is rap. From top to bottom this album demonstrates the versatility and quality of Conscious Route as an artist. He shows that his amorphous rap nature gives him the ability to stretch himself to a variety of rap flows and styles, showing just how much of an accomplished artist he is, no matter which genre he applies his skills to.

Mackenzie’s production reflects the versatility of Conscious Routes rap styles, as he mixes up the genres within the soundscapes to provide the perfect platform for Conscious Route to bounce off. The addition of additional production from Tzusan and Vagrant Real Estate, just adds to depth and diverse nature of the project.

With the project having such a guest heavy element, it was spot on adding this wealth of talent that each adds their own depth, style, and accent to the project, helping to add that element of icing to the cake, as it were.

It has to be said that there will be those who will not gel with all the sounds and genres featured here and that is just one of those things as you can’t please all of the people all of the time. But this album does appeal to a wide range of listeners, many of whom do enjoy a wealth of cross genre vibes.

Overall, this is an underground rap album that draws on elements from many genres to create a highly enjoyable listen. Production and vocals are all top notch, not just helping to cement Conscious Route as one of Scotland’s finest and most accomplished artists but, at the same time the album showcases some of Scotland’s finest underground artists. There is also that element of the live instrumentation that gives extra depth to the sound too.

Belterz shows that Scotland has a lot to offer in underground rap music and Conscious Route is one of those accomplished artists that are singing the countries praises from the highest rooftops.

Belterz is out now on True Hold Records.


Time for me to be out.

See Ya,



Get Belterz on Bandcamp:

Streaming Links via the Conscious Route Website:

Conscious Route Website:

Conscious Route Social Media:

True Hold Records Social Media:


Day Ones

Amorphous Shape



Saturday 11 November 2023

Single Review: Hazy New Moon by Ratty The Sly


Hazy New Moon


Ratty The Sly


The producer, DJ and Emcee from Scarborough is back with his latest release on his own Rushed Rat Records, Hazy New Moon. I featured his previous release Bad Weather back in 2022 and am eager to see what this latest release has to offer.

So, let’s get into it…

There is an eerie quality to the sound on this one, with a looped sample, piano and guitar backing a melodic drum beat and with the inclusion of some faint nerve tingling cuts, it really brings a dark sound, reminiscent of being all alone in the woods, as high clouds bring a hazy quality to the new moon. It’s like a cleverly crafted Hip Hop audible found footage vibe, where Ratty catches you at every turn with his lyrics; catching you out with line after line of carefully chosen words to give you more of an insight into who he is and the how’s and why’s of what he does. His vocal delivery has a raw edge that is brought in such a way as to almost whisper in your ear from behind every tree as you seek a way out of the dimly lit forest. Just as it seems you have made it out, this mind-bending jazz-tinged sound hits you and you begin to question it this is real or a dream, and if it is a dream, is it your dream or Ratty’s dream invading your waking nightmare…

Hazy New Moon is one of those tracks that elicits different vibes as you listen. On the one hand it has that found footage kinda vibe but, on the other hand it is just an emcee dropping slick lyrics over a beat with a dark edge, and it could take you to other places, where you question which reality you are currently in.

A very cleverly crafted slice of Hip Hop that seems to cross the veil between this world and the next. It’s not quite horrorcore but, it definitely has that eerie quality about it. Would make a cracking soundtrack to next year’s Halloween, that’s for sure.

Hazy New Moon is out on Digital, streaming and limited vinyl release too via Rushed Rat Records today, don’t let this one creep up on you…

I’m Out,

See Ya,



Link for all things Rushed Rat Records:

Stream on Spotify Here:

Instagram Links:




Friday 10 November 2023

Single Review: X1 to Netanya by Jonny Steele


X1 to Netanya


Jonny Steele


X1 to Netanya is the new single from vocalist and beatboxer Jonny Steele of The Scribes. Now, you will all know that I have featured The Scribes a number of times on the blog, but this will be the first appearance by on of the crew on a solo.

I want to approach this review a little differently as I am sure it will provoke some deep feelings along the way so, please join me…


Before I get into the song itself lets just have a quick look at the title and see what that says about what you are about to hear. If you search X1 on the net you will find two main results pop up, the BMW X1 and a number of Bus Timetables. These might seem unrelated but, these are both forms of transport, and that idea of a journey is key here. Now search for Netanya and its meaning and things begin to take shape. Netanya is a city in Israel and also a girl’s name, which in Hebrew means ‘god has given’. Now put this all together and you will see that Jonny is focusing on the terrible events which are all over the news as Israel wages war on Hamas in Gaza and how we see it so far away in the UK.  

X1 to Netanya is produced by One Soul and has a laid-back soulful vibe of keys and drums. The overall sound is a reflective one that brings your focus to more spoken word approach from Jonny Steele. The intelligent lyricism and wordplay soaks into all aspects of your awareness as the emotive tone of the words flow. This brings the plight of the Palestinian people well and truly into the light, just as the many peaceful protests are doing but, more than that it also asks why, with all the pain and suffering that is happening, do our own government chose not to call for a ceasefire in this war. In fact, it you truly look at what is happening, it causes you to question everything because, in the past, wars of this nature have been called ‘ethnic cleansing’ but, because this war started as an apparent retaliation to a terrorist attack, that somehow validates what is going on. I do not condone acts of terrorism and never will, so don’t get me wrong here. But is this war truly what is needed? What about the historical plight of the Palestinian people, try to find Palestine on a map, look on-line and you will find it is not even labelled. The problem is a lack of balance in what is reported in the media, listen to the voice of the people and you will begin to see the truth behind all this.

I don’t want to get off track here as I do try to stay neutral in what I write on the blog but, Jonny Steele has chosen to put into words what so many of us are feeling and thinking, on what is going on so many miles away and the lack of any acknowledgement by the UK Government. It was only a matter of time before these thoughts and feelings were put into the words and to music and Jonny has done this subject justice by bringing it into the open and in such an emotive way.

X1 to Netanya is a powerful and thought-provoking piece that truly asks what we as a united peoples are prepared to accept as we look upon the injustices that go on around us and, what are we willing to accept when it comes to the inaction of those we apparently voted to stand up for the people?

Jonny Steele is one voice that echoes the voices of the many and puts that voice into a medium that crosses borders and asks us to stand together as one for those who are not given a voice.

X1 to Natanya is out now and I encourage you to listen and truly feel the message between the lines here.

Till next time,



To stream the single and for all things related to The Scribes:

Jonny Steele on Instagram:

One Soul music on Soundcloud:


X1 to Netanya (Video by SG Media)