Confucious MC & Mr Brown
The Art Form EP
We Stay True
Superb stuff from an MC who has been threatening these kinds of heights for some time now — 'The Artform' melds weirdbeard jazz-fusion synth textures, krautrock moog madness and headnodic funk to delicious effect, cleaving itself in thick clammy waves around Con's utterly spellbinding rhymes. Controlled, subtle, absolutely disinterested in the normal notions of identity and intent that hidebound so much UK rap, this is simply a cut above in every way, lyrically and musically. Essential.
CHANCE THE RAPPER
'Big B's '
As far as I'm aware, Chance's first drop since 'Coloring Book' last year and, as ever with Chance, cherishable precisely because of his ability to sound occasionally incoherent, fleetingly lucid, absolutely coming across as a street-walking shaman having a frenzied conversation with himself. The backing here has a minimal griot-pulse that's the only thing I've heard from US hip-hop that sounds remotely like Nedlog Era and praise comes no higher. Beg, steal or borrow this immediately.
'Chestnut Avenue '
Village Live Records
Oh my word what an utterly transcendent tape Remulak's 'Earth' is — this side of a new Chemo album surely the most wonderful slab of instrumental hip-hop you'll hear from the UK all year. 'Chestnut Avenue' is a real highlight. Radiant rhodes with a real Super-8 grain pulsating over unfurling thrumming funk like a great lost Alchemist production, strings and bass sealing the whole thing with a sense of lambent wonder that's unlike anything else out there at the moment. Seek out the tape and get it spot-welded into your blaupunkt soon as. Stunning.
Mr Lif & Akrobatik
Mello Music Group
I'll answer your first question — yes, the drums here are dirty. Lif amps up the kick until it distorts nicely and the snare cracks like a whiplash — what's cool is that the rhythmic harshness is in no way ameliorated by the loops that are blended in, unsettlingly woozy synths and analogue doom that seems to have a similarly wayward sense of volume. The track feels like a demo and I mean that in the best possible way — the 'craft' here never obliterates or obscures the rawness. Sup it up.
Phoenix Da Icefire
'Do My Ting '
No Label/Self Released
Oh man the fucking SPACE in this Chemo production is just gorgeous — is there a better producer in the UK right now? Where so much UK hip-hop production at the moment takes pleasure in being too-close-up and in-your-face, Chemo lets things inhabit a real imaginary space, a space where there is room for silence, light and shade. 'Do My Ting' features the living legend that is Cormega and DJ Martian on the mix and forms a stunning preview from the forthcoming 'Winged Scarabz' mixtake that also features fellow Triple Darkness emcees. Get it.
Verb T & Pitch 92
'I Arrived Late '
High Focus Records
Love the downbeat yet propulsive vibe of this — a record that almost seems to put a beer and a spliff in your hand and tells you to sit back and relax. The Mouse Outfit producer Pitch 92 keeping the bubbling organ rippling through the mix, lacing through liquid beats of a Pete Rock perfection, Verb dropping some wonderful rhymes about purpose, struggle and the future. From a forthcoming collaborative LP from the pair which should be sensational.
I expected more from the return of LB (and my god, if I hear another track start off with a 'More money' chant I'm gonna feel far more sanguine about my encroaching deafness) to be honest — Q Will's production is just about okay but falls between trap/drill dynamics and boombap textures and really tickles the pleasure centres of neither. Banks is typically compelling but his contribution is fairly minimal, the bulk of the track taken up by Will's dissatisfying mix. Sigh.
'Stop The Violence '
French producer GUTS has invited a plethora of guests in on his new EP and intentionally or otherwise has arrived at a nice, oozing, thick, bass-heavy g-funk kind of sound for 'Stop The Violence' — reminiscent of The Coup's unforgettable 'Pick A Bigger Weapon' (although even with my tendencies to hyperbole I would never claim ANYTHING since has reached those heights). Love the way the rhymes pop back'n'forth across 'Ain't Perfect' on the flip as well. Soopadooopa.
'Who's That There?'
"It's that PURE... CRUD" — you might be from a vintage whereby that isn't a recommendation but, my god, what a stunning preview of the soon-dropping 'Teeth Ledger' LP this is. The bassline is remorseless, never lets up, the beats a neck-snapping torsion-twist of fevered old-skool funk, the synths rising groggily out of the mix to haunt your nightmares like they've been lashed down by John Carpenter. "YOU'RE JUST A DIV". Love this. God bless Split Prophets for blessing us with such mayhem so regularly.