An apology to the rest of hip-hop — I would have loved to have made many singles the Money Shot this month but there's new shit from Bisk out there and so, invariably, your inferior music will be passed over. 'Fly Shit' is a nigh-on horizontal joy, fantastic production as ever from Morriarchi, Lee Scott and Sam Zircon that really suits Bisk's wretched/transcendent vibe — the best bits here are where, curiously, the usual mournful vibe from Bisk is dissipated in sudden moments of lucidity and clarity and something even approaching pride. Stupendous stuff from one of the UK's greatest hidden talents. Get this YESTERDAY.
You may have heard IP behind the boards on Red Pill's stunning 'Instinctive Drowning' from 2016 — great to hear him stretching out on his own with a rich new opus 'An Idiot's Guide To Anarchy' that slams Ohio funk, Cleveland-style post-punk and strung-out 808-heavy wonder into a totally addictive stew. The 'George Clinton fronted by George Carlin' tag is more accurate than you might think and the stunning '8.44' goes from some choice Patton Oswalt samples into a thrumming slam of old-skool hooligan-rap peppered with lethally incisive lines about the current American demise. Compelling, agitational funk of the highest order.
Apollo Brown & Planet Asia
'Deep In The Casket '
Mello Music Group
One of the most startling, poignant and moving tracks from AP and PA's wonderful 'Anchovies' set gets a single release — it's the stealth and guile on the mix by AP here, jazz softness but with a strident militancy and suggestiveness that recalls all your favourite Ayler/Pharoah classics. Planet Asia's verses are so engrossing that they demand multiple rewinds, and the track is a genius single not because it delivers killer hooks or blockbuster choruses — it just intrigues you so much you know you're going to have to hear it in context with the rest of the album. Another astonishing year for Mello Music Group reaches a stunning coda.
Madison Washington's 'Code Switchin' EP was one of 2017's highlights, so it's dead gratifying to hear them dropping totally new material already. 'Facts' is rugged and fuzzy as fuck, the vocals double-tracked until they reach a genuinely New Kingdom-esque pitch of groggy madness, the beats hitting those same divine pleasure-centers that the Son Of Sam album so thoroughly ravaged this year. Malik Ameer spits with a ragged anger and rage that's utterly compelling — an essential tail-end farewell to another fantastic year in hip-hop. Diggit.
Triple V are Cappo, Juga-Naut & Vandal Savage, three of the hardest-hitters from the ever-impressive Nottingham scene. It's packed full of 808-textures akin to Metro Boomin'/Lex Luger productions and hysterically sharp rhymes. Their new album 'Bozo Boyz' is a corker, and this is the first single to be lifted from it. Although the dynamics and sonic palette of the track is straight up trap-style to start with, the chorus gives way to harder beats and the way the track slips from the neon-glide nu-skool of the verses to the old-skool thump of the chorus becomes a real hook. Great to hear such beats peppered with incisive British rhymes, rather than the customary US somnambulance. Seek this out and hold tight for the album
'Life Is So Hard '
"I'm not on drugs, I AM drugs, fuck 'conscious rap', this is arrogant pimp shit" — you can get this track from Bandcamp for the bargain price of £616. Not saying you should, but you could also buy every big-name hip-hop album from the past five years for about the same amount and you won't find an ounce of the wonder and delight you'll get from this five minutes of spice-infused derangement from Lee Scott and Trellion and the usual suspects. Utterly essential.
Love what the Georgia vets have achieved on their new album 'Rose Azura Njano' — making their sound more accessible and smoother, yet not sacrificing any of their pungent lyricism and deep musical sense. 'Riot!' is emblematic of what's so glorious about their return — they get the balance between the anger and heaviness of the lyrics and the smooth buttery flavour of the production absolutely dead on, giving their deeper message more power as a result. A more than welcome return.
The welcome return of these loons, and what's so gratifying is that after a few years of spreading themselves a little thin across the global electronica circuit they're back on fire, back being fierce, and back fundamentally pulling from the best of bass music but never diluting either their sources or their own steely sense of their own fragmented identity. 'Toast' features stunning verbals from Izzie B and Dizmak and rolls with a confidence and power that will flatten cities. Play loud and feel the sheer dread. Superb.
'Zero Hour '
Triple Darkness/Circle Makerz/Odd Couple beast Tesla's Ghost is rolling deep with a spanking new full-length set 'Stretch Lincolns'. This is the first shot from it, and it's exactly as awesome as you should suspect. A fantastically atmospheric blend of detuned jazz, crisp Dilla-style drama and rhyming so supra-cool and menacing you start checking your peripheral vision to ensure TG's not actually whispering in your ear. The album has production from Illinformed, Karnate and G.I as well as guest-spots from Conway, Estee Nack, Purpose and Ray Vendetta. One of the last essential releases of 2017, don't start 2018 without it.