The month in hip hop...

In the midst of Euros fever and the new Premiership fixture list, Joker Starr’s five-a-side nominations are “Grobbelaar, Souness, Rush, Dalglish, Maggie Thatcher running the country from 10 Downing Street”. With a flow that always seems to be bumbling into a half stumble, don’t be fooled by JS sounding as if he’s doing just enough to get by. Over a steady stream of neo-soul liveness shook up by more snap backs than a retro titfer (‘Lost Tribe of the Leng’ has an old Soundbombing swagger to it), and enough reason to adjust the bass and let the Alpine blast, Slough’s lyrical Olympian is forever smart on the sly on ‘Blood-Ren’, those verbal trip ups making his plotlines full of character, including an ace Michael Jackson tribute. Micall Parknsun, Sonny Jim, Zygote, Jazz T and Apatight join in what becomes an inimitable case of show 'n' prove and days in the life of the man.

Supergroup Sleepin’ Giantz is Zed Bias taking over pirate tower blocks like he’s King Kong, while a clearly at home Rodney P and the unstoppable Fallacy (“bring any kind of bassline, I will fuck it up lovely”) race one another over a patent Dave Jones dubstep, dancehall, garage bassline blitz. Large ain’t the word as speakers are reduced to mulch with its enforcers absolutely running things. ‘And The Ting Went...’ is a thrilling four-way where a night out turns into a High Noon, and these giants don’t do gentle. As you may have already sniffed from Clash’s pages, Cypress Hill have turned to Rusko to put them back on a front foot, as a five-tracker of dubstep wobbles draws the inevitable line between knowledgeable embracement of the future or kamikaze career move. Moreover, is there now a future opportunity to remix some stoned classics, or will that turn back the clock to when Jason Nevins was hot property?

For something that’ll kick your brain instead of your backside, Native Suns' ‘Indigenous Soundwaves’ is a nice blend of spoken word, Africana, R&B, political neo-soul and hip-hop not in the business of making small talk (Akala helping bring the education), like a rounded out, London mirror image of J Rawls & Middle Child. Ladbroke Grove groovers Border Crossing, who once upon a time freaked Roots Manuva’s greatest hit into their own, have got Jehst, Jyager and Fat Jon onside for the ‘Just an Ode’ EP, handing round some reliable funk flips and turntable cut-ups. The good people at Boot have thrown some previously vinyl-only goodness into the digital realm, ‘The Boot Vinyl Archives’ a shoe-in for your boombox featuring Diversion Tactics, Percee P, Tim Dog and Kashmere. If Rapture & Verse doesn’t satisfy your needs for having UK hip-hop all in one place, Tricksta’s ‘Out of Darkness Cometh Light’ has homegrown hierarchy coming out of his perpetually pricked up ears, Karl Hinds, Dubbledge, Scorzayzee and Inja a small fraction gorging at the Wolverhampton top table. From gluttony to The Fat Boys, who get reissued in deluxe pizza box format, with re-mastered toppings and extra sides. Old skool phatness without the indigestion of ‘The Twist’ or ‘Wipe Out’.

Armed with a stack of old Rudy Ray Moore material, Oh No’s ‘OhNomite’ is a neck pain culprit whose stone coldness predictably lies in its dust-n-dirt smeared drums and mics rocked with an underhand grip. Alchemist, Evidence, MF Doom and Termanology are in for the slumps and a bump, while there’s some real experience including Chino XL and Sticky Fingaz, Phife and Erick Sermon all wading in. Probably par for the course, but whether the source material flies over your head, it’s another fuggy masterpiece from the Madlib family tree for a 2012 version of filth. While in the mists of the bug-bombed, Dave Dub’s ‘The Treatment’ is the sound of when the blobs in your lava lamp start coming to life, stripped down indie/leftism from the Stones Throw nerve centre that leaves eerie glows and paranoid fingerprints all over your headphones. While over at Brainfeeder HQ, Jeremiah Jae is using heightened funk suspicion and obsession as a cloaking device (it’s highly unlikely that he’s got his mic levels all wrong), ‘Raw Money Raps’ a psychological episode ramming into a wall of sound and creating a tug of war loving the fact you won’t know whether you’re coming or going until it pulls you under. With the same neon in its veins is Clams Casino’s ‘Instrumentals 2’ mixtape; like beat music guided by glo-stick juice, tracks for Lil B, A$AP Rocky, Mac Miller and Lana Del Rey can just as easily char your soul or leave you with black and blue eye sockets.

Of course if you’re after hip-hop done with premier sandpaper, normally you’d head for the daddy – J Dilla’s latest is available to stream if you know where to look. Though ‘Rebirth of Detroit’ is not without its smoother contours able to see the woods for the trees being smoked, Illa J and Fat Ray are part of the party keeping heads nodding until gradual decapitation is on the cards. Aesop Rock is still in the hunt for the title of blockiest block-rocker, the self-produced ‘Skelethon’ continuing lyrical knot-tying but furthering the development of a leftfielder who's gone from hard work to an artist you’re gonna side with. As he rides funky bumps in the road, ears will once again feel his jaw ache. Staying out left, Chicago’s Open Mic Eagle goes vowel-less on the resolute radar-shunning ‘4NML HSPTL’, and Del, Dan the Automator and cardboard cutter-upper Kid Koala as Deltron3030 are on the verge of completing a follow-up to their classic 2000 debut that seems to have spent years in suspended animation.

A quick live date heads-up for you: no less than Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie will be flexing elder statesmanship this coming Friday at Kentish Town’s HMV Forum, plus you’ve got the DMC UK DJ finals taking their latest turn next month at Highbury’s The Garage. And onto the eyeball stingers for your ears: here are Kreayshawn and 2Chainz auditioning for Saturday Kitchen. Following on from last month’s Audaciously Ridiculous Track Title of the Year competition started by Saigon’s ‘Women Are the New Dogs’, Waka Flocka Flame takes up the baton with ‘Rooster in My Rari’, scooping Video of the Year honours as well as he goes, while Best Wardrobe goes to Sixo’s ‘Rocker John’. Tha Alkaholiks and The Beatnuts teaming up would’ve been the mother of mint ideas about 15 years ago, but as it happens, ‘Grumpy Crocodile' is good and grouchy. Plus, they get to call themselves Liknuts – establishment, take that.

Still after more? Go here to check back up on Public Enemy’s plans for a twin album release, whether or not Drake has been in training for a Prize Fighter, and more brainwaves with Azealia Banks.

Words by Matt Oliver

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