The month in hip hop...

We here at Rapture & Verse love a good selling point and cut-above gimmicks. As mentioned in an R&V past, GZA’s ‘Liquid Swords’, arguably the best individual Wu-Tang album, was due a reissue. Not satisfied with just giving you instrumentals to back the original classics – ‘Duel of the Iron Mic’, ‘4th Chamber’ etc – or extended liner notes, the 2k12 Genius includes a miniature chess set for all your Bishop to C4 ruthlessness. Even if your game is Snakes & Ladders or Ludo, it’s an impressive collectible. While we’re hoarding limited edition heirlooms for the benefit of our grandkids’ university fees, fans of The Pharcyde’s ‘Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde’ should start whooping and hollering at the release of an expanded 3CD special edition. If you’ve forgotten how to devastatingly insult the mothers of your mates, get it on your shelf.

Taking a time out with the social diary, GZA is also aboard the Wu Winnebago for a long weekend tour this coming Thursday with Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, heading to Glasgow and London, then Manchester and Dublin, with Riz MC popping in for support. Friday 13th shouldn’t freak out the superstitious should they bowl down Brixton way this week to catch Yoda and Vadim, headlining at Jamm. Flicking further through the calendar, El-P’s European tour runs through London, Brighton, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester this coming September. Headed by Why?, the Anticon chapter including Serengeti and Doseone are scheduling six UK dates in October, which is also the month for what’s being touted as the hip-hop show of the decade: Doom, Madlib, J-Rocc, Jneiro Jarel, Dels and Jehst, all lining up at Kentish Town’s HMV Forum.

Which leads us neatly into this month’s new tag-team formations: there’s plenty of vertical integration starting with Madlib and Freddie Gibbs’ ‘Shame’ EP, a high-end of funk dusted down until it gives off a golden honey hue, and rhymes polishing their guns like they’re man’s best friend. So Madlib’s still busying himself, as is perpetual motion Kool Keith, who amidst rumours of retirement now finds himself part of dream team immodesty alongside OC, AG, Roc Marciano and Kurious. Exclamation marks with the keyboard jammed for the crew calling themselves Luv NY. Chali 2na and Roc-C are now a two-man team called Ron Artiste, and grandest of all is Rick Ross’ ‘Self Made 2’ hatched between Rozay, Wale, Meek Mill, Stalley, Gunplay and Omarion. Includes ‘Black Magic’ and ‘All Birds’, a couple of dirty-boom skitters, within a smooth thuggin’ set (Salt n Pepa’s ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ becomes the crew’s own) that’s predictably not short on confidence.

50 Cent is back in the fold, having come out the other side of a nasty car crash relatively unscathed and then releasing free album (or preview to next album proper – whatever the format, there’s been some twitter politicising about it) ‘Murder by Numbers’. Showing just how dangerous it is to have the words ‘by numbers’ in a title, there’s nothing here eclipsing Fiddy’s heyday on a workmanlike 10-tracker.

Ramson Badbonez’ ‘Bad Influence’ is definitely something you want perched on your shoulder, prodding you with its pitchfork. This is heavier than a July deluge, scarcely wasting a bar and so up in your face he’ll be turning non-believers Siamese. Egged on by the beats of Harry Love and Farma G, from boom baps to grimy tremors, and with a serious case of munchies punchlines on ‘Gingabread Man’ and especially the Oliver-sampling ‘Food Glorious Food’ where Ramson plays guerrilla chef, it may only be 35 minutes long, but that in itself guarantees heavy rotation. Dr Syntax’s ‘Still at Large’ 15-track mixtape, stitched together by DJ Woody and unofficially unveiled by Kermit the Frog, is Benny Huge at his articulate best, his bespectacled belly laughs and breakdowns in black and white “always on the grind, like a porn star’s nether regions” and also featuring a follow-up to the classic people-watcher ‘Subcultures’. From mixtapes to podcasts, politely ask the internet what it can come up with when you enter the search query ‘Karriem Riggins Produced That’, and you should get a nicely bronzed set of shade-seeking hip-hop and soul featuring productions for Erykah Badu, Common, The Roots and all manner of Detroit royalty.

If you’re after something mic-free this month, try Batsauce’s ‘Starcrossed’, an instrumental long-player from the Floridan who’s fried up phat for Mr Lif, Vinnie Paz and Bahamadia. The sneak preview has a lot of rock n roll swagger going for it, mixed with afterhours head-nod recessionals. Marquee name in drum & bass dBridge has lowered the pace with a free beats album, ‘dBridge Vs Maschine Vol. 1’ helpfully going public with some decent dustiness, electro deception and drum snaps for the end of the day (‘Come On’ grounds Dr Dooom’s ‘Welfare Love’) that wouldn’t have otherwise left the hard drive.

Time for some vids. C2C have a new and very-sharp looking strand of stylus science here, Ralph Rip Shit goes raw with P.L.O., with Associated Minds also upping a freestyle collabo featuring Oddisee and Metabeats. DJ Premier and Bumpy Knuckles boxing clever is hardly the worst idea in the world, and Premo’s also behind La Coka Nostra’s ‘Mind Your Business’; ignore the advice and get whacked in broad daylight.

Words by Matt Oliver

Follow Clash: