Rapture & Verse #2

The month in hip hop...
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Getting your thirst for Hollywood celebs quickly out the way (what is this, Heat Magazine?), Anne Hathaway had this done to her by UK banger and masher DJ Woody, and Will Smith has been hinting at a return to the mic. If you’re gonna bring back the Big Willy Style, please please please Mr Smith, do so over this classic, ahead-of-its-time production.

To hip-hop’s A-list and The Game’s ‘The R.E.D. Album’. Game growls, names stay dropped, and the guestlist is ginormous: Snoop, Tyler the Creator, Big Boi, Drake, Lil Wayne (964,000 first week sales of ‘The Carter IV’!) on board, as well as running dialogue/filler from Dr Dre. To a sprawl of beats that includes the industry standard Euro-house rip off - ‘Red Nation’ channelling the...er...spirit of ‘Kernkraft400’ – yet with room for enough sensitive R&B tie-ins, it’s too much of an overblown box-ticker to be a great album from a voice that remains absolutely made for hip-hop classics.

Game also has a mixtape running alongside – the equally time-consuming ‘Candy Coronas’, which somehow doesn’t shout out Homer Simpson’s invention of Skittlebrau. Also on the mixtape headcount, Chris Brown’s rap set ‘Boy in Detention’ shows he’s the man for complicated dance moves, and the always crystal clear J-Live presents new album precursor ‘The Live Identity’, a great A-Z of the teacher’s teacher.

After PJ Harvey’s scooping of the latest Mercury Music Prize, 2009’s forgotten incumbent Speech Debelle reappears with her own angle on the London riots, ‘Blaze Up a Fire’ featuring Realism and Roots Manuva, whose latest LP ‘4everevolution’ confounds turntables as usual. The patent Manuva blend: flouncy bounce and finger-wagging vocabulary to dump you on your backside, with ‘Go Champ’ but one cone buster, and the UK’s grandmaster staying well in tune with hip-hop’s mutations.

About that new RJD2 project mentioned in the last Rapture & Verse...no hip-hop for you here folks, more a retro rock/alt-pop project alongside Philly vocalist Aaron Livingston even more guitar-centric than RJ’s previous wanderings into songs on ‘The Third Hand’. Not without some great swagger in places, but the essence of ‘Deadringer’ is on a low heat.

A peek at Evidence’s latest reveals The Weatherman continuing his running battle with bad weather on ‘Cats and Dogs’, a Dilated Peoples stocktake of soul provisions and mob funk rhymes turning his umbrella into a surgical scythe, plus reinventing the ‘hidden track’ by including a ‘missing’ track instead. Head to London’s Electric Ballroom in November for Evidence and the touring Rhymesayers team. Prominent across the boards for ‘Cats and Dogs’, Alchemist then reconvenes with Oh No as Gangrene (they the pourers of ‘Gutter Water’) and adds Roc Marciano for six-track stopgap ‘Greneberg’. Cigar-smoked rhymes in a gambino funk sauce, as all parties prep new albums for Decon coming soon. Sacramento pair Lostribe go looking for ‘Sophie’, Talib Kweli, Lyrics Born and The Grouch amongst their number as Agustus ThElefant and Justluv prove able salesman of their life and times over sunny soul sides and electro smudges.

Search engines at the ready if your playlists need juicing up. Kreayshawn, the Dev/Gaga hybrid currently disrupting airwaves with her ‘Gucci Gucci’ track (the bassline monster that the likes of y’know, Sara Cox have been spinning), may have had a big fallout with David Banner over alleged race relations, but she has found an unlikely remix cohort in South London monotone Giggs. More UK magnetism is drawn from the all-conquering Tinie Tempah, who after hooking up with Wiz Khalifa for ‘Till I’m Gone’, now has extra remix recruits in the Diplomats’ Jim Jones and The Clipse’s Pusha T, and Kasabian’s ‘Days Are Forgotten’ gets seized and serviced by DJ Z-Trip and LL Cool J (true story). UK gamblers The IRS are back and on song, ‘Speaks Volumes’ the follow up to ‘The World is TheIRS’, maintaining and entertaining day to day trains of thought with big and bashy blustering.

In the kind of lawsuit-related story only hip-hop could produce, rapper Teflon Don is having papers prepared for Rick Ross for calling his album ‘Teflon Don’, and the threat of all manner of don’t-you-know-who-I-am confusion breaking out as result. If, as rumoured, Busta Rhymes is looking at a full length collaborative LP with Q-Tip, more remakes of stuff like this please chaps. Little Brother’s 9th Wonder unveils solo oeuvre ‘The Wonder Years’ in October, no doubt bringing a truckload of soul and with it a guestlist counting down Raekwon, Talib Kweli, Saigon, Warren G and ex LB teammate Phonte (though by the looks of it, no Kevin Arnold).

Out and about, Erick Sermon is due a DJ visit down to recent Riots Fundraiser venue East Village this month – more deets at thedoctorsorders.com. Kid Koala shakes up audio-visual performance by pushing graphic novel/soundtrack comby ‘Space Cadet’, launching tonight (13th) at London’s Red Gallery ahead of new album ’12 Bit Blues’. Scroobius Pip is all over the UK from the end of October ‘til mid-November – scroobiuspip.co.uk for the full schedule - and old skool extinguishers of suckers Ugly Duckling are doing 30 dates throughout October and November as well, ahead of another LP surely honing stupidness and freshness in that order. And talking of tracksuit calisthenics, hit Brixton’s O2 Academy next month for the 16th running of the World B-Boy Championships, with Crazy Legs and Afrika Islam as masters of ceremonies (bboychampionships.com).

Words by Matt Oliver

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