The month in hip hop...

Only one place to start this month; it’s a hip-hop sensation that’s been spreading across the ‘net like wildfire. The shock and awe of it all may be the saviour of western civilisation as we know it. No, it’s not seeing the news that Dr Dre and Eminem are guesting together on an album, then seeing the words ‘for Obie Trice’s latest LP’ afterwards. It’s this – a cat scratching post turned into a mini moggy turntable. Too early for April Fool’s, too late for Christmas novelty, it’s as unlikely as gentleman strummer Ed Sheeran teaming up with heir to the madman’s chopping block Yelawolf...which means you should go hunt the pair’s neat, slow-burning ‘Slumdon Bridge’ EP, and afterwards look out for the altogether safer Alonestar co-op ‘Real Life’,

Artists taking their tour buses for MOTs and readying their riders include A$AP Rocky, who has got four solo dates on these shores in June, following support for Drake throughout the British Isles passing through all major cities. Jay-Z and Kanye West will be dropping in on London, Dublin, Manchester and Birmingham through May and June for throne-watching duties, and Rick Ross touches down in the capital on April 2nd. THEESatisfaction shower April with dates in Dublin, Bristol, Glasgow, Brighton and London ahead of talked up debut album ‘awE naturalE’ also out next month, and Sub Pop buddies Shabazz Palaces are countrywide come May.

Previous Rapture & Verses have mentioned Inja coming on strong for 2012, and the album ‘Bass Music/Escapism’ is a big’un. Taking his mic across raw sawtooth dubstep, flipping a Boney M sample to talk about the wonders of fatherhood and then further exploring the theme as if auditioning for an Athena poster, Inja delights in taking on anything thrown at him (and in some cases, hurled like a discus Olympian). Of course, he rules a pack of bread and butter hip-hop bumps that he’s been knocking out for years as well.

Spoek Mathambo claimed a surprise hit with 2010’s all singing all dancing ‘Mshini Wam’, a hipster rap-ish thing that had no trouble picking off complete opposites. The South African comes back with several angles of interest with a move to Sub Pop bringing the oddly-named ‘Father Creeper’, with rhymes and croons to rock, funk and electro, and a bit of BoB meets Atmosphere for those that like chancy rap and a touch of the cosmopolitan.

Donnie Propa has had the frankly magnificent idea of dropping a Best Of Jehst mixtape, 40 minutes of pure High Plains Drifter gold featuring classic upon classic from the UK’s king of word association. Billy Brimstone’s mate Asaviour/Savvy keeps on with his ‘Play to Win’ taskforce of mixtapes, with the masterful synth-waved ‘Don’t Look Down’ a damage-doer from the ever-nice Huddersfielder– take a taste here, then get the rest. Homeless Microphonist Stig of the Dump slams back into view with ‘They’ piling on the pressure, and Nottingham’s Endemic prepares a second spell of sickness with ‘Terminal Illness Part 2’, with Masta Killa, Tragedy Khadafi, Hell Razah and Cyrus Malachi four of the mic medics on call.

Hint’s dance deviations go one curve further by teaming up with Texas’ T-Fly for the super-dooper clunky and chunky ‘Aliens Enter’, and while we’re on Tru Thoughts, Riz MC’s ‘All Of You’ plants scheming seeds in your subconscious with Plan B, the pair playing ladykillers/puppet masters on a great track of wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly manipulation. If you’re playing catch up, get hold of Architech and S. Kalibre’s six tracks of ‘Continuance’, compliant beats whose withdrawn, screw-turning role from the former is perfect for the latter’s burying of hatchets in heads, even at his most sincere. Past Clash one-to-watch Lady Leshurr is still dropping good stuff, and Rapture & Verse is even privy to a mega exclusive taster from the new Last Skeptik/Rewd Adams double-team. Like Wonga, that’s how we roll round ‘ere.

Between LA and NYC, Malkovich and P.U.D.G.E. get their buddy cop on with free three-tracker ‘Lethal Vice’ showing how they run the streets – D/L their law enforcement from Staying state to state, El-P is ready to roll with a new album, and leftfield doyen Busdriver has just done the same, another sign of the times where he never physically met its Belgian producer Loden. If you think you’re having a bad day but still seek tough love inspiration, Phonte has a lot of the answers. Over in Germany, Equinox’s DJ Scientist rears ‘The Artless Cuckoo’ EP, RJD2-veined instrumentalism full of blunted psych-folk and autumnal uncertainties, and DJ Adlib reincarnates as the God of Hell Fire (well, as near to Madlib as his moniker) for this slice of click-clack bugbomb hip-hop. It’s this sort of overfunked, dust-ridden head-nodding that mushrooms on the Quakers project: 35 members deep, 41 tracks of hip-hop pushing levels into the red and overseen by, of all people, Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. As unlikely as, say, a turntable to keep your feline friends amused.

Words by Matt Oliver

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