The month in hip hop...

For the introduction to this month’s Rapture & Verse, we need one of those gristly, blockbuster film voiceovers, because Naba‘The Love Bullet’. Which may sound like a soft porn superhero follow-up to 2008’s ‘Underwater Aqualung’, but it won’t have many albums beating it for bassy funk and serious neck snaps with lyrical, stilted psychosis like a UK Kool Keith or a Channel Live/Pharoahe Monch/Ty lean. Touted as a homegrown pioneer but seemingly always a distance away from column inches as he shifts to and from the US East Coast, pick up what comes with an aim sure and true.

While on home shores and with cross-pollination running wild, bass embracer Zed Bias has teamed with Rodney P and Fallacy for a potentially bombastic album as Sleepin’ Giantz, with opening act ‘Badungdeng’ setting carnival floats in its sights as it hula-hoops out of speakers. Foreign Beggars continue to show they’ll freak and flagellate any beat, smashing into the turntable tornado of DJ Kentaro for a dubstep demolition derby ‘Step In’, and Aspects get it on with Akira Kiteshi for the slurpy ‘Yes Please’. Then there’s Liverpool’s Bang On!, who’s ‘punk-donk-dub-hip-hop’ (his words, not ours) will create a mosphit filled with 5950s. ‘Got It’ and ‘Munnys’ are bracing Brit-rap knuckle-crackers done in seething Scouse, ‘No Lifts No Ladders’ is a heavily sedated inverse, within a chain of fierce slingshots going for multiple hostile takeovers. It’s called ‘[Sic]’, and is as it says. Straighter shooting comes from Caxton Press, a sextet of redtop rebels with a with-us-or-against-us agenda and whose ‘Shame the Devil’ LP aims to make Satan’s cheeks redder than normal. Boom-bap truth seekers lined with an air of valour, they only know one movement – left, right and forward.

Homeboy Sandman’s ‘Chimera’ EP is a head-cleaning half dozen of straight-shooting, radar-skimming raps lying in wait. What the six tracker may lack in perceived personality, the NY rhymer is unafraid of taking his time so the points he makes are indisputable (that is until ‘Hold You Head’ ups into a Drake-ish double-time), with Paul White helping out on the boards twice over. A similarly sized snifter from the JJ Doom confederation has MF Doom and Jneiro Jarel smelting ‘Key to the Kuffs’, a best of both worlds face-off as the pair pool their woozy, wigged out resources and part-time Cockney impersonations (‘Gov’Nor’). The full-length should be a delectable demonstration of hip-hop saying something without really saying anything, riddled with sample-stuffed psychedelics.

Following International Women’s Day, TheeSatisfaction’s boho-soul and hip-hop of ‘awE naturalE’ stands up. With some unexpected psychedelic washes making their way through and Shabazz Palaces’ Palaceer Lazaro popping in, it’s lushly produced and with plenty of personality from Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White, harnessing elements of Ursula Rucker meets Sarah Jones meets Jean Grae meets Floetry. It might be a bit too left of centre or poetry slam for some, but it’s worth 30 minutes of time in the sun at the very least, and though they come off forthright and independent, egos play no part.

Nicki Minaj is heading for London, Birmingham and Manchester towards the end of June, Kreayshawn is prepping debut album ‘Something About Kreay’, and features on the V Nasty mixtape ‘Doin’ Number$’. Well on her way to baddest bitchdom, Nasty’s shrill slang creation (‘Swobbin’) reps the ‘white girl mob’ and blows toxic bubblegum in a crowded circle of guests, with a series of callously singsong hooks over a booming selection of the Southern frazzled. Happy Mother’s Day. And if Stooshe’s ‘Love Me’ is a guilty pleasure of yours, sneak a peep at Lioness, A Dot and RoxXxann playing pass the mic like it’s a game of spin the bottle on the remix.

After time out of the limelight that you’d put down to being a Shady/Aftermath low risk makeweight, Obie Trice’s new LP ‘Bottoms Up’ ain’t too bad. Lots of chest banging over piano-thumping beats from the non-techno listener with crossover routes out (that in fairness aren’t soft and sappy – real name no gimmicks indeed), if you don’t really remember ‘Cheers’ but do remember the style of when G-Unit exploded and Eminem kept hogging the boards, you should get the idea pretty quickly. Talking of the Unit, Young Buck recently escaped unscathed from an 11-shot drive-by; almost an upturn in fortunes given his recent financial and legal problems.

Forget all this upfront stuff though, it’s been reissue and dust-off central over at Traffic. Available to pore over are Mantronix’s electro-B-boy lab report ‘King of the Beats’ that’s “better than $100 leather”, and Biz Markie’s ‘The Biz Never Sleeps’, featuring the classic, proto-Tracy Jordan love jam ‘Just A Friend’. Then there’s Boogie Down Production’s ‘South Bronx Teachings’, Del The Funkee Homosapien’s ‘I Wish My Brother George Was Here’, Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo’s ‘Live And Let Die’, and a couple of round-ups in M.C. Shan’s ‘Q.B. O.G.’ and ‘The Best Of Cold Chillin'. All will undoubtedly plug historical holes in your back catalogue.

While on the subject of reissues, Madlib has dropped ‘The Brick’ – all 13 editions of his ‘Medicine Show’ series, that kind of pleasingly in these times of fancy packaging and elaborate extras, is a baker’s dozen of discs held perilously together by mere cellophane. Backtrackers will continue to have a ball this month if they pay a visit to Dan Greenpeace ( and cop ‘Piano Breaks 2’, a mixtape centring on hip-hop tinkling the ivories and based on DJ Yoda examining rap and the 88 keys some years ago. Vintage MoP, Lil Kim, Mobb Deep, Talib Kweli, Big Pun, Nas, Gang Starr, Jay-Z, Biggie and masses more all gang up for a sing-song ‘round the old Joanna, linked together with Greenpeace’s usual running jokes and opportune threads.

Hitting the video vault, Brooklynati Tanya Morgan ‘Rock the Bells’ with a cool demo of hip-hop campanology. Ugly Duckling’s ‘Elevate’ takes to Acme-sponsored cartoon plains, and keeping it animated, Dubbledge & MetaBeats make a successful, political update of A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’, while Haze & Lowkey shatter angelic illusions on ‘Winter Dreams’. On with the turntablists, French stylus snappers and DMC dominators C2C line up a new EP with a taster here, and Xecutioner Rob Swift talks through a celebration of the late Roc Raida.

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Words by Matt Oliver

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