The month in hip hop...

Rapture & Verse embarks on a post-Olympic gold rush with heaps of rap athletes under starter’s orders. Event number one: anytime Nas drops newness is big news, and ‘Life is Good’ has had more buzz about it than a brand of fictional cola. Propelled by the awesome ‘The Don’, ‘Daughters’ speaking up for long suffering fathers experiencing teenage kicks and the smooth Amy Winehouse two-way ‘Cherry Wine’, God’s Son sounds hungry. Romantics wanting wall-to-wall bangers may think Nas wanders too much into the over-emotive (and with mainstream checkpoints, sonically it’s probably a smidgen too uneven), but overall there’s a banishing of complacency, making you rewind to multisyllabic gold keen to keep endorsing hip-hop history. Not quite a personal best, but after all the false starts of predicted second comings, ‘Life is Good’ should collect an armful of podium bouquets.

In many ways JJ Doom’s ‘Key to the Kuffs’ is a predictable coming together of two hip-hop brain-faders with their feet up on hip-hop’s margins, but again the buzz in the build-up has been unsurprisingly substantial. MF Doom spits inimitable riddles and quandaries to trip you up with (not to mention his bizarre fondness for Cockney stereotyping, and that’s before the inexplicable appearance of Damon Albarn). Jneiro Jarel fiddles with the heat on a cauldron bubbling up smoke-damaged boom bap, resulting in a sloppily but compulsively snapped together stroganoff that also gives off some nicely layered shades on the side.

As technology continues to develop at the speed of a Velodrome bullet, Kid Koala goes in completely the opposite direction. With ’12 Bit Blues’, Eric San basically gets hold of a staple bit of hip-hop gear, the SP1200, locks himself away until he’s turned it inside out with blend crafting samples and skills, and comes up with a ramshackle dozen of funkily deconstructed instrumentals played with both a slow hand and a clenched fist. Kind of curious, but that’s just what KK does, the fun and games to continue when he passes through the UK for three dates in October. If you’re up for getting wired to the weirder, The Gaslamp Killer’s debut LP ‘Breakthrough’ should satisfy space oddity diets and fiends for feisty glitching, grandiose funk and soul sandpapered between the cinematic and the scything end of the Brainfeeder spectrum. Despite assistance from Daedelus and Samiyam, TGK is a one-man army flattening his own path. From The Gaslamp Killer to the spectacularly named Isaiah Toothtaker, who calls up Sixtoo to buff up electro-freaking brainstorms doing the backstroke to ‘Sea Punk Funk’, as Anticon get open to summer synth boogies and rhymes handling the mic like it’s a low-rider’s steering wheel.

With a flow indicative of their name, South Londoners The Insomniax sail down seven tracks of beats and rhymes for when your velvet sheets need touching up with a bit of starch, followed by Kings of the City tapping into an Atmosphere/Caxton Press-style rage and regret, tension and tenderness on the ‘No Guts’ EP, where the folk-facing beats and wailing hooks show plenty of pluck. Keeping it capital, as has been the way this month, Granville Sessions’ ‘No State’ is open all hours for big live booms and crisp interplays occasionally leaping from the stage and using the mic stand as a mediaeval joust to take your ears off with.

If you wanna put together a thick ‘n’ fast playlist or the most mega of mixtape medleys, make sure you consider the following: Metabeats and Action Bronson examine the definition of ‘Hookers’ on a piece of trundling, take cover thunder. Ti2bs and Sway light a glossy touch paper to ‘Black Dynamite’. Prince Fatty serves a dub-reggae remix of ODB’s ‘Got Your Money’: now it’s a surefire carnival rocker. The Hoglodytes open a can of ‘Peace Soup’, brassy funking made to party by NY’s Emskee to completely fit the Jalapeno agenda. Guilty Simpson and Ras Kass throw down on Montage One’s organ-weathered ‘Beat2Def’ to knot your neck muscles. And Houston’s uninterrupted K-Rino speaks nothing but the truth for about the two millionth time in his career, imploring everyone to ‘Murda the Mainstream’.

Paul White gets his ‘Rapping With...’ LP turned into an electronic reboot by The Room Below, a shifty sidebar with great results engrossing in their understatements and sudden shoot-ups of surprise that have the potential to fly. Iggy Azalea’s six track ‘Glory’ EP bursts through, with BoB, TI and Pusha T all onside but quite clearly playing second fiddle to the Aussie’s bandily twanged beatdowns bidding to become the baddest bitch. A fillip from Down Under, particularly after their wretched Olympic medal haul. Strong Arm Steady’s ‘Stereotype’ LP teaser is high on hope, high on hydro and big on swagger and vengeance-seeking, whereas Brother Ali‘s ‘Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color’ is the next state of the union address and soul food provision (even when the cupboards are bare) from the venerable protester slash power player. A quick mixtape baton change, and Odd Future’s Domo Genesis shares slickness with Alchemist for the fine freebie ‘No Idols’, and team Hieroglyphics’ tour ‘tape has DJ Icewater warming up crowds with material old and new and always funky.

Visually, Evidence, Alchemist and Apathy hit the road with Stu Bangas and Vanderslice, Ludacris throws a house party full of clichés, and Verb T lays it down in black and white. If you’re on an extended tea break, have a gander at this mini biography about all-timer Kool Moe Doe. And did anyone watch Irish Rappers Revealed last month? An eye-watering insight into hip-hop from over on the Emerald Isle. But the final word shall go to Flava Flav, who on a flight to Las Vegas grabbed hold of the in-flight tannoy to big up the cockpit crew before taking time to shout out the restaurant he owns. Gold – always believe in your soul.

Words by Matt Oliver

Follow Clash: