Rapture & Verse #36: The Hip-Hop Latest

Dilla, Dilated Peoples, Busdriver, Busta…

From over the fence… Death Grips broke up via a napkin, Flavor Flav got a ticking off for over-exuberant July 4th fireworks, the Wu were supposedly looking for social media interns, and Kanye got a big round of Wireless boos in another month of bigmouth striking again. US soccer captain Clint ‘Deuce’ Dempsey prepped a hip-hop album, the Tupac musical quickly closed on Broadway, and one-time Clash cover-star Earl Sweatshirt announced a sabbatical for the good of his health.

The Azealia Banks Twitter amnesty didn’t last long, embarking on a mahoosive feud with T.I.. Elsewhere, Drake was at the centre of an improbable tennis-related double, firstly embroiled in beef with Common over Serena Williams and then getting into it with Oz drop-shotter Nick Kyrgios.

Ja Rule told anyone who was listening that he beat up 50 Cent back when. Fiddy in turn bought an entire shipment of Trey Songz’s new album, just ‘cos. And DMX admitted to being a dog food connoisseur.

On tour, Deltron 3030 take on Camden’s Electric Ballroom in November. Atmosphere’s North of Hell tour includes six UK dates in October. The Jungle Brothers are a September must-see at The Jazz Cafe, and Sage Francis crosses the British Isles for a two-week October run.

In collector’s corner, J Dilla’s (pictured, main) ‘The King Of Beats’ box set is painstakingly drool-worthy for vinyl and cassette heads, coinciding with an announcement that his trusted equipment will become an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

J Dilla, ‘Won’t Do’

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Single syllables: “Stick out like a sore thumb, so I gave him the finger”

Juna Cosmos gets frank ‘On The Wire’, an unsettled piece of trap wrestling with a dreamy backdrop.  Amongst Jon Phonics’ hi-def sea of beat scene synths on ‘White Neckle’ is a typically belligerent spot from Rup, telling you to ‘Give It Up’. A revisit to the Kingdom of Fear has Kashmere and Jehst failing to heed their own advice on the wavy ‘Be Still’.

Tumbledown jazziness allows Count Bass D (pictured above) and friends to take five; ‘FromThenToNow’ goes to vertical lengths of laying back. More explicit about their lethargy are King Chip and Blended Babies, promoting themselves as ‘Lazy and Lucrative’ on a low-trapping amble with a surefire hook. Jonwayne taking over a 20-track, DOOM ‘Special Herbs’ medley is self-explanatory, and naturally so good.

Shaking things up, Ugly Heroes prep a new EP targeting ‘Naysayers & Playmakers’, bringing soulful nods to potent spits. It’s a design that serves Dizzy Wright and Bishop Nehru well on the produced ‘BrILLiant Youth’ EP, produced by the ever-eloquent 9th Wonder. Boom-bap against the clock from Stu Bangas tells Blacastan and Apathy to reset ‘The Machine’ with swift tongues, and Busta Rhymes thrashing it out with Eminem is a lung-collapsing redecoration of House Of Pain. ‘Calm Down?’ Phat chance.

Busta Rhymes and Eminem, ‘Calm Down’

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ReaLPolitiks: happy snappers, hip-hop karma and quality coiffures

This month’s star prize is Dilated Peoples’ (pictured above) first LP in eight years. Never taking its eye off the ball and as consistent and clinical as ever – beats flower and bosh, and rhymes slouch on a razor blade that tucks into the turntables – ‘Directors Of Photography’ is pretty much everything you’d expect from the unwaveringly slick telepathy of Evidence, Rakaa and DJ Babu.

In similar circles and continuing to beat a dusty, rugged trail, gruff underground ranger Planet Asia comes correct ‘Via Satellite’. Partnering producer TzariZM and his “new age boom-bap” made to loosen your earwax, this is an absolute deadweight in the ring – just try knocking it down.

Planet Asia & TzariZM, ‘Satellite Channels’

Obviously there’s a lot of underground Weetabix being eaten this summer, as REKS & Hazardis Sounds’ ‘Eyes Watching God’ is another heavy hitter giving the mainstream a shiner. From its mixtape precursor, NORE, Saigon, Terrmanology and Ruste Juxx feature on a two-sided good/evil concept always up for a fight. Statik Selektah has always been a three bowls a day man, providing yet another roundtable for guests to recognise the real. ‘What Goes Around’ obviously comes around, with Joey Bada$$Talib Kweli, Action BronsonSnoop, REKS and Dilated Peoples among those accepting invites.

Statik Selektah, Action Bronson, Royce Da 5' 9" & Black Thought, ‘The Imperial’

Touted Aussie rhymer Remi works out ‘Raw X Infinity’ and comes up with a range of mic manoeuvring. Whether the scenes he sets are fast or measured, everyday, personal or out-there, he’s always assembling easy wordplay and engaging ears. He appears at London’s Birthdays in October. Zion I’s Amp Live reveals his inner conductor on ‘Headphone Concerto’, brainstorming very much on his own terms, with hip-hop still within earshot via guests The Grouch, Opio and Gift Of Gab.

Congolese-Finn Gracias debuts ‘Elengi’, an album regularly energised by darkness. Level-headedly finding solace in the doldrums, he sneaks in and becomes a tour de force when the mood closes and begins to drip with ill repute. It makes a mark on 2014 like a bloodied lovebite. Busdriver’s ‘Perfect Hair’, an indie blow-dry that’s as wordy as it is wired, quirky as it jerky, has Aesop Rock, Danny Brown and Open Mike Eagle helping out with style tips. Off-radar rap done to a tee – a little bit of everything, held together with equal parts entertainment and confusion. 

Busdriver, ‘Ego Death’

UK bread-‘n’-butter from Enlish tucks into ‘Delicious Heat’. Bluntly delivered attitude, chuckles and namedrops come loud and clear out of Brighton from the man also known as Big Dave. Instrumental weight on Stealf’s ‘Sling Me Down’ gets jazz between its teeth for a very steady set of driven rockers.

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Tape measures

Spida Lee’s ‘Life’s A Gamble’ is a good punt, the Huddersfielder who’s “so chilled, I sleep in the fridge” spreading his chips across the board and showing a firm hand throughout. Mixed and cut supremely by DJ Severe, ‘A Decade of Dope’ bulldozes through the BBP roster across 32 tracks of home truths. BoB’s ‘No Genre 2’ criss-crosses with that song-ready flow of his. Always quickly into the action and never needing a jumpstart, he provides food for thought, pop hooks and rams down the throat.

Calling your mixtape ‘I Can’t Rap’ is just asking for trouble, Waka Flocka Flame (pictured above) – fortunately, he absolutely rules a badbwoy set of head ringers. DJ Nick’s second ‘The Big Payback’ mix, with A$AP Ant popping up repeatedly, scuttles like an irksome army of millipedes breaking into the shimmies of a sidewinder.

Videos… Beardgang Kilkk represent (1), Problem Child go in for the kill (2), native tongue lashings come from Jman (3), and Mike Boyd hogs the mic (4)

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Words: Matt Oliver

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