Rapture & Verse #1

The month in hip hop...

Already finding thumbs up in the Clash reviews section, the rapidly becoming prolific Paul White finds a mic lead to plug into his instrumentation with ‘Rapping With Paul White’, his chop shop of psychedelic beats and thrift store drifters now accompanied by Guilty Simpson and Jehst heading a willing cast of microphonists making headway in White’s headswims. The South Londoner drops forty minutes of dense dope, fuggy and husky enough for Dilla and Madlib fans to roll up to, full of funky sloppiness and cosmically off-kilter gesturing.

Talking of instrumentalists that have since declared open mic season – and White hasn’t yet alienated his initial fanbase like these three – a holy trinity of vinyl/sample archaeology re-emerges. You can read about DJ Shadow’s latest project here, and there are new points of interest provided by RJD2 and DJ Cam. RJ hooks up with Aaron Livingstone as Firebird for ‘The Abandoned Lullaby’, and Parisian premier Cam shows White (aka the new Shadow) doesn’t have sole ownership of imaginative titles with seventh album ‘Seven’. Both are tabled for October release, and it’s with hope more than expectation that demonstrations of their adopted songwriting abilities will stay on the subs bench. Big names with big reps back on the line.

‘Some People Never Go Crazy’ is the kind of statement typical of the Associated Minds camp, with Cardiff’s Blaktrix possessing the sort of 40-a-day flow using mental illness as a superpower. A seven track album, full of namedropped footballers and mic control made easy, is simply beats and rhymes to the fore. BT rails against timecard punchers, but generally comes over as constructive over destructive, allowing himself one trip to the gallows on a very capable plugger of gaps in your playlist.

Showing that UK networking will always come up with strong ventures, Rewd Adams (aka Skandal) and The Last Skeptik are promising a one-on-one firecracker with ‘How Not to Make a Living’ not far off exiting pipeline space. Those after verbose inspiration with traces of nuts will have hearts sent aflutter and fancies tickled by Roots Manuva touching down with an eighth Big Dada album, and Scroobius Pip hanging out with the likes of like-minded orators Sage Francis and POS for a debut solo full-length. Verbosity and nuttiness comes as standard when MF Doom and Ghostface Killah lock masks, the single ‘Victory Laps’ preceding a November UK tour where Tony Starks will join the Madvillain for a brainstorming session on the London leg. Similar lingual malingering could be on the cards when ‘LA hip-hop supergroup’ Flash Bang Grenada – Busdriver and Nocando, with added professional waffle from Del Tha Funky Homosapien – give August a bump-up with the ’10 Haters’ LP.

For something a little more to the left, Anticon founder Sole, now striking out with The Skyrider Band, welcomes ‘Hello Cruel World’, surprisingly accessible and a lot less obtuse than history dictates. Electronically set for the end of days (so it still requires a good degree of concentration), Sole is callous and clinical, his emo-raps and me-against-the-world performance saving itself from unsociability with whip-smart wordplay and Sole’s Tim Holland battling with himself to keep emotions in check. A compelling portrait, with Lil B and Sage Francis providing guest spots at either end of the scale. With Sole now on Equinox Records, Anticon first teamers Serengeti and Alias are keeping the insect emblem out there, the latter releasing ‘Fever Dream’ late August and the former’s ‘Family and Friends’ examining just that. Again laying emotions on the line with a surprising lack of fuss, the project doesn’t get caught up in its own thoughts. Actually it doesn’t really have time given that ‘Geti (David Cohn) is addressing the dysfunction of relationships for little over half an hour, using oddball angles, caustic comedy and a healthy amount of chatty swagger.

NYC’s Decon label carries on a strong run of releases with the Canadian veteran Classified dropping a safe set of plain English, hard luck stories and thug with his feet up kickbacks, ‘Hand Shakes and Middle Fingers’ looking to bring him universal coverage outside of his homeland. Look out as well for redoubtable indie-underground tactician Evidence of Dilated Peoples inviting Slug, Aesop Rock, Raekwon and Bun B to join him on a new LP soon.

Just in case they passed you by, be sure to backtrack for LA’s Ras G (‘Down 2 Earth’, a bittily cultish, Dilla click-clack of funky-as-fuck space debris where you never know where one orbit starts and another one ends. I.e., it’s an album’s worth of instrumental skits and interludes), and adopted Aussie Lotek (‘International Rudeboy’, essential BBQ/street party flavours in a dancehall/ska marinade, spiced up with witty rhymes knowing what it means to be British and bossy singjay show and prove).

On the tour bus, Snoop Dogg is preparing an October takeover of Liverpool, London, Cardiff and Glasgow with support from Chipmunk and Canada’s Airplane Boys (us neither). Current media darlings Shabazz Palaces are making capital city whistle-stops, including London, come September. Out and about, Yorkshire pride and Rolf’s Cartoon Club prodigy Kid Acne is curating an exhibition at Sheffield’s Millenium Gallery of his own unique artwork, and it won’t be long until the DMC World Finals roll around again, all roads leading to London’s IndigO2.

Words by Matt Oliver

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