Rapture & Verse #15

The month in hip hop...

It’s been a month that’s seen the shocking death of Chris Lighty, LL Cool J doing what’s known as a Duncan Ferguson and beating seven bells out of would-be burglars to his property, and MF Doom doing what’s known as a Mark Morrison and sending in a stunt double to do his masked villainy for him. It’s also time for an undergrounder billing himself as “same pants/different crease”; Homeboy Sandman has a flow indie fans will love taking holidays to analyse, though it’s up to you if you prefer him with his pecker up, making hangdog musings or with a battle-ready furrow above his brow. A wedlock of Madlib, Evidence and Drake, maybe. Intelligence trains styles for all settings, as the New Yorker plays the nerd – ‘Couple Bars’ writing a bookish Valentine’s card, while ‘Not Really’ may irritate – spits like a rap-bot (‘Sputnik’), breaks codes (‘Illuminati’),while the ceaseless ‘Rain’ proves to be an opening trickshot. With a right old jumble of badgering and playful beats, remember, “I’ve got you under my skin… nothing fungal”.

Gritty dream-weaving from Luv NY has the loose gang of OC, AG, Roc Marciano, Kool Keith, Dave Dar and Kurious perched on a cloud-like stoop ready to calmly cock back over Ray West braising funk and distressing soft edges. If you’re a fan of any of the individual emcees, you’ll make note of their participation rather than arrange your collection around them, and with time against them, it can’t afford any passengers as it feels like each is passing through between jobs. Plus the sleeve looks a bit like a personalised Moonpig card. The morsels of chemistry and the lawless outline should alert fans of hip-hop’s one in-one out rotation.

Rapture & Verse always talks about mooted joinings of forces like an excitable transfer deadline day presenter, but here’s one that’s set in concrete and coming your way soon – it’s Wu-Block, merging the Wu-Tang Clan and The LOX/D-Block for double jeopardy. Don’t take our word for it, it’s a coalition that’s had Ghostface selling the album as a “combination like carnation milk with oatmeal. And a dash of cinnamon.” ‘Union Square’ ain’t a bad opening act either, with Sheek Louch and Tony Starks making the ingredients work.

Get thy mouse to root out mixtape musts and free fillips, starting with Slaughterhouse’s ‘On the House’: relentless rage all round from Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I and Royce da 5’9”. The third volume of ‘Well Done’ from rumoured porn mogul in waiting Tyga defiantly drips with swagger and a silver tongue as essential top-down material. Jazzy Jeff starting with a dubstep mix of Fun is one of a few WTF moments on his still pretty awesome ‘Life Colors’ mix. The most impressive thing about Busta Rhymes’ ‘Year of the Dragon’ is the cover art; it definitely isn’t rhyming over Tears for Fears as way of introduction. Plenty of bluster and grimacing, but a lot of hot air means it’s the latest in a long line of Bus-a-Bus records not quite hitting the mark. NY/New Orleans superheroes Gotham Green and Quickie Mart pick the lock on the fourth ‘Haze Diaries’ edition, Freddie Gibbs and Malkovich involved in a 19-track skim through the underground mixing up the funk and boarding David Bowie’s tin can as they go.

A peek at Klashnekoff’s ‘F*ck The Long Talk’ and the Hackney solider is as unambiguously adamant as ever, though hearing him rhyme over ‘The 900 Number’ is a bit of head-scratcher, and on first impressions there’s a lick of gloss that might not sit well with those experienced in the man’s sagas. Stig of the Dump and Pete Cannon’s ‘Cannon Fodder’ EP racks up five tracks of bangers, home truths and boasts of being “Bruce Banner with the grammar after gamma radiation”. Aldo Vanucci, still the 14th best DJ in Plymouth, includes the funky high-fiver ‘Take Me to a Party’ on his ‘Love is…Loops’ EP, a rock-steady rollerskater getting ASM to boogie on down.

A brief glance at ‘3’ from Typical Cats puts a big tick in the funky dust-rustling breaks column, followed by a smiley face for traditional values we all moan about. Go fetch the full-length. Thavius Beck’s instrumental unveiling of ‘The Most Beautiful Ugly’ is hip-hop taken over by laptops issuing blue screens of death and clunky, snippy, waspish head-nodders contrasting the sleek and craggy. For those that love the fear of a cracked planet and the threat of tyrannical giant iPods, Beck nicely sticks with the pack sliding to the left with an electro-buttressed aim that rarely misses the target.

Continuing the season of reissue loveliness for all your staunch old skoolers/old farts this month, seek and ye shall find second time around deliveries of Tone Loc’s ‘Loc’ed After Dark’ – that be the one with rock-rap badboys ‘Funky Cold Medina’ and ‘Wild Thing’ on it, so well worth heading back to – Def Jef’s ‘Just Poet with Soul’, Jungle Brothers’ ‘Done By the Forces of Nature’, and Kool G Rap & DJ Polo’s ‘Road to the Riches’ and ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’. More good news is that the MHZ crew headed by RJD2 and Copywrite are back with a new self-titled album, including posthumous verses from the late Camu Tao on top of guest spots from Ill Bill, Slug and Danny Brown.

On the road, El-P is currently clocking up miles through the UK, and at the end of the month the DMC’s Battle for World Supremacy and World DJ Final take over Kentish Town. Freddie Foxxx and DJ Premier hit The Garage on Highbury Corner as part of their Kolexxxion Tour on October 20th, and The Doctor’s Orders have Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest playing Plan B’s platters this coming weekend. Not a bad few weeks for Tribe fans, with September’s DVD release of ‘Beats Rhymes and Life’ – an entertaining documentary directed by Michael Rapaport, aka that bloke off Friends and My Name is Earl but someone who definitely knows his low end theory from his love movement. Plus D12’s Kuniva pays tribute to the Tribe’s most famous album sleeve on the not half bad ‘Midwest Marauders 2’, and Lupe Fiasco, so they say, is readying himself for early retirement.

For your teabreak this month ladies and gents: Jehst shows who’s boss, J the Exodus spells it out, Lil Fame and Termanology bring the fizz, and here’s how to entertain yourself in the comfort of your front room should you be jonesing for the new series of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

Words by Matt Oliver

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