Rapture & Verse #32: The Hip-Hop Latest

ScHoolboy Q's back, and he's brought some pals...

Matt Oliver doesn’t miss a thing, so you readers can get on with the important business of listening to records and that…

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The headlines…

Lil Wayne became English class homework for a school in Florida, substituting Shakespeare for the dissection of ‘6 Foot 7 Foot’ (link). The teacher concerned got suspended, and even Weezy himself said it was a bit iffy.

Elsewhere, Raekwon of all people told Justin Bieber to wind his neck in (link); House Of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ went a glorious, Pete Rock-backed green for St Patrick’s Day (link); and, of course, there was Pharrell’s ruddy titfer.

Let us open the diary and get gigging. Stones Throw documentary Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton gets a launch party at Brixton’s Plan B on April 3rd, with Peanut Butter Wolf playing an AV set alongside Mr Thing, Alexander Nut and Paul White. Check out the trailer below.

Jazzy Jeff touches down at the Scala on April 18th as The Doctor’s Orders hits the big 3-0-0, with Blu & Exile spinning the same Easter weekend. At The Coronet, Talib Kweli and Yasin Bey as Black Star have added a second date to a sortie in late March, Bishop Nehru is in the vicinity for a five-for in the latter stages of this month, and recent back catalogue liberators De La Soul go around the country for five dates in May, celebrating 25 years of seminal goalpost shifter ‘3 Feet High And Rising’.

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Single syllables: “two 45 boxes and two 12-inch bags”

As Distinction meddles with Usher’s ‘Climax’ beyond all that’s healthy, Confz is in nasty, my way or the high way mode, policing an unsettling cyber-trap threat of domestic disharmony. Throw this on come Mother’s Day and get disowned.

Kasim Keto’s second ‘Long Car Rides’ excerpt, ‘Rat Race’, hits the drowse button in a big way, a lovely, lolloping instrumental safely asleep at the wheel and managing to mute colours seemingly bursting to get out.

Jamieson’s know-it-all flow has ‘Nothing To Lose’, and you can’t imagine him being defeated too many times when this starts goading front rows, while Reks puts the boot into a good old fashioned boom-bap string swoop from Hazardis Soundz on the effective ‘Hold Your Applause.’ Busdriver’s ‘LikesAndViews’ is a bonkers videogame deconstruction with mile-a-minute seeking of social network approval. Click away

Steady Rock and Oliver Sudden do up ‘The Shutdown’, seven remixed tracks of neat UK technique leaving a light tingle on your neck muscles. The Last Skeptik and Illaman, under the AFQB banner, admit ‘Kate Upton Ruined My Life’, though they cope well on seven tracks of badman slop and skills getting the shorts in. The return of The Acorns – BlakeNine and Mad Squirrel – predicts an ‘Oak Future,’ crunchy underground snaps out of VA/DC returning a certain warmth and reassurance, thanks to the Squirrel’s lisping, mic-hugging delivery, with consistency as standard. Watch out for a large Kylie sample as well.

Holding the ‘floor, Carpet Patrol’s three-track preview has the Berliners getting their crispy slouch on for some bleary eyed b-boy bests, vexed by BADBADNOTGOOD’s doubting Thomas of a dark stranger who seductively ‘Can’t Leave the Night’ and roughed up by juddering Damon Frost and his spewing of nuts and bolts across ‘eXPLAIN mY dRIVE’ making hip-hop out of rusted Meccano.

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ReaLPolitiks: whackable candy, Bond films and battle fatigue

Chuck Inglish of The Cool Kids unveils ‘Convertibles’, a fairly unremarkable mishmash of club beats, ‘80s influences, including a glaze of Chromeo-funked polish admiring female forms, and stubbly knocks (‘Attitude’ hits mean streets with soulful choruses) with rhymes that seem to get stuck below when it comes to memory storage under the LA sun. The involvement of Mac Miller, Ab-Soul, Action Bronson and Chance The Rapper doesn’t do much to alter the fact that while the top may be down, it’s not exactly a traffic stopper.

If you thought Freddie Gibbs was a bit too thugged for Madlib, or Madlib was a bit too fuggy for Freddie Gibbs, ‘Piñata’ may surprise you. Neither swap their personas for blindfolds and baseball bats, but with both fighting a Blaxploitation’s cause, Gibbs slickens up a scum-saddled mic while ‘Lib goes as full length as he’s probably ever done (in truth, not always an absolute godsend), mining funk into a gleam for a rhymer who doesn’t do flippancy. Not really a Jaylib/Madvillain one-on-one either, as Earl Sweatshirt, Raekwon and Scarface help out, on something equal parts glamour and greasy.

From the same mob methods offering dapper dangers, an unswerving Willie The Kid grips the steering wheel to his low-rider tight to present street lore on ‘The Living Daylights’. Riding shotgun but taking the lead, Bronze Nazareth gets tough on the funk marked with a Wu stamp, flipped with a certain romanticism that turns it into a satin-sheeted slow jams jam. Nice furs and fedoras hip-hop, with plenty of firepower in the glove box from the Michigan two. 

The robust scriptures of Iron Braydz map out the path from Shaolin to North London and flip soul samples and voodoo fumes into street-spattered brain matter on ‘Iron sWARdz’. The Triple Darkness delegate has his bare knuckle dawn raids viewing reality wide-eyed supported by an impressive pack of Phoenix Da Icefire, Prince Po, Kyza, Sean Price and Phat Kat. Bruising. ‘Super Arkane’, the debut from ThisisDA, is a bullish set of melodious, out-my-way flows nudging overground (‘Algorerhythm’ outdoes Rizzle Kicks comprehensively), with funk-rolled beats by head-nod guarantor Mankub. Even at its most forceful or probing, everything remains accessible as it nestles in your headphones.

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Iron Braydz – ‘Dredd’ 

ThisisDA – ‘Gridlock’ 

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Pharoahe Monch tackles ‘PTSD’ with arresting, conceptual presence. Dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder makes for an album conveying loneliness, paranoia, anger, educational pragmatism in the face of confusion, and funky-assed beats and rhymes. Black Thought, Marco Polo and Quelle Chris accompany what at times is sheer masterful lexicography. ‘Scream’ is Monch at his alphabet accentuating best, while ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ is another blow to the Old Trafford faithful: “Through a megaphone with the significance of Dr King / Philanthropic / Because I’m trying to see man united without referencing UK soccer teams.”

Ahead of four UK dates this year, ScHoolboy Q (pictured) drops the Billboard-topping ‘Oxymoron’. With Kendrick Lamar onside, a mix of guests including 2 Chainz, Tyler, Kurupt and Suga Free is as big a scramble as the styles Q packs in. After the LP begins rowdily upbeat, his ability to get introspective is surprising after attacking with detonative subtlety. Quite uneven and thematically predictable, yet scattered with moments to spin back and rewind.

Blanco & The Jacka’s ‘Obey’ is worth the free price tag if you’re up for some compact, laidback West Coast swag rustled with the assistance of Freeway, Messy Marv and Phil da Agony, and A-Plus’s ‘Think Tank’ is instrumental sturdiness from the Hieroglyphics camp that won’t cost you a penny neither. Taking you on a ride that feels like a miniature vessel riding the human condition, Bike For Three! return with Buck 65’s considered expressiveness and Greetings from Tuskan’s synthesized voyaging. ‘So Much Forever’ aims to test the pluck of your heartstrings and the depths of your guts.

‘Rock It… Don’t Stop It!’ yells compiler Sean P, digging out some proper hip-hop relics from ’79 to ’83. With The Sugarhill Gang as obvious motivators (see Terry Lewis and Wild Flower’s social summons), it’s a boxfresh throwback to thick slap bass beats, disco fallout, rhymes that just grab the mic and go for it, the typical, epochal attention to crew numbers (Jazzy 4 MCs, Sinister Two, Rickey G & The Everloving Five), and a message of party people throwing hands in the air in the place to be.

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‘Tape measures

J Cole’s ‘Revenge Of The Dreamers’, featuring label signings Bas and Omen, is no Freddie Kruger wakeup call, instead easily swigging from a nightcap across 11 cuts – though more than once JC hints at getting out the bed the wrong side. On the same side of smooth for the second ‘Soul Amazing’ instalment, Blu plies graciousness with a killer snap, Homeboy Sandman, Inspectah Deck, The Roots, Exile and Kid Cudi part of a choppy tallying of features and finds; ‘amazing’ isn’t a too far-fetched description. Caxton Press’ Manage throws you down ‘The Memory Hole’ with a mixture of passion for the art and clinically sticking to his guns; fist-clenching warrior stories aired as stony, lantern dramas, thanks to Chemo, Hutch, 2Deep and Profound on the boards.

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Who wants to see Run The Jewels in High Definition?

Prince Po kills in the name of.

Mac Miller gets spiritual.

Watch a J Cole epic with two million views.

And Phife Dawg pays tribute.

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Words: Matt Oliver

More Rapture, more Verse.

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