Mr Busalot – Test Screening of The Story Of Mr Busalot

13 07 2009

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Mr Busalot – Test Screening of The Story Of Mr Busalot (Jamendo)

It’s not often that Jamendo turns up something that really counts as odd. Despite the neverending attempts of a legion of bedroom producers to stand out from the crowd by virtue of creating ever more obscure and unlistenable beats it’s rare that a release actually leaves me raising an eyebrow. And it’s even rarer when it actually makes me laugh. And it’s an out and out miracle when that release also happens to be an English Hip-Hop one. In fact, not just that, but it’s from South East London which just happens to be my little corner of the metropolis, which not only obliges me to review it but also obliges Mr Busalot’s efforts to be half decent given his Londoner status. And mercifully my faith in the inherent superiority of anything from SE London goes unchallenged for the short duration of this entertainingly at ease with itself album. Read the rest of this entry »





Grüün – Kraut-Hop

28 06 2009

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Grüün – Kraut-Hop (iD.EOLOGY)

It’s always a half arsed sort of job when I review foreign language Hip Hop. Sure, I can cover the music well enough, which to me is the generally the main point anyway, but I always feel a dash of discomfort when I start pontificating upon the lyrical qualities. Of course usually I just view it as another layer to the sound, an instrument which carries itself with the same weight as any other but there’s still a level of ignorant prescriptiveness contained in whatever I say fuelled at least in part by my own habitual biases and stereotyping. Read the rest of this entry »





Jay Slim – The High Life

6 06 2009
Jay Slim – The High Life
Mo’ mo’ Hip Hop, which should come as about as much of a surprise on this blog as a corrupt MP resigning from Parliament. Bu-ut on a slightly more novel tip there’s actually a Rapper here as opposed to the usual collection of tracks borne of a producer having a good time alone in front of his laptop. And he isn’t even Rapping in Russian.
As I’ve probably mentioned before I’ve got a soft spot in the corner of my nefarious, vermin like mind for lyricists who team up with producers to release CC music, if only because it’s such a bizarre rarity in our usually eclectic community, made even more bizarre by the fact that you can’t throw an ethereal brick on the internet without it connecting with the head of a budding producer. Although that’s something of a digression and one which I’ve dwelt on more than a few times before now.
So, ‘The High Life’ from Jay Slim, a full length album with a smattering of guest appearances and prodtion by Just Plain Ant whose name rings enough of a bell for me to know that I have some of his work lurking on my hard drive but not quite so loudly as to remind me exactly what I thought of it last time I heard it. So shame on me for not paying more attention, even more so now that he’s apparently operating his own NetLabel (Just Plain Sounds), serves me right for taking a few weeks off no doubt. Anyway, I’m listening now and natural inclinations to be kind to these more ambitious Hip Hop projects aside I’m not entirely disliking what I’m hearing.
Lyrically this is on fairly safe, well trodden ground with the usual smattering of digs and despair over the state of the industry mixed with a dash of romantic softness which, so far, makes it much the same as an awful lot of ‘Alternative’ Rap albums which struggle to find their place in a genre so commercially dominated by questionable Gangster stuff and no full of tiny niche styles which don’t work well with outsiders. The delivery is nice though, smooth and easy if slightly anonymous and while the subject matter isn’t exactly revolutionary it’s well enough constructed not to leave you wondering how many monkeys the creator had pounding at type writers to make something so pointless, which can be a common problem when it comes to Rap, just visit the DefJux monkey offices for proof of that.
Musically you’re looking at a similar but perhaps slightly less successful version of the above. It’s all very smooth in the dimmed lights, rotating bed, late ’80s Hollywood love scene sort of way and that can have it’s place if you’re lazing around without looking for too much from your backing track but there’s no denying that it’s dying a death in the originality stakes. Conventions exist in music for a reason though, sometimes they do just have their place in the grand scheme of things and if you’re in the sort of place which requires this sort of thing then it’s a good enough example to do the job. A generous assessment on my behalf perhaps (and I can’t think of a time or place where I’d be running to stick this on) but there y’go.
To summarise though I was, from the moment I downloaded this, thinking of Tab (of ‘Poet in the Darkness’ fame) if only because he’s one of the few CC Rappers/Hip Hop artists (he produces too after all) who’s released a truly high quality album and as such a little comparison seems fair although, in this case, none too favourable towards Jay Slim. Both lyrically and rhythmically Tab’s got the edge on originality and depth and even if there’s no major difference between the too in the quality of production, which is technically quite neat here, there remains a difference between something you may as well listen to and something which you really should listen to.
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Jay Slim – The High Life (Just Plain Sound)
Mo’ mo’ Hip Hop, which should come as about as much of a surprise on this blog as a corrupt MP resigning from Parliament. Bu-ut on a slightly more novel tip there’s actually a Rapper here as opposed to the usual collection of tracks borne of a producer having a good time alone in front of his laptop. And he isn’t even Rapping in Russian.




Tab – Poet in the Darkness

4 04 2009

tab

Tab – Poet in the Dark (Jamendo)

Good production, good vocals, good lyrics, on a CC Hip-Hop album? Why yes, yes indeed and I was surprised too. For some reason the Creative Commons scene always seem to have trouble getting Hip-Hop right, generally there’s an abundance of good producers plying their trade but never having anything to do with Rappers, in fact they have trouble collaborating with anyone which is probably because they’re too busy being locked away with a computer and fantasies about their own little niche. Tab however is a pleasant exception to the usual way of things in that he invests equal amounts in both sides of Hip-Hop. Although his method may be a little demanding for most given that he both produces the majority of this album and raps on it too, as well as playing the guitar, which would stretch the talent and patience of most and leaves me wondering exactly what’s left for his usual group, The Dead Poets, to do when he’s not busy being a solo artist. Read the rest of this entry »





S.U.N. – The One

13 01 2009

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S.U.N. – The One (Jamendo)

Consciousness Rap or Political Rap, or whatever you want to call it. Funny sub-genre really, supposedly a noble alternative to the tedious Gangsta musings which took control all those years ago but for the most part it’s all bland as fuck. There are few styles which are so hard wired into conventions, you can almost predict what the tracks will be before you start listening. Not that it can’t be good of course, or have interest to it, there’s a divide running through it with ‘nice’ standing on one side, talking about how lovely everything is and how we’re all beautiful except for those nasty types who aren’t. Then there’s ‘angry’ on the other, which generally just wants to shoot people in the face and kick off the revolution. Both can be good, even if the former can be a little dull and the latter a little comical. Read the rest of this entry »