Mystro - 2010 Rap Up

Mystro – 2010 Rap Up

Now, Mad Skillz’s Rap Up was becoming somewhat a New Year Institution. And then… well, this year there’s not one*. Mystro’s UK version warmed the cockles of many a Brit last year, and this year he’s back on top form; now he’s the sole Rap Up does that mean he’s the official?!

Diggi manages to squeeze an inordinate amount of info into five minutes

Black Einstein’s jovial production sets the tone for an almanac of the year’s music scene events; Isn’t it funny how much happens in a year? I heard a lot that had me counting months on my fingers. Diggi manages to squeeze an inordinate amount of info into five minutes, heralding everything from Jessie J’s success to Wiley’s substantial workload, Skepta and Diddy’s collaboration and… well, everything else that happened in 2010, really.

For the sake of being right on the pulse, here’s the radio rip – the video will be out next week, as will more information on Mys’s forthcoming Mystrogen LP.

By the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all. Rest assured business will resume as usual as soon as this holiday passes, with much more reviews, interviews, and guides on the way!

*update – Skillz’s version was up on iTunes on the 2nd Jan. Check it out!

update 2 – you can download the high quality MP3 from Mystro’s site now!

Verb T  ft Fliptrix & Kashmere - Tearing the Sky Down

Verb T ft Fliptrix & Kashmere – Tearing the Sky Down

UK hip hop’s had a good year – Jon Phonics has been behind the boards for quite a lot of it, too. There’s a promising year ahead as well, and this track is somewhat a prelude to one of the projects I’m most looking forward to: the new Verb T and Kashmere collaboration. Not to dismiss Fliptrix’s contribution to this corker of a track, which is lifted from Verb’s Serious Games LP, of course – and the daunting black and white video captures the neck snapping mood of the day with class. It’s a good look for the UK.

Sleepover - The Sun

Sleepover – The Sun

Sleepover is a two piece consisting of producer Charlie Astro and vocalist Miranda Rae, who, after a summertime collaboration, have unveiled their debut EP.

Stylistically, the 20 minute six track sits in a curious space between balearic house, dreamlike electronica, and folk.

Stylistically, the 20 minute six track sits in a curious space between balearic house, dreamlike electronica, and folk. There’s refreshing variance in tempo, and the various sounds and influences contained within are made congruent by their immersion in a soundscape that marries rich reverbs with white noise and dusty percussion and the fragile beauty of Rae’s vocals.

If you’re quick, you can get the EP as a free download…

Redwing - Courage

Redwing – Courage

As the post Christmas malaise drizzles over the neither-here-nor-there interval between Christmas and New Year, our abused bodies (lumping my lax attitudes to nutrition into a collective ‘we’ makes me feel better about doing it, sorry) start to give us signs that perhaps it’s time to get our act together, and the precarious pile of black bags by the bins that are never collected properly over festive period seem to look at us in disgust, it’s advisable to have something to cleanse one’s palate to hand.

sleepy, acoustic folk with a tranquillisingly audible noise floor

Courage, by Redwings, is one of those palate cleansers; sleepy, acoustic folk with a tranquillisingly audible noise floor, it’s the perfect oasis between the gaudy Christmas radio and New Year’s yells…

Reggie B - Every Pharoah Needz a Queen

Reggie B – Every Pharoah Needz a Queen

I love tracks that are based around a sample, but built upon with further instrumentation – in effect, the sample becomes an instrument in the band. On Every Pharoah Needz a Queen, Reggie B (Innate Sounds)’s honeyed vocal rides the arrangement impeccably – and when he’s not there, the organ solo sits so snugly in the sound bed that I’m worried that I’m wrong and the whole record is a re-edit of a 70′s jazz/soul fusion record.

I love tracks that are based around a sample, but built upon with further instrumentation – in effect, the sample becomes an instrument in the band

Either way, its virtues are easily enough to convince me of its merits in either form.

Christmas Presents!

Merry Christmas!

Well, it’s over. I hope everyone’s had a wonderful Christmas – and if you’ve just had a new non-brand-dependent-media-player in your stocking and are here for things with which to overload it, you’ll be glad to hear that the January Podcast is being tweaked for release now, and the Dratcast #2 is going to be very exciting.

you’ll be glad to hear that the January Podcast is being tweaked for release now, and the Dratcast #2 is going to be very exciting

Of course, you can look forward to the daily dose of reviews (of both audio and the tools with which to create and manipulate it), interviews, features, giveaways and so on… possibly excluding tomorrow, which may or may not be a further day off to ensure that no already cooked food or opened drink goes to needless and shameful waste.

Oh, what’s that in the picture, you ask? It’s a coffee bean roaster – now I can be a true coffee snob, and use the medical levels of caffeine contained in super fresh roasted coffee to deliver information to you in many short, intensely focused bursts. Merry Christmas!

Grand Central

Interview: Grand Central

Grand Central, the collaboration between Mr Drastick and Kinetik – two successful british artists in their own right – has been busy this year releasing a mixtape, creating a brand, and making plans to tour in 2011. I had a chat with Kinetik about the importance of being more than just an emcee, possible new additions to the lineup, and who’s really the best emcee in the group…

OD: Unfortunately we’ve not got Mr Drastick here today…

K: Yeah, unfortunately he’s had to go tend to his niece and nephew so he can’t be with us, so it’s just me today!

OD: Okay so to start off, Grand Central as I guess a brand xx you’ve got your videos, website, t-shirts and merchandising, how important do you think it is to be more than just two disembodied voices over a track?

D: Well, when we started Grand Central we looked to other artists that we’d seen blow up, you know, the Wiz Khalifas of the world, we looked at Currency over in America, over here the Tincy Striders of this world… even though that’s not the kind of music we make, we took lessons from what they did, and applied it to what we do. What we found was that nowadays people don’t just want to listen to music, they wanna buy into a personality; the fans that Kool G Rap has are different to the fans that A Tribe Called Quest have, because they’re two different personalities. We wanted our fans to feel like they’re a part of Grand Central as well – that’s why we call them Centralites. They can go to the website, all our information is there, they can download stuff, email stuff, it brings the artist/consumer relationship closer together – so in terms of having a website, merchandise, and so on, it’s very important, because it elevates us above what I would call MySpace musicians; we’re actually musicians.

nowadays people don’t just want to listen to music, they wanna buy into a personality

OD: Gotcha. I liked things like the intro to the songs in the videos, like in Baby You Know as you’re chatting in the café to explain your way into the song…

K: You know, the intro to Baby You Know was completely freestyled, not scripted or anything – it was just a conversation we caught on camera, everything was off the cuff. What we try and do with our music that I think a lot of people appreciate is the fact that our music is almost like a fly on the wall that captures what we talk about when the microphone’s off and we’re not in the studio. We just bring that into song form, and people really like that because it’s real.

OD: Like in the video to Famous Girls where you’re just chilling out at the end?

K: Exactly. Again, that was just off the cuff, the engineer just left the microphone on and caught us talking.

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Ryan Hemmings - Richard Shaw

Ryan Hemsworth – Richard Shaw

Richard Shaw by Ryan Hemsworth – or is it the other way round… no, no, definitely right – is a dark instrumental, charged with suspense and enigma and dealing an explosive payoff.

a dark instrumental, charged with suspense and enigma and dealing an explosive payoff

The sinister video hints at an ominous narrative which marries the audio perfectly – it’s a guesswork horror, with enough intimation of a story to give the track extra credence.

Richard Shaw (which is the track, not the artist, don’t forget…) is also a part of Galactique Recordings Compilation III, which throws together a variety of electronic compositions, from the upbeat stylings of Birds to the somnolent future garage of Mike Din.

Space Equator - The Couch Surfing EP

Space Equator – The Couch Surfing EP

The fine line between avant garde and noodling self indulgence is a perilous one to tread, but Space Equator manages to dodge, at least for the most part, the latter.

The Couch Surfing EP has a quaint charm to its experiments with depth and direction

Sketchbooky and rough around the edges, The Couch Surfing EP has a quaint charm to its experiments with depth and direction, and passes the litmus test that so much technology availing jazz fails by actually being interesting to listen to for its relatively short duration…

Ramson Badbonez - Give Badbonez a Break

Ramson Badbonez – Give Badbonez a Break

The multilayered pun of a title alludes to the central premise of the LP - this project’s all about stripping hip hop down to its bare essentials; loop up some breaks and assemble a team of some of the UK’s finest emcees to flow over them and there’s no need to deliberate over production too much.

loop up some breaks and assemble a team of some of the UK’s finest emcees to flow over them and there’s no need to deliberate over production too much.

DJ Gone and DJ IQ are spot on with the classic sample digging, and the cast that joins Badbones is huge; Kashmere, Verb T, TB, Jokerstarr, Rewd Adams, Jehst, Kyza, and Big Deal are all present.
For me, the standout track is Back Wit da Heat, where Jehst and Ramson’s styles complement each other perfectly and the almost percussion free beat still manages to sound full of energy. In fact, Badbones’s cram-it-all-in style never fails to pack energy into each track.

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