The Rap Monument - Pusha T


You'll have already seen that the good people at Noisey are hosting what looks to be a monumental rap event, a 38-minute track with the great and the good of hip hop contributing verses. Well the marathonic song is produced by beat mavens Hudson Mohawke and S-Type of bonnie Scotland. Above is arguably the most exciting sample so far, Terrence Thornton talking that King Push ish over something beastly from HudMo. The whole shebang should be a real treat.

Note that Hennessey are sponsoring. It looks like they're doing their best to retain their grip on the hip hop market after Jay Z hooked up an endorsement deal with rookie cognac brand D'usse. Seems like a shrewd move on Henny's part.


Cult Mountain - SMFDB (Video)


Piff Gang's Milkaveli, Lee Scott, Trellion and Sumgii unite for Cult Mountain,  and make their introduction via the suitably scuzzy VHS format. Let's hope there's more to come from this collaboration. 


Jam Baxter - Incoming (prod. Chemo) (Video)


More finely woven poetry from Jam Baxter off of his Chemo-produced album ...So We Ate Them Whole, available for pre-order now


Hudson Mohawke - Chimes feat. Future, French Montana, Pusha T & Travi$ Scott (Remix)


If Hudson Mohawke's Chimes wasn't hefty enough, the Scot producer brings Future, French Montana, Travi$ Scott and, yep, Pusha T on board to ratchet things up a notch. Not only that, the star-studded remix comes complete with an interactive video that allows you to interfere with all involved's faces. 



Strange U - Aliens In Suits


This one slipped under our galactic radar. Strange U have been on a run recently, what with their 2040 EP and follow-up Dolph Lundgren track with Jehst. Barely leaving time to catch a breath, the dynamic duo are at it again with their Aliens In Suits EP. Check the drum-light lead track below and head this way to check the full project




The Last Skeptik - Cheerio (Video)


New music from instrumentalist The Last Skeptik, off his new EP I Don't Even Like You. The video sees the protagonist played by Doc Brown go all Ed Norton in Fight Club, hiding from his true self in Skeptik's typically creepy fashion.

Try the EP's first single, Propulsion featuring FEMME, if you haven't already. 


Black Josh - Hood Hippy (Video)


Black Josh makes no bones about his penchant for illicit substances. Just call him the Hood Hippy

Pick up a copy of his impressive #blahblahblackjosh mixtape over thisaway


The Mouse Outfit & Mattic - Born Lupers (Video)


The Mouse Outfit's Pitch laces France-based MC Mattic with a perfectly tempered beat. 


Dizzee Rascal - Pagans (Video)


Dizz follows up his Sittin' Here refix with more trap-inspired music. But while the song could've just as easily had Migos rambling on it, the Kung Fu flick-inspired video is one of a kind.  


Swiss - The Game (Video)


Former So Solid soldier Swiss hops on Barry White to hip the youngsters to some game. And to think his classic Cry is coming up to its tenth birthday. 


Dream Mclean - D.W.I.D. feat. Professor Green & CAS (Video)


Dream Mclean does what he does, and what he does is bring Pro Green and CAS along for the ride on his latest banger from Greyscale, the album that he's releasing on Chase & Status's MTA Records next week.

For all the #deadteam members, CAS makes his appearance around 3:05. 


Jam Baxter - Leash prod. Chemo (Video)


There've been rumblings of a Jam Baxter-meets-Chemo project for a while now. Well the time is nigh. ... So We Ate Them Whole is available for pre-order ahead of its release on 1 December, with lead track Leash, a grisly boom trap affair, now up for grabs. 


A recap of why the MOBOs are a farce


We've spoken on why the MOBO Awards are a total nonsense in the past, but it feels good to vent so let's recap. 

If you shortlist one act who is on the indie grind in the same category as an artist sponsored by a major label, then PR the arse off the awards so that every last UK daily promotes it in their pages – print or otherwise – then you open it up to the public vote, who do you honestly think will win that category?

So it comes as no surprise that Ella Eyre took home the Best Newcomer award, leaving a number of hopefuls, including the excellent and hugely credible Little Simz, empty-handed. Why is this important?

Let's go back a few months. People were up in arms when BBC 1Xtra crowned Ed Sheeran the king of its power list earlier this year. And rightly so. He doesn't represent 1Xtra or its audience. That's not to shit on the guy's chips, but collaborating with Game, doing an album with a load of grime MCs and being popular does not mean you make or represent black music. It means you are peripheral to it and, in fact, benefitting from it. But you are not it. In fact, you are part of the dilution-for-profit of a musical genre. Let's be clear, this has nothing to do with race. If Ed Sheeran was an incredible rapper or R&B singer he would have been given his due.

Here's an extreme. U2 had one of the most popular albums this year by default, thanks to Apple. They make rock & roll. Rock & roll owes its roots to blues and rhythm & blues. Should U2 also be shortlisted for the MOBOs? No, because even though there's a tenuous link to black music, they do not make it.

Again, it's not a racial issue. It's not the POBOs (People Of Black Origin Awards). It comes down to the music. But Ella Eyre, like a long list of acts who have signed record deals, doesn't make black music. She sung on Rudimental's pop & bass hit and makes music for Middle England. There's nothing wrong with that. If she doesn't, someone else will. More power to Ella Eyre and those seeking a career in music by selling mp3s and gig tickets to the masses. But can we honestly say, with complete conviction, that she makes black music?

As a commercial venture, the MOBOs need mass appeal to exist (their main sponsor HTC wouldn't put its name to them otherwise). And in doing so, they undermine those very artists they're supposed to promote.

British black music needs a successor to the MOBOs. They serve no one's interests but their own.


As an addendum: the best thing to come out of the whole sorry affair was Skepta winning Best Video for That's Not Me, one of a small handful of genuine grime anthems released this year.




At least someone on the judging panel had the foresight to put it forward. It took £80 to make and looks like it cost a lot less. But radio-listening Middle England likely couldn't tell you who Scorcher or FKA Twigs are, let alone what their videos look like, which made it all the more easy for the people to get behind Skepta's budget vid and have him win the vote.


 


Charles Edison - Took The Light




Charles Edison pops back up on our radar with Took The Light, a neat and sunny sub-two-minute beat taken from the nascent producer's forthcoming project, Lightbulbs.

You may have caught wind of a Doors remix project called Love H​.​E​.​R Madly by one Figment a ways back. Rumour has it they are one and the same.


So This Is What That Vine Video Was All About


Last month a video of Tinchy Stryder skanking with the Chuckle Brothers surfaced. Well lo and behold, this is what it was all about. They say that no idea is original, but...

Is this the most unlikely collaboration on record?


Dream McLean - D.W.I.D. feat. Professor Green & CAS


This is the first sample of Dream McLean's Greyscale EP, due out next month. Professor Green is given temporary respite from the shackles of his Virgin contract, but it's half-dead demigod CAS who's arguably the biggest draw here.

If Greyscale is anything like Weatherman then it'll be well worth a listen.




Little Simz - The Square (Video)


We've been mucking in over at the much better read, much better written Potholes In My Blog over in New York from time to time of late. For the sake of economy, we'll likely double up whatever's relevant over here. On that note:

For whatever the MOBO Awards are worth, it would be a shame if Barz Simson didn’t take home best newcomer. She may not have drawn the same attention as category rival FKA Twigs or have an anthem on her hands like Meridian Dan (who strictly speaking is no newcomer, popping up on lost grime classics). 

But the North Londoner has been hard at work the last four years and is coming into her own. The Square (and Age 101:DROP 2, the EP where you’ll find this track) is yet another example of the UK rap vanguardist’s arrival. You can watch the one-shot video below.




Gilly - Freedom feat. Klashnekoff (Video)


For all those lacking in patience, K-Lash turns up at the 3:00 mark. 


Skepta - That's Not Me feat. Wiki (US Remix)


Skepta's been on a tear of late, what with manning the boards on Wiley's On A Level and his recent return to the essence with That's Not Me. Now he's jetted over to the Big Apple to link with Wiki of RatKing for the remix. The video popped up a couple of days back only to be blocked. Now it's free for your viewing pleasure. 


Hudson Mohawke - King Kong Beaver


With just two days to go before Hudson Mohawke lets his Chimes EP loose on the masses, the Glaswegian producer reveals a piece he made four years ago, which you'll find on the project when it's released next week. King Kong Beaver, baby.

UPDATE: If the stream isn't working for you, try your luck at Entertainment Weekly.



Wiley - On A Level (Video)


Forget what so and so said about German Whip marking grime's revival, they were wrong. This, however, is 2004 distilled and reintroduced for a new day. Flying was meant to be the lead single from Snakes & Ladders, the follow-up to Wiley's humdrum bid for the charts, Ascent

The LP was apparently binned, but now it looks like Big Dada is reviving the project. Going off of this, on which Skepta recaptures the Eskibeat sound perfectly, it should be a real treat for fans of unadulterated grime. 


Disclosure & Sam Smith – Latch (Remix) (feat.SchoolBoy Q)


Two years ago Disclosure stole the UK's airwaves with Latch. At the time Schoolboy Q was in his Habits & Contradictions phase, and you would never have paired the two. Two years on and Disclosure's sleeper hit has since reached the upper end of the Billboard 100. And today you have this little remix, which kind of makes sense for Q post-Oxymoron.    




The February 2014 release of Latch likely played no small part in Sam Smith winning America's heart, as he tours his debut album and wins praise. Including from Pretty Flacko, who recently lent his vocal signature to I'm Not The Only One.





SBTV Warm Up Sessions - Coops


Coops makes a big impression with his first to-camera appearance for SBTV. If you haven't picked up his Lost Soul set released at the start of the summer, do so. It's a must for all you boom bap bods and the man in question has bags of panache, something that's not easy to come by round these parts. 




Gen Uchiha - The Good The Bad The Bad And The Ugly


"Who is Gen Uchiha?", you ask. We'll be damned if we know anything about the man, other than he runs with Eat Good and he's just put together this tidy three-piece over a BADBADNOTGOOD instrumental. Expect more to follow.  




Black The Ripper & Harry Love - Fire Is Coming (Video)


Few can match Samson's work rate. For his next trick, the Edmonton street scholar presents Outlaw Vol 2. You know you're in good hands with Harry Love on the pads, and there's a roll call of eclectic features, including Cormega with a Mark Duggan namecheck. 

The project is available now on iTunes. Watch the video for Fire Is Coming up top.


Hey!zeus.i - Holy Cow feat. Strange U & Jehst


For all the vinyl heads among you, Hey!zeus.i is prepping the release of Holy Cow on 7" for next month, with both Kashmere and Jehst joining the parade on top form. Head to the release event @ the Silver Bullet, Finsbury Park on Wednesday. Until then...




London Rapper Reportedly Under Investigation For Foley Beheading


The mainstream rags are reporting that Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, or L Jinny, the rapper son of an alleged Egyptian terrorist, is under investigation in connection with the beheading of US journalist James Foley. You can read various accounts online, but remember this is a "reported story", meaning there is only one source and one report, with every newspaper effectively copying from the other. That's not to say it's bogus, of course.

L Jinny earlier this year posted an image on Twitter of himself holding a severed head alongside the caption: “Chillin’ with my homie or what’s left of him.”


His father, Adel Abdul Bary, was extradited from the UK to the US two years ago on charges of terrorism for his alleged roles in the bombings of two US embassies in East Africa in 1998.

YouTube has been removing L Jinny's music videos in response to the story. If you're inclined, you'll find them somewhere. 

UPDATE: The plot thickens...


Black Josh - #blahblahblackjosh


Black Josh has already impressed with Eczema and Paul Scholes, both of which you'll find on his awaited mixtape,  #blahblahblackjosh.




Mike GLC Has Something To Say


When Tulisa Contostavlos's cocaine trial imploded on a technicality last month, the former N-Dubz singer must have felt the sweetest relief of her life. And while the case is likely to hang over whatever career she has left, it's looking like she can put the whole sorry affair behind her. She will be painted as the victim of the "fake sheikh" Sun reporter Mazher Mahmood's unscrupulous pursuit of a scoop.

This is fair. While Mahmood's deception has uncovered match-fixing and corruption in the past, going after Tulisa was totally without merit. All it really served to show was pop stars have access to cocaine, a drug that proliferates the media and, at some point or another, many a news desk. Wheedling a celebrity into a drug deal that you yourself instigated is desperate, if not unexpected from the Sun given its history of disseminating poison. It may sell papers, but it's not of genuine public interest (it's hard to see how a court could back a public interest defence on Mahmood's part if he'd libelled Contostavlos, for instance). Not to mention the fact that Mahmood lied under oath.

But while Tulisa will walk away from this as the silly little girl who should have known better, Michael Coombs, the supplier implicated in the sting, has found himself in a very different position.

Ed Sheeran - Don't feat. Rick Ross (Remix)


Ed Sheeran has already made himself cozy among the grime fraternity. Now he's making a ruddy good fist of cracking the States, bringing in Rick Rubin to produce on Don't and with Rozay hopping on the single's remix. 

Talk of an unlikely album with Game is sounding more credible. 


Blak Twang's Dettwork South East Set For Release


Back in the mid-90s - long before his breakout with So Rotten, and even prior to Red Letters - Blak Twang was set to blow with his debut, Dettwork South East. First came the video for Queen's Head alongside a nascent Roots Manuva.



Then journalists applauded the album... And then nothing.

The botched release left promo cassettes and test pressings in the hands of a few media types and that was it. Since then the album has gained mythic status but was lost to a new, digital generation.

Nearly 20 years on and Dettwork South East is finally going to see the light of day, with the original tracklist (plus a Harry Love-produced bonus) and packaging intact. This piece of UK rap history is now up for pre-order.

Here's what Blak Twang had to say on it:

"For the ‘Dettwork SouthEast’ album to finally get a release now, as it deserved when it was first recorded in 1996, is quite incredible. The reason this has been possible is really due to the fans, who have been the never-ending fuel that have kept the fire blazing and the engines running.  It was the genesis of my career and really defined what I’ve gone on to achieve since then, so for everyone to get behind this project and truly believe in it has been amazing!”


Rustie - Attak feat. Danny Brown (Video)


Warp Records will be releasing Rustie's Green Language to the masses on 24 August.  


Jam Baxter & Jon Phonics - Fresh Flesh


Anyone familiar with either of these men's work will know this is a dream team in the making. Not content with conquering the rap scene, Phonics now has his feet firmly in the country's forward-thinking beat fraternity. As for Baxter, with his nonchalant poetry, he's the jewel in High Focus's crown.  

Fresh Flesh will be with you on the 20th of August, with the first sample, Rush, below.  



Cappo - Boot EP Remixes

Boot Records waste no time in following up their collaborative project alongside Cappo with this set of remixes. Telemachus, Jehst, Mr Brown and Sam Zircon all get a look in.


Onoe Caponoe - The Staircase To Nowhere


The psychonaut of British rap has strapped on his jetpack once again. You may recall the video Onoe Caponoe put out for Ghost In Ma Hallway last month. Well you'll find that alongside all new delic material. Enter the Funk Mafi's tryptamine palace and put your feet up.

Somehow this slipped under our radar. Spotted over at Wordplay.

Bandcamp stream/download: Onoe Caponoe - The Staircase To Nowhere



Kyza - Hibernation


New music from Kyza is always welcome round here. After a couple of years in hibernation sharpening his skills on the boards, Mr Sayso returns with his first entirely self-produced project. 

The rapid-fire SPEEEEEEEED!!!!!!!..... and wistful Demons jump out on this and prove the former Terra Firma heavyweight's autonomy is a step forward.  

Bandcamp stream/download: Kyza - Hibernation 


Oh George, what have you done?


George Osborne, head of this fine nation's finances and architect of the austerity years, is in a spot of bother. It would seem that a former escort agency madame and dominatrix, whose services he (allegedly) used before his ascent to the furthest heights of politics, has leaked a pair of somewhat compromising photos.

One shows our chancellor (allegedly) dancing to Spandau Ballet (allegedly) in the flat of Natalie Rowe. Behold:


Apparently the man bending out of shot is snuffing coke up his hooter, while George minces like he's on top of the world. Who can guess why he might feel so exalted?

Another shows him apparently wasted, awkwardly embracing a female (allegedly) in Rowe's apartment. George has previously claimed he scarcely knows Rowe; Rowe begs to differ:



Since publishing the photos, she has been arrested, although it is not clear exactly on what grounds. This isn't the first time she has been harassed by police either. Ahead of the publication of her tell-all autobiography, Chief Whip, Rowe's flat was raided for two hours, ostensibly after a drug tip-off from a member of public. No charges were brought.

It would appear the establishment is doing everything it can to suppress this grubby little story, but these pictures won't be going anywhere. I suspect our chancellor might want to file a right to privacy application with Google.

Oh George, what have you done?

Problem Child - Confessions Of A Normal Human Being


Problem Child have been making a racket for the past year and counting. Now the foursome offer up a full album in the shape of Confessions Of A Normal Human Being. Expect staccato 808s, bleeps and bass from Sumgii and plenty of hype verses from Dubbledge, Illaman and Dabbla. 

You can buy various packages from Bandcamp.


Don't Stay In...


The Converse-sponsored CONS Project London is drawing to a close. Having already shone the spotlight on the overlapping drum & bass, garage, grime and dubstep scenes, the finale will play host to headliner Mount Kimbie and support from other forward-looking acts Lil Silva, Deadboy and Spencer. 

Mount Kimbie's graduation from the expert bedroom production outfit behind Carbonated to fully fledged alchemists of acoustic and digital on the likes of You Took Your Time has been nothing short of spectacular. 

If you can make it to Peckham this Thursday for the final show, apply for free tickets here.


Rustie - Attak (feat. Danny Brown)


Danny Brown has never made bones about the influence the UK has had on his music, from Dizzee's debut and grime more generally, to the vanguard of producers that bless these shores. On Attak he and Rustie re-up for a track off the Glaswegian's Green Language album. As you might expect, the Detroit squawkbox sounds right at home over Rustie's bumptious raved-out trapestry.




Black Josh - Paul Scholes (Video)


Black Josh channels the spirit of former Man U workhorse Paul Scholes for this piece of hip hop classicism, helped in no small way by Morq's astute production. And with this, the Blah Records MC's stock keeps rising. 


Sonnyjim - Guest Verses & Granola Breakfasts (Vol.2)


You know the drill with Sonny. Belligerent bars and choice beats, this compilation rounds up the bootlegs and B-sides you might have missed, alongside exclusive material. Get over to Bandcamp to pick up one of the limited run of CDs or go digi. 


Black Josh - Eczema (Video)


A standout cut off the Wordplay Sessions Vol.4 tape. Black Josh looks to have a rosy future and the whole Blah Records camp are eking out their own spot.


Jon Phonics - Give It Up feat. Rup


It's been a long time since Rup was on our radar, but he makes a welcome appearance on the first leak off Jon Phonics' upcoming White Neckle, for release next Monday. If this is anything to go by, the EP will be serious. 


Hawk House - A Handshake To The Brain


Hawk House follow up last year's warmly received A Little More Elbow Room, and going off tracks like Vulcan Grip and Chill Pill, it sounds like the trio have put together something that will surely be popping up on end of year lists. Detroit's influence runs through it... and that is no bad thing. 

You can buy A Handshake To The Brain here and see the video for Chill Pill below. 






Onoe Caponoe - Ghosts In Ma Hallway (Video)


New funkadelic one from the ever otherworldly Onoe Caponoe.


Confucius MC - Write From The Start (Video)


Short and sweet new number from YNR's latest addition. If you weren't canny enough to pick up his album, The Highest Order, when it was up for free download a couple of weeks back, you can cough up the readies instead


Behind the Beats with The Drum Broker: Beat Butcha


Beat Butcha's ascent over the last five years has been nothing short of inspiring. See what the producer had to say in this interview with the Drum Broker, which has been selling his drum packs like hot cakes by all accounts. 


Problem Child - Energy (Video)


After a couple of stoney silent weeks with next to nothing worth a mention, Problem Child come through with a contender for best video of the year. Possibly even song too, as Sumgii continues to hone his new school, bass continuum-inspired beats. Sterling work. 


Cam'ron issues statement on no-show


Well that escalated quickly. If you made it to the Cam'ron gig this week or have your ears to the streets eyes to Twitter, you'll know it was a no-show. Why? Because the venue was full of goons seeking retribution.

You may remember a rumour that circulated a ways back, that Dipset's Juelz Santana and JR Writer were held hostage in London over a bad debt. The kidnapping apparently stemmed from So Solid's Megaman being short changed after fronting up cash for a booking that was later pulled.

Here's what Cam'ron had to say about the latest affair:

"So niggas brought 50 niggas to da show to jump me..in London? And rush da stage?!.. But me and juju was doing this..imum y’all better come wit..Lol.. Sorry to all my fans dat came to da show but as u can see they tried to line me up. And only da barber lines me up.. They had 15 niggas in front of da stage (that rushed the stage) and 35 niggas outside.. And I was wit 2 niggas..The people that brought me here were very very nice..but when I asked where the ’s was at?? (That they were suppose to have) they never showed them to me.. Not shitting on them cause they were cool.. But we can’t play when it gets down to hammer time.. So no I didn’t get robbed.. No I didn’t get jumped.. I was chillin doing da salsa wit #Juju..They tried to do my bro Juelz dirty.. Now me..foh.. Thx to da people who put me on to game!! To rest of London.. Love y’all..I really do and apologize again.. But y’all other niggas .. Lolololol y’all blew yak chance again.. Dumb ass gangsta’s lmfaoooo"

Lmfaoooo indeed. So you can pretty well be sure that Dipset won't be going anywhere near London until the alleged debt has been settled.

Anyone who's taken a cursory look at Megaman's background should know he's not to be fucked with, just ask Dizzee ("leave that on the island"), which is pretty much the moral of this story.



Confucius MC - Original (Video)


The latest addition to the YNR roster makes his presence felt. Be sure to pick up Confucius MC's debut, The Highest Order, on Monday. It'll be free but only for a limited time, so be quick or dip into your wallets at a later date. 


Manga Saint Hilare - Addicted To Black (prod. JD Reid) (Video)


Any old excuse to post this production and of course Manga, the Roll Deep vet, has been putting in a lot of work of late. Not to mention he's got a canny ear for beats. 

Incidentally, JD Reid's super soulful Maneki Neko EP saw its release last month. 


Charles Edison - Bitstorm (Video)


A follow-up instro to Charles Edison's My Name Is from a couple of weeks back. Given how different this is to its predecessor, his project Lightbulbs is shaping up to be an eclectic set. 


TPS Fam - Ruff Draft feat. Res, Phoenix Da Icefire & Gee Bag (Video)


Not sure what the strict definition of a posse cut is, but this surely fits the bill. Res and Phoenix do the business on this. Off TPS Fam's Hot Water Music.


The Mouse Outfit - Blaze It Up feat. Sparkz (Video)


For all the stank-breath tokers out there, and what a bassline. The Mouse Outfit's deftly musical Escape Music is still about.


Lee Scott - Yes He Did (Video)


We've been hoping for an Englishman to do an A$AP and now our prayers have finally been answered. From the pitched-down hook, purple grading in the video and flow of Lee Scott's opening bars in the first two verses, it's all there. Plain odd, in a good way.

Watch out for Tin Foil Fronts.  


Chase & Status - Gangsta Boogie Remix feat. Raekwon & Knytro


The Chef lends a verse for this remix to Gangsta Boogie, lifted off Chase and Status's third album Brand New Machine. 




Cappo - The Boot EP


Cappo joins Jazz T and Zygote for a dusty-as-fuck collaborative set, simply titled The Boot EP. Alas, the 100 vinyl run was snaffled up days ago, but you can get your hands on the digital version




Essa - The Misadventures Of A Middle Man


Essa searched far and wide, beyond the usual suspects for his first album in eight years, tapping Ta-Ku, Waajeed, Tall Black Guy, Budgie, FLako and Eric Lau for sounds. It's a weighty line-up. See what The Misadventures Of A Middle Man is all about above and purchase here.

King Krule – Neptune Estate Remix feat. Lucki Eck$ & Wiki (BBC Radio Rip)


After joining New York new blood Rat King on their debut So It Goes, XL Recordings label-mate King Krule offers up this remix of his woozy, enchanting Neptune Estate.




Confucius MC - Ponder On This (Video)


YNR's latest signee warms up for the main event and his album The Highest Order. Cop the download of Ponder On This over at Soundcloud


Don't Stay In...


High Focus are marking their fourth birthday with a big shoobs, and there'll be more rappers than you can shake a stick at. Be there or be square.


SLOWOLF - Horsey feat. Benny Banks




Benny Banks has been pretty quiet since Bada Bing, but it's SLOWOLF's clip-clopping production that really steals the show on this. The Danish producer's EP Bounty is being lined up for May 26.


Astral Black - Frass FM


Jon Phonics recently ushered in the first anniversary of his label Astral Black. To celebrate the milestone, he's rounded up a selection of tracks from the roster for Frass FM. You can download the compilation here and see what the producer-label owner had to say to Fact.


Ray Vendetta & Tesla's Ghost - Who Are They? (prod. Remulak)


Taken from Remulak's forthcoming producer album. No clues to the name just yet, but keep 'em peeled. 

These two recently turned in verses for their Triple Darkness brethren Cyrus Malachi's Acid Rain.

And if that weren't enough Triple Darkness for you, check Dj Slademan's recent refix of Iron Braydz' Dredd


Jon1st All Day...


The DMCs have come a long way since DJ Roger Johnson won the debut world title way back in 1985. Vinyl is no longer mainstream. From multi-click orbits to mind-boggling beat juggles, DJs have mastered an almost endless list of tricks. And turntablism has now fully embraced the digital age. With the country's finest going head-to-head on 2 May, UK All Day collared last year's DMC Online World Champion Jon1st to talk shop.

 
What inspired you to buy a pair of decks and practice to a world-class standard?

Around the age of 11 or 12 I was listening to a lot of mainstream rock music. One of the bands I liked at the time was Linkin Park and they featured on a song by The X-Ecutioners, a famous turntablist crew from New York. I remember buying the single and being completely blown away by the B-Side, a track called X-Ecution Of A Bum Rush featuring the Beat Junkies . It was an all scratch track with beat juggling, scratch drumming, cutting etc. I'd never heard anything like it and I knew as soon as I heard it that I wanted to discover how the sounds were made and learn how to make them myself. A few years later, after I had bought decks, I came across the UK 2003 DMC video and it opened my eyes to the battling world. I picked up the 2001 World Finals DVD soon after and I was hooked!



Were there any techniques that you struggled to pick up back then?

I don't think new techniques ever become easy to learn, even if you've been learning for a while. I still struggle every time I learn something new! After the basics, where your hands are working in unison, each technique requires you to move your hands independently of each other - a bit like that party trick where you rub your stomach and pat your head simultaneously - so each takes some time and practice to learn, and a lot longer to master. Fortunately I had access to the internet when I was starting out, so I had access to tutorials and could seek out tips and advice from other DJs on forums and message boards when I got stuck in a rut. While the learning curve is quite steep, there's a lot of help online for new turntablists, particularly these days with YouTube, so it's a lot easier to learn new techniques once they're established.

If I was to name one technique that I found difficult to learn, I'd most probably say flaring. I was locked in closed fader techniques for quite a few years and I couldn't get my muscle memory to click with open fader techniques for ages!


Do you have any favourite scratch techniques?

I really like incorporating pitching by pushing the record faster or slower when I scratch. That's one of the things I really like about turntables. I can't think of many other instruments that are both percussive and melodic at the same time. Whenever I learn a new pattern or technique I always experiment with pitching variants. I feel it makes scratching sound a bit less robotic and more musical.


Are there any DJs or DMC routines that have inspired you?

There's a lot so I'm guaranteed to leave out a few but in terms of battle DJs I'd say Woody, Muzzle, Kentaro, ie.MERG, Craze, Precision, 2tall,  Unkut, Pfel, C2C and  A-Trak, particularly after he won the DMCs. After he retired from battling, he went on to perform a lot of showcases and one that had a lasting impression on me is his guest performance at the 2001 DMC World Finals. In terms of club DJs I'd say Mr Thing and Buddy Peace have been big inspirations.



Are you competing in the UKs this year and who are your favourites to win?

I'm not competing this year as I've been focusing on DJing and production but I will be performing a showcase of a few of my routines. I think Ritchie Ruftone has a strong chance of winning the UKs again this year if he defends. Outside of the UK, three of my favourites that are currently battling are Vekked from Canada and Precision and I-Dee from the US. Vekked won the DMC World Supremacy in 2012 and the IDA World Championship in 2012 and 2013. Although our styles are quite different from one another, we have a lot of shared views on battling and I really respect how much he dedicates to progressing his style and pushing himself to improve. Precision has come so close to winning the Wold DMC title so many times and I feel he really deserves it. He's one of the illest beat jugglers of all time in my opinion and is really inventive in his approach to routines. I really hope he enters this year. I-Dee is an all round sick battle DJ I've been watching since I first discovered battling and I heard that he recently won a heat in the US, so will be competing in their national finals this year. I really hope either one of those guys wins in the US nationals, they'd both be a serious force at the world finals!



There are two types of DJ – the turntablist with all of the technical ability and then the guy who mixes, has an ear for songs and can rock a crowd. How important to you is club DJing?

I actually consider myself a club DJ first. When I play out I'd say I'm 80% focused on the crowd and entertaining them within the boundaries of my music tastes. The other 20% is adding scratching, trick mixing and how I mix. I want to make people dance first and foremost and then add an extra layer of skills. If I'm performing a showcase I'll adjust the balance a bit. I recently played at The Community Skratch Games in Galway where the balance between scratching and working the dance floor was about 50/50. I don't think there's necessarily two strict polar opposites of a hip hop DJ. I know quite a lot of DJs who balance their time between digging, producing and the turntablist side of things and are able to excel in a number of scenarios. My goal has always been to be as balanced as I can be.



For years the DMCs were sponsored by Technics, which meant you were limited to their equipment and everything was analogue. Since they shut up shop new technologies like Serato have emerged, with Rane now sponsoring the competition. How has that changed the event?

It's an interesting argument. Like you say, DMC now allow DVS (digital vinyl system - Traktor, Serato etc) in their six minute and team categories, meaning that DJs have no limitations when it comes to music choice, as well as access to digital features like looping, cue points and software and hardware effects.

On one side of the argument it's a big step away from what DMC was in the 80s and mid-90s: back then everyone was using original 12"s and you were limited to what you could find on records anyone could buy in the shops. A few years later, battle breaks appeared, which were essentially records featuring lots of sounds and beats lined up for DJs to access quickly, so you could potentially make more composed routines without having to change your records as much to get to different sounds you wanted to scratch or juggle. Then in the 2000s, it became really affordable to write a custom routine using a DVS bespoke to your needs and then press it to a custom 12" record yourself, so you have a record no-one else has with all your sounds lined up - essentially a custom battle break - so you could pack a lot more into your routine and define yourself with a more personal set of sounds and beats. You could even produce your own tracks for the battle if you wanted to. By the end of the '00s, the vast majority of battle DJs were using these dubplates and it made sense to allow DVS: it meant DJs didn't have to pay to press dubplates and could continue crafting complex sets until the day of the competition. It also meant the sounds the DJs were using wouldn't wear out as they're cueing digital files rather than physical sounds. To me it's a logical step and something I fully support.

While I respect the traditionalists who want the competition to remain how it was in the 80s in terms of equipment, that limitation doesn't reflect how DJs perform 30 years later in my opinion. A lot of music isn't released on vinyl any more and the vast majority of DJs now are playing out and performing using DVS or other digital mediums, and I think the change in the rules reflects that. DMC still allow DJs to enter with traditional vinyl if they wish, so if that's how a DJ wants to present themselves they still have that option. DVS won't make a bad DJ good but will give a good DJ more tools to incorporate into their performances. DMC's judges are all past national or world champions, and are all able to recognise the skill involved. If an incredible DJ using purely traditional vinyl surpassed a group of DVS DJs in DMC, the judges would score them as the winner.


Some have criticised the fact that making custom records means it can be more difficult for the audience to understand how the beats are being manipulated, especially if they don't recognise the songs being juggled. What's your take on that?

I personally don't think a DJ should dumb down their style by using tracks that everyone recognises. They're sacrificing their own style and tastes to appeal to a wider audience, unless that's their style of course. DJs should use whatever tracks they're personally feeling but that doesn't mean what they're doing is going to be lost on the audience purely because they don't know the song that they're juggling or scratching. In my own routines I always play a few bars of a beat through before I start flipping it. That way the audience can get a feel for how the record sounds without scratching and juggling, so they have a reference point even if they don't know the song.

There is a downside of DVS, and custom records before them, where it's possible for a DJ to produce a routine that sounds great but doesn't actually involve much skill, where the DJ is simply triggering cue points one after another. For example, a DJ could make a track with lots of crazy drum fills and big explosions and then manually loop it with spin backs. It's going to sound crazy and the audience is going to go mad for it, but the DJ is just looping two records on beat - the most basic of beat juggling techniques. Another example is where a DJ has edited a song so it plays over two decks and they have their sounds laid out on their DVS files so that they can play sounds in succession by swapping from deck to deck to cue the next sound in their arrangement, again producing a routine that sounds complex but is technically very basic unless they throw more fills and techniques into the mix. If a DJ takes this approach, they're only really showcasing their production or arrangement ability and not really showing off their ability to flip records manually, which in my opinion is one of the main things DMC is about - progressing the art of flipping records in musical and inventive ways. They're letting the original song they've chopped up lead the routine, rather than letting their patterns and techniques be the centre point. Just to clarify, I'm painting an extreme example here and I don't think I've ever seen a set that is that basic - if DJs enter DMC, they know and respect its history. If someone takes this newer edited route, they usually use it as a skeleton for their routine and then flesh it out with more traditional skills. No one's going to try to fake a set.


The judges would pick up on that.

Exactly. Judges know the deal and they're not going to award any points to something that isn't a true representation of the artform. A set like that might be a fun routine to listen to or experience in a club, and if that's your style go for it, but the judges are all past champions so they can look at things from a technical standpoint. I've used elements of that style in my own routines so I can swap between sections of the records I've chosen really quickly and maintain the pace of my routines, so I can have a juggle routine over a track's intro followed by a scratch routine on the same track's bridge, then snap straight to a breakdown without having to manually cue it. In my opinion DVS allows you to write a more complete and personal routine and due to the nature of it being a standard in battling now, it forces DJs to really push themselves. DJs are cramming more and more techniques and sections into their routines, so you feel compelled to up your game and be as technically diverse in your six minutes on stage as you can.

Connect with Jon1st on Facebook and buy your tickets for the UK DMC Finals on 2 May here.


M9 - Colours (Video)


Loopholes hooks up an Illmatic era beat for M9 to touch on the colours that humanity allows to divide itself. The track is a bonus on Melanin 9's forthcoming EP, High Fidelity, which will feature production from Beat Butcha and Chemo, and is due 31 May.  


Verb T - Reverb


The likes of Jehst and Leaf Dog fire up the MP and pull some past Verb T acapella's from the vault for this remix project. Check what producer Urban Click contributed to the set here and pick up the whole shebang over yonder


Buggsy - Ya Don't Know (Video)


Buggsy, Bristol's tongue-twisting yardman, follows up The Great Escape with a sequel. You can find the album, featuring the bass-heavy cut above, here


Sonnyjim x Leafdog - How To Tame Lions (Snippets)


If you've heard the supremely dope Royal Flush already then you'll know Sonnyjim and Leafdog have got an absolute corker in the pipeline. You'll have to wait until 21 April to hear the album in full, but if you don't like waiting the pair are teasing with some snippets.

The embed is playing silly buggers, so head over to Bandcamp for the preview.


Charles Edison - My Name Is


Well this is a nice surprise. Essex producer Charles Edison, who put together the beat for Delusionists' Messiah Complex, has just dropped off this sunny little track that pairs soul chops with a triumphant horn line. There's almost a disco, rare groove vibe to this. Watch out for Edison's forthcoming instro project Lightbulbs.




Skepta - #ThatsNotMe feat. JME (Video)


"See me and Skepta in a video with a nostalgic backdrop." - JME

Sometimes you don't realise something's missing until it returns. From the budget video to the Eskibeat backing, this is unadulterated grime the old-fashioned way. 


Jon Phonics - Yoga Selfie


Jon Phonics gives up a new freebie that's all funk, squealing synths and Sino influences. Make sure you give his recent collaborative EP with Tabanca, Domino Effect, a whirl.




Mo Kolours - Little Brown Dog (Video)


If this doesn't raise a smile for you, you have no heart. Mo Kolours' eponymous debut is out now and you can name your price. Spend generously. 


Iron Braydz - Verbal SWARdz (Stream)


With the release of Iron sWARdz just around the corner, Braydz is giving you the chance to stream the largely self-produced EP. Prince Po, Sean Price, Phat Kat, Kyza and Skriblah all make an appearance, as does the Triple Darkness fam.




Mobb Deep - Timeless (prod. Beat Butcha)


Hav and P have patched things up and are set to release The Infamous Mobb Deep. Production credits include Illmind, Boi-1da, Alchemist, Havoc himself, and Beat Butcha, who delivers the goods on Timeless.


ItsNate - Got You Right


ItsNate harnesses his nonchalance for a new track that has as much in common with electronic experimentalism as it does hip hop. This that UK prog hop. 




Sonnyjim - Royal Flush (prod. Leaf Dog) (Video)


Yep, as nice as it looks on paper and a good indication of what to expect from the pair's looming EP, How To Tame Lions


Maxsta - Got Gassed (Video)


You don't often hear a grimester sound like they're struggling to catch up with a beat, but Maxsta has his work cut out for himself here. Still, it's no less catchy for it and dude's "old school like Cilla Black". T'ra. 


Confz - What's The Point? (Video)


An aching horn loop from Canis Major and possibly the most nihilistic singsongy hook committed to record make for a potent mix in this single from Confz. An album's in the offing but you won't find What's The Point? on it. 


Akira The Don - The First Day Of Spring


Ten years ago to this very day(ish), Akira The Don recorded The First Day Of Spring. The angel-haired screwball would go on to land a deal with Interscope only to be summarily dropped for recording a song called Thanks For All The Aids baiting Catholics and Bob Geldof. Simpler times. 

To mark the early song's tenth anniversary, and as we pass on to spring, here is a reworking. What appears to be Akira's ultimate album, ATDRIP, is on its way.




Bishop Nehru - You Stressin' (prod. Disclosure) (Video)


Disclosure already proved they can transpose their production skills to the hip hop world with You Stressin'. But if you missed this collaboration between the Redhill house maestros and boom bap wunderkind Bishop Nehru, then here's the animated video for you.