” Everybody wear a mask and they don’t even know it, so scared of being themselves, they wont even show it. “
If you do anything today, go and buy this album. For fans of classic head nodding Boom Bap from some of the best MC’s in the UK it’s a no-brainer; for the autodidact’s it’s an affirmation of a whole bunch of good shit you’re either already thinking or on the path to finding within yourself. Mostly it’s rare in it’s absolute honesty, positivity and personal accountability. Every beat kills, without exception. All I’d heard of Illinformed before this was the ‘More Weed Money Beat Tape’, which was smooth; but this is next level. I’m pretty sure between the hours him and Leaf put in, they could keep the whole UK in ill beats for the next year. His samples are still smooth as hell, butcleaner and neater without being sterile in any way. The first Seven tracks are uplifting, soulful, and delicately executed, then the second half of the album is varied and darker, but retains it’s groove and most importantly, keeps your neck snapping throughout. I was close to flat out moshing round the garden, the beats slap that hard. TRY to play it without screwing your face up and rocking back and forth: it’s impossible.
” ‘You Need to get a hit, you need to make a club banger’: Nah, we tighten raw hip hop with a rusty spanner. ”
I’ve been following High Focus since ‘Nature’s Greatest Mystery’, and for me this is up there with ‘From A Scarecrow’s Perspective’ and ‘The Road To The Interdimensional Piff Highway’ as one of labels most complete and fulfilling releases. There’s room to dig about in the music, new lessons to take and revisit, and the guests are so exciting I spent the last month just sittin’ there imagining what ‘Future’ would sound like. I wasn’t dissapointed; it’s amazing, and a message so worth saying it’s crazy you don’t hear it more often. KRS-One is as inspiring as ever, his verse reminding me of ‘The Power Of The Future’ audio lessons. (Check them HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50a9eavrBIM ) Fellow member of KRS’s ‘Temple Of Hip Hop’ Beast 1333 manages to not come on too historically heavy and fact-laden, and keeps it practical with his advice; adding a much needed addendum to the old adage with: ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you strong, AS LONG AS YOU LEARN’. Bang on. Each guest spot is made even cooler by the fact that none of the guest’s were bought, all were as a result of beat trades or a mutual love for the art.
‘Take Control’ Is an ode to flippin the bad to good practically and mentally, reminding us we’re as negative at times as we are positive, and how necessary both are. The line ‘Tell my boss to FUCK OFF, lose the job I did have, sniff drugs, ’til im braindead with a piss bag’ hasn’t failed to make me genuinely laugh yet and I’ve had this on all weekend. Vinnie Paz’s guest on the dark, cinematic, western ‘Meditation’ is perfectly raspy and menacing in the best way Paz can be. ‘Drug Vultures’ rings true to anyone who knows, again, promoting responsibility and another big message you don’t hear enough of in UK Hip Hop. Every time you ‘get’ a message, you realize it’s not even preachy, they’ve perfected the art of imparting knowledge from personal experience without judging others; a fucking hard thing to master. ‘Burning My Soul’ is set to become an anthem for the underground; it’s everything me and every fan of UK Hip Hop feels in just over Four Minutes and fitting re dedication to the movement. Fliptrix changes up his flow again for his guest spot, sounding like he’s rapping in slow motion when he first comes in! It’s always nice to hear him play with flow and try new things musically, as always he says more in a sixteen than most do in an album.
The Two MC’s balance each other like any good duo should. If Leaf’s the red eyed philosopher, stringing together metaphysics in-between huge zoots and incessant beat making; BVA is the down-to-earth tour guide, the every-man spittin’ reality from a real angle, with wit and an indefatigable energy. ‘Both Wicks’ addresses making ends meet whilst trying to be fulfilled creatively; something that many in the scene wouldn’t give up their ego to do. It’s not all smashin cans into you at Lakota and freestylin with your mates, it’s work, sacrifice and dedication. His flow rides easier now too, he’s knitting it tighter than ever before. You can hear it in ‘Go Hate’, in ‘Meditation’; the progress is audible from “They can’t see me like they’re in the room i’m gettin high in” on the Four Owls debut to “all my actions cause reactions and satisfaction” on ‘Wisdom’. His growth and clear embrace of the positive is a great thing to hear.
Sometimes in life you find a book or an album exactly when you need it. This album’s content is that for me at this time. Leaf Dog has always been coming with raw, honest real music but with this set of lyrics he’s speaking for anyone, anywhere. He’s found truths that we all find; and relayed the lessons he’s learnt. This is what Hip Hop started as; a way to hear the truth that you’re not gettin anywhere else. For the listener, depending on who he or she is, the words will undoubtedly have you laughing in agreement, going ‘ahh’ in realization, or being forced to open your mind; to entertain the possibility that true happiness can be found outside of the standardized avenues modern british society offers. It’s an album from PEOPLE. Not ‘rappers’. Not ‘big names in the UK scene’ or whatever, labels aside; it’s an honest account from people struggling with, and enjoying life. That’s why the message is universal. The only thing that’s guna top this for me is the new Four Owls.
Someone in the know tell me if the white things on the back island on the cover are Kodama from Princess Mononoke!!