With a full-time fixation on gambling, whiskey and women, Charles Bukowski was a man who knew what he wanted out of life. What he didn’t know, was that the liquor-soaked scrawlings he penned in his smokey room between trips to the track wouldn’t only go on to inspire a generation of film-makers, writers and full-time day-drinkers; but also three Hip Hop heads from Croydon. Big Toast, Jack Diggs & Strange Neighbour have taken TPS Fam from strength to strength over the last year, and their label Revorg Records has put out some quality albums, from the crew cuts on The Heisenberg Project to Efek’s dope new LP Contemporary Classic. With inspiration from Bukowski’s working-man approach to creativity, the trio have created some of their best tunes to date on Hot Water Music.
Couple early mornings with grey clouds and a grim commute on stinking public transport and you can see why Monday Blues bad-mouths Britain’s over-proliferated ‘you’re lucky to have a job at all‘ rhetoric; replacing it with the line ‘Monday, waking up and I think fuck a job’ to introduce the LP’s anti-work attitude. Jack Digg’s beats always bang, and his gully vibe on Chain Breakers encapsulates the grimmer side of UK Hip Hop as the MC’s leave behind the daytime toil of wage-slavery to embrace the full time job of mental emancipation through their lyrics. 5 Nuggets copes with the weekly grind trying to get smashed on overpriced pints and still survive an ever- increasing cost of living; before Bristol legend Sirplus brings the heat to Strange Neighbour’s string arrangements on HD, every MC steps up their game to follow his lead, rhyming with real passion.
Jack Diggs channels the sound of the city on his interlude As It Crossed My Mind, beginning the album’s second wind as the mellow sounds of Drift Away provide the crew with another opportunity for lyrical honesty; ‘Rhyme to a beat and it takes me to places, beyond flat lager and slavery wages.’ Like Jehst’s ‘unemployed B Boys’ Tea Breaks brings a welcome break from the 9-5 drudgery, with a lyrical escape from the cold reality of the previous tracks. The MC’s delve back into that daily grind once more for a few tunes, meaning it’s not until Strange Neighbour’s stand-out beat on Broken Smile that the album really begins to peak again; as each MC touches on the unconscious mental state pressed onto the public with George Romero comparisons, and revitalize their content. Pound Signs is a straight- up banger; the scratches are ill, the epic loops give the rapper’s lines even more force as they weave words with a purpose, deriding the paper chase and the dodgy dealings Croydon’s streets host nightly, then continue their verbal assault on Ruff Draft; boasting bars from a few of the UK’s foremost MC’s. Gee Bag’s distinctive flow blesses the raw break with an old-school rhyme-scheme, Bristol’s Res reps Split Prophets with some leary bars and Phoenix Da Icefire’s intricate rhymes fire as fast as his thoughts, making for another flawless Triple Darkness feature.
Out Of This World’s middle eastern melodies make for the best beat on the LP, Revorg label-mate Efeks dropping a dope hook. Everything the man touches turns to gold right now, be sure to check his back catalogue for more gems, especially his work with Steady as Prose. The fact that this late in the LP the crew are still pulling out nothing but bangers is evidence of their skill for shaping enjoyable songs with a grimy edge; and as 4AM closes the album on a calmer note, melancholy piano loops and claustrophobic horns swirl through the haze, the rhymes shining through the dense fog the beat invokes. Whether you’re living in Britain or abroad, TPS Fam bring relate-able content with consistently top-class production that’ll help you navigate the rat race with head nods for days, it’s safe to say Henry Chinaksi’s real-life inspiration would be proud; as TPS manifest his ‘poetry is what happens when nothing else can’ line as they juggle city living while remaining creative, and like the alcoholic author, use their words as an escape from the tedium the modern bustle brings.