‘This is far from basic, it’s high-class science, the mic is my appliance, where I deliver defiance.’
For years now the insightful lyricism Cyclonious pens has been an integral part of UK Hip Hop’s more conscious, politically perceptive side. Never Lose Your Passion was steeped in historical knowledge, Africa brought rejuvenating sun rays alongside Nate and Jalex, and the incendiary verses on Freedom were as anthemic as they were truthful. For his latest mixtape Hostile Leadership, the East-London MC has linked with Cambridge producer Chairman Maf, resulting in nine staggeringly good songs with a revolutionary mentality imbued in every well-worded bar. As Maf loops epic strings on the introductory title cut, Cyclonious fires venom-laced lines at any target unfortunate enough to cross his lyrical scopes, then maintains that high level of verbal dexterity over Magnetic‘s catchy piano chops.
Escalating horns back righteous rhymes on The Land Of The Strong, while MMA Plus takes a page out of Stic’s book to offer positive words on the transformative power of mental and physical health; Chairman Maf’s ear for melodic sounds makes Never Topple another uplifting listen, followed by a more delicate approach to his production as he layers subtle sounds to accompany Tamarae‘s spiritual scriptures. Soulful samples shift in and out of the foreground on Constant Pivot, with both Cyclonious and 4orce penning heavy verses around a mantra-like chorus; and Smoke & Mirrors stands out for it’s galvanizing words; ‘The body is a temple, if God made man in his image, then who do you resemble?’
I replayed Together four times upon first hearing it; it’s not only the best tune on the record but is potentially one of the most important songs you’ll hear this year. Combining Maf’s finest hour musically with Cyc’s deepest bars and masterful, thought-provoking features from Phoenix Da Icefire and Apex Zero; the lyrics challenge paradigms without being confrontational, offer solutions instead of problems, and drop historical knowledge you won’t find on any curriculum.
There’s plenty of solid Hip Hop albums coming out of Britain right now, but very few balance refined intelligence with rugged breaks the way Hostile Leadership does. Enlightening and entertaining in equal measure, the album illustrates exactly why underground music is so vital.
Buy it here.