Hobo Truffles : Ode To Delia


After their full-scale afrobeat revival on Ode To Ghana earlier this year, Berlin-based label Hobo Truffles have once again enlisted a slew of international collaborators for their new tribute project. From Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to Diamond D and the D.I.T.C break-hunters, the full spectrum of sample-based music is covered. Reel to reel recorders and chopped-up tape sequences find themselves reinterpreted for the 21st century over 21 inventive tracks; beginning with an explanatory intro, followed by Maloon The Boom’s low-fi funk, Bluestaeb’s blend of Denzel dialogue with subtle snares, and S Fidelity’s low-end-theory bump.

Zurich’s Melodiesinfonie shines on Galactic Wellness; with a tangible attention to detail as his funky keyboard lines traverse fizzing electronics with a Dilla bounce, while MazeOne splits his highly catchy track into two disparate loops, and Truffles co-founder Robot Orchestra expands upon a huge hook. His label-creating counterpart Shuffle Jack steers the enjoyably experimental Room 5 through a maze of contorted percussion, while Canadian producer Invention stalks the track like a robotic John Carpenter on Whskrz, and KommerzKlaus splices Rick Ross ad-libs with spiralling synths. Once Neck-Talk and Freddie Bracker’s icy tones drip onto Arch Marshall’s euphoric glitch-hop styles, Cruel Therapy production team Dienst & Schulter get versatile on the upbeat funk of Future Nomads, LinkRust loops up some nasty notes over rounded kicks on Dr Who’s Revenge, and Radius, Sev Seveer and Keter Darker combine, creating the closing cut’s spacey fuzz.

As the literal cutting edge when it came to splicing sounds back in the day, the techniques Derbyshire and her team used for manipulating audio are still in effect today, most of which can be found within this impressive selection of instrumental acuity. With a diverse roster providing distinctly original sounds on every track, Hobo Truffles have another rock-solid release under their beatmaking belts, and are becoming a vital label to keep tabs on for electronic fans and Hip Hop heads alike.

Get it for free, here.



L’Orange : The Orchid Days


On his 2011 release Old Soul, L’Orange transported Billie Holiday’s fragile lullabies from the smoke-strewn piano lounges of the past into the 21st century. His collab with Stik Figa on The City Under The City was one of the most emotive releases to come out of the U.S. underground last year; and with his latest album The Orchid Days, the young producer from North Carolina has once again dug deep for vinyl gold to re-emerge loop-laden like King Solomon.

As with all of his LP’s, the content draws from his poetry to create a serene synthesis between dark and light; communicating a tragic love story through tv and radio samples from a by-gone era. After a fittingly cinematic intro courtesy of well-known voice actor Erik Todd Dellums; Second Person sets vocal lines sailing into one another like whistling grenades on old cartoons; colliding with filtered piano lines to form an instantly encapsulating atmosphere that draws you into the world The Orchid Days creates. Erica Lane’s delicate voice adds sultry tones to free-form guitar licks on Man Of The Night; before rolling snares ring out under meandering vocal cuts on The Pull Of Warmth.

Fellow Mello Music group artist Homeboy Sandman rides big-band brass loops with entertaining tales of romantic conquest that always seem to end in adoption on Mind vs Matter; before Eventually highlights L’Orange’s uncanny ability to transform hokey, middle-class-family-fodder from back in the day into boom-bap bangers, and A Spring Like You changes the pace with crisp hi-hats that don’t swing as much as they wildly careen off course; clinging to bouncing kicks as they evade stray piano lines. Will Wait finds L’Orange’s dusty loops enshrouded by an analog warmth that satisfies like the crackle of old vinyl, and Love Letter lends Jeremiah Jae a sanguine soundscape to drop lyrical lozenges over while Spilled Together‘s rapidly changing doo-wop chops play like a pumped-up Sunday afternoon matinee at your local care home.

A more youthful voicing recurs to catchy effect on the title track; with short, memorable vocal cuts and shuffling hi-hats that merge with heavy kick patterns to make the tune the album’s best. Then Backwoodz Studioz founder Billy Woods moulds his rhymes over a fluctuating bpm on The End, backed by a dope video that’s as dark as his content, and leaving What Was left to close this dope LP with danceable drum loops that undulate beneath epic overtones. By keeping the guest verses sparse L’Orange’s ear for vintage samples has ample room to shine; as the dusky loops he’s become known for grow neater, interlinking intricately without losing their truncated slap. Remaining heavily influenced by yesteryear without sounding anachronistic, The Orchid Days is a logical yet challenging continuation of the man’s musical odyssey; that improves on his previous output without disregarding his established interpretation of sample-based composition.

You can get the album digitally here, and on itunes here.



Ramson Badbonez : A Year In The Life Of Oscar The Slouch


I first heard about Charlie Mac’s dope production skills when Chester P posted about his Instrumentals Vol 3 tape earlier this year. The Task Force MC would also be responsible for much of the country hearing about Ramson Badbonez for the first time back when he was only 14, as he was given the opportunity to spit on Louiz Slipperz £10 Bag series. After the backing from Task Force the young MC really went to work, spitting furiously for years on mixtape after quality mixtape, featuring on every youtube channel that was reppin British Hip Hop at the time, destroying mics at radio shows, and finally releasing his debut album Bad Influence last year.

This year he’s still grindin’ hard; linking with High Focus Records to finally find the business backing his talent deserves, and opening his rhymes up to a much wider audience internationally through HF’s ever-expanding fanbase. Fliptrix has been shoutin’ him out and playing shows with him for time now, and even though heads know his flow is unstoppable; he’s been under a lot of people’s radar for too long. A Year In The Life Of Oscar The Slouch is about to change that. For the first time his music has become more accessible; largely due to Charlie Mac, who’s diverse production style allows Badbonez to extend his range, and spray his bars with more structure than before. This is the closest the UK has gotten to a fully catchy, hook-heavy, street banger in years. British rappers have been making niche music for underground listeners for so long, albums that sound this big and easily translatable weren’t something I expected to come along so soon, especially not from one of the most aggy, unapologetically underground MCs the country has produced in recent times. Despite the album’s memorable appeal, Badbonez still verbally decapitates any competition within radius, and brings that raw poetry straight from the pavement, speaking on his experience through the eyes of his colourful caricature of a protagonist.

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The album begins as dark as the winter months that inspire it; Badbonez fills Oscar’s shoes and relates tales of tough living through a wide sociological scope on a dreary beat that hits hard. In Da Blitz Time comes out aggressive “Straight from the back alleys & trash cans of no hope”; The verses are gutter, the scratches are fierce and the beat’s rough with a throwback swagger that grooves hard. Whateva Da Weatha has it all. I’m talkin Dre levels of beat making on display with neatly cut piano samples and epic string accents to match; Ramson employs a lyrical manoeuvre seldom heard and perfectly starts and ends his words to the stops and starts Charlie’s sample’s make. Beats like this are what the tongue-in-cheek confidence of Mystro’s flow was made for, he drops a standardly accomplished verse with as much effortless style as you’d expect. Gadget’s hook is huge, and the additional strings give the chorus a vintage soul feel despite the G’d up nature of the content. I duno where Gadget has been hiding but he and Rag N Bone Man need to make an album over Leafy beats immediately.

On any other album Scruffy,Bummy,Hungry would be stand out; on an album this packed with first-rate tunes it’s falls kinda flat. Baxter & JokerStarr’s bars fit the style but are limited by their inability to really convey message, or form a lasting impression with their content. April Fool’s Day is another modern stormer that owes much of it’s strength to Charlie Mac; the beat’s perfect for Badbonez to bring out his belligerent best, giving you an insight into shottin’ as Oscar continues his 365 day span struggling through Britain’s underbelly with some memorable bars; “I’m sayin, fuck a job vacancy, I’m up early in the morning slot, blazin’ trees on the block making P’s”. M.A.B from Three Headed Beast provides a solid, heartfelt verse and the chorus hook that Balance carries well sits nicely but is too convoluted and minor to possess any real staying power; as far as good new Hip Hop goes though; if you’re not swinging your arms about like Meth in Rhyme & Reason by the time both MCs trade lines on the third verse you might just be in the wrong corner of the internet.

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As the summer months brighten up and we find Oscar in the month of May as he still receives no respite from the hardships of modern living. Dealing with his day to day by selecting his poison from a buffet of intoxicants, and zoning to 90’s Hip Hop on Just Da Way It Is. His bars are littered with allusions to Hip Hop’s greatest albums and Mac’s great use of atmospheric elements and some lyric cuts straight from the classics vault make it another banger. Foul Moods is up there with the albums best; not even Ramson lyrically throwing pints of piss at racists, hookers and street violence can dampen the mellow vibe the carefree beat brings; it could have benefited from a switch-up in content, but Badbonez is stickin to the script he wrote for Oscar, and is obviously aware that straying conceptually would detract from the album’s cohesion.

Chains & Whips adds some much needed variety in theme and some dope verses with it; Ramson spits nothin but truth; after his uplifting verse on Twizzy collab ‘The Essence’ earlier this year, this return to a more insightful flow is welcome; “Ancestors hang helpless from their 24 carat gold or platinum chain, all to keep the masses wealthy, ghosts and hopelessness, ford focus’s, most the shit you own is that length of rope to choke you with.” Genesis Elijah goes in just as hard; he’s been on fire this year, and his scorching course continues as he references the revolutionary actions of Nat Turner and Malcolm Little. His wise words carry historical weight, and find correlation between the modern banking system and the Middle Passage’s lucrative human trade; “The Bank Of England was built on the slave trade, for six straight centuries, not a penny they paid back, for the free labour or the profits they made, now the names have changed but it’s basically the same game.” 

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As Oscar’s 365 day epoch nears it’s twilight, the autumn months bring  some last rays of optimism before the album sinks back into the cold sting of winter. The addition of Rag N Bone Man’s distinctive voice on the title track adds a depth that otherwise might be missing from the bare bones of the simple beat. Ramson’s verse is much of the same conceptually but also once again provides top class lyricism from the seasoned writer. As usual Fliptrix’s verse shines brightly amongst the otherwise dark vibrations on the track. His accounts of the rough side of life are lifted by his ever-present sense of optimism, and his parting message is a testament to his spiritual strength. As soon as I heard Desperation I knew the album was guna be something special, Ramson hammers out words with feel over a chilled beat that holds a more positive message than a lot of the content carries lyrically. Even after repeated listens, it still stands as one of the album’s best tracks; not to mention one of the nicest High Focus videos to date.


December swings around and Let The Others Know finds a nice closing point that’s bang in the middle of the Mac and Badbonez’ style; it’s got real soul and warmth that Ramson’s lyrics provide with an edge. Oscar’s year ends the same way it began, living on the breadline in Britain’s backstreets trying to get by; and although the character’s story didn’t arc as much as it stayed in one spot and documented a point of view; it did provide an entertainingly accurate snapshot of inner city life from a perspective that is too often marginalised or disregarded. If you’re looking for an underground Hip Hop record with polished production, ill scratches of some classic lyrics, consistently adept lyricism and some banging tracks look no further; but if like me, your prefer your musical choices to elucidate on fresh topics with content you can return to and glean new information from as your perspective grows, you may be slightly let down. By the halfway point the album begins to hit a wall as Badbonez topics are limited to his immediate experience as relayed through Oscar. Concept albums are an idea you rarely come across in Hip Hop, and although A Year In The Life Of Oscar The Slouch works well initially; its tight concept limits it’s appeal in the long run.

Check out Oscar’s council estate chronicles for yourself  here




Underground Classics: Kashmere ‘In The Hour Of Chaos’


‘I’m droppin ill spells in a physical dimension’

Around this time of year Seven years ago the West London MC was gearing up to release his debut. The collection of songs he put out took his talented, charismatic flow and dipped it in a thick black tar; emerging even fresher, yet darker and slicker than before. After the praise he’d gotten off his side of the Technical Illness/Backhand Slap Talk split with Verb T on Braintax’s Lowlife label; the quickly rising MC capitalised on his momentum, extensively touring the UK and getting into the studio to record ‘In The Hour Of Chaos’. With production from UK heavyweights Chemo, DJ IQ, Beat Butcha, L.G. and the man himself.

From the first utterance on ‘The Ark’ Kashmere spits venom with a righteous fire. Coming lyrically laden with comic book and occult imagery effortlessly inter-weaved with myriad biblical references. It’s definitely an alone in your room, headphones on,  zone-in experience; even with full attention to the lyrics the man crafts it’s still hard to catch everything he’s putting across in each verse.

I had to stop and look up ambigram and cumulonimbus just to understand one sentence from ‘The Ark’. Kashmere writes from an omniscient perspective; like someone having a near death experience and viewing the world objectively as one consciousness free from time and space. In the first few bars he namechecks a doctor that delivers euthanasia, the time travelling car from Back To The Future and a mythical sect of witches from Argentina with a straight-faced delivery that makes the last two sound as plausible as the first. He’s so far down the rabbit hole he’s set up a lab and started sampling Agharti breaks on tracks that would make Jules Verne shit.

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Things get even deeper from there. ‘Black Sea’ sees Verb T and Red joining the fray. The Three spinning shadowy soliloquies that paint vivid pictures of vampire transformation, altars of sacrifice and tales of the evil forces in the universe feeding off fear. Kashmere’s verse is strikingly impressive once again; “The only way to defeat something is understanding it, but deep inside my soul I’m trying very hard to balance it. The darkness feeds, off your weakness, and so I’m here to show the extreme on both sides of the deepness. Yo peep this, my lyrical form is peak-less, elevating infinite like the ascension of Jesus.” You can’t even attempt to write like that without some serious knowledge of self and complete conviction. Alhamra’s beat knocks hard and mean with a creepy orchestral edge and a chorus that’ll stick in your mind like mental post-it notes.

Every beat on this album is a certified classic; one of the most instantly recognisable is L.G’s haunting jazz on ‘Souls Of The Unborn’. Jehst’s verse finds him at his peak flowing tight and esoteric. “At the epicentre of the sandstorm, many men perish in the belly of the Rancor, know they ran for the cover of the trees, they were already marked with the number of the beast”. The two men’s verses together are near impenetrable at first, one after another in quick succession covering a lot of ground thematically and leaving you barely enough room to work out each reference before moving on. After countless listens, I still find little touches I never noticed before. Subtlety is the highlight in this understated anthem.

The idea of villains feeding off fear is delved into again in ‘Bones’. With tales of dragons, dinosaurs, Godzilla, and Kashmere playing hero confronting George W. Bush as a malevolent entity revealed to be ‘an evil beast with ten heads and fifty eyes’. It’s over the top, and cartoonish, but with a little research you realise that taking the more extreme notions of the conspiracy world and melding them with a cohesive plot is demented genius. To make that a highly listenable experience over a stripped down Jehst beat all in under four minutes is straight up talent.


‘Opium Foetus’ floats along with Verb T guesting again over breezy rhythms. The pairing works as amazingly on tracks as it does on stage. Pineal glands, out of body experiences, ‘cannabis dreams of fire oceans’, and mind elevation is the content embedded within this ethereal allegory. L.G. picks up the vibe nicely after a real gloomy few tracks, beginning an alleviation of the mood that IQ continues into ‘Dead Gorillas On Broadway’. A confident recital that shouts out a diverse number of sources, from Clarence 13X and the 5% Nation to Sega’s Golden Axe, and puts the fakes in their place with a reminder that Kashmere can brag as engagingly as any of his peers.

After that brief breath of fresh air from underneath the tide of information you’re joyfully drowning in by this point, shit gets bleak again. End-Of-The-World-Bleak. ‘Spawn Of Pazuzu’  is witches, paganism, catholic assassins, and theological war invoked by the wrath of the eponymous ancient Assyrian demon. Add Beat Butcha to that eclectic blend and it’s another heavy track. “It’s the beginning, the end of all times, can you see the signs? The chaos hour, paralyse, kill devour, summon the ancient power.” 

L.G. kills the production again on ‘Have Faith’. Sampling choral singing with an eastern feel and Krs-ONE bars to create one of the more spacious songs on the album. The lead single ‘Playing With Fire’ is the perfect intro to his work, primarily as his subject matter is made slightly more accessible through the use of standard song structure and an atmospheric Chemo beat. Secondarily, if a cloaked man bopping about a mountain chattin about magic is too much for the casual listener, they’d be reaching for the safe predictability of a more mainstream album upon meeting the rest of the albums content.

‘Divine Communication’ finds Kashmere and Iron Braydz trading verses over a futuristic Chemo beat. The third verse especially stands out. Both rappers firing off densely packed sentences contemplating dimensional shifts and astral projection. On ‘Lady Of The Lake’ the MC sidesteps the popular myth of Arthur’s retrieval of Excalibur at the lake’s edge; and goes straight for the lady herself. Experiencing a lucid interval which takes him on a journey through love and death with Nimue ( that’s the watery sword wielding bint btw ) by his side as they take hallucinogenic trips into the psychedelic heavens. Tranqill’s production is an album highlight. For a guy that was closer to being unknown than the other big names behind the boards; he sounds unphased, and builds a grandiose beat that ramps up the scope of Kashmere’s unfolding saga. Check out his 2011 Hidden Treasures EP for more.


Greed and science, Lucifer leading us astray, well curiosity murked the cat people say, even though we were created crazy, as inquisitive creatures, always on the look out for the newest features”.

 The Iguana man takes a heavy handed stab at the Darwinian school of thought accredited by mainstream science on ‘Alpha to Omega’, the first in a Chemo two punch combo that closes the album. He’s strongly opinionated when it comes to his belief; lamenting the fall of spirituality in modern society as science takes prominence in the minds of the public. And casting his third eye over the invention of the wheel and the curability of disease to chart man’s ascension and eventual demise within the cyclical nature of the universe.  “Prepare for the end, and from the end to the beginning, the lord starts again peep the aqua life swimming, now see the brave ones venturing onto the land,  Knowledge, Wisdom expand”

‘Veronica R.I.P’ had to be the last track, it’s too good not to be, if you were in the studio trying to follow any verse he penned on this last one you’d stumble harder than Arkwright gettin Granville’s name out his lips. It’s storytelling at it’s peak, a love story with a bitter twist. I won’t wreck it you haven’t heard it, but it’s a perfectly crafted curveball.  “Deception, it was unreal, Stephen King combined with Danielle Steele“.

The album endures as a classic, you’d be hard pressed to find better fantasy lyricism from anyone. The sheer magnitude of Kashmere’s reference material would take the average man months to begin to decipher; as with all great MC’s the more you personally overstand, the more rewarding the listening is. It’s not an easy album to get hold of, but some online digging can get you a cd copy. The follow up release on YNR ‘Raiders Of The Lost Archives’, and the Boot Records ‘Power Cosmic’ LP under the name ‘Galaktus’ are both available at Suspect Packages and are well worth a look. His Hunter S. Thompson inspired ‘Kingdom Of Fear’ project with Jehst, and ‘Scarlet Jungle EP’ under the Strange U moniker with Dr Zygote indulge his more experimental side, but still keep things hip hop.

Big Up Kashmere! Support underground music by buying it direct from the artists!