High Focus 4th Birthday

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Is this you? Are you bored? Did your exciting plans for the weekend drift away like a fart on a breeze, leaving you feeling low and distracted? High Focus can remedy that; as this Friday they’ve assembled UK Hip Hop’s finest, taking their yearly wreck up to new hedonistic heights by expanding their line-up, and finding an even larger stage to destroy at London’s Brixton Electric. After years of hard work, releasing over twenty home-grown Hip Hop classics from some of the country’s foremost MC’s; High Focus are set to celebrate their fourth year in the game, with live sets from everyone at the label, and unmissable appearances by Klashnekoff, Jehst, Buggsy, Kashmere, Children Of The Damned, Onoe Caponoe and Pete Cannon.

If there’s one thing that’ll cure your boredom and break up that crushing British work-week mundanity, it’s spending a few hours battering your ear holes with nothing but dope lyrics and heavy beats courtesy of Fliptrix and co. It’s guna be huge!

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Rescue your weekend from the doldrums & help HF continue their boom-bap, born-day tradition by getting your ticket here.

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Fliptrix : Out The Box

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Fuck the trendsetter, I be the peacekeeper’.

From the intricate fractal geometries that adorn Out The Box‘s cover art, to the title’s allusion to expanded awareness; it’s clear that the man with the mind behind High Focus Records isn’t shy when it comes to penning esoteric verses steeped in deep content. April sees Fliptrix re-release his 2010 project Theory Of Rhyme on double vinyl, and begin to build momentum for his forthcoming Polyhymnia album by dropping Out The Box, a new collaboration project with South London-based DJ and producer Rebs. This ill remix LP features reinterpretations of 6 of tracks taken from the essential Third Eye Of The Storm album; along with 6 new previously-unreleased songs that illustrate the change in perspective the meditative MC has undergone over recent years.

Much more than an interim release, Out The Box finds the duo devising musical remedies for the modern Hip Hop listener; with cleansing sounds that reinvent the original songs. Reb’s remix of Chemo’s haunting strings on The Storm switches your receiver, taking your perception of the content from Michael Ruppert-style harbingers of cataclysm to messages of hope in the face of adversity. Soundscapes has a similar effect, as Farma G’s bars sound out even clearer over Reb’s otherworldly piano stabs, and Fliptrix’ transcendental chorus lines emerge revitalized and renewed by the remix process. The first new track Smoke Rings is the best on the album; Reb’s simple beat is melodically fulfilling and heavy on that old boom bap stomp, while Fliptrix’s lyrical alignment with peace dominates his heartfelt delivery; with clever use of metaphor, ‘never will I be the fireplace without the coal in’  and intricate rhyme schemes; ‘twilight embarks on the dawn of reality, my thoughts spawn from a sparkle of a fractal dream, rap and beat brought together by the tractor beams, words will travel round the globe, defy gravity.’ Reb’s dub selection skills nearly top the future-garage vibes of Kontigo’s original on The Essence. With Flipz at his most honest and beats that bang this hard, the tune holds the potential to spark off your club night or accompany you on a solitary search for soul purpose, as you reflect onwhat happened to fun without drugs, and how come everyone fucks but don’t love?’ 

If you’re in the UK you probably remember Rising’s riotous rhymes on Sammy B Side’s Wordplay Mag mix a few issues ago; the tune packs party-vibes for days with short bursts of verse, and a chorus so huge it could accommodate whole families. Duppying The Style is confident and lyrically creative; with imagery and rhyme schemes that were prevalent on his first few albums, and the title track keeps things upbeat as Rebs draws from the same sample source Illinformed used for Brothers Of The Stone; with Fliptrix channelling a chorus sure to set you smashing mental boxes for fruits of wisdom like Crash Bandicoot on the hunt for apples. His references to the vibrational reality of the universe measured through cymatics and JFK as ‘the only real president’ demonstrate his skill for subtly sign-posting paths towards truth for the listener, using synchronicity-style invitations that always manifest humbly; ‘Do this for a greater reason, my divine purpose, truth hides beneath the surface when I’m writing verses, third eye alignment, vibration’s perfect, time is everything and nothing but it’s never worthless.’ Fan favourite Wylin’ Out gets a mellow make-over as energetic verses course over Reb’s oriental sounds, before Runone’s original Nothing’s Quite As It Seems reincarnates with mystic harp riffs winding through the maze of cryptic content contained in the first verse. Verb T flows slightly less obscure, with standardly clever wordplay and effortlessly inventive flow patterns that hold jewels; ‘Thoughts take strange shape like a mutant, manifest physically, some as pollutants.’

Mutantz  energetic flow crackles with anger towards the system, buffered by complicated bars that keep their underlying message simmering beneath the surface. Reb’s inventive sampling gives way to a more computerized cadence on Walk this Way, marking the only miss on an otherwise hitting LP; but still boasts a nimble verse from Bristol-based MC, Buggsy and some cool electro chatter that elevates the chorus. As the album draws to a close, the sombre sounds on Ashes To Ashes find Flipz briefly turning his attention away from the earth, and towards the more business-motivated churnings of the world; addressing the vacant state we’ve been nulled into that finds the majority ‘addicted to consumerism, purchasing to fill the void‘, then posing the poignant question ‘How come humans used to look so beautiful? now every day it’s like their dressing for a funeral, pessimistic state, grey aura in a cubicle.

The huge shift Fliptrix made from Third Eye Of The Storm‘s tentative spiritual references still somewhat mired in negativity, to an an almost ego-less cosmic consciousness on The Road To The Interdimensional Piff Highway previously seemed enough of a jump to give Graham Hancock new material; but now with Out The Box the HF figurehead has provided us that missing mental link; and more importantly created an album of hugely enjoyable songs as his spiritually-transcendent, socially prescient lyrics take residence over Reb’s mellow instrumentals.

Pre-order the album at the High Focus website here, or on itunes here in anticipation for it’s release on April 14th. Get it before the official release date by buying the Theory Of Rhyme double vinyl.

5/5

Peace.

theory of rhyme promo_out_now

 

Album Review: Congo Natty/ Jungle Revolution.

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“Gimme the drums and bass an mek me mash down Babylon”

 

The ‘son of a Welsh mum and Jamaican dad grown up in Tottenham’ has musically and spiritually come a long way from 1989’s ‘Street Tuff’ from Rebel MC & Double Trouble. His style is still present and correct, flowing with ease over all breaks and rhythms; but in 2013 he’s coming with a clear message. One of positive upliftment, unity, and awareness. 

‘Jungle Revolution’ was self-produced by Congo Natty, and incorporates classic Jungle sounds with newer electronic touches and a slew of perfectly picked guests; keeping the vibe of the record firmly in the immediate and extended UK jungle family. The title is perfectly Ronseal, mash those two words and what they represent together and you’ve got the current Congo Natty sound. A thick, deep sound complete with Bob Marley and KRS One samples, Lion roars, MASSIVE breaks an beats to get amped to and a youthful, urgent sound, peppered with the type of calm, cool wisdom that comes with age and overstanding.

This album is exactly what rebel music should sound like in 2013. ‘Jungle Souljah’ starts the album off as it means to go on, utilizing the intro to his live set to galvanize the listener; readying them for the heavy blend of revolutionary rhetoric and danceable grooves the first track heaps on with blistering pace and precision. Benny Page’s mix of ‘UK All Stars’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Guc3xSj7wQs is a fitting introduction to the salient members of the UK scene and a definite hype moment deftly capable of carrying the weight placed on it by the uptempo intro track. If you don’t feel like running through walls after listening to this, you should probably tuck yourself in bed for the ‘talent’ shows on your tell lie vision this weekend.

The single that got me hyped for this album was ‘revolution’ featuring Buggsy, one of Bristol’s biggest names in the game for the last year or so, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr0L0d0rCCY.  providing us with a collab that was too perfect not to happen. Both MC’s command attention and deliver strong words over the heavier sections of the track, balancing Nanci Correia and Phoebe ‘Iron Dread’ Hibbert’s soulful melodies in the hooks, that still come laced with the edge that the message demands. ” Hear these words and strengthen yourself” never sounded so apt.

Every track is as important as the last, all retaining a sense of purpose and direction. Congo Natty has kept the music catchy and well written , serving up memorable old school melodies on ‘get ready’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUm9mC3yl_c.  Sista Mary fires darts at the lack of unity and consciousness, diagnosing problems and solutions alike in ‘Nu beginingz’ making any mainstream british dub influenced female sound trite and contrived. Any Klashnekoff fan will recognise parts of ‘Jungle is I and I’, featuring a well selected guest verse from Lady Chann  and melodies from Congo Natty’s daughters and Nanci Correia to “show the way to positivity” and remind us ‘don’t you lose your mind, cuz knowledge is the key’ with the Rebel MC recounting some London music history in his verse.

Amongst the positive messages, there is still a need for balance, which comes in the form of ‘London Dungeon’, where the darker side of the capital is highlighted. Lyrically dealing with racism, murder and division and using a more electronic dub sound that shifts into a trance-like melody for the last chorus, the song structure is analogous to the lyric ‘out of the darkness must come Jah light’ from the second verse. Taking the low frequencies that underscore the words of the beginning, and turning them into high, positive vibrations by the end. ‘Rebel’ finds the London Junglist trading bars with 2nice, who reprises his well written 2010 single of the same name over fast breaks and provides the second really out and out catchy, summer tune. The album closes with a stern reminder of the systems plan; samples warning of NWO agendas resonate over a rude bass line on ‘Micro Chip (Say No), with Natty ominously warning: “Babylon dun set a plan, put the microchip in ya right hand”.

As an uplifting, exciting album that had the producer and artist spending ‘the last 3 years recording and fighting the devil so this LP could be mixed, finished, and released’, ‘Jungle Revolution’ is a must have. It works equally as potently acting as a hash smokers soundtrack to a dingy rave in a Newham basement, as it would pumped through loudspeakers in smoke strewn streets as the Black Bloc flip a car to shield protesters from rubber bullets. 

Buy it here http://www.bigdada.com/release/congo-natty/jungle-revolution or via the usual digital vendors.

5/5.

Quotes: “Bussin out the box with ma natty dreadlocks, yes man a rebel an I come fi slew the devil” – Rebel.

“Music is a journey, it’s destination is freedom” – Liner Notes.

 

Peace.