Rag N Bone Man : Put That Soul On Me


Rag N Bone Man deserves to be world-renowned; his 2013 collab with Leaf Dog was a heavy fusion of smouldering soul and syrupy vocals, Reuben’s Train was one of last year’s finest tracks, and after airplay from DJ Premier, Mistajam and Zane Lowe; the Rum Committee vocalist continues to scale new musical heights on his latest collaboration. Put That Soul On Me combines his smoked-out songwriting with beats from larger-than-life MC and skilled producer Dirty Dike; who creates a fresh, musically diverse backdrop for Rag N Bone’s urban blues. The introductory title track slinks out the speaker with lazy flute loops, clean shakers and splashy snares;  as Dike’s loose, natural feel allows room for some of the EP’s most memorable vocal patterns, and Rag N Bone’s cadence channels BB King and D.P.G. simultaneously.

Across The Sky wallows in an inebriated haze as Rag N Bone drip-feeds lines, draping words in a slow drawl over minimal horn loops and sparse drums that swing like Questlove on Voodoo; while My Business finds Ronnie Bosh dropping intricate rhymes on an ill jazz flip from his Contact Play affiliate, and after Rag N Bone’s gruff, reflective verses bloom into a huge, catchy chorus; he hits a few final falsetto’s that would have most modern R & B singers struggling. This unexpected release from High Focus is one of the finest you’ll hear this year; an enjoyable listen for anyone into Soul, Blues, Hip Hop or Gospel, from a humble vocalist that could be the UK’s answer to Bilal, and an established emcee that’s becoming a seriously accomplished producer.

Buy it digitally here, and physically here.



High Focus 4th Birthday


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!


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

Edward Scissortongue : The Theremin EP


In 2012 Better Luck Next Life brought Edward Scissortongue’s distinctively dystopian vision to the fore of UK Hip Hop, with his upcoming High Focus release Theremin, his singular vision once again delivers a complete package. The washed-out hue of the artwork matches the filter on the promo vids, that in turn imitate the arid landscapes that characterise his content; which extends beyond the regular rap realms as he paints with unapologetically poetic words that drip with a penetrating sense of unease. The songs demand your attention, as he plumbs the mental depths to pen ominous lyrical landscapes around a chaotic central storyline.

Miles Courtney’s synth-heavy intro Take Readings plays like Brian Eno massaging Tangerine Dream in a seedy backroom sauna, with an Eighties-neon-buzz that makes me wish I’d bought the Sorceror soundtrack I came across last week. Teeth isn’t only one of Scissortongue’s best songs to date, it’s also grim enough to make Terry Gilliam tuck his head up his own bum to hide from the world. Forlorn melodies glide through the background to become sweeping orchestral epics on the entrancing mantra-like chorus, as Ed’s intricate bars bloom around Eon Ra’s initially minimal drums. The tune remains surprisingly catchy and hook-based, although it comes coated with a thin veneer of terror that makes it catchy like bubonic plague and hook-based like Tony Todd.


The rhymes gather momentum and grow in complexity on The Wipeout Soundtrack; with Scissor almost clinging to his words as if they were about to reach Fahrenheit 451. A stark chorus from Bristol-based vocalist Toyface adds a graceful touch to the bitter balance Ed and BLNL-producer Lamplighter create; and when the bpm slows all three refract off each other to make for seriously interesting listening. Dirty Dike’s beat captures the mood of the EP perfectly on Theremin, with despondent tones that set an epic stage for Scissor to further his sombre story. His use of inventive imagery to lament the fall of man at the metal hands of cognizent machines is bleak beyond even what Water Tevis could fabricate; and without even so much as a sun-seared, bloating Californian governor to save us, the title track offers no silver lining.

Sumgii’s contorting trap percussion shapes the sallow strings of the prequel to escalate the tension on Theremin Pt. II, with Scissor relating the few remaining minutes of a survivor’s troubled life as he reminisces on the struggle that living became after interplanetary war claimed his family; ‘Visions of his quiet town, working in the orchards with his brothers ’til the androids killed his kin and tore the orchard down, a solo missionary sitting in this metal winter, carrying the flame, a lonely mortal on a tortured vista.’  Konchis propels The Calculator with electronic basslines, frosty high notes and clean, percussive drums as Ed’s dense wordplay reaches it’s zenith; ‘a big bang beginning couldn’t bring back the living, when the guillotine sharpened commences swinging, faster than hell for leather; I’ve dealt with every pasture that gave me tenure, but then the darkness enters’, then Lamplighter closes the EP with Cradle‘s mechanistic melodies.


As you’d expect from a project named after a visually confusing musical instrument, this latest release from the Contact Play MC is hard to pin down. The unsettling ease with which Scissor spins his barren visions of the future coupled with the tangible menace that bubbles below Theremin‘s surface makes for edgy entertainment; but despite it’s grim content, the emphasis stays on creating something artistically interesting, sharing more in common with the light-hearted menace of Steve Buscemi’s character in Con Air than any overwrought attempt at evil your average black metal band is making. In fact, no one’s making music like Edward Scissortongue right now, his bleak rhymes serve up brain food for a hungry imagination, with an expansive scope and a talent for science fiction writing that somehow manages to sound cooler than ears made of ice cubes. Be sure to check him out alongside Jam Baxter, Mr Key, Lee Scott and more at the EP release party on May 3rd.

The Theremin EP is out Monday the 28th of April, get it straight from High Focus here, or on itunes here.



Jack Jetson : The Adventures Of Johnny Strange


Entirely produced by Four Owls beat provider Leaf Dog; The Adventures Of Johnny Strange is a mind-mangling mission through the mind of Jack Jetson, who’s natural knack for penning huge choruses to break up his stream-of-consciousness flow makes every tune fresh. Wonderberry sees the Nottingham-born MC pluck colourful words out the ether, combining folklore with everyday mundanity into unpredictable lines;‘Ocean diver, snorkel and kaleidoscope, swim through the portal underwater puffin hydro smoke,  lookin through the microscope, lost in a lost dimension, I cop a ten and plot revenge on your flock of henchmen.’  Leaf Dog’s natural swing breezes in on Blue Moon‘s mid-paced bounce, with steady kicks and sailing strings that spark Jetson’s enthusiastic rhymes; while Strange Ways stacks enough memorable bars to have you quoting for days; as Jetson peppers his verses with creative couplets over Leaf’s brass-strewn stomp.

BVA begins Vitamins with bars that hit harder than the snare; and Jetson’s rhymes come more rooted in reality, firing off speedy lines over modulating piano loops, then continuing the rapid rhymes over operatic overtones on Deep Abyss. On Brain Rot  Jack matches his rhymes against escalating instrumentals as Leaf sources one of the album’s catchiest samples; then proceeds to deliver some dope lines on Stay True, which also marks the welcome return of his singing voice on a chorus that takes you right back to Some People Say. Mushroom Clouds is all about the binge as Jetson’s intricate bars pile on heaps of style and Dirty Dike gets characteristically rowdy, adding to his ever-expanding collection of ridiculously entertaining rhymes that find him tripping in a wigwam and dishing out sound life advice; ‘lets get an ounce of crack and rap the alphabet’.

Mental freedom to create your own reality is the message Jack sends over swaying soul loops on 8 Balls, before dropping drug-addled lyricism like Terence Mckenna blessing the mic on Too Nice; and channelling Aldous Huxley’s words to pry open the doors of perception on Locksmith. Sky Maze is all about the boom-bap bounce, with psychedelic sonnets that ring true ‘Office’s like prison cells, that shit’ll lock you down for life, have you doin time, every single day, 9 to 5.’ Leafy flips a sample that sounds like it was made especially for him on Super Human, providing another heavy hook amid vivid verses that close the LP, making it clear that The Adventures Of Johnny Strange is nothing but wall to wall bangers. Jack Jetson’s content constantly shapeshifts with a smoked-out steez that draws from all corners of his active imagination, flowing like water over Leaf’s soul gems. Since his guest bars on the Brothers Of The Stone banger Cartoon Days, Jetson’s rhymes have grown in depth and delivery, and no doubt as he continues to collaborate with some of the UK’s finest his style will only grow stronger.


The album’s out May 12th on RLD Records, pre-order the physical here, or the digital here.